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elmatus

The Other Elephant

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Posted (edited)

From my perspective, last season was actually quite good for the team. We challenged for the division lead a handful of times, had some really stellar offensive output, and watched our top d-pair develop into one of the best in the league. That's all without mentioning Couturier's rise to become a solid two-way 1C and apparent team leader.

 

Of course, barring some sort of upgrade, it seems a given that our goaltending will remain subpar for 2018-19. I know I personally believe this to be easily the biggest flaw we have. It's also the most likely reason why we wouldn't make much noise come playoff time. Our situation being what it is, we would essentially need one of the AHLers to morph into a solid NHL starter. We would then need Hakstol to not play Elliott for 9000 games straight this season.

 

That said, there is another elephant I feel we haven't talked about nearly as much. Last season was great in no small part because our captain demolished much of the NHL. He may have been lost in the McDavid hype like so many others, and snubbed for no Hart consideration, but Giroux was the single biggest offensive driving force on the team by a significant margin. The problem is that his play last year could very easily turn out to be an anomaly. He had been producing less and less each season prior to last. It seems foolish to expect 100pts each year anyway, but there's always a chance he could revert to the ~60-70 range. While that may not seem like a ton, it really is quite significant. Giroux producing 30 less pts means others will also be producing far less (he's shuffling the puck to them most of the time). That combined with our glaring weakness in net would have made last season far more difficult to stomach.

 

Elephant no.2 is rather more complex still. Voracek managed his best season ever with 85 pts last year. While he has had one 80 pt season before, he's been a 50-60 pt guy almost his entire career. The likelihood of getting 80 pts out of him again in 2018-19 seems quite small. To make matters worse, Voracek has never played at the sort of elite level we've seen from Giroux over the years. The eyeball test is generally not very favourable to him most games, and really his underlying statistics are no better. From my standpoint, he's the kind of player who can be opportunistic when playing with better players on his line. Those are good guys to have of course, but it makes him even less likely to maintain his production imo.

 

Before anyone bites my head off, we should look at context and factors.

 

Giroux was moved to the wing and given a very good complementary center in Couturier. That definitely seems to have helped. He's much freer as a winger to generate offence while Couts provides his impressive two-way play down the middle in his stead. When playing with TK especially, G seemed to always have something up his sleeve. There's no real reason to think that chemistry will just disappear. While 100+ should never be expected from anyone, hitting 90ish should be doable for a guy with his skill level under similar conditions.

 

Meanwhile, Voracek stands to benefit in playing with Patrick and (possibly) JVR. Patrick in particular seems poised to become a very good playmaker in the NHL. He also seems to have Voracek stapled to his right side at this point, which could mean great things for both. JVR is an unknown quantity, but he has had solid success playing on a much weaker offensive team over his career to date. He isn't really a playmaker per se, but he gives Patrick more options which means Voracek doesn't have to be the go-to for him all the time. The optimist would suggest Voracek is surrounded by a very talented cast that should provide him with plenty of opportunities to excel again this year.

 

That said, for the sake discussion why don't we assume we will see a dip in production from both of our 8 million dollar players. Let's say Giroux dips to 80 and Voracek to 60. That's a drop of about 50 pts in total between them compared to this past season.

 

Hockey is more than just pts of course, but let's start by looking at straight production. Let's also assume we will need a similar offensive production to make the playoffs next season. The most likely candidates to help make up the difference imo:

 

Patrick - 30 pts last season as a rookie (+15 pts)

 

He's a lock for 2C (or should be, Hakstol), and late last season he began showing why he was touted as such a high level prospect in juniors. With a full summer of NHL-level conditioning, there's every reason to believe we'll see an even better Patrick in his 2nd year. How much better is the question. Let's say we get an additional 10-15 pts out of him. That seems fair and wouldn't be expecting the moon from the guy. Honestly, I could see him hit even higher than that, maybe as high as 60 pts. But I'd rather not get too excited. That's an elite level jump for a second year guy. If he notches 45 this year, I'd consider it a solid improvement, so let's go with that.

