Hockey season is here and the Flyers are ready to begin the 2022-23 season. Most experts have the Flyers near the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, and for that matter, the entire league. For our season preview, let’s take a look at five things to get excited about this season, five Flyers predictions and five home games to watch.
5 things to get excited about
The coach: Even when John Tortorella had a good team in front of him, the veteran bench boss found ways to be inconsequentially entertaining in post-game interviews. He’s honest and he’ll likely be brutally honest about the current Flyers roster while this team finds its way.
The goalie: Regardless of team success, Carter Hart needs to put a good season under his belt. Tortorella will have the team playing hard and defending but will take chances to score goals, which will give Hart plenty of opportunities to bail them out. It worked for Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus under Tortorella. It could work here.
The trade deadline: It’s likely the Flyers will be sellers. It will be interesting to see if they do more than trade expiring contracts at this year’s deadline. There aren’t too many untouchables these days.
The offseason/lottery: There are several pots of gold at the end of this rainbow via the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. The order will be decided by a lottery and teams can move down only two spots at maximum. Connor Bedard is the can’t-miss superstar in the making, but there are at least two other potential franchise players available in Adam Fantilli and Matvei Michkov. Finish dead last and you’re guaranteed one of them.
The youth: Flyers management has said they want to “play the kids,” although we’re not off to a good start with former first-rounder Cam York starting off in the AHL. But several prospects should get a decent look this season as the Flyers will struggle to be in playoff contention.
5 predictions for the 2022-23 season
Travis Konecny will lead the team in goals – Konecny scored only 16 goals last year but shot a dreadful 7.3 percent. There will be a market correction there and Konecny led the team in shots on goal last season with 220. With James vanRiemsdyk on the trading block with an expiring contract and Cam Atkinson’s health in question to start the season, Konecny looks like a nice bet to be on top at the end of the season. He’s +400 on betting lines.
Sean Couturier comes back healthy – Couturier begins the first year of an eight-year, $62 million extension this season and will start it off on the IR after suffering a back injury in the offseason. He’s listed as week-to-week to start the season. Couturier played just 29 games last year and the bet here is that he doubles that this season and pots around 50 points, making the next seven years of that extension look a little more friendly than the current situation.
Twenty for Owen Tippett – Is 20 goals a lot to ask from a 23-year-old first-round pick who is said to have some scoring upside? No. But the Flyers will struggle to score as a team this year, which could hurt Tippett’s overall production. Still, we’re betting on Tippett to pot 20 with an increased role and some additional power-play time.
Travis Sanheim gets traded – Sanheim turns 27 in March and the Flyers have a critical decision to make on the left-handed-shooting defenseman who will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer. Do they offer him eight years, handcuffing themselves until Sanheim is in his mid-30s or do they attempt to get a decent return for him at the deadline and try to rebuild the blue line? The season’s success probably plays a part in the decision but the Flyers should be looking at their options. And knowing that the Flyers haven’t locked up Sanheim already shows they are at least thinking about it. There are many teams that would line up for Sanheim’s services.
Joel Farabee is the Flyers’ All-Star – The Flyers will likely be sending only one player to the NHL All-Star Game in Florida in February. Claude Giroux no longer plays here and someone else has to represent the Flyers. Carter Hart might be the best Flyers this year but there will be heavy competition in the Metropolitan Division for the two goaltending spots. We’ll go with Farabee as the league pushes to promote some of its young talent.
5 Home Games to Watch
October 13 vs. New Jersey – It’s opening night in South Philly and the Flyers will be only two points out of first place at the time of puck drop at the Wells Fargo Center that night. Enjoy it.
November 12 vs. Ottawa – Claude Giroux, the longest-tenured captain in franchise history, will make his return to Philadelphia, which will likely draw a decent crowd. The Flyers traded Giroux to the Florida Panthers last year at the trade deadline and Giroux signed a long-term deal with the Ottawa Senators in the offseason.
November 25 vs Pittsburgh – It’s Black Friday and shopping is overrated. Break out the leftover turkey and settle in for a 5:30 p.m. puck drop as the Pittsburgh Penguins make their only appearance in Philadelphia.
December 5 vs Colorado – The champs are here. The Colorado Avalanche won their first Stanley Cup in 21 years and they return what should be another contending squad that includes electrifying players Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen. The Flyers might be out of playoff contention by now so enjoy watching some star-studded teams.
February 9 vs Edmonton – Connor McDavid and Leon Draisailt are worth the price of admission and it’s likely good seats will be available. Want to get your kids interested in hockey? Take them to see the 2022-23 Edmonton Oilers. Thirty-five years ago, the Oilers did the same for many others. ••