We put together the final elements and wrap up our series of grading the Philadelphia Flyers for the 2019-20 NHL regular season.
Over the past few weeks, as we’ve all sat around wondering if and when the Philadelphia Flyers might get a shot to play for the Stanley Cup this spring (or summer), we’ve gone through each regular player on the team and graded them on their performance during the 2019-20 regular season, which is likely over.
Aside from each on-ice player evaluation, there are a couple more areas where we need to grade the Flyers this season. We’ll get to those shortly. But before that, here’s a list of every player we’ve graded so far, with appropriate links to their full report cards. They’re broken down by position and in descending order of grade.
Travis Konecny: A-
Scott Laughton: B+
Kevin Hayes: B
Jakub Voracek: B-
Joel Farabee: C+
Ivan Provorov: A-
Matt Niskanen: B+
Robert Hagg: C+
Justin Braun: C
Carter Hart: B
Brian Elliott: B-
Now, with the main players taken care of, we’ll have to reach into a couple different areas before we calculate our final grade for the club this regular season.
Here we’ll try to come up with a group score for all of the players who saw time for the Flyers this year but didn’t play enough to qualify for a full grade on their own. The most notable name is, of course, winger Oskar Lindblom. He was on pace for a true breakout season through 30 games before being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. If all goes well, he should be an impact contributor once again next year. #OskarStrong.
Farmhands Connor Bunnaman and Carsen Twarynski were both adequate in bottom-line duty, and top prospect Morgan Frost was ok in his first 20 NHL games, though more will be expected next year. Mikhail Vorobyev showed poorly in 20 games, and he might already be a bust. Veteran Andy Andreoff didn’t have much impact in 14 games. Chris Stewart was hot garbage in his 16 games, and he thankfully didn’t dress in the season’s last two months. Trade deadline acquisition Derek Grant looked really good in his 7 games with the team; it’s a shame that’s all we might get to see of him in Philadelphia. Nate Thompson was passable in his 7 games after being acquired.
Mercifully, the Flyers only had to use three goalies (Hart, Elliott, and three games of Alex Lyon) this year, a far cry from the record eight goaltenders that they went through in 2018-19. Lyon was fine in his brief stint this season, and he had one excellent performance in a big win over Colorado on February 1.
What a difference a year makes, as Alain Vigneault seemed to completely clean up the mess that Dave Hakstol had managed to create. The Flyers largely tread water for a few months, and things got dicey after an awful West Coast trip, but their performance from the second week of January through the “end”of the regular season was inspired. And a large amount of the credit has to go to Vigneault, who has a very strong claim when it comes to the Jack Adams Award this season.
Assistants Mike Yeo and Michel Therrien also deserve mentioning here, as it appears the decision to bring in a pair of hockey minds with past head coaching experience looks like it paid off rather than causing a potential “too many cooks in the kitchen” situation. Yeo especially had an impact this year, as he directed the Flyers’ often suspect penalty killing to an 11th place finish. And even Ian Laperriere, who seemed to have run out of chances, looks like he made a positive impact on the team this year.
We’ll have to take last offseason’s moves by GM Chuck Fletcher into account here. First, he traded for and then signed Kevin Hayes. That was a win. Then he flipped Radko Gudas for Matt Niskanen, another move that seems to have paid dividends. Tyler Pitlick was also a solid acquisition, and Justin Braun has been decent after he was brought in via trade as well.
All of those moves basically had the Flyers capped out so that they couldn’t add any impact players at the start of free agency, which was disappointing and left Fletcher open to criticism if the team struggled. But they didn’t, and his under-the-radar trade deadline moves to get Derek Grant and Nate Thompson looked like they were working out until the season came to a screeching halt. Based on the results I saw from the moves that Fletcher made, I’d have to say that he pushed almost all of the right buttons.
Now that we’ve assembled all of the pieces (well, as many as I care to dive into), we can fully evaluate how this organization performed overall this year. And, for once…it was great.