 

TK - 47 pts last season (+10 pts)

 

TK almost single-handedly makes me want to slash Hakstol's tires on any given night. Every time Hak deems him worthy to play with the big boys on line one, he responds with elite level hockey. I'm as big a Simmonds and Provo fan as anyone on here, but TK lifts me from my seat more than either of them. Give him the full season on the top line, Hak. Stop jerking him around. Yeah, he's young and brash and temperamental. He's also very very good. His only downside to me is that he's more a finisher than playmaker, which means he relies on Giroux doing a lot of the hard work. A step back from Giroux -- the premise of this post -- would likely have a bigger effect on TK than anyone else on the team. Given that, I wouldn't want to expect more than 55 pts from him.

 

Provocop - 41 pts last season (+10 pts)

 

Look. The only reason Provo didn't get 60 pts last year is because he's determined to become the best actual dman in the league. He's our Drew Doughty, and we should all be nothing but giddy at having him around. Bottom line, he could play blindfolded and see an uptick to 50 pts next year without breaking much of a sweat. Brightest spot of all? He'll be the main quarterback on an improved 2nd pp this year. That alone could net him 10 extra pts or better.

 

Sanheim - 10 pts last season (+10 pts)

 

He'll be with us from the start of the season, and he was very good in limited play last year. Assuming Hakstol doesn't waste precious development minutes keeping him stapled to the bench, he should be good for 20-25 pts or more. In fact, of everyone on this list, Sanheim could see the most improvement in production of all. Still, let's not ask too much of the guy.

 

So if those four guys can improve as noted above, we will come fairly close to breaking even with a ~50 pt drop from Giroux and Voracek. JVR is the other obvious wildcard in all this. There's no telling what we'll get from him, but he should easily make up the remaining 5 pts in difference. Of course, everything above is based entirely on projection.

 

Season predictions (for what they're worth): 

 

1) Giroux will hit 90 pts. He's not done yet. Couts and TK will also be better. I see no reason why he wouldn't stay elite. 100 pts is a crap ton in today's NHL, but I think he'll stay elite.

2) Voracek will drop to 70 pts. For starters, I think JVR will prove to be more efficient as a finisher. I also think Patrick is going to blossom down the middle. While they will help Voracek on the one hand, it also means they simply won't need him to generate offence. That 70 pts accounts for both of those things.

3) TK ends the year with 35 goals. Let him loose Hakstol.

4) Patrick hits 60 pts. It's a stretch for sure, but I think he's good for it. It's going to happen eventually anyway. Why not 2018-19?

5) Provo finds a way to limit shots against to an average of 20 per game, which is good because:

6) Elliott ends the year with a 0.001 save percentage. Hakstol claims he's been rock solid for the team and the numbers don't paint a complete picture. 25 players end the year with over 50 goals, most of which come from games vs the Flyers.

Edited by elmatus
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Totally agree with TK. Even when the flyers were at their worst in his rookie year I said watch this guy bc he’s the only guy who is always going to goal and consistently trying to make things happen offensively. Maybe it was naïveté but it works for him. Don’t get the TK- Marchand comparisons. Guess he’d have to score 30 goals first. Then elbow to the head every other game haha

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@elmatus

I don't see any reason why Giroux doesn't hit high 70's low 80's for points this year. 

G does drive an absurd amount of the team's offense, however, moving Voracek off his line seemed to benefit both players while making our team harder to defend.

I've said elsewhere that Patrick "falling" to the Flyers at #2 may be the best thing to happen to the club in a long time. That dude is big, smart, fast enough and has great hands...count me as a fan. 

Truly, I really like the makeup of our top 9 the only question being who is the 3C ? there will be competent wingers to play with that person. 

I have optimism about the team until I think about the goaltending, but even that might be "not horrible". I don't think it's wise to expect Elliot to be better than he's played historically, historically he's been meh, mostly meh goaltending got the team nearly 100pts last year. The back up, whom I feel is actually the better player, Neuwirth he can't stay healthy so it's unwise to expect that to change,  however he may be due for an outlier year vis a vis his health. A mostly full season of him playing at his regular level would be an upgrade and would make the team dangerous IMO. 

 

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, mojo1917 said:

I don't see any reason why Giroux doesn't hit high 70's low 80's for points this year. 

 

 

Sure, of course that would be 20-25 less pts than what he had this past season, which is about what I mentioned above. Personally I think he'll hit 90. I think Voracek will slump though, mostly because he just isn't an 80+ pt guy. I expect he'll revert to his usual 60-70ish, probably the higher end of that given his talented line mates.

