Those who know me well would not label me as Mr. Positivity. I’m not a glass half full kind of guy. I even caught some flack from some people when I wrote an article about how I thought things were looking up for all four Philadelphia sports teams. One of the remarks I remember seeing was “Seed, you’re being positive?” I like to see myself as a realist, but I’m sure a lot of people beg to differ on that.
When it comes to the Flyers teams of the last three years, my outlook has been anything but positive. I see them as a team that has some talent but is deeply flawed. They have some really good forwards, and they finally have a very good goaltender. But, they have a very slow, porous defense. It’s a defensive corps that only has two good puck movers and a bunch of other guys who are plodders who would be fifth and sixth defenseman on good NHL teams. They are also burdened with three very bad contracts in Vincent Lecavalier, Andrew MacDonald and R.J. Umberger. Today’s NHL Game is based on speed and skill and the Flyers are lacking in both of those areas.
When you look at the last two drafts under GM Ron Hextall, it’s clearly evident that he has recognized the Flyers lack of speed and skill and has taken steps to address it. Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Mark Friedman, Cooper Marody and David Kase are all guys who have speed and skill. The Flyers teams of the future will be much better suited to compete in the NHL than the current Flyers team.
Another ingredient that is needed to ice a successful NHL team is the right combination of age and youth. When you look at any successful NHL team, they always have the right mix of veterans and youth. Just last week, Brian Propp had posted a picture of the 1979-80 Flyers team. The team of the 35 game unbeaten streak. Even though their season ended in one of the most heartbreaking, gut wrenching ways you could ever imagine, on an overtime goal by Bob Nystrom in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, it’s still one of my favorite Flyer teams of all time. It had that perfect mix of veteran leadership and youth I had spoken of earlier. It still had holdovers such as Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber, Reggie Leach, Andre Dupont, Bob Kelly, Rick MacLeish and Jimmy Watson from the Broad Street Bullies days supplemented with the youth of Propp, Ken Linseman, Paul Holmgren, Tim Kerr, Bob Dailey and Pete Peters.
Seeing that picture and thinking of the memories from that 1979-80 team got me to thinking of the current Flyers and where they are now as a team. I can see the Flyers of two or three years from now being very similar to that of the 1979-80 team. A few years down the road, Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Steve Mason and Michael Del Zotto will all be in their mid to late 20s. Also, two or three years from now, all the young talent that is currently in the Flyers system will be making their way on to the NHL Roster. The Flyers will have that perfect mix of veterans and youth every NHL team craves. The only major hole the Flyers are lacking right now in their system is a left winger who can score and who can play with Giroux and Voracek. Michael Raffl might be the answer, but he still needs to show he can stay healthy and consistent over the course of an 82 game season. Below is what I think the Flyers line up will look like when they are ready to contend.
Giroux, Voracek, Simmonds, Schenn, Couturier, Del Zotto and Mason will all be somewhere between 24 and 29. Provorov, Sanheim, Morin, Gostisbehere, Aude-Kubel, Konecny and Lindholm will all be somewhere between the ages of 20 and 25. The perfect blend of age and youth.