Interesting season ahead for the Philadelphia Flyers. In which direction are they headed? How painful will the rebuild be? How long until they are playoff contenders?
(Answers: The Philadelphia Flyers are headed in right direction. There will be pain along the way, with more losses than wins. They will be playoff contenders in three years, maybe two.)
Player evaluations will be front and center next season. Who can play? Really play? Who will be on the roster in 2024-25? Will they show enough next season to generate confidence they can play a few years from now?
Who are the Flyers with the most to prove in 2023-24?
An obvious answer would be Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson, both coming off season-long injuries. But both have long track records of accomplishment. Something for them to prove is staying healthy. Can they play a full season, or close to it?
If they’re healthy, we know Couturier and Atkinson can play.
Here are the three Flyers with the most to prove, three players who can show management they have a big and productive future in Philadelphia.
Tippett scored 27 goals last year and established himself as one of the Flyers’ most important players. He averaged 17:26 on the ice. In two years with the Flyers — after being acquired as part of the Claude Giroux trade — he has scored 31 goals in 98 games. In 94 games with Florida, Tippett only scored 14 goals.
Those stats are why Tippett’s performance is so important next season. Has he crossed a threshold to becoming an outstanding player? Was last season a fluke? Is he a one-hit wonder?
Tippett and the Flyers need him to become a consistent 30-goal scorer, a guy who can score on the power play (the Flyers were *last* in the league on the power play last season). Tippett had eight power-play goals last season.
We don’t want to say how Tippett goes, so go the Flyers. But we can guarantee this: A goal-scoring Tippett means the Flyers are winning games.
There is so much riding on the shoulders of this 5-foot-11, 175-pounder, who is all of 22 years old.
More than anything, the Flyers need help on defense — this season, next season, moving forward. York could provide it. After his demotion to Lehigh Valley last season out of training camp, York played well.
Flyers president Keith Jones has said building the defense is a priority. Remember, he told The Daily Faceoff: “The blue line, to me is the most important thing. We want to have a really advanced back end.”
Flyers general manager Daniel Briere has said he wants young defensemen to get an opportunity next season as some young forwards did last season.
York isn’t big but he skates well, moves the puck and has excellent hockey IQ. He took positive strides last season. Another strong season could establish York as a foundational defensive piece, as the Flyers break in some of their younger players.
Foerster is an intriguing piece of the Flyers’ puzzle. They need goal scoring. They ranked 26th in the NHL in scoring. Foerster came up late in the season and scored three goals and four assists in eight games.
Maybe more important: Foerster looked like he belonged in the NHL. Before being called up the Flyers, Foerster scored 20 goals in 66 games with Lehigh Valley.
Foerster is only 21. He has size, strength and a good shot. He was a first-round pick in 2020, 23rd overall.
Next season could establish Foerster as a dynamic presence on a team that needs some offensive juice. The Flyers want him to make the big club and stay there — and put Lehigh Valley in the rearview mirror.