Edited by elmatus

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1 hour ago, elmatus said:

 

Sure, of course that would be 20-25 less pts than what he had this past season, which is about what I mentioned above. Personally I think he'll hit 90. I think Voracek will slump though, mostly because he just isn't an 80+ pt guy. I expect he'll revert to his usual 60-70ish, probably the higher end of that given his talented line mates.

 

I think the question that needs to be asked here is how good the defense is going to be? We're going to have Provorov and Ghost as the top pair to start the season, which on the face of it should be an improvement, and then does Sanheim make a leap this year? Does he look like a top 4 D? If so, then I wouldn't be shocked to see the Flyers make up for some of that potential top line dropoff on the back end whether it's keeping goals off the board or seeing more scoring from the defense (which, if I recall, was already one of the better scoring defenses in hockey last year). Probably some combination of both.

 

More importantly perhaps is how bad is the penalty kill going to be this year? Because it's been atrocious for the past few years and it's really holding the whole team back, and I think is partially responsible for making the goaltending look worse than it may actually be (not that I think it's great or anything). That's where I'd have the least amount of optimism when it comes to how good this team can be, more so than the counting stats of our star players.

 

I just remember a lot of people last year asking the same question when we traded Schenn, wondering where the goals are going to come from with him gone and us not really having improved the lineup from the year before, but I think sometimes that kind of thinking can be overblown. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, The_Kaptan said:

More importantly perhaps is how bad is the penalty kill going to be this year? Because it's been atrocious for the past few years and it's really holding the whole team back, and I think is partially responsible for making the goaltending look worse than it may actually be (not that I think it's great or anything). That's where I'd have the least amount of optimism when it comes to how good this team can be, more so than the counting stats of our star players.

 

Very valid point. Our PK was awful last year, and that is definitely one area where our goalies really can't shoulder all the blame. It would be nice to see some changes to special teams coaching to help with this for sure. I can't say whether that would be enough of course. It's entirely possible we just don't have great PKers on the roster. Still, that would be the easiest potential fix.

 

2 hours ago, The_Kaptan said:

I just remember a lot of people last year asking the same question when we traded Schenn, wondering where the goals are going to come from with him gone and us not really having improved the lineup from the year before, but I think sometimes that kind of thinking can be overblown. 

 

The team produced plenty of offence last season. Losing Schenn was a non-factor as far as I'm concerned. In fact, we produced more last year than we did with him in the line up. To add to that: With what Frost showed last season and what we've seen from Farabee so far, losing him is pretty easy to stomach at this point.

Edited by elmatus

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10 hours ago, The_Kaptan said:

More importantly perhaps is how bad is the penalty kill going to be this year? Because it's been atrocious for the past few years and it's really holding the whole team back, and I think is partially responsible for making the goaltending look worse than it may actually be (not that I think it's great or anything). That's where I'd have the least amount of optimism when it comes to how good this team can be, more so than the counting stats of our star players.

 

Especially considering that right now, we're looking at either Laughton or Weal as our 3C. That's not an upgrade in PK personnel. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, brelic said:

 

Especially considering that right now, we're looking at either Laughton or Weal as our 3C. That's not an upgrade in PK personnel. 

That's my gripe about the offseason.  Since I don't think they have improved upon the personnel (though, I think @AJgoalmade some good points about Laughton), they are relying on something happening at the coaching level in order to improve the PK.  I don't feel real confident about that.  Of course, I didn't feel real confident about Giroux bouncing back or Couturier being elevated to 1C, so what do I know...

Edited by vis

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1 hour ago, brelic said:

Especially considering that right now, we're looking at either Laughton or Weal as our 3C. That's not an upgrade in PK personnel. 

I think AJgoal or adamsflyer posted some interesting metrics regarding Laughton's PK time last year.

If I remember it correctly, he was effective but then his minutes diminished.

This seemed to be a theme with Laughton last year, he was effective vs Pgh in the playoffs, but didn't see the icetime. He was effective on the PK but didn't get minutes, he was really good with Leier and Raffl at the beginning of the year... but well you see the pattern. 

One of the things the coach did do at the end of the year was praise Laughton for his play, while not playing him.

 

I'm not saying 21 is the be all end all, but last year he was an effective player for us when he got on the ice. For some reason though, coach didn't see fit to use him.  

 

I think more of 21 on the PK would be a good thing. He's fast and tenacious, he could be the high pressure forward.

People like to rag on him because he's not Olli Maata, but he has NHL tools, he just needs time on the ice to produce. 

