NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three questions facing the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Philadelphia Flyers missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third time in five seasons but received a significant reward when they moved up to No. 2 in the 2017 NHL Draft at the NHL Draft Lottery.
They chose forward Nolan Patrick, and he likely will be one of five rookies in the lineup to start this season.
The Flyers also will be younger on defense, and they made a change they think will shore up their goaltending.
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1. How will the rookies handle things?
General manager Ron Hextall said at the end of last season that it was time to start breaking in some of the Flyers' top prospects. He showed that commitment by adding one NHL player in free agency, goaltender Brian Elliott.
Patrick is expected to have a top-nine role up front, as is forward Oskar Lindblom, a fifth-round pick (No. 138) in the 2014 NHL Draft who was fourth in scoring in the Swedish Hockey League last season with 47 points (22 goals, 25 assists) in 52 games.
Defensemen Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg, Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers are expected to compete for two spots in training camp.
"There's a point in the process where we're trying to get younger, but you can't try and get younger and sacrifice the level your team plays to," Hextall said. "Our feeling is now that our young guys have shown enough where they're going to get an opportunity to make our team."
Video: 31 in 31: Philadelphia Flyers 2017-18 season preview
2. Will Brian Elliott be a goaltending upgrade?
The Flyers' chief offseason objective was finding consistency with their goaltending, and they believe that will come with the addition of Elliott, who signed a two-year contract reportedly worth $2.75 million per season July 1 and will share the net with Michal Neuvirth. He replaces Steve Mason, who signed a two-year contract with the Winnipeg Jets.
Elliott had a rough start to last season but went 23-9-2 with a 2.27 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in his final 36 games to help the Calgary Flames finish as the first wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference.
Elliott, 32, is three years older than Mason, 29. He had a .918 save percentage at even strength compared to Mason's .919 last season, when each won 26 games.
3. Can they be better at 5-on-5?
Since 2011-12, no team has relied more on its power play for offense than the Flyers, with 25.9 percent of their goals (327 of 1,260) coming on the man-advantage. But one of the reasons they missed the playoffs last season was a lack of production at 5-on-5; their 128 goals were tied with the Vancouver Canucks for fourth-fewest in the NHL.
More playing time for forward Jordan Weal could help there. He likely will get some of the ice time that had gone to forward Brayden Schenn, who was traded to the St. Louis Blues on June 23. Weal had seven even-strength goals in 23 games last season, one fewer than Schenn had in 79 games.