With free agency well underway, and the 2018-2019 season inching closer and closer, it’s time to take a look at what the Flyers’ forward corps will likely shape up to be this coming season. In a move that not many people expected, former Flyer James van Riemsdyk decided to take his talents back to Philadelphia, signing a lucrative five-year, $35 million deal. This move by Hextall, in addition to being surprising, has given the Flyers many different options when it comes to their forward lines, a luxury that they may not be used to having.
For most of last season, the lines were set in stone: Giroux played with Couturier and Voracek, and Patrick played with Simmonds and Konecny. Those two lines were really the only offensive threats last year’s Flyers had to offer. Even then, Patrick and Konecny didn’t start producing at (relatively) high levels until the latter half of the year. With the addition of JVR, the Flyers have an opportunity to use three threatening lines without sacrificing what we know worked last year.
First Line: Giroux – Couturier – Voracek
The Giroux – Courturier duo worked wonders last year with Giroux. With Giroux regaining his elite scoring touch and Couturier becoming one of the best two-way forwards in the game, this pair should be left alone to thrive once again in 2018-19. With JVR’s addition shoring up the Flyers’ middle-six, Voracek should be able to slide back into the top line where his elite passing ability should shine with two players coming off 30-goal seasons.
Second Line: JVR – Patrick – Konecny
One simple line change would open up the Flyers’ offensive options. For example, putting JVR on the left side of Nolan Patrick would give Patrick an opportunity to play with a bonafide goal-scorer. In this situation, the Flyers would keep the dynamic duo of Giroux and Couturier together, as well as Patrick and Konecny, who showed a lot of good chemistry last season.
Third Line: Lindblom – Laughton/Frost – Simmonds
With the top two lines stacked with scoring threats, a new scoring threat could be introduced in Laughton/Frost and Simmonds on the third line. Putting Simmonds on the third line with Lindblom would give the third line an actual opportunity to generate some offense. Nobody is sure who the Flyers’ third line center will be next season, but either way, Simmonds on the third line is bound to generate more offense. If Morgan Frost makes the team out of training camp, he’ll most likely be centering the third line. This would give Simmonds and Lindblom an offensive-minded player centering them, which would, in theory, be extremely helpful to them. If Scott Laughton centers the third line, it could be an opportunity for him to improve his offensive game. Playing with hard-nosed, net-driving players like Simmonds and Lindblom is bound to result in more goals for the line as a whole. In this situation, the Flyers would keep the dynamic duo of Giroux and Couturier together, as well as Patrick and Konecny, who showed a lot of good chemistry last season, along with introducing a new scoring threat in Laughton/Frost and Simmonds.
With the lines this way, none of this would be at the expense of defense either, as all three of those lines have defensively responsible players on them in Giroux, Couturier, JVR, Patrick, and Lindblom.
This is what my ideal top nine would look like: a balanced, yet threatening forward lineup, all made possible by just one free agent signing, and great drafting.
Noah is a lifelong Flyers fan who loves the sport of hockey almost as much as the orange and black. He is currently studying journalism and media studies at West Chester University.