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On 8/9/2018 at 8:21 AM, brelic said:

 

Especially considering that right now, we're looking at either Laughton or Weal as our 3C. That's not an upgrade in PK personnel. 

 

I'm not worried about Laughton or Weal at 3C as much as I am about Lehtera at 4C.

Whoever the 3C is should be playing with Lindblom and Simmonds.  Lindblom is an upgrade at wing over Weal as far as I'm concerned and either one of them are upgrades over Filppula.  

 

If it is Laughton at 3C, that means Weal will stay at Wing and Lehtera will almost definitely play 4C reagardless of how good Vrobyov or Vecchione perform in camp.  I'm not a fan of this.  I think either one of them gives you a better chance than Lehtera (though I prefer Vex this year as I think he's more ready for an actual impact and his game translates to the NHL better right now).

 

There's an outside chance one of them gets a shot at 3C, but I'm not counting on it.

Nor am I counting on Frost making the team out of camp, but no one expected Konecny to make the team out of camp 2 years ago or for Couturier to do it 7 years ago.  

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I'm continually amused by the boneheads that complain that Giroux "only gets his points on the power play".  Like those goals don't count in the final score.  I also doubt he gets over 100 again but hopefully the rest of te cast can chip in to make up the deficit.  That Dale Weise is due for a goal explosion.  Seriously, I do think Weal, Laughton, Leier and Lindblom almost have to put up more points.

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3 hours ago, Poconono said:

 That Dale Weise is due for a goal explosion

That's hilarious,  thanks for a hearty laugh. 

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, Poconono said:

I'm continually amused by the boneheads that complain that Giroux "only gets his points on the power play".  Like those goals don't count in the final score.  I also doubt he gets over 100 again but hopefully the rest of te cast can chip in to make up the deficit.  That Dale Weise is due for a goal explosion.  Seriously, I do think Weal, Laughton, Leier and Lindblom almost have to put up more points.

 

If you can prevent goals at even strength and only score on the PP you're winning games.

 

Also, Giroux's +27 suggests that him only scoring on the PP is a bit of a fantasy.  

 

If Weal (or Lauughton) and Lindblom are playing on a line with a healthy Simmonds, they will all almost certainly put up more points.  

 

I just hope Hakstol has the sense god gave a donkey and keep Lehtera off the 3rd line.  

 

 

 

Edited by King Knut
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43 minutes ago, King Knut said:

 

If you can prevent goals at even strength and only score on the PP you're winning games.

 

Also, Giroux's +27 suggests that him only scoring on the PP is a bit of a fantasy.  

 

If Weal (or Lauughton) and Lindblom are playing on a line with a healthy Simmonds, they will all almost certainly put up more points.  

 

I just hope Hakstol has the sense god gave a donkey and keep Lehtera off the 3rd line.  

 

 

 

 

 

No matter what i think he will have another big year....i think a 90 points season is coming...

 

 

Getting that 2nd line going with JVR-Patrick-Jake should help take some pressure off the top line...

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2 minutes ago, OccamsRazor said:

 

 

No matter what i think he will have another big year....i think a 90 points season is coming...

 

 

Getting that 2nd line going with JVR-Patrick-Jake should help take some pressure off the top line...

 

I think the one-two punch of those top 6 guys will keep most teams on their heels.  Toss in a greatly enhanced 3rd line (as long as Simmer is healthy and Lehtera ain't center) and these Flyers are going to be extremely difficult to defend against for 50 minutes a night.  If we get a 4th as good as the honey bees were, the other ten minutes will make it hard to get anything else going. 

 

Of course this is all assuming they commit zero penalties and never face any PP's all year. 

 

 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, King Knut said:

Lehtera ain't center

 

 

I'm hoping he will be on popcorn duty.

 

I am hoping Laughton can secure the 3rd line center duties and a kid like Vorobyev or at least Vecchione can't make a good showing to lock down the 4th line center duties pushing Lehtera to the press box with maybe Wiese. 

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21 minutes ago, OccamsRazor said:

 

 

I'm hoping he will be on popcorn duty.

 

I am hoping Laughton can secure the 3rd line center duties and a kid like Vorobyev or at least Vecchione can't make a good showing to lock down the 4th line center duties pushing Lehtera to the press box with maybe Wiese. 

 

This is what I'm hoping too, but knowing Hakstol... lord knows what's possible.  

