Sean Couturier Emerging as Elite Player for Flyers

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(Photo: Kate Frese)

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

It’s so hard to predict the future of a 17 or 18-year-old prospect when they get drafted into the NHL, and really get an idea of how well they will perform throughout their career. Some players make it to the NHL right away and play exceptionally well. For others it takes time to develop and find their game.

This is how Sean Couturier’s career began back in 2011-12, as a quiet role as a top-nine defensive shutdown forward on the Flyers. Over the last two seasons, Couturier has blossomed into splitting time between the top-line and second-line center role while producing some remarkable numbers.  Last season, the 26-year-old set career-high marks with 31 goals, 45 assists and 76 points. This season, Couturier has 23 goals and 48 points in 53 games played.

He has certainly come a long way since his rookie year, and now has progressed into an elite top-six center. Couturier is also producing at a rate that not many thought he would. When his career began, he was known for stepping into the defensive role and shutting down the likes of Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He’s become the full package for Philadelphia and is slowly starting to get league wide recognition.

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How Will the Flyers Approach the Trade Deadline?

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(Photo: Kate Frese)

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

With under three weeks until the NHL Trade Deadline, the Philadelphia Flyers are still in the position to be sellers despite their impressive play as of late. The Flyers have won eight in a row and are currently sitting just five points out of a playoff spot, which is much better than where they were at the bottom of the NHL just a month ago.

The team is not necessarily looking for any rentals; however, it is possible to see Philadelphia trade future picks, or prospects to another team with term. Some trades might include depth players such as Michael Raffl or Radko Gudas but the most realistic and logical trade is for the Flyers to trade Wayne Simmonds by the time the deadline approaches on Feb. 25.

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Morgan Frost Should Be a Flyer in 2019-20

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

So far in just 32 games played, 19 year-old Morgan Frost is once again dominating the OHL with 20 goals, 38 assists, for 58 points. At that rate, Frost should easily surpass his career high total points of 112 points, set last year.

Future Considerations lists him as "a playmaking pivot who reads the game intelligently, calm and poised, agile on his skates and possesses excellent edge work." HockeyProspect.com says that he "has good hockey sense and he reads plays quickly in all three zones and reacts accordingly."

During the 2019 World Junior Championships representing Team Canada, Frost arguably the best player on the ice, leading the team with eight points in just five games, tied for second-most in the tournament.

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With Evaluation Underway, How Long Before Fletcher Takes Action?

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Times are tough for the Philadelphia Flyers as they sit one point above the New Jersey Devils in the standings for last place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Flyers are 1-1-1 thus far in the Chuck Fletcher era, since the new GM was hired back on Dec. 3. Currently, the team is two games into a five-game road trip.

Now that Fletcher has assumed the GM role, the biggest question is what will Fletcher do with all of the players, prospects, picks, but also salary cap he has?

You could argue that there are a few players such as Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Ivan Provorov, James van Riemsdyk, and Shayne Gostisbehere are all safe. Even some younger players like Robert Hagg, Travis Konecny, and perhaps Travis Sanheim are as well.

One of the issues is that none of these players are Fletcher’s guys. Remember when everyone thought Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were untouchable? Well, if the right deal comes along Fletcher might trade someone, such as Wayne Simmonds or Jake Voracek, who both came from those blockbuster trades.

The moment that Fletcher was officially announced as the new GM for Philadelphia, the organization’s evaluation period began. But how long will it last? That's the concern of the players and coaches and everyone else under evaluation under a new watchful eye.

This evaluation period could be the duration of the road trip, the next few weeks, or even the rest of this season. Even if this evaluation lasts for the remainder of the 2018-19 season, it feels like a safe bet that something from this team will look different by the time the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline is over on Feb. 25 at 3 p.m.

Just two games into the road trip, the Orange and Black got dismantled, 7-1, by a much stronger Winnipeg Jets team. On paper, the Flyers have the makeup of a playoff team that should be able to reach the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but on the ice this team is exactly what their record shows.

If the team’s record doesn’t flip around relatively soon, then the offseason will be very interesting for a lot of reasons. Besides the draft, the biggest area where teams find improvements and make changes is free agency, as the Flyers are rumored to be among those interested in a two-time Vezina trophy winner.

There have been conversations swirling around the Flyers and a reunion with another former player, this time it’s Sergei Bobrovsky. According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnson, Philadelphia is prepared to make a run at Bobrovsky this July.

"The answer to the longest-running riddle in hockey may come from an unexpected place: As the Philadelphia Flyers ruminate on how to shore up their goaltending — at least until prospect Carter Hart is ready to take the wheel — there are whispers they will take a run at Sergei Bobrovsky on July 1," Johnson writes.

Of course, everyone in Philadelphia knows Carter Hart is coming and it won’t be long until he is the go-to guy in net for Philadelphia. Someone like Bobrovsky would look great for the organization and Fletcher, but the team needs to be cautious with large signings.

Fletcher has a history of signing some big free agents -- like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise in 2012 -- and wouldn’t be afraid of spending money again to land a top name. A Bobrovsky signing would create a good situation -- the team would have a true No. 1 goalie who is typically healthy and reliable, and all in all would be a great mentor for Hart. Of course, you would likely box in a top prospect like Hart, because Bobrovsky will likely not sign a short-term contract. He would want a contract very similar to Carey Price’s, currently the league's highest-paid goalie after signing an eight-year, $84 million contract.

And with Bobrovsky’s numbers, he may very well get a contract like that. He would expect to be the No. 1 goalie for the duration of his next contract. That would essentially prevent Hart from his showing true potential in Philadelphia.

No matter which direction the team goes, the organization’s future is in Fletcher’s hands and this team will be changed sooner rather than later. The evaluation period is here and will be for some time, but only one man knows how long this process will truly take.


JVR Set to Return for Flyers on Thursday Night

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(Photo: Kate Frese)

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Following Wednesday’s practice in Voorhees, the Philadelphia Flyers are ready to have one of their top pieces and biggest acquisition in free agency back on Thursday night. James van Riemsdyk appears set to return against the New Jersey Devils.

After only playing two games, and missing the last 16 due to a lower-body injury, van Riemsdyk is set to make his return in a vital game for Philadelphia. Despite winning three straight, the Flyers were not able to come back against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night in a 2-1 loss at the Wells Fargo Center. Thursday’s game will be the fourth in the five-game homestand, which concludes on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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Late-Game Win Over Ducks Can Be Spark Flyers Need

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

The Philadelphia Flyers have had some consistent issues on the ice as of late with a three-game losing streak. Their penalty kill is ranked 30th in the league at 67.4 percent. They allow an average of four goals against per game. They score an average of 2.8 goals per game. And, of course, there have been plenty of early-season injuries.

However, things may finally change for the Orange and Black as they collected a much-needed 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday in the first game of a four-game West coast road trip.

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NHL Season Preview: Flyers and NHL Predictions

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(Photo: Kate Frese)

The 2018-19 NHL season opened on Wednesday night, but it officially begins for the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night with their season opener in Vegas.

It's a new year, which means it's time for our staff to take their best shot at what will come from the Flyers season and the NHL season.

The Flyers staff at Sports Talk Philly put together a series of predictions, both on the Flyers and the rest of the league. Here are the results:

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What is Laczynski’s Potential with the Flyers?

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Ever since he was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL Draft, Tanner Laczynski has been a name to keep an eye on.

Laczynski, now 21, is going back to the Ohio State University Buckeyes for his junior year. Since playing for Ohio State, Laczynski has been a force, scoring 32 points in 34 games played during his freshman year, and 47 points -- 17 goals and 30 assists -- while appearing in 41 games in his sophomore year, a total of 79 points in 75 career games at the college level.

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Mikhail Vorobyev Has Potential to Be Solid Role Player for Flyers

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Throughout the past few seasons, Mikhail Vorobyev is quickly becoming a player to remember and making quite the name for himself.

The 21-year-old Russian center saw his first year of action in pro hockey when he played for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last season, appearing in 58 games while netting 29 points, nine goals and 20 assists. Prior to the start of his pro career, Vorobyev has put in a magnificent amount of work in the Russian leagues.

In the MHL, Vorobyov scored a career 46 points, 14 goals and 32 assists, in 64 games. He also scored five goals and nine assists for 14 points in 72 games in the KHL.

Sure, the offensive numbers don't jump off the page, but the Russian leagues are premier leagues where Vorobyev was playing against men much older, stronger and more experienced that the Flyers prospect. He has plenty of work to do if he wants to crack the lineup for the Flyers, but with another year of training camp and preseason approaching within the next month, he may have what it takes.

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Flyers, NHL Put Greater Focus on College Prospects

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(Photo: Kate Frese)

By Jeff Quake, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Ever since Shayne Gostisbehere was drafted in 2012, the Philadelphia Flyers have been heavily scouting college players. Some of the more standout players who have been drafted by Philadelphia include first-round picks left wing Joel Farabee and center Jay O’Brien from the most recent draft back in June.

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