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Team Reset

Flyers aiming for smoother start, might inject youth

Philadelphia adds size, speed with hope of more consistency

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

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

The Philadelphia Flyers will enter this season wondering what kind of team they are.

Are they the team that struggled early last season? Or the one that went 16-6-3 in its final 25 games to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

General manager Ron Hextall spent the offseason talking about wanting to add skill and size to the Flyers offense, but salary-cap constraints made it a challenge. The biggest offseason additions were bottom-six forwards Dale Weise and Boyd Gordon.

"Dale Weise gives us size (6-foot-2, 206 pounds), gives us some speed, he gives us some tenacious play, he plays with an edge," Hextall said. "He's got some pretty good hands. He can add to our depth scoring, our top-nine scoring. One of the areas we identified that we wanted to add some depth to was our top three lines, and we feel we did that with Dale."

The hope is the second season under coach Dave Hakstol is smoother from the start and that some of the players who struggled offensively last season are able to rediscover their game.

Here is what the Flyers look like today:

Video: Dale Weise on why he signed with the Flyers

KEY ARRIVALS: Dale Weise, RW: With 24 goals over the past two seasons playing for the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks, he's a big forward who should provide a secondary scoring option. He could play on the second power-play unit; the Flyers like to use a big, right-shot forward near the net. He signed a reported four-year contract July 1. … Boyd Gordon, C: The veteran is expected to play on the fourth line and kill penalties. He can play right wing or center, and Hextall said the plan is to use Gordon in defensive-zone situations to ease some of the burden on top-line center Claude Giroux. Gordon, who played for the Arizona Coyotes last season, signed a one-year contract July 1. … T.J. Brennan, D: He was the top defenseman in the American Hockey League for the second time in three seasons in 2015-16 and is a solid depth addition. A native of the Philadelphia suburb of Moorestown, N.J., he signed a multiyear contract July 5 after two seasons in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization. … Roman Lyubimov, LW: The 24-year-old forward had seven goals and seven assists in 52 games with CSKA Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League last season, and eight points in 10 games to help Russia win the bronze medal at the 2016 IIHF World Championship. He signed an entry-level contract July 11 and could play on one of the bottom two lines.

Video: WSH@PHI: Gagner clinches the win for the Flyers

KEY DEPARTURES: Sam Gagner, RW: He played center and on the wing but was inconsistent offensively. He is an unrestricted free agent. … Evgeny Medvedev, D: The Flyers hoped the KHL veteran would be a solid puck-mover, but he never adjusted to the North American ice, and Hakstol lost trust in him. After being a frequent healthy scratch the second half of the season, he signed with Avangard Omsk of the KHL on July 9. … R.J. Umberger, LW: In two seasons with the Flyers, the veteran forward never rediscovered the offensive touch that allowed him to score 20 or more goals in four of his six seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was a healthy scratch for most of the season-ending run and all six playoff games last season, and the Flyers bought out the final year of his contract June 16. … Ryan White, RW: The versatile fourth-line forward did well when used as a net-front presence on the second power-play unit. Hextall had expressed hope in retaining him, but White opted to sign with the Arizona Coyotes on July 1.

Video: Travis Konecny talks to the media on Day 1

ON THE CUSP: Ivan Provorov, D: The seventh pick of the 2015 NHL Draft was voted the best defenseman in the Western Hockey League last season, and at 19 years old, he has a smooth, well-rounded game that could be NHL-ready. Last season, the Flyers saw what a rookie defenseman can add when Shayne Gostisbehere was recalled from the AHL and finished second in Calder Trophy voting. Provorov could get that chance this season. … Travis Konecny, C: The 24th pick of the 2015 draft, Konecny, 19, has electric skill and is the Flyers' most offensively gifted prospect. He tied for seventh in the Ontario Hockey League with 101 points (30 goals, 71 assists) in 60 games last season. Konecny is listed at 170 pounds but said during development camp earlier this month that he's close to his goal of 185. His high-end offensive skill set is something the Flyers are lacking. … Samuel Morin, D: The 11th pick of the 2013 draft needs to add some muscle to his 6-foot-6, 202-pound frame, but he had a solid first season in the AHL in 2015-16. He played through a hip injury that he had surgically repaired after the season; it healed quickly enough that he was on the ice for development camp. … Travis Sanheim, D: The 17th pick of the 2014 draft is ready to start his professional career. The only question is: Will it be with the Flyers or Lehigh Valley of the AHL? Sanheim is a tremendous skater, but the Flyers might want to give him some AHL time to add to his 6-3, 199-pound frame.

Video: PHI@WSH, Gm2: Voracek deposits loose puck past Holtby

WHAT THEY STILL NEED: More skill up front. Last season, most of the offense was carried by the top line of Brayden Schenn, Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds. A return to form by Jakub Voracek, who had 55 points last season after he had 81 in 2014-15, would be a plus. They also need more from Sean Couturier, who has been a lock-down defensive center but last season showed flashes of being the kind of scorer the Flyers have been hoping he'd develop into since drafting him with the No. 8 pick in 2011. His 39 points in 63 games tied his NHL career-high. A healthy season could see him hit 15 goals and 50 points, and that would go a long way toward Philadelphia's hopes of returning to the postseason. … An infusion of youth also could help the playoff push. Gostisbehere arrived in November and arguably was the Flyers' most valuable player. Hextall's belief is to leave prospects in the development pipeline until they are fully capable of helping at the NHL level. Provorov and Konecny each has dominated junior hockey and would have to go back to his Canadian Hockey League team if he's not in the NHL. It might be better to have their youthful energy in Philadelphia, with the hope they provide a Gostisbehere-type boost.

PETE JENSEN'S FANTASY FOCUS: Gostisbehere is one of the most intriguing fantasy players. His points-per-game average (0.72) ranked eighth among NHL defensemen to play at least 10 games, and his 22 power-play points were tied for 11th, despite the fact that he played 64 games. Playing a full season running the top power play with Giroux, Schenn, Simmonds and Voracek makes him a candidate for 60 or more points, something four defensemen did last season. With defensemen Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, P.K. Subban, Kris Letang likely to be picked in the top 15 of most fantasy drafts, Gostisbehere could be a steal in the third or fourth round.


Brayden Schenn - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds

Michael Raffl - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek

Matt Read - Nick Cousins - Dale Weise

Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Boyd Gordon

Michael Del Zotto - Shayne Gostisbehere

Nick Schultz - Mark Streit

Ivan Provorov - Radko Gudas

Steve Mason

Michal Neuvirth

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