Mid-Summer Roundtable

Updated: July 31, 2018 at 11:16 am by Matt Brauckmann

Going into the 2018-19 series, there is a myriad of questions surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers organization. Some feel that the Flyers need to add more, some feel that their prospects are ready, and some feel that they need to trade some players. So what’s going on with the Flyers? Join us as we debate some of the questions that have been echoing through minds of Flyer fans.

Given the addition of a scoring winger in JVR, do you think it makes sense to move Claude Giroux back to the middle? Or was his success as a winger too good to pass up?

Brandon Murphy: I think it would be logical to keep Giroux on the wing. He and Couturier had great chemistry last year, and it showed with both of them posting career numbers. On top of that, moving Giroux back to center would push Couturier to second line center and Patrick to third line center. I think most fans, including myself, want to see a top six of Giroux, Couturier, and Konecny and vanRiemsdyk, Patrick, and Voracek.

Nick Borden: I’m a big proponent of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Flyers top six as is, should be among the most lethal in the NHL. Giroux was arguably the best winger in the NHL last year and with Couturier making his case last season for a spot as a true number one centerman, it would be a mistake to take him off the first line. Also, Nolan Patrick proved he can make an impact at the end of last season alongside Jake Voracek. If you put G back in the middle you risk stunting the rapid growth of the two young studs you have in the middle of the top 6 right now.

John Gove: I have to respond to this question with absolutely not! We just witnessed Claude Giroux produce the best numbers of his career. I’m of the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality, and Giroux at wing works just fine. Additionally, the Flyers could potentially have one of the league’s best top-six with Giroux, Couturier, and Konecny on the top line and vanRiemsdyk, Patrick, and Voracek on the second line. That’s something not worth messing with at this point.

Wes Herrmann: The Flyers could have added a couple premier left wingers, and I’d still be hesitant to move Giroux back to center. Obviously, he’d give the team depth at a position that could use some more, but you don’t mess with a 44-point jump in production. At 30 years old, Giroux had his best season ever. That’s not a common feat in the NHL today. That’s also without mentioning the chemistry he formed with Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny.

Johan Gartner: I believe that the best thing (at least to start the season) is to go with Giroux – Couturier – Konecny as the first line and slot JVR with Patrick and Voracek. I see no need to split up the Giroux and Coots duo, they were dominant. Couturier was the best defensive forward in the league last year, despite not winning the Selke and Giroux should have been nominated for the Hart. The only way I could see Giroux going back to center is if they really struggle to start the season.

Matt Brauckmann: There’s no way the Flyers should move Giroux back to center. Aside from his own personal success, moving him to center allowed Sean Couturier to slot in as the number one center and thrived last season. We all knew about Coots’ outstanding defensive game, but the offense we saw out of him this season was something to behold. Unless the Flyers run into some serious scoring problems, there is no way the top line should look any different than Giroux, Couturier, and Konecny.

With the departure of Filppula, the Flyers now have an open spot at 3C. Is there any free agent that fits well here, or should Ron Hextall look within the organization to fill the void?

Brandon: Hextall should look to fill the void within the organization. There are so many options are available and it wouldn’t make much sense at this point to sign a free agent. There have been several reports mentioning that Hextall was keen on trying Jordan Weal at center, so we’ll see if that ends up coming to fruition, if not, you have Scott Laughton to take on the extra responsibility. There’s even a chance that a player like Morgan Frost or Mikhail Vorobyev can surprise at camp and crack the roster.

Nick: Heading into the offseason, yours truly was leading the Riley Nash to Philly train. He signed in Columbus for 3 yrs/$8.25 million, unfortunately, I’m not the GM and they didn’t seem to agree with me because that’s a great deal for a top-tier third line center. With that, it’s looking like we have no choice but to find a third line centerman internally. Morgan Frost is the attractive option, but I think Hak and Hex have real concerns about his size that they’re not going to be able to get over quite yet so we’re looking elsewhere. My choice would be Mikhail Vorobyov. At 6’2” and right around 200 pounds, Vorobyov has the physical specs to make an impact on the third line and he brings the two-way game that the Flyers have been hoping to see from Scott Laughton, but have yet to find. He was dominant at development camp this year and seems like the most likely candidate within the system to make a quantum leap this year.

John: I think that Ron Hextall should and will look within the organization to fill the 3C position. I’m all for giving Scott Laughton his opportunity there. However, if Morgan Frost proves he’s NHL-ready, it would be hard not to slide him in there. Either way, both those options are better than what is still out on the free agent market.

Wes: I don’t believe there are any free agents left that could fill the void better than Scott Laughton or Jordan Weal. Prospects Morgan Frost and Mikhail Vorobyev are also possibilities, but I think they’re both long shots. That being said, I would have liked to have seen an improvement other than Laughton or Weal. I’m not sure Laughton can bring enough offensive production and Weal will need a big rebound to be an effective top-nine player.

Johan: A cheap option would be to add Nick Shore as the fourth line center position and then bump up Laughton as the third line center. There’s a connection between Shore and Hextall ranging all the way back to when Hextall was the General Manager of Kings AHL affiliate team. I really see them filling the third line center position internally and I think Laughton will win the job.

Matt: This decision is going to be a tough one for the Flyers. Given the fact that a guy like Tom Wilson just commanded $5+ million on the open market, one has to think that the Flyers would pretty much be overpaying for anyone at the third or fourth line level. Scott Laughton showed many flashes of being a great depth player last season even with some not-so adequate linemates. The Flyers have an abundance of talent in their farm system, and a player in Scott Laughton who can fill that role right now. I don’t see any reason for them to look to the market.

Despite the Flyers lackluster performance in the playoffs, Travis Sanheim looked fantastic in the games he played. Does he solidify himself as a full-time defenseman this season, or will he find himself in and out of the lineup again?

Brandon: Sanheim will without a doubt solidify himself as a full-time defenseman this season. Sanheim should have played most of the season last year, but Brandon Manning was blocking his path. It’s clear that he has the skill necessary to play in the NHL and we’re going to see that on full display this upcoming season.

Nick: In short, I don’t think the Flyers have much of a choice. That being said, Sanheim’s cemented his place in the top six and is long overdue. He dominated with the Phantoms last season and when he played with the Flyers, I don’t think anyone can say he wasn’t solid at the very least. His size, skating, and puck-moving ability are undeniable assets that should land him among the regular defensive core, especially with the departure of Brandon Manning.

John: Travis Sanheim should be a full-time NHL defenseman for the Flyers in 2018-19. I find no strong argument for the other side of this conversation. However, we cannot forget how the coaching staff treated Sanheim last season.  Despite the fact that Sanheim should play every game, it would not shock me if he found himself in the press box some nights.

Wes: Of course there’s some concern with Sanheim sitting because of Hakstol, but after a year of some healthy scratches for Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Konecny in 2016-17, the pair weren’t scratched at all last year. I’d expect a similar path for Sanheim. He looked much better after his recall later in the year and he’ll come into training camp with 49 NHL games under his belt instead of none.

Johan: I fully expect Sanheim to play full-time with the Flyers. He is easily a top four defenseman on this team, so I expect his role to grow immensely this season. I hope to see him solidify a spot on the second power play unit this season, although that might be wishful thinking.

Matt: At this point, there’s really no excuse for Sanheim not to be in the lineup. Aside from Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, Sanheim was easily one of the Flyers best defensemen last season. He had some speed bumps early on last season, but by the end of the year, he was a noticeable force on the ice. If Dave Hakstol doesn’t fully utilize him this season then this team is going to have some serious issues.

The Flyers and Penguins will be facing off outdoors at Lincoln Financial Field in February of 2019, but it seems as if the game is receiving less hype than the Winter Classic they hosted 7 years ago. Has the NHL oversaturated the market with outdoor hockey?

Brandon:  The hype for outdoor games have unfortunately been crushed by the greed of the NHL. I understand it’s a business and people are there to make money, but the Winter Classic and Stadium Series have been nothing more than a cash grab. No more anticipation or joy for them, especially when Chicago will be playing in their 6th outdoor game.

Nick: Way, way too many outdoor games. The Flyers and Penguins don’t need to play each other outside twice in three years. Outdoor games used to be a spectacle, the Winter Classic was something we all could look forward to and make certain that you’re tuned in to watch, but now it seems like there are 15 outdoor games a year, so if you miss one of them it’s not a big deal. It’s gone too far, and it’s definitely lost its luster. With all of that being said, I’m a mindless sheep, so I’ll see you at the Linc on February 23rd.

John: When outdoor games consisted of just the Winter Classic, they were both intriguing and fun. Now that there are a handful of these outdoor games a year, they have indeed lost their excitement. It is clearly just a way for the league to get as much money as possible. Not that I shame them for that, it is a business after all. Still, I have personally lost all interest in teams playing outdoors at this point.

Wes: The NHL has oversaturated the market with outdoor games — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. NBC hypes them up as national games, but I like looking at them more as local novelties. It’s always exciting when the Flyers are in them, but I don’t bother myself with most other team’s outdoor games. Maybe that’s not the goal the NHL and NBC outlined for themselves, but they still make money and I believe that’s the best way for fans to look at them now.

Johan: I love the Winter Classic and Stadium Series games. I think the concept of playing games outdoor is great, but the problem is that the NHL is using the same teams over and over and over again. I love the Flyers, but I even think we’re playing in too many outdoor games. I can completely understand why there is less hype now than there used to be.

Hey NHL, Stop giving the same teams outdoor games!

Matt: It’s really getting to be excessive at this point. When the Flyers played at Citizens Bank Park in 2012, the entire city was absolutely ecstatic about it, it was huge news. Now, the Flyers are facing off against arguably their biggest rival, in a larger stadium, and I don’t even know whether to call it the Winter Classic or the Stadium Series. What’s the difference anymore? We watched the Flyers play outdoors in 2017 against Pittsburgh and the biggest story became the droves of empty seats in the upper level.

Outdoor hockey is fun, but it’s a novelty that would be drastically improved by going back to its roots. A once a year event, on the national stage, that all hockey fans can look forward too.

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