The Philadelphia Flyers, finishing off another playoff-less season, don’t have too many areas of strength.
But they are getting there.
Especially at right wing.
Tyson Foerster’s strong showing in his six games with the Flyers — and coach John Tortorella’s raves about him — make the right winger a good bet to be a regular next season.
“We’re beginning to build a foundation; it’s really encouraging to me,” Tortorella said after the Flyers defeated Florida, 6-3, on Tuesday. “And I’ve said it many times with this kid Tyson. I’m trying to be careful, but each time I watch him, I say, ‘Man, theres another piece that maybe falls into place next year for us.”
Foerster’s impressive NHL play (five points, plus-1 in six games) albeit in a small sample size, coupled with Owen Tippett’s emergence, suddenly has the Flyers loaded at right wing.
Will they trade one of them this summer to help other areas of need?
Here is the deep group:
Travis Konecny: He still could return late in the season, but before being injured he had a career-high 27 goals in 52 games. The winger just turned 26 and is in his prime. Will the Flyers keep him or try to “sell high” to help their rebuild?
Cam Atkinson: The Flyers’ MVP after scoring 23 goals last season, Atkinson has missed the entire campaign and had neck surgery on Dec. 21. He will turn 34 on June 5, and his best days are behind him, but he is considered a valuable mentor to the young players.
Owen Tippett: He has had a breakout season with 21 goals, and his speed and shot make him a big part of the future, perhaps as a cornerstone if he keeps developing. Tippett is just 24 and coming into his own.
Tyson Foerster: Speaking of big shots, Foerster, 21, may have the hardest one in the organization. In his six games with the Flyers, Foerster has also displayed great poise with the puck and a penchant for blocking shots. The kid looks ready, and Tortorella is gloating about him.
Wade Allison: While Tortorella has been praising Foerster, he has been blunt about the 25-year-old Allison. “Always hurt,” he said the other day. He said it nine times. There’s no doubting Allison’s tenacity and his scoring ability, but he needs to be able to stay on the ice much more frequently.
Bobby Brink: The diminutive right winger has 19 points (8-11) in 31 games with the Phantoms this season, and he will battle for a job with the Philadelphia Flyers in training camp. Brink (5-foot-8, 166 pounds), who turns 22 in July, may get a look-see with Philly at some point in the final 12 games.
If the Flyers try to deal one of their right wingers, they need help at center, left wing and defense.
The center spot will be bolstered greatly if Sean Couturier returns from back surgery and is his productive self, and Cutter Gauthier is deemed ready to contribute after an outstanding freshman season at Boston College.
Next year’s goaltending looks set, with Carter Hart as the No. 1 — unless interim GM Danny Briere is given an offer he cannot refuse — and promising Sam Ersson as the likely No. 2.