Every year we patiently wait for the start of the hockey season. It always takes an eternity, but some of us manage to find solace in fantasy hockey preparation. The month of September is usually a busy one for fantasy hockey players, as they get ready for their draft by scouting players on various websites, reading a multitude of magazines or even articles by the pros. Fantasy hockey is not always taken lightly, whether you’re playing for money, bragging rights, or both. Here are my first ever predictions for the Philadelphia Flyers.
There are plenty of leagues with different rules and scoring systems. Since this is my first time doing this, I will keep it simple and focus on some of the main categories we see in standard leagues: goals, assists, and power play points. It’s also important to consider shots, blocked shots, and hits, but I will not put as much emphasis on those and will not try to predict them either.
For years, Giroux has been the ultimate fantasy hockey weapon. He has been playing some of the best hockey of his career in the past two seasons, which have seen him rack up 56 goals and 187 points in 164 games. There are a few guarantees you are getting with Giroux: he stays healthy (knock on wood), he gets points in all situations and he is playing on a very talented squad this season.
Even though his power play production dropped off last season, Giroux managed to notch 85 points on a relatively weak team with a bad power play. The club should see improvement this year, and a healthy James van Riemsdyk should help out on the man advantage. Giroux’s game has risen to another level since being moved to the wing to play with Sean Couturier, and I would expect another solid year from the captain.
Projection: 88 points | 28 goals | 60 assists | 30 PPP
The player who was once the whipping boy of the fanbase is now one of the biggest threats for the Flyers. Now with back-to-back 30 goal, 200 shot & 70 point seasons under his belt, Couturier is looking to improve on it while remaining the defensive stud that he is. That being said, it’s easy to envision Couturier being a point-per-game player this season. Why?
Well, Couturier is a much more confident player now. He has found the scoring touch that made him a complete package in junior. He started last season with a miserable four goals in 12 games, still feeling the effects of the injury he sustained in the playoffs. If we remove the month of October, he racked up 72 points in 68 games, which is an 86 point pace in a full season. Key to 2019-20: Start strong.
Projection: 84 points | 33 goals | 51 assists | 26 PPP
At this point in Voracek’s career, we know who he is and what he is capable of. He is a 20 goal scorer who would rather attempt a high-risk pass for a tap-in than fire the puck in high danger situations. While we would all love to see him be a little more selfish with the puck in high danger situations, it’s highly unlikely at this point. Since arriving in Philadelphia, Voracek has been a consistent 50+ point guy, and his low goal totals are quite surprising when you consider the fact that he’s had 200+ shots in each of his past six seasons.
Next season, he will likely be playing alongside JVR & Hayes, a second line that should be lethal. The hopes are that Voracek regains 2017-18 form, a year that saw him hit career highs in points (85) and assists (65). Like Giroux, Voracek is cemented on the top play unit, an area where has tallied 132 points in the last five seasons.
Projection: 75 points | 23 goals | 52 assists | 24 PPP
James van Riemsdyk
It was a rocky start to the season for van Riemsdyk. After his six-year vacation with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he was brought in by Ron Hextall on a lucrative seven-year, $49 million deal to provide some much-needed goal-scoring. Unfortunately, he was injured in his fourth period of play for the Flyers, which had him out over a month. When JVR came back, he posted 47 points (27 goals) in 64 games, a decent 60 point, 34 goal pace in a full season.
What will also aid JVR is the departure of longtime Flyer Wayne Simmonds, who occupied the first power play net-front presence for years. After the “Wayne Train” was traded, JVR scored 11 goals in 20 games, including a hat trick against his former team. With a healthy season and full-time PP1 duties, he should be back in 30 goal column. He also gets a very large slice of the offensive zone starts.
Projection: 59 points | 34 goals | 25 assists | 18 PPP
Konecny has strung together two great, productive seasons. When slotted on a line with Giroux and Couturier, he is lethal and a threat to score every other shift. As I mentioned in other articles and many times on Twitter, Konecny would have hit the 30 goal mark with only a little more luck. He hit the post so many times to start the year that people began to wonder if he was ever going to score again. He spent some time with Giroux-JVR and Lindblom-Patrick duos, but there was no denying that he was at his best at 5-on-5 when on a line with Giroux and Couturier.
Next season, that is where he should be and this is the year where we should see Konecny break out in a big way. He has tallied 24 goals two years in a row and increased his point total from 47 to 49 while being shuffled around the lineup. There is a lot to be optimistic about when drafting Konecny, but unfortunately, he won’t see any time on the top power play unit barring drastic changes. That being said, he brings a lot to the table and next year he is going to show it.