Frankly, I'd like to see them both in Lehigh Valley or at least one of them waived and picked up by the Islanders or something because I want that last Roster Spot for Neuvy to be sitting in the press box.

 

 

 

 

 

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I'm pretty positive that Lehtera is going to get the Matt Read treatment and be waived to LV this year.  For no reason other than I want to be positive about it.

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23 hours ago, AJgoal said:

I'm pretty positive that Lehtera is going to get the Matt Read treatment and be waived to LV this year.  For no reason other than I want to be positive about it.

 

Funny thing is, i think Matt Read would have been a lot more beneficial to the team last year than Lehtera.  

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On 8/9/2018 at 8:21 AM, brelic said:

 

Especially considering that right now, we're looking at either Laughton or Weal as our 3C. That's not an upgrade in PK personnel. 

 

If they can keep Lehtera off the PK, it'll be a start.  

Unfortunately, Morin is one of the big factors internally that could have helped the PK.  

Otherwise, Are Vecchione or Vrobyov any good on the PK?  Maybe that gives them an edge making the team (and bumping Lehtera off).  

The other thing I wouldn't mind seeing is Simmonds giving the PK a whirl again.  He was pretty good two years ago and if he's healthy now, it may be a valuable way to off set the minutes he might lose on the 3rd line.  

 

All that said though,  I'm not sure the team's PP issues are talent based.  There's something to the idea that they're slow to loose pucks and rebounds, but I'm far more concerned with how out of position they all seem to be and how they all chase the shooter and don't cover anyone else.  It's a coaching issue, but it's not just on the PK.  Same thing would happen when the other team would pull the goalie (which isn't unlike a PK) but also pretty much every time they were pinned in their own end.  It's like if the goalie couldn't control a shot and the Flyers couldn't transition out before the rest of the opposing team got across the blue line, it was inevitably an extended sequence in their own end that usually resulted in some high level chances.

 

Long and short is that I don't know if it's a Hakstol, Murphy or Lappy thing, but the defense  seems to universally not know how to function in it's own end-not just on the PK-si I'm not sure I can pin it all on Lappy.  

 

Just my observations.

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Posted (edited)

I have to believe that the upgrade in bottom six we should see this year will make up for drop-off in either G or V.  On paper, this will be a much tougher team to defend. By the way, you might...and I say might, see some drop-off with JVR, not because of skill or age, but rather, new personnel.  By Turkey Day that will be straightened out. We might get that in other ways as well.  But all in, we should not be as first line-dependent as recent years.  If we are, something is wrong.

 

 

Edited by Howie58
typo

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, Howie58 said:

I have to believe that the upgrade in bottom six we should see this year will make up for drop-off in either G or V.  On paper, this will be a much tougher team to defend. By the way, you might...and I say might, see some drop-off with JVR, not because of skill or age, but rather, new personnel.  By Turkey Day that will be straightened out. We might get that in other ways as well.  But all in, we should not be as first line-dependent as recent years.  If we are, something is wrong.

 

 

 

JVR has never had this much talent surrounding him, especially not of the playmaker variety (Kessel isn't much for sharing). For my money, he needs to pot 25+ goals this year at a minimum. If he can do that with Bozak, it should be a breeze with the likes of Giroux, Voracek, Ghost, Provo, Couturier, and now Patrick. All of those guys are better with the puck than Bozak and rather more likely to spread the love around than Kessel. 

 

I'm not saying he will get 25+, but I am saying that's the minimum he should get. Any less than that, and I will begin to question the salary he's getting.

 

As far as the bottom six goes, I'm honestly not sure it will be so much better than last year. My guess is we'll see a similar output from them really. Simmonds may return to form on the pp, but he's unlikely to put up his prime years numbers on the third line with no real 3C on the team of note (at the moment anyway). Add a decent 3C, and this conversation changes immediately of course.

 

I do think we'll be a two line team though, which is better than just one. We were that last year too in my opinion. With Patrick getting better and JVR* in the mix, it should give us a pretty solid top six. If Sanheim can find his game (after xmas maybe?), he could help give us an extra boost from the back end as well. That wouldn't hurt.

Edited by elmatus

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I just hope Hak rolls four lines and the four line can hit the ice with the effects of an old Batman 60's Fight scene.

