5 Flyers Who Need Big Seasons in 2018-19
Even veteran players can have something to prove. The Flyers have formed a healthy balance of veterans and young rising stars in the lineup for the last couple of seasons.
Players at all stages of their career have something to prove or are looking to be better with time. The Flyers have a number of players who put together solid seasons in 2017-18, but still have something to prove or need a big season in 2018-19.
Here are five players who need a big season in 2018-19.
Wayne Simmonds - It could