Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Philadelphia
For the last 13 years (12 with The Hockey News) I have reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them. My 14th 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 – And now to figure out a way to write a couple of paragraphs on the impact of these ‘changes’. Let’s see…well, that’s one sentence. Oh, hey – two now!
In all seriousness, the Flyers really just trimmed the fat. They have the fourth highest cap hit in the league. Actually, the second highest, once the Leafs and Wings use their LTIR (technically LTIR doesn’t shrink the cap hit but rather it raises the allowable ceiling – but let’s not get into semantics please). The point is, they have no room. So standing pat is the order of the summer. This makes Nick Cousins a part of the team and it may mean that Jordan Weal gets into some games (stupid waiver rules). And Ivan Provorov can absolutely make the opening night roster.
The Flyers lost two players who played a lot of left wing, as well as a right winger. So not only does Weal get into some games this time, but also Scott Laughton will see more ice time. He took just 388 faceoffs last year, meaning that he was used mostly as a winger, and he won just 43.8% of those draws which means he may not get used at center very much at all this year. So the reduced competition for a third-line winger spot will help.
Ready for full-time – Provorov, for my money, is the best all-around prospect defenseman in the world. He may not quite have the offensive upside as Shayne Gostisbehere, but it’s actually pretty close. And defensively it’s not close at all – Provorov in a walk. If we were to ever get a Nicklas Lidstrom in the next decade, this could well be our best bet. Now sure, these are big words for someone who hasn’t played a single game of professional hockey, and Provorov could certainly Stefan Elliott his way to obscurity with three years of struggling with the pro game. But scouts and pundits do agree that Provorov is close to NHL-ready and he ‘should’ blossom into a quality NHLer. For the first couple of seasons, the production may not be there thanks to Gostisbehere running the power play. But look for this duo to eventually be the Philly version of Pietrangelo (Provorov) – Shattenkirk (Gostisbehere). (Read more on Provorov here)
Cousins, for all intents and purposes, is already on the team. He was recalled February from Lehigh Valley and stayed with the big club for the duration, only getting scratched once. He plays an aggressive two-way game that is an asset on the checking line. But his track record for production at other levels is impressive, including 38 points in 38 games for Lehigh Valley last year. So there is potential there, provided an opportunity opens up. He’s also a decent faceoff man, even though he had just 46.0% success with Philadelphia. One area where we will see a bump in the numbers are the penalty minutes. Just four of them in 36 games with the Flyers, but he had 118 in his last 102 for Lehigh Valley. (Read more on Cousins here)
Fantasy Outlook – One year after finishing 22nd in the NHL in goals-for, the Flyers finished….well, 22nd. And while other teams are improving offensively, Philadelphia is forced to sit on the sidelines thanks to some questionable cap management. It’s time we stopped considering this team as potentially potent offensively and started considering them what they are – the 22nd highest scoring team in the league. Or, to be more apt, the ninth-lowest scoring team in the league.
There does seem to be some secondary scoring (finally) after Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, because Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier and defenseman Gostisbehere have likely arrived as 50-point players. And in the case of Schenn, they have a possible 65-point guy. But now Giroux and Voracek seemed to have lost a step. So instead of two players who get 80 points, a 55-point guy in Simmonds, plus a group of 45-point guys… they now have two 70-point players and four 50-point players (with Schenn possibly more). I’m not sure if that’s a win or not in fantasy, but generally speaking I know that poolies prefer a team to have a couple of elite producers and that points-by-committee is not ideal.
Fantasy Grade: C+ (last year was B-)
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