 

 

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On 8/19/2018 at 1:15 PM, elmatus said:

 

JVR has never had this much talent surrounding him, especially not of the playmaker variety (Kessel isn't much for sharing). For my money, he needs to pot 25+ goals this year at a minimum. If he can do that with Bozak, it should be a breeze with the likes of Giroux, Voracek, Ghost, Provo, Couturier, and now Patrick. All of those guys are better with the puck than Bozak and rather more likely to spread the love around than Kessel. 

 

I'm not saying he will get 25+, but I am saying that's the minimum he should get. Any less than that, and I will begin to question the salary he's getting.

 

As far as the bottom six goes, I'm honestly not sure it will be so much better than last year. My guess is we'll see a similar output from them really. Simmonds may return to form on the pp, but he's unlikely to put up his prime years numbers on the third line with no real 3C on the team of note (at the moment anyway). Add a decent 3C, and this conversation changes immediately of course.

 

I do think we'll be a two line team though, which is better than just one. We were that last year too in my opinion. With Patrick getting better and JVR* in the mix, it should give us a pretty solid top six. If Sanheim can find his game (after xmas maybe?), he could help give us an extra boost from the back end as well. That wouldn't hurt.

 

If JVR doesn't score 25+, there will have been something very wrong happening.  

 

As far as the bottom 6 goes, there's almost no way it won't be better, especially if Filppula is really gone. 

 

If we get a somewhat healthy Wayne Simmonds, he'll be playing on the 3rd line this year.  

That's an immediate and significant improvement.

Lindblom was a 2nd liner and looked good last spring and he will be an improvement over Weal at LW.  At that point whether the 3C is Vecchione, Vrobyov, Laughton, or even Weal, that third line is going to be better on the whole by leaps and bounds because the 3C will NOT be Filppula who simply couldn't keep up for a a large portion of the season.  Long story short, unless something goes horribly wrong, the 3rd line will be almost unrecognizably better.

 

Which leaves the 4th line and if we can just keep Lehtera off of it, the 4th line was actually fairly decent for a good portion of last year.  

 

They'll actually be a pretty deep team at forward this year.  I think all 4 lines will be very good at their roles.  I'm excited to see it.

 

I can't figure out why you think the bottom 6 won't be better.

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, King Knut said:

I can't figure out why you think the bottom 6 won't be better.

 

 

I don't have as much faith in Lindblom as you do, and I likely didn't hate Fil quite as much either. I think any decent line sinks and swims first and foremost on the strength of its centerman, and we just don't have a very capable 3C right now. I have no reason to think Weal will somehow morph into a solid NHL player, even less so a 3C.

 

Having a pumped Simmonds back would be fantastic, but he's not a playmaker. He's a lot of other great things, but without an engine, I just can't see that third line getting "unrecognizably better" as you suggest. Add a decent 3C, and I can see something decent coming out of it.