Projection: 61 points | 31 goals | 30 assists | 12 PPP
Patrick was named the top breakout player by NHL.com last year, unfortunately, he didn’t live up to that tag. At times, Patrick would show glimpses of brilliance and completely dominate games, and other times, disappear entirely. The lack of consistency was the main issue, but the positive is that the former second overall pick played with more pace compared to his rookie season.
Heading into 2019-20, Patrick needs a breakout season, but what exactly is a reasonable expectation for him? Well, for starters, he’s not going to be a 60 or 70 point guy. He’s still going to have second power play duties and will be lodged behind Couturier and newly acquired center Kevin Hayes. In my opinion, a 20-goal campaign seems attainable. Playing alongside Oskar Lindblom should really help as well.
Projection: 42 points | 20 goals | 22 assists | 7 PPP
The $50 million dollar man, the Flyers big fish and hopefully, a key to help the club reach the next level. Hayes comes in with sky-high expectations and it will be very interesting to see if he can match them. The plus side is that he will have great linemates and won’t be seeing shutdown lines from opposing teams.
The downside is that Hayes likely won’t see time on the first power play unit barring injury. Pairing him with a natural scorer like van Riemsdyk should help him rack up assists, but he’s also going to be with a fantastic playmaker in Voracek, which will hopefully help him get back to the 25-goal mark set in 2017-18.
Projection: 60 points | 23 goals | 37 assists | 8 PPP
A dark horse candidate for a breakout season, Lindblom will be looking to build off the successful rookie season that saw him notch 17 goals and 16 assists. Like many players with skating concerns, Lindblom needs to rely on his intelligence to duplicate his performance. It shouldn’t be a problem, Lindblom knows his strengths and knows where to go to cash in.
Along the boards, he’s an absolute bull on the puck and he has great vision and scoring ability. Paired with Patrick and a right-winger to be named later, I see no reason why Lindblom can’t hit the 20-goal plateau.
Projection: 38 points | 20 goals | 18 assists | 7 PPP
It’s hard to believe that ‘Ghost’ has almost played 300 NHL games. It seems like just yesterday he was tearing it up in his historic rookie season. That being said, Gostisbehere did not have a good year and everyone, including himself, knew it. After posting a 65-point season in 2017-18, many thought he was going to either repeat that season or hit similar benchmarks. It was not the case.
To be fair, a lot went wrong for the Flyers last year, the power play being one area. It’s usually where Gostisbehere thrives with that cannon of a shot, but last year, his shot totals dropped from 221 to 180 and the defensive side of his game fell apart. Next year, having a good partner alongside him and reducing the difficult minutes should help him bounce back. He is still the #1 defenseman on the power play and can still rack up a ton of points if everything clicks.
Projection: 51 points | 12 goals | 39 assists | 25 PPP
Much like Gostisbehere, Provorov did not have a good season. It was an especially important one for the young Flyers blueliner, considering his entry-level contract was up, but everything seemed to go wrong. His point totals plummeted after recording an NHL-best (among defensemen) 17 goals the year before. My theory? He simply played too much.
Provorov averaged 24 minutes a night during the 2017-18 regular season, nearly 25 minutes in the playoffs and in 2018-19, he averaged over 25 minutes per game. Even for a machine like Provorov, that is an insane amount of ice time. The good news is that next season he will have a steady partner in Niskanen and a lesser workload with the emergence of other young defensemen and summer acquisitions. The downside is that he probably won’t hit the same highs as in 2017-18.
Projection: 37 points | 11 goals | 26 assists | 5 PPP
One of the few bright spots on the blue line last year, Sanheim emerged once his ice time increased under Scott Gordon. Sanheim has an accurate shot and possesses great skating ability to get the puck to high danger scoring areas. Once he gets the legs moving, he’s hard to stop.
Offensively, I think he will have similar totals, but his defensive game will probably elevate due to having a steady, defensive-oriented partner in Justin Braun. One area it will be interesting to see Sanheim in is the power play. The Flyers tend to throw Provorov in there, but he isn’t as good on the man advantage as he appears to be and the area seems to be better suited for a guy like Sanheim.
Projection: 34 points | 7 goals | 27 assists | 7 PPP
This sums up my projections for the team. I left goalies off because I wouldn’t even know where to begin with projections and this is also my first real crack at projecting this stuff. I also left out players who I don’t see as big fantasy contributors this year (Niskanen, Laughton, Myers, etc.).
Photos by Kate Frese