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Team Reset

Flyers hope infusion of youth, healthy Giroux help ignite offense

Addition of Patrick, No. 2 pick in Draft, expected to boost scoring

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Philadelphia Flyers:

The Philadelphia Flyers have spent the past five seasons building an enviable collection of prospects, and it appears several of them will be given the opportunity for a bigger role this season.

The Flyers could have as many as six rookies in their lineup on opening night, among them center Nolan Patrick, the No. 2 pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, and it's possible four of their six defensemen will have fewer than 85 games of NHL experience.

"Our young players are going to get a long look," general manager Ron Hextall said in April. "We don't plan on going out and signing veterans on the back end. Our kids, it's time to give them a shot, and we're going to do that."

Here is what the Flyers look like today:

 

Key arrivals

Brian Elliott, G: The 32-year-old signed a two-year contract reportedly worth $5.5 million on July 1. He will share time with Michal Neuvirth as Steve Mason's replacement. After a rough start to last season with the Calgary Flames, Elliott was 23-9-2 with a 2.27 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in his final 36 games. … Nolan Patrick, C: He is expected to compete for a full-time roster spot this season. Patrick, who turns 19 on Sept. 19, had abdominal surgery June 13 to repair a sports hernia that limited him to 33 games with Brandon of the Western Hockey League last season. He was expected to need 4-6 weeks to recover, and Hextall is confident he'll be 100 percent for training camp in September. … Jori Lehtera, F: The 29-year-old was acquired in a trade from the St. Louis Blues with the No. 27 pick in 2017 and a conditional first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft on June 23 for forward Brayden Schenn. Lehtera is expected to fill a utility forward role either at center or left wing. He had 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 64 games last season.

Video: Brian Elliott talks about signing with the Flyers

 

Key departures

Brayden Schenn, F: The 25-year-old had 25 goals last season, second on the Flyers behind Wayne Simmonds (31), and his 17 power-play goals were tied with Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the NHL lead. … Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, F: Claimed by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft, Bellemare led Flyers forwards with an average of 2:46 of shorthanded ice time per game. … Steve Mason, G: The 29-year-old signed a two-year contract with the Winnipeg Jets on July 1. He was 26-21-8 with a 2.66 GAA and .908 save percentage in 58 games (54 starts) last season, his fifth with the Flyers. … Michael Del Zotto, D: The 27-year-old signed a two-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks on July 1. In 51 games last season, Del Zotto had 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) and averaged 19:30 of ice time per game. … Nick Schultz, D: The 34-year-old played 28 games last season but was part of the Flyers' leadership group. He is an unrestricted free agent. … Nick Cousins, C: The 24-year-old was traded to the Arizona Coyotes with goalie prospect Merrick Madsen on June 16 for forward prospect Brendan Warren and a fifth-round pick in the 2018 draft. Cousins had 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in an NHL career-high 60 games last season. 

Video: PHI@NYR: Schenn beats Lundqvist with long slap shot

 

On the cusp

Samuel Morin, D: The No. 11 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, Morin, 22, has learned to use his frame (6-foot-6, 202 pounds) in the defensive zone. He had a game-high seven hits against the New Jersey Devils in his NHL debut April 4. … Robert Hagg, D: The 22-year-old had a Flyers-high five shots on goal in his NHL debut April 9. Philadelphia has been impressed by his development in three full seasons with Lehigh Valley in the American Hockey League. … Travis Sanheim, D: The No. 17 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Sanheim was sixth among rookie AHL defensemen last season with 37 points (10 goals, 27 assists) and was plus-7 in 76 games for Lehigh Valley. With openings on defense, the 21-year-old will compete with Morin and Hagg for a roster spot. … Oskar Lindblom, LW: A fifth-round pick (No. 138) in 2014, he had 47 points (22 goals, 25 assists) in 52 games for Brynas last season, fourth in the Swedish Hockey League. Lindblom, who turns 21 on Aug. 15, is expected to take a top-nine forward spot this season.

 

What they still need

More scoring, especially at even strength. The Flyers' 128 5-on-5 goals were tied with the Canucks for fourth-fewest in the NHL last season. Having centers Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier at full strength for an entire season could help; Giroux wasn't himself for the first half of 2016-17, when he was recovering from hip and abdominal surgery in May 2016, and Couturier struggled to find his offensive game after missing a month early in the season with a knee injury. There also will be increased roles for forwards Travis Konecny and Jordan Weal this season. Konecny scored eight of his 11 goals as a rookie last season at even strength. Weal had seven even-strength goals in 23 games, one fewer than Schenn scored in 79 games.

 

Pete Jensen's fantasy focus

Elliott will compete with Neuvirth for playing time in arguably the toughest division in the League but he has been a strong fantasy finisher each of the past two seasons, for the Blues in 2015-16 and the Flames in 2016-17. The Flyers have some bounce-back candidates in their forward group and a strong prospect pool led by Patrick, meaning Elliott has sneaky fantasy potential if drafted outside the top 100 overall.

Video: Nolan Patrick reacts to being 2nd overall

 

Projected lineup

Travis Konecny -- Claude Giroux -- Jakub Voracek

Jordan Weal -- Sean Couturier -- Wayne Simmonds

Oskar Lindblom -- Nolan Patrick -- Valtteri Filppula

Jori Lehtera -- Mike Vecchione -- Michael Raffl

Ivan Provorov -- Andrew MacDonald

Samuel Morin -- Shayne Gostisbehere

Robert Hagg -- Radko Gudas

Brian Elliott

Michal Neuvirth

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