The 2019-20 season should be an exciting one for the Philadelphia Flyers. The depth added by Chuck Fletcher early this summer should bring balance to an otherwise lethal lineup and allow some of the young players to take that next step.
Who is going to be the guy, who, next season, will blow everyone out of the water? How many of these players do the Flyers actually own and how many of them will have that much anticipated year?
The truth is, they have quite a few. But are expectations too high for some of them? After all, Sean Couturier only broke out in his seventh NHL season. Is this the case for most of the youngsters in Philadelphia? Well, let’s take a look at potential players who could have a breakout year.
No surprise here. Konecny is the real deal and it’s only a matter of time until he explodes. If there is one thing he does on the ice, it’s generate offensive zone chances. Whether it’s with his shot or his speed, Konecny always appears to have multiple scoring chances per game.
In 2018-19, he was second behind only James Van Riemsdyk in goals/60. He tied his career high with 24 goals but easily could have notched 30 if he hadn’t been so unlucky all year (he hit three crossbars and six posts). “TK” was also an excellent contributor at 5v5, and he had to be, considering he doesn’t play on the first power play unit.
Another example of his even strength production was how 41 of his 49 points came at 5 on 5. The impressive part? He didn’t always rely on Claude Giroux or Couturier. Konecny always seemed to create chances regardless of his linemates. In hindsight, 49 points is very good for #11, but if he gets a little more puck luck next season, a 30 goal, 60 point season is not out of the question.
It’s a little sad to say, but a lot of fans thought last year was going to be Patrick’s coming out party. There was a reason to believe so, he finally had a healthy summer to train, he had one year of experience under his belt and finished his rookie season on a strong note.
However, Patrick just wasn’t able to find that consistency. What was good to see was the remarkable difference in the speed and physicality of his game. While he wasn’t constantly generating chances and tallying points, his two-way game became much stronger and he displayed flashes of utter brilliance at times that made me think “Wow, this guy has another gear.”
Unfortunately, those flashes always seemed to be overshadowed by long stretches of games where Patrick was seemingly non-existent. Now, let’s not hit the panic button, he is 20 years old. 20. He still adjusting to the NHL speed and even though his production has been disappointing for a second overall pick, he will eventually get there. The consistency will come, just like it did for Couturier.
Patrick has shown incredible skill on most nights and with the addition of Kevin Hayes as the second line center, the matchups just got easier for #19, and a big year could be in store for him. It is way too early to give up on him.
Lindblom is often overshadowed by the vast amount of talent on the Flyers roster, mostly because he isn’t as flashy or dynamic. But don’t be fooled, the 22-year-old Swede is a terrific 200-foot player. When he is on the ice, the Flyers are much better offensively and defensively. He is very slick with the puck, is able to finish on plays and dominates board battles.
Among other rookies, Lindblom finished 10th in points with 33 and sixth in goals with 17. It should also be noted that when the calendar turned to 2019, not a single rookie, not even Calder Trophy winner Pettersson, scored more goals than Lindblom.
Skating has always been a concern, but he’s proven to be an extremely effective player on both sides of the puck. After all, we’ve seen many players who lack skating but thrive on skill and intelligence succeed in the NHL. Is this the case for Lindblom?
Well next season, much like Patrick, Lindblom is going to be seeing some easier matchups that will allow him and his rosy-cheeked counterpart to produce and gain confidence. There is also hope that the second power play unit will be getting a boost with the Hayes addition. It’s fair to say Lindblom did more than enough in his rookie season, but can he avoid the dreaded sophomore slump?
When the season ended last season, my confidence in Sanheim being a true top-4 defenseman in the NHL shot through the roof. He was simply amazing when he was finally given a shot to play more minutes. His defensive play with Ivan Provorov would occasionally hit a bump in the road, but Sanheim was able to carry the load more often than not.
He’s shown to be more than capable of playing in his own end, even though his gap control could be a little better. In the offensive zone, he was one of the Flyers best puck rushing defensemen behind only Shayne Gostisbehere. His transition game is excellent.
In his first full season in orange and black, he managed to put up 35 points with very little power play time. Now, it’s almost certain that he stays put on the second power play unit, just like all the other guys listed above, but he will most likely take a step forward next season. Don’t sleep on Sanheim as a breakout candidate.
Photos by Kate Frese