If the Philadelphia Flyers are going to have any kind of success this season, they need rebound years from six players who were either injured or underachieved for most of the 2021-22 campaign.
Call them the Bounce-Back Six.
He led the punch-less Flyers with 52 points last season, but produced just 16 goals. At 25 and in his seventh NHL season, it’s time for Konecny to regain his tenacity and take his game to another level. The right winger had 24 goals in three straight seasons before slipping to 11 (in 50 games) two years ago and 16 last season.
The top-line center played only 29 games because of a back injury that required surgery. Will he be able to return at 100 percent? That’s the hope, but returning from back surgery can be tricky, and it will likely take Couturier a while before he resembles the terrific all-around player who won the Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) in 2019-20.
Another center who was slowed by injuries, Hayes seems more likely than anyone on this list to have a successful comeback. Hayes, who had 31 points in 48 games, had three surgeries in an eight-month span. That’s the bad news. The good news: After returning to the lineup last March 5, Hayes finished with 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) over his last 28 games and was the Flyers’ leading scorer in that span.
He wasn’t a disaster, but he didn’t play like a No. 1 defenseman, either. Too many turnovers. Too many inconsistent games. He had a career-worst minus-20 rating and wasn’t nearly as effective as he was with Matt Niskanen as his partner two years earlier.
Ellis was the face of the bad luck that engulfed the Flyers last season. The 31-year-old defenseman played in just four games because of a pelvic injury and will be sidelined when the season starts Oct. 13. How much time will he miss? No one knows — or at least isn’t saying. With Ellis in the lineup, the pairings would be in sync: Provorov-Ellis; Travis Sanheim-Rasmus-Ristolainen; Cam York-Tony DeAngelo. But without Ellis, well, new coach John Tortorella will need to find the magic he created in Columbus.
Which version of Hart will we see? The one who looked on his way to stardom after his first two seasons, or the goaltender who struggled the last two years? Granted, Hart was much improved last season (3.16 GAA, .905 save percentage) over his previous year, but he still didn’t resemble the player with such a strong pedigree. The Philadelphia Flyers need Hart to be more assertive and show more swagger in the net.