We’re less than 24 hours away from hockey action, yo. With a new season comes change, and there’s plenty of it coming out of Prague if reports are to be believed.
The most notable change, one that’s staring fans in the face, is the Flyers’ announcement of their alternate captains for the 2019-20 season. Claude Giroux, who enters his eighth consecutive season as the captain, will be joined by:
Wearing the A’s this season will be:
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 3, 2019
If you think back to the disastrous 2018-19 season, the three players donning the “A” on their sweaters were Sean Couturier and now-former-Flyers Wayne Simmonds and Andrew MacDonald. The trade of Simmonds prior to last season’s trade deadline led to Voracek wearing the “A” for the remainder of the season, one that he will rock once again this season. Perhaps the most intriguing name on the list is that of center Kevin Hayes, who signed a 7-year, $50m deal this offseason.
Speaking of Hayes, it appears he’s not going to be starting his season as the 2C everyone expected him to be if the lines in Thursday’s practice are any indication:
Flyers at practice:
Morin-Myers as the extra pair
— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) October 3, 2019
If those end up being the lines, it might not be the worst thing in the world. A top line of Giroux, Hayes, and Voracek is a top-heavy one to be sure, but it provides plenty of dynamic playmaking and vision. Dropping Couturier to the second line would help make up for some of Konecny’s defensive inefficiencies, while drawing opponents across the ice to free up space for Lindblom. The third line should feature a heavy dose of JVR setting up near the net and it could get him off to a hot start with Laughton and Twarynski covering a ton of ice with relentless energy. The fourth line is… not great, but the team has rolled out worse in that position. The organization clearly believes in Connor Bunnaman’s ability to drive play with the proverbial Swiss army knife Michael Raffl mans the left wing and former 3RW favorite Tyler Pitlick lines up to Bunnaman’s right.
The defensive pairings are going to see plenty of mixing and matching as it seems borderline indefensible to have Robert Hägg getting minutes as a second pair defenseman, while the team’s best or second-best overall defenseman Travis Sanheim rots away getting third pair minutes. I’d expect pairings of Provorov/Niskanen, Braun/Gostisbehere, and Sanheim/Hägg to get plenty of run early in the season, unless GM Chuck Fletcher is able to manipulate the cap to get Phil Myers active as a seventh defenseman, in which case the aforementioned pairing of Sanheim/Hägg could be improved by replacing Hägg with Myers.
Practices shouldn’t get fans worried, but if this ends up being the plan for the early portion of the season, I’ll be skeptical as well. One thing’s for sure. The Flyers are back. Drop the puck and see where things go from there.
For more Flyers coverage, check out Snow The Goalie: A Flyers Podcast, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, GooglePlay, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and wherever else you get your podcasts. Also be sure to tune into The Press Row Show as Anthony and Russ live stream during pregame and the first and second intermission breaks of every Flyers home game live from press row of the Wells Fargo Center via the Crossing Broad Facebook page and Twitter.