NHL 2017 Season: Philadelphia Flyers Pre-Season Overview
The Philadelphia Flyers haven’t been the most consistent team in recent years. In the 2013 – 14 season they placed 3rd in the Metropolitan Division and 6th in the Eastern Conference. Jump forward to the 2014 – 15 season, and they were just 12th in the Eastern Conference. After a slight bounce back in 2015 – 16, they were down again in 11th of the Eastern Conference in the 2016 -17 season, and missed the Playoffs.Because they’re a team that seems to continually go up and down in terms of their performance, it can be difficult to predict how any Philadelphia Flyers season is going to turn out. Sometimes they surprise us by having a strong playoff run, and at other times they are nowhere in comparison to other teams in the conference. If we look at the recent trends, then the 2017 – 18 season should be time for a bounce back, so let’s have a look at what they’ve done in the off season, and find out if they’ve made any key acquisitions that could take them to the playoffs this season.
Who Did the Team Lose in 2017
There are going to be a lot of changes this year, as general manager Ron Hextall has made efforts to strengthen the team by letting go of players and bringing in two key additions.Nick Cousins will be leaving the team after a trade with the Coyotes, Steve Mason will go to the Jets, Brayden Schenn has been traded to the Blues, and Michael Del Zotto is leaving to join the Canucks. These could all be considered important members of the 2016 – 17 team, but at the same time, that team was inconsistent and didn’t manage to produce any results. While some might argue that a couple of these names should have been retained, the reality is that movement is so common in the NHL that there’s not a lot we can read into here. The team has enough young and underdeveloped talent that none of these players alone, or combined, will have a huge impact on the capabilities of the team.If anything, letting go of these players has helped in the way of trades, and has made room for some special new team members.
Jori Lehtera Joins from the Blues
Letting go of Brayden Schenn has opened up a trade deal for Jori Lehtera. The Finnish left shooting center has spent all three of his NFL seasons with the St Louis Blues, so this will be the first time that he’s ever played for any other team in North America. Although he’s not the most prolific goal scorer, he’s excellent in assists, and that’s slightly more important for the position that he plays in. In his first year in the NHL, he scored 14 goals and made 30 assists with the blues. Last year he had less time on the ice, but still scored 7 goals and made 15 assists from 64 games.Lehtera sees this as a new chance to prove his value in the NHL, after starting strong and then slightly dropping in performance with the blues. He told media that “I just need to prove to myself that I can be a better player. That’s the most important. Show yourself that you can be much better. When you don’t play as good as you want or you play even worse than you think, it’s always nice to get steps forward.”His drop in performance isn’t entirely unexplainable. Points production was broken down after suffering from a concussion injury last year, which is why he didn’t play the full season. He has been optimistic about the chance to start in a new place, saying that “Hockey-wise, it’s good for me. It’s always tough to leave when you know the city, you know the teammates, you know the staff and you have a house here and everything. It’s always tough to leave, but I think for my career and hockey-wise, it’s going to be better for me.”The flyers won’t just gain the services of Lehtera for the trade. They also gained a first round pick in this year’s draft, as well as a conditional pick for the 2018 draft.
New Goaltender Brian Elliott Joins from the Flames
The other key addition that has been announced is Brian Elliott, a strong goaltender who joins from the Calgary Flames. This veteran player will be a familiar face for Jori Lehtera, as they played together for the Blues in 2014 and 2015. Brian Elliott is perhaps an even more important addition than Lehtera, and is considered as one of the top goaltenders in the NHL. Last year he played 49 games and maintained a .910 save percentage. The previous year, he made .930 from 42 games. In his career in the NHL he has only gone below a .9 save percentage for one season. Last year he was ranked the 45th goaltender, with 1217 saves from 1338 shots against. During the 2015 – 16 season, he was ranked 4th, with a percentage lower than only Carey Price and Scott Wedgewood. Elliott still has the potential to be one of the best in the NHL in terms of his statistics, and a new start at the Flyers could be the opportunity that he needs to hit a second peak in his career. In any case, it’s clear that Elliott is an improvement for the Philadelphia Flyers, and having a strong player in front of the net will help the team as they aim to make the playoffs again.
Can Philadelphia Flyers Get Back to the Playoffs This Season?
There’s a good chance that the Philadelphia Flyers will be able to improve on last year’s record and get back to the playoffs this season. They’ve got players like Wane Simmonds, who is a relentless 30+ scorer who continues to improve with every year that he’s in the NHL. They also have Claude Giroux, who has been providing an average of 48.75 assists for the past four years straight. Their offensive could create serious trouble for their opponents, and boosting the defense with a goaltender like Elliott is a sign that we’re going to see an improvement this year.It might seem early to say that they’re definitely going to make the playoffs, but we can at least say that they have the right people to make it possible.