16 games into the season, the Flyers find themselves sitting at a 9-5-2 record. But what the report card doesn’t show is the impact the young players have made.
The Flyers have had one of the NHL’s best minor league systems for the past decade. However, the franchise’s prospect pool was neglected due to former general managers’ overconfidence in the team’s roster.
For years, Philadelphia Flyers fans have screamed at the franchise to promote these young prospects, and now, their patience has paid off. Recently hired GM Chuck Fletcher has been more aggressive with minor league call ups than his predecessors, and the youngsters are finally making their way into the NHL.
Along with the arrival of the young Flyers is the acceptance of a new era. The Flyers’ Achilles heel for the best decade has been their tendency to sign slow veterans who never seem to learn from their mistakes. But the league has changed, and speedy young talent now defines the potential of a team.
After setting the record last season for starting eight goalies, the Flyers have found their resolution at netminder: Carter Hart. The 21-year-old from Sherwood Park, Canada stole the hearts of fans from his first start between the pipes. Hart’s dominance and poise on the ice are incredible for his age. And when he plays with confidence, he looks like a Vezina Trophy candidate.
Several times this season, Hart has carried the team to victory on his shoulders. This feat is not as easy as it seems, considering the Flyers are a slow-starting team that waits until the third period to step on the gas pedal. Even when being heavily outshot, Hart keeps them in games by closing the door on scoring chances caused by the team’s sloppy neutral zone play.
22-year-old Travis Konecny gains more confidence every game. His gritty but speedy playing style ignites the Flyers’ on both sides of the ice. With 7 goals so far, Konecny is on pace to light the lamp 40 times by the end of the regular season.
He also leads the Flyers in points with 17, including a point in all but three games this year. This is the kind of consistency Flyers fans like to see in the young players. Konecny’s game has risen to an unreal level, and he doesn’t appear to be coming down anytime soon.
Look out Embiid, there’s room for more than one Joel in Philadelphia. Calling up Joel Farabee on October 20th is the best move the Flyers have made this season. The 19-year-old left-winger has been challenged with several tests in his NHL stint, and he’s passed them all.
Farabee’s strong play has quickly turned the heads of fans and coaches alike. With an impressive hockey IQ, the 2018 first-round pick made a noticeable impact on the team the moment his skates hit the ice. Head coach Alain Vigneault quickly showed his trust in the Farabee by promoting him to the first-line alongside veterans Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.
Not only has Farabee quickly climbed out of the bottom six, but the forward has also spent some time on the penalty kill. With the strength to win puck battles along the boards and the intelligence to outthink opponents, Farabee is a natural two-way talent.
If the Flyers hadn’t started fresh last season with a new head coach and general manager, we would not have known how good Oskar Lindblom is. Not only has Lindblom been freed from his fourth line banishment placed by Dave Haksol, but his average ice time has increased by three minutes.
Lindblom has been the team’s best even strength player this season. With eight goals and five assists on his stat sheet, the 23-year-old Swede is building the foundations for an all-star season.
But Lindblom’s presence has been made throughout the league—not just on the Flyers. His five-on-five production ranks 12th among all forwards. Shutting down the former front office’s belief that he couldn’t keep up with the level of the NHL, Lindblom has become a valuable asset for the Flyers.
It’s refreshing to see the franchise finally trusting the young players instead of benching or healthy scratching them after every mistake. The development of these players has been exciting to watch, and with the team’s young core still under 24 years of age, the future is bright.