Even though the Philadelphia Flyers picked second overall in the 2017 draft, they weren’t that bad of a team. The Flyers actually finished the season with a 33-39-10 record, good enough for 88 points. Eleven teams finished worse in the standings than the Flyers. So, while the team wasn’t at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, the team did make some changes. They got a little younger, trading away 25-goal scorer Brayden Schenn for struggling Jori Lehtera, a 2017 first-round pick and a conditional first-round pick in 2018, they let defenseman Michael Del Zotto walk and they swapped goaltenders, replacing veteran Steve Mason with Brian Elliott. They also drafted second-overall pick Nolan Patrick in the draft this year.
However, Philly.com’s Sam Donnellon writes that it will be very difficult to measure in which direction the team will go this year. Even with many of their veterans returning, there are too many unknowns, including the defense could have two or more rookie defensemen, both Patrick and top prospect Oskar Lindblom could make the team out of training camp and their goaltending still looks to be less than stellar. Some of those points could be positives as Lindblom and Patrick could have big first seasons or Elliott could have a comeback season.
The scribe writes that a lot of the teams success or lack thereof will fall on third-year coach Dave Hakstol, who must figure out how to fit all the pieces together while developing the team’s emerging youth.
- In an interview with Artemi Panarin in a Russian newspaper, SB Nation’s Dave Melton got a translated copy, in which he states he was surprised to be traded from Chicago, but is eager to move on to Columbus and hopes for an even bigger role with the Blue Jackets. The fact that multiple players have said they would like to play alongside him including Alexander Wennberg, is what Panarin says is exciting about the move. “That’s why I see this trade as a springboard and not a pitfall.”
- While likely meaningless, Denver Post’s Mike Chambers tweeted a picture of unrestricted free agent defenseman and Hobey Baker Award winner Will Butcher at Denver International Airport on Friday, carrying a bag with the Buffalo Sabres logo on it. Chambers suggests that his first visit was to Buffalo. The Sabres, Vegas Golden Knights, Columbus Blue Jackets and the New Jersey Devils have been reported to have reached out to the free agent out of the University of Denver.