NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Philadelphia Flyers prioritized finding a goal-scorer and a right-shot defenseman in the offseason.
They got both and are confident the additions of left wing James van Riemsdyk and defenseman Christian Folin can help them return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and win a series for the first time since 2012.
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"I think there's a lot of good pieces that are going to be even better [this season]," forward Jakub Voracek said.
Van Riemsdyk, who scored an NHL career-high 36 goals with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, signed a five-year contract July 1. He was selected by the Flyers with the No. 2 pick in the 2007 NHL Draft and played three seasons in Philadelphia before he was traded to the Maple Leafs on June 23, 2012. Four players remain from his first stint with the Flyers: Voracek, Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds.
"Me being in a place that I've been before, being comfortable with some of the guys that have been here for a while and the guys that I was with before, that makes it a little easier," van Riemsdyk said.
Van Riemsdyk likely will play left wing on a line with second-year center Nolan Patrick. The No. 2 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, Patrick had 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 73 games in 2017-18 and was more productive in the second half of the season. He had 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in his final 33 games after he had nine (three goals, six assists) in his first 40 games.
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Patrick had a healthy offseason to train for the first time in three years after having abdominal muscle surgeries following the past two seasons.
"That's so important for a player, especially for a young player," coach Dave Hakstol said. "So important to be able to have that time. [I've] been able to talk a few times with Nolan, he's got a great routine, he's feeling really good. I think it's going to pay huge dividends for him and our team."
With Patrick and van Riemsdyk on the second line, likely with Voracek, it would allow the Flyers to use Couturier, Giroux and Travis Konecny on the first line.
Couturier, who will miss the start of preseason because of a lower-body injury sustained in a charity game Aug. 10, set personal NHL highs last season in goals (31), assists (45) and points (76), tied for third in the NHL with a plus-34 rating, and was second in voting for the Selke Trophy.
Giroux, playing left wing for the first time, was second in the NHL with 102 points (34 goals, 68 assists), six behind Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers.
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Konecny, 21, scored 24 goals, more than double the 11 he had as a rookie in 2016-17.
"[Playing with Couturier and Giroux] gave me the confidence to make plays and not be afraid to try to step up and maybe make a big play," Konecny said. "I felt like once I played with those guys it gave me an extra step to not be afraid to maybe try something I hadn't tried before."
Folin adds a second right-handed shot to a unit that's had Radko Gudas as the only right-shot defenseman to play more than 30 games each of the past three seasons. Folin had 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 65 games with the Los Angeles Kings last season.
"Having an additional right-hander adds a lot of different possibilities in terms of combinations," Hakstol said. "There are certain tight spots on the ice when you're on your off side you can get squeezed pretty quickly and it limits your options. Having the righty/lefty combination is a real positive."
Hakstol said the Flyers are motivated following their loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round last season.
"This group is excited to get going, excited about the challenge ahead of them, and has a quiet inner belief among themselves," he said.