The Philadelphia Flyers must have a big bounce-back season in 2022-23 to avoid a rebuild. They didn’t help the situation at forward but added reinforcements on the back-end. Overall, the 2021-22 season was a disaster with injuries piled up from the start and tons of prospects coming through to gain some NHL experience.
Related: Flyers’ 2022-23 Line Predictions
Next season is starting with injuries again, but this time they have a great coach that should help them get into order. The team must play better as a whole and in every aspect of the game. Yes, some players flew under the radar and had solid seasons, but these three, in particular, will need to either step up and have a much better season than last as they are in key roles that could affect the season greatly. Let’s take a look.
Ivan Provorov, the Flyers’ so-called number one, hasn’t performed up to that standard the past few seasons. His last truly impactful season was 2019-20, where he finished 17th in voting for the Norris Trophy. Before last season, when the pattern was broken, the Flyers had made and missed the playoffs on and off for 10 seasons. In the two seasons, the Flyers have made the postseason with Provorov on the team, it has been his two best seasons, scoring a combined 30 goals and 77 points in 151 games between the two. The team relies a lot on the success of their top defenseman.
Last season, he wasn’t the best defenseman again, Travis Sanheim was and he played on the second pairing. To be fair, playing top line minutes against the opponent’s top lines is a bit more difficult, but that’s what he is paid for and is expected of him. Whether Provorov has Ryan Ellis by his side for a significant portion of the season or newly acquired Tony DeAngelo, it should help the once highly-touted defenseman regain his form from the last time the Flyers qualified for the playoffs. John Tortorella should at least be able to help Provorov out defensively, and the offense will come.
Among the defensemen of the Flyers, Rasmus Ristolainen is right there with Provorov in needing to bounce back and step up. He has less expectations and a lesser role than Ristolainen plays on the second pairing and was even made to look better beside the play of Sanheim.
Ristolainen is physical and plays hard defensively, but with the money he is earning, some of his offensive game needs to return. On the Buffalo Sabres, he recorded 40-plus points in four consecutive seasons and went as low as two goals and 16 points last season. He hasn’t been that ineffective offensively in his career, excluding his 32-game rookie season. Though he shot the puck significantly less and hardly got power-play time, he didn’t show he deserved it. If he can step up his game to play close to the level of his partner Sanheim, that pairing will be very effective at both ends of the ice and the Flyers can breathe a little easier seeing success from one of their long-term commitments.
Carter Hart had a much-improved season from 2020-21 but still wasn’t at the same level as he was in his first two seasons in the league. Not all of it was on him, as he held the team in games and improved his save percentage (SV%) to .905 on a team that ranked 27th in goals against last season with 294 and played most of the season without their Selke Trophy-winning top center and top pairing defense.
He will get help from a lineup that should be healthier this season and Tortorella’s system implementation that focuses on defending their net. There surely won’t be as many goals scored on the Flyers in 2022-23, but Hart will need to raise his goals saved above average back above zero as it was still minus-3.0. Ideally, he will raise his SV% over .910 and even back to around .915 where he was in his first two seasons. Lastly, assuming he has little help, his quality start percentage will have to be .500 or above, meaning in half of the games he starts, his SV% is above the average SV% on the year. With a reliance on defense and goaltending the most next season for the Flyers, Hart is in a very important role and at a key point in his career.
If the Flyers see improvements from all three of these players, the team will be in a better spot than they were last season. Is there anyone I didn’t include that you think deserves to be here more than any of these three players? Let me know in the comments below.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with NHL Stats News, trade talks, and daily betting guides.
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