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    • 3
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      From my perspective, last season was actually quite good for the team. We challenged for the division lead a handful of times, had some really stellar offensive output, and watched our top d-pair develop into one of the best in the league. That's all without mentioning Couturier's rise to become a solid two-way 1C and apparent team leader.   Of course, barring some sort of upgrade, it seems a given that our goaltending will remain subpar for 2018-19. I know I personally believe this to be easily the biggest flaw we have. It's also the most likely reason why we wouldn't make much noise come playoff time. Our situation being what it is, we would essentially need one of the AHLers to morph into a solid NHL starter. We would then need Hakstol to not play Elliott for 9000 games straight this season.   That said, there is another elephant I feel we haven't talked about nearly as much. Last season was great in no small part because our captain demolished much of the NHL. He may have been lost in the McDavid hype like so many others, and snubbed for no Hart consideration, but Giroux was the single biggest offensive driving force on the team by a significant margin. The problem is that his play last year could very easily turn out to be an anomaly. He had been producing less and less each season prior to last. It seems foolish to expect 100pts each year anyway, but there's always a chance he could revert to the ~60-70 range. While that may not seem like a ton, it really is quite significant. Giroux producing 30 less pts means others will also be producing far less (he's shuffling the puck to them most of the time). That combined with our glaring weakness in net would have made last season far more difficult to stomach.   Elephant no.2 is rather more complex still. Voracek managed his best season ever with 85 pts last year. While he has had one 80 pt season before, he's been a 50-60 pt guy almost his entire career. The likelihood of getting 80 pts out of him again in 2018-19 seems quite small. To make matters worse, Voracek has never played at the sort of elite level we've seen from Giroux over the years. The eyeball test is generally not very favourable to him most games, and really his underlying statistics are no better. From my standpoint, he's the kind of player who can be opportunistic when playing with better players on his line. Those are good guys to have of course, but it makes him even less likely to maintain his production imo.   Before anyone bites my head off, we should look at context and factors.   Giroux was moved to the wing and given a very good complementary center in Couturier. That definitely seems to have helped. He's much freer as a winger to generate offence while Couts provides his impressive two-way play down the middle in his stead. When playing with TK especially, G seemed to always have something up his sleeve. There's no real reason to think that chemistry will just disappear. While 100+ should never be expected from anyone, hitting 90ish should be doable for a guy with his skill level under similar conditions.   Meanwhile, Voracek stands to benefit in playing with Patrick and (possibly) JVR. Patrick in particular seems poised to become a very good playmaker in the NHL. He also seems to have Voracek stapled to his right side at this point, which could mean great things for both. JVR is an unknown quantity, but he has had solid success playing on a much weaker offensive team over his career to date. He isn't really a playmaker per se, but he gives Patrick more options which means Voracek doesn't have to be the go-to for him all the time. The optimist would suggest Voracek is surrounded by a very talented cast that should provide him with plenty of opportunities to excel again this year.   That said, for the sake discussion why don't we assume we will see a dip in production from both of our 8 million dollar players. Let's say Giroux dips to 80 and Voracek to 60. That's a drop of about 50 pts in total between them compared to this past season.   Hockey is more than just pts of course, but let's start by looking at straight production. Let's also assume we will need a similar offensive production to make the playoffs next season. The most likely candidates to help make up the difference imo:   Patrick - 30 pts last season as a rookie (+15 pts)   He's a lock for 2C (or should be, Hakstol), and late last season he began showing why he was touted as such a high level prospect in juniors. With a full summer of NHL-level conditioning, there's every reason to believe we'll see an even better Patrick in his 2nd year. How much better is the question. Let's say we get an additional 10-15 pts out of him. That seems fair and wouldn't be expecting the moon from the guy. Honestly, I could see him hit even higher than that, maybe as high as 60 pts. But I'd rather not get too excited. That's an elite level jump for a second year guy. If he notches 45 this year, I'd consider it a solid improvement, so let's go with that.   TK - 47 pts last season (+10 pts)   TK almost single-handedly makes me want to slash Hakstol's tires on any given night. Every time Hak deems him worthy to play with the big boys on line one, he responds with elite level hockey. I'm as big a Simmonds and Provo fan as anyone on here, but TK lifts me from my seat more than either of them. Give him the full season on the top line, Hak. Stop jerking him around. Yeah, he's young and brash and temperamental. He's also very very good. His only downside to me is that he's more a finisher than playmaker, which means he relies on Giroux doing a lot of the hard work. A step back from Giroux -- the premise of this post -- would likely have a bigger effect on TK than anyone else on the team. Given that, I wouldn't want to expect more than 55 pts from him.   Provocop - 41 pts last season (+10 pts)   Look. The only reason Provo didn't get 60 pts last year is because he's determined to become the best actual dman in the league. He's our Drew Doughty, and we should all be nothing but giddy at having him around. Bottom line, he could play blindfolded and see an uptick to 50 pts next year without breaking much of a sweat. Brightest spot of all? He'll be the main quarterback on an improved 2nd pp this year. That alone could net him 10 extra pts or better.   Sanheim - 10 pts last season (+10 pts)   He'll be with us from the start of the season, and he was very good in limited play last year. Assuming Hakstol doesn't waste precious development minutes keeping him stapled to the bench, he should be good for 20-25 pts or more. In fact, of everyone on this list, Sanheim could see the most improvement in production of all. Still, let's not ask too much of the guy.   So if those four guys can improve as noted above, we will come fairly close to breaking even with a ~50 pt drop from Giroux and Voracek. JVR is the other obvious wildcard in all this. There's no telling what we'll get from him, but he should easily make up the remaining 5 pts in difference. Of course, everything above is based entirely on projection.   Season predictions (for what they're worth):    1) Giroux will hit 90 pts. He's not done yet. Couts and TK will also be better. I see no reason why he wouldn't stay elite. 100 pts is a crap ton in today's NHL, but I think he'll stay elite. 2) Voracek will drop to 70 pts. For starters, I think JVR will prove to be more efficient as a finisher. I also think Patrick is going to blossom down the middle. While they will help Voracek on the one hand, it also means they simply won't need him to generate offence. That 70 pts accounts for both of those things. 3) TK ends the year with 35 goals. Let him loose Hakstol. 4) Patrick hits 60 pts. It's a stretch for sure, but I think he's good for it. It's going to happen eventually anyway. Why not 2018-19? 5) Provo finds a way to limit shots against to an average of 20 per game, which is good because: 6) Elliott ends the year with a 0.001 save percentage. Hakstol claims he's been rock solid for the team and the numbers don't paint a complete picture. 25 players end the year with over 50 goals, most of which come from games vs the Flyers.
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      Totally agree with TK. Even when the flyers were at their worst in his rookie year I said watch this guy bc he’s the only guy who is always going to goal and consistently trying to make things happen offensively. Maybe it was naïveté but it works for him. Don’t get the TK- Marchand comparisons. Guess he’d have to score 30 goals first. Then elbow to the head every other game haha
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      If you can prevent goals at even strength and only score on the PP you're winning games.   Also, Giroux's +27 suggests that him only scoring on the PP is a bit of a fantasy.     If Weal (or Lauughton) and Lindblom are playing on a line with a healthy Simmonds, they will all almost certainly put up more points.     I just hope Hakstol has the sense god gave a donkey and keep Lehtera off the 3rd line.        
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      This is how I feel as well.  I'm not convinced that the subtraction of Filppula translates into a better bottom six.  First off, I think you have to think about what roles and attributes you want you third and fourth lines to have.  Nowadays, your third line has to provide some offensive pop and be defensively responsible.  The fourth line has to bring energy and cannot be weak defensively.  Offense from the fourth line is a gift, imo.  With that in mind, and given the possible candidates to play in the bottom six, I am not sure the Flyers will be much better than last year.   Just some thoughts:   Luaghton - I think he'd be fine as 4C.  Don't think he has enough offensive ability to be a 3C.  Though, maybe Simmonds would help.  Like you, I'm not sold on Lindblom.  I expected more of him last year and thought he was a letdown.  Maybe expectations were unfair, but even so, I rarely recall instances where I thought he "belonged".    Weal - Think he has more offensive potential than Laughton as a 3C, but not sure he's strong enough defensively.  Really not sold on him at center in any capacity.  A line of Lindblom/Weal/Simmonds doesn't inspire me.   Lehtera - The prospect of Lehtera playing C on a regular basis, whether as a third or fourth liner, makes me ill.   Vorobyev/Vecchione - I don't know enough about the Phantoms players to make an educated guess, but my general feeling is that it would be hard for a first year NHLer to make a meaningful impact as a 3C.  Could see them as viable 4C candidates, but think there would be growing pains there.   Frost - Honestly, I'd love to see him get the 3C role if he shows just enough in camp to warrant a permanent spot.  My guess is the Flyers have him penciled in to return to juniors, though. Though if Frost earns a spot, I wish he'd have someone more experienced than Lindblom as his LW, but that doesn't seem feasible.  I am really rooting for Frost to make it, though, again, there will be growing pains.
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      If this team doesn't compete for the division, I'll be very surprised and it will likely be because of injury.     I think expecting Giroux to score 100 pts again is asking too much, I'm really now sure what to think about Coots' production because I was one of the guys anticipating that for a little while, but it's difficult to assume anyone will repeat a career year.   That said, Konecny is the guy I'm excited about on that first line.  He could take some serious strides if he plays with them the whole year.  The dude was a .85 pt. per game player in the second half of the season (until Hakstol mysteriously put him back on the third line with Filppula).  I'm not saying he's going to put up 70 pts, but he could flirt with 60+ and that should hopefully take some of the pressure off GIroux and Coots repeating career seasons.  In addition, the guy had the look of a dude who was just starting to sort things out and who could be ready to go into insane mode.     Even with him and Patrick becoming BFF's, I'd keep him on the first line, but if they switched him and Jake, I think it could still work for everyone in big ways.      
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      I found last year to be very difficult to gauge. They seemed to win or lose with fairly small margins a lot of the time. They could just as easily have won 10 more games as lose them. It'll obviously be a tall order with our net tandem and lack of a 3C right now, but I do hope we see more consistency in their gameplay this year. I think we will.

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