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Flyers Report Card: Complete Grades for 2023-24 First Quarter

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Philadelphia Flyers
Carter Hart has been playing at the level he's shown capable of for the Philadelphia Flyers in 2023-24. (Photo: AP)

So, at the end of November, the Philadelphia Flyers are in third place in the Metropolitan Division. Who would’ve guessed?

Not only that, but the Flyers are in a playoff spot – and not a wildcard one!

Is this a sustainable pace of play over the course of the full 82-game season? No, probably not. Teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils have underachieved, and the Flyers aren’t quite consistent enough to bridge that talent gap just yet.

That being said, let’s grade some Philadelphia Flyers.

Flyers Forwards

Tyson Foerster – Sean Couturier – Travis Konecny
Grade: B+

There really hasn’t been a weak link on this line for the Flyers, even if Tyson Foerster hasn’t produced as much offensively as he probably should have. The 21-year-old did win the team a game with his shootout winner against the New York Islanders on Saturday, though.

Sean Couturier has been used less on the penalty kill than normal, and more on the power play. He’s up to 14 points in 19 games, though this also speaks to the center depth behind him. It’s honestly no secret why the Philadelphia Flyers struggled as much as they did without Couturier in 2022-23.

Travis Konecny had a hot start to the 2023-24 season and cooled off a little bit in November. Even so, Konecny’s importance to this Flyers team is demonstrable, and he still leads the team with 11 goals in 21 games.

With a little more consistent offensive production – particularly from Foerster – this line would easily get an A. For their defensive efforts, they still earn a very solid B+.

Owen Tippett – Morgan Frost, Scott Laughton – Cam Atkinson
Grade: B

Owen Tippett and Cam Atkinson are third and fourth on the Philadelphia Flyers in goals, with seven and eight, respectively. The center between them, though, has been more of a mystery.

Morgan Frost, who is often randomly benched by head coach John Tortorella, has two goals and two assists in 11 games. Frost has also won only 42.2% of his faceoffs.

Scott Laughton, on the other hand, has just one goal but 11 assists in a do-it-all role for the Flyers. Laughton has played up and down the lineup, on the penalty kill, and on the much maligned power play. However, he has one point in his last seven games.

Tippett and Atkinson have had their ups and downs, but it’s hard to establish consistency when you have a new center every other night. For now, we’ll say Atkinson’s strong return to full health has been a revelation for Philadelphia.

Joel Farabee – Ryan Poehling – Bobby Brink
Grade: A+

Indeed, Bobby Brink has been in and out of the lineup this month, but 10 points in 16 games is about as much as you can ask for from a guy who recently recovered from a heavy hip surgery. At one point, Brink was in the Calder Trophy conversation alongside the likes of Connor Bedard and Logan Cooley. Once the 22-year-old improves on the details Tortorella is looking for, the sky is the limit.

Ryan Poehling has been a nice find for the Philadelphia Flyers. The 24-year-old is on his third NHL team in as many years, but seems to have found a home in Philadelphia. Poehling has been the team’s best faceoff taker, and has established himself as a key penalty killer as well.

Joel Farabee (8) is rivalling Konecny (11) for the team lead in goals, despite averaging over three minutes less ice time per game. Farabee has been ultra efficient offensively and rock-solid defensively. With a steady dose of ice time, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him develop into one of the NHL’s best two-way left wingers.

Nic Deslauriers – Noah Cates – Garnet Hathaway
Grade: C-

More than anything, the low grade for this line is because Nic Deslauriers and Noah Cates are victims of circumstance.

Cates isn’t really a natural center, and being away from dynamic offensive talents like Tippett and Frost has really hurt his offensive game. Cates’ elite forechecking allows him to be a foil on a line with guys like those, but being on a defense-only line like this hasn’t worked out so far.

Deslauriers wasn’t able to deter Jacob Trouba from laying a big hit on Garnet Hathaway on Friday, despite haggling him from the other end of the ice. It’s not that Deslauriers is bad at his job, but more so that players like him are a dying breed. Trouba has proven that players need to police themselves, not each other.

Lastly, Cates and Hathaway have both excelled as penalty killers. Deslauriers, meanwhile, averages a team-low 9:10 a game. Perhaps the team can experiment with ways to get the hulking winger involved at both ends of the ice. The 32-year-old is a big body that can provide screens, and is an above-average defensive player as well.

Defense

Cam York – Travis Sanheim
Grade: A+

The Flyers’ defense, headlined by Cam York and Travis Sanheim, was supposed to be a major question mark this season. Instead, they’ve been one of the best defensive teams in the league.

This is York’s first full season as an NHL regular, while Sanheim has been out to prove that he can still be a top-pairing defender. They’ve both thrived, and it’s Sanheim who leads the Flyers in scoring this season.

It’s an unconventional pairing, to be certain, but these two have been about as good together as the Flyers could have asked for.

Nick Seeler – Sean Walker
Grade: B

Two unrestricted free agents with everything to prove in 2023-24: lights out, for the most part.

Nick Seeler hasn’t been perfect defensively, but always sticks up for his teammates. And, the 3o-year-old takes it personally when opponents attempt to shoot the puck with him on the ice. Seeler is currently seventh in the NHL in blocked shots, and finished 15th in the NHL last year. Playing in an expanded role, he’s been great.

Walker, meanwhile, is proving he can still play at a top level after a devastating knee injury derailed his 2021-22 season. Walker was healthy enough to play regularly for the Los Angeles Kings, but wasn’t as effective as in the past.

Suffice to say, Walker has been effective at both ends of the ice with the Flyers, and has already played his way into extension talks.

Marc Staal, Egor Zamula – Louie Belpedio
Grade: C

The way Tortorella sees it, Egor Zamula has been very inconsistent, and that’s fine. Learning and developing is the whole point of this season.

But then there’s Marc Staal, who’s rotated with Zamula pre and post rib injury.

Louie Belpedio has been a pleasant surprise as an AHL call-up, but hasn’t played since Staal’s return. Rasmus Ristolainen also just returned for the Flyers this past weekend.

All three players have lacked consistency in either ice time or performance. They’ve all been solid, but not game-changing one way or the other. They get a grade that’s squarely in the middle.

Goaltending

Carter Hart
Grade: A

Despite all the offseason trade rumors and an early injury, all Carter Hart has done is block out the noise and come to the rink ready to play. The 25-year-old has compiled a 6-5-0 record with a .911 save percentage, in addition to a shutout.

In a contract year, Hart is proving his value to the doubters, and especially to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Uncertain future aside, No. 79 has solidified himself as one of the NHL’s best goaltenders.

Sam Ersson
Grade: C+

Sam Ersson didn’t start the season so great, but he’s been pretty great lately. After starting 0-2-1, Ersson has gone 4-1-0 in his last five, with a 1.60 GAA and a .937 save percentage.

Ersson scored his second NHL shutout on Saturday against the New York Islanders, and is playing in his first full season as an NHLer. The 24-year-old is still adjusting to having a backup’s workload, with several games off at a time.

The Flyers organization believes in him, evidenced by the early contract extension he signed in the summer. The talent has always been there, and the performances are starting to match.

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