Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Philadelphia Flyers
For the last 15 years (12 with The Hockey News, last year’s via pinch-hitter Cam Robinson) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 16th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – The Flyers just got a whole lot deeper at forward in terms of their scoring line, and JVR just might be that piece of the puzzle that brings up the team’s secondary scoring to another level. Between van Riemsdyk’s arrival and Nolan Patrick’s progression, Philadelphia can now keep Jakub Voracek on that second line and give him some real talent to play with. That would keep Travis Konecny on that first line where he really flourished on the second half of 2017-18. The odd man out would be Wayne Simmonds, but he would keep his spot on the power play and the domino effect here is that Simmonds upgrades the third line. Now the team has a third line that can be trotted out there to score.
This team finished sixth in the conference with 98 points last season, but some of that was through luck with injuries and good bounces. But now the Flyers are legitimate contenders, with depth up front thanks to JVR, and depth on the blue line thanks to in-house graduations (see below).
Ready for full-time – Oskar Lindblom is a hardworking, two-way forward who is ready to make the jump. After posting strong numbers in Sweden as a 20-year-old, he had a strong AHL rookie campaign with 34 points in 54 games. His NHL debut wasn’t too shabby either, posting six points in 23 games and going plus-4. He’ll slot in on the third line. Between Lindblom and Simmonds, that third line just got better by leaps and bounds – and nobody is happier about that than Scott Laughton. (Scouting profile here)
Samuel Morin has to clear waivers in order to be sent down this season, so the wait is over for the 6-6 defensive giant. The 11th overall pick has put in his time at the AHL level, but offers little in the way of offensive upside. However, he does have potential for huge penalty minutes, well in excess of 100. That being said, he is sidelined until January or February after knee surgery (ACL).
Travis Sanheim was called back up in March and didn’t look back, even getting into some playoff games. The 6-3 defenseman finished his career in the WHL with 133 points in his last 119 games, and then posted 37 points as an AHL rookie. He had 16 points in 18 games for Lehigh Valley last season and has nothing more to prove there. He should see some secondary power-play time in the year ahead.
Goaltending is where things get interesting. Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz each have to clear waivers in order to be sent down. Carter Hart is the team’s Golden Boy and he is turning pro in the fall. Felix Sandstrom was right there alongside Hart, but lost his spot on the ladder because he was hurt last season. However, Sandstrom signed with the Flyers and is also joining the AHL. Four AHL goaltenders, all of them pretty good, a couple of them great, but at different levels of readiness. Muddying the waters is the fact that Philadelphia’s two goaltenders are Certified Band-Aid Boys (Brian Elliott and Michael Neuvirth). For this season, the net is Elliott’s to lose. If he stays healthy he’s getting 60 starts and becomes a top fantasy option given how many wins the Flyers will get this year. But that’s almost certain not to happen. Stolarz is also very injury prone, so he could probably sneak through waivers. But Lyon proved last year that he can handle himself in NHL games. So this team will hold onto three goalies for a while, and how well Elliott and Neuvirth hold up will determine the usage of the other guys. I do anticipate Hart getting in a game or two at some point, just to get a taste. But 50 games in the AHL is what is best for Hart this season. (Update: Sandstrom will play this season in the SHL and will cross the pond for 2019-20, clearing the murky goaltending waters a little)
Philadelphia Flyers prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – The Flyers were 13th in scoring last season but did have a bit of luck in terms of durability as well as the shooting accuracy of key players Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. Any anticipated decline in those key areas should be offset, however, in the improved scoring depth added from van Riemsdyk and Lindblom. The team should also improve on the blue line, albeit they will hurt a little in terms of experience (or lack thereof).
The pipeline is above average, particularly in goal but also in the form of Morgan Frost, arguably one of the most improved prospects in hockey over the past year.
Fantasy Grade: B+ (last year was B-)
Other Offseason Fantasy Outlooks:
- Ramblings: Surprises, Disappointments, & Everything In-Between (Dec. 4)
- Ramblings: Marner returns; updates on Strome, Spurgeon, and Landeskog; Fiala - December 5
- Fantasy Take: John Hynes fired as coach of Devils
- Goldipucks and the Three Skaters: J.T. Miller, Anze Kopitar, & Brady Tkachuk
- Injury Ward: Dahlin, Backstrom, Landeskog, Fleury, Marner & Hughes
- Capped: Teams with free-agent uncertainty
- Eastern Edge: Storylines from around the East
- Ramblings: Landeskog Returns, Phil Finally Provides Some Thrill (Dec 6)