Fantasy Impact: The Philadelphia Flyers have fired their head coach David Hakstol after three-plus seasons with the team, replacing him on an interim basis with assistant coach Scott Gordon.
Gordon was told that he would be the coach for the 51 games that remain in the 2018-19 campaign.
Scott Gordon was previously the head coach of the New York Islanders back in 2008 through 2010, where he took a team that finished 29th in scoring and made them…29th in scoring again. After John Tavares joined the squad in 2009 they improved to 21st, but from a fantasy standpoint he injected little in the way of offense just from his coaching style. For the last three seasons, the 55-year-old Gordon helmed the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and posted improved winning percentages with each year he was coach (0.493, 0.664 and 0.684 last season when they went 47-19-10). That team last season finished second in AHL scoring with 260 goals, just two shy of the league lead (Charlotte Checkers).
When Dave Hakstol took over for the Flyers back in 2015-16, he was taking a team that had finished 22nd in league scoring. He promptly vaulted them up to…well, 22nd in league scoring. But they moved up to 20th in 2016-17 and then 13th last season. Currently, the team has regressed offensively as they sit 23rd, but in goals per game they sit 16th.
It stands to reason that Gordon can improve this offense. He took an unimpressive Lehigh Valley team that 'featured' the likes of Phil Varone, Greg Carey and T.J. Brennan and made them a top-scoring team in the NHL. Currently, only Claude Giroux is humming on the roster. Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny, Wayne Simmonds, James van Riemsdyk, Nolan Patrick and Shayne Gostisbehere have each been underwhelming. The coaching change should inject new life there, which should make fantasy owners happy. As for the team's success – that probably won't happen. We all know their shortcomings stem from goaltending. Brian Elliott hasn't been horrible but he has struggled with injuries, playing in just 14 games so far this season and currently on injured reserve.
For those leagues that count plus/minus and for those teams with Philadelphia goaltending, there probably isn't a light at the end of the tunnel due to this coaching change. But the offensive guns may start rolling. You can probably count on at least two of the 'disappointing' players listed above to start turning things around, and my best guess if I were to pick two would be Gostisbehere and JVR. The biggest wildcard here is Ivan Provorov. He leads the team in ice time and yet sees only secondary PP time. So either Gordon bumps up his PP presence, cuts back on overall ES ice time, or it's status quo. Either of the former two options would impact his production, making him probably the biggest uncertainty as to what to expect.
It's been a fun decade (or two) for Flyers' fans and this coaching change isn't going to change that. The goaltending carousel needs to stop.