Who’s ready for some Philadelphia Flyers predictions?
The preseason has been moving along and the 2018-19 regular season for the Flyers is almost upon us. As we all know, there is no better time to throw out some predictions for the year ahead of us.
Yes, these opinions are simply my own and any scrutiny or disagreement is more than welcome. In fact, it’s encouraged!
Let’s begin, shall we?
Wayne Simmonds Will Remain With Philadelphia for the Season
As we all know, Wayne Simmonds and the Flyers have not agreed on a contract extension. Now that preseason hockey is in full sway; I believe contract talks between both sides will slow down and come to a complete halt come the start of the regular season. Of course, this will lead to trade speculation as the deadline gets close. However, it would make no sense for Ron Hextall to trade Simmonds unless the team ultimately falls apart. The winger will remain with Philadelphia for the entirety of the 2018-19 season and playoffs.
Unfortunately, that will be it for Wayne Simmonds with the Philadelphia Flyers. Everybody wants “The Wayne Train” to remain in orange and black, but he is going to command a heftier price tag than Hextall will be willing to give. We can continue to dream about a hometown discount but its just not going to happen. Someone will pay full price for the service of Simmonds, and he deserves every penny.
Carter Hart Will Remain in Lehigh Valley
We all want the future of Flyers goaltending to start now. However, barring something crazy, Carter Hart is going to spend the entirety of his 2018-19 season in the AHL starting for the Phantoms. Over the past few seasons, the Flyers fanbase has had to be more patient than some are comfortable being. Hextall is going to demand more patience when it comes to the team’s elite goalie prospect. Hart will continue to progress and develop his game in the minors for one year. Then, the door will be completely open for him to take the starting netminder job in Philly the following season.
A Different Dave Hakstol
Head Coach Dave Hakstol has been a frustrating topic of conversation for some time now. His decisions in regards to player usage have been questionable and at times infuriating. Luckily, I think this is the year Hakstol turns a new leaf. He has so many options when it comes to filling roster spots with the younger talent. There will be no excuses for overplaying the likes of Jori Lehtera and Dale Weise.
Additionally, there is going to be more pressure from Hextall to play the younger players he feels deserve respectable ice-time. It’s “put up or shut up” time for Hakstol, and he knows that. Much to the excitement of everyone, he will show his commitment to the youth making their way to Philadelphia this season.
Lehtera Gets Demoted
This one might be more wishful thinking than anything else but I feel the Flyers have no need for Lehtera in the lineup anymore and he will be sent down to Lehigh Valley. Philadelphia is better off having Jordan Weal and Scott Laughton man the two bottom-six center positions, and they know that they will not lose Lehtera via a waiver claim. The Flyers and Lehtera know this is his last year with the franchise and it is better to let the players with promise and potential play.
Flyers Will Finish Third in the Metropolitan Division
The Philadelphia Flyers are a team that is trending in the right direction. However, there are still some gaps in this team preventing them from reaching that next step as a contender. We should be having a different conversation next season, but Philadelphia still falls slightly behind the likes of Washington and Pittsburgh. Additionally, it would be foolish to count out Columbus, who has a very talented and deep roster heading into the season.
The Flyers will be one of four teams to make the postseason, finishing third in the division. I’m predicting that Washington will finish atop the Metropolitan Division and the Blue Jackets will place just ahead of Philadelphia in second. That leaves the Penguins with the first wild-card spot. Pittsburgh will still be a threat come playoff time but will have ups and downs throughout the season.
Advancing to Round Two
As the offseason moved along, I noticed a common expectation amongst Flyers fans. Many people believe that this team needs to win a playoff round in 2019. I completely agree and think it will happen. If my prediction above holds true, the Flyers will play the Blue Jackets in the first round. Columbus is another team that fails to achieve success in the postseason, and I have no problem picking the Flyers to take them out. However, Philadelphia will struggle to make it out of the second round no matter the team. Still, the Flyers will continue to make strides to becoming a legitimate contender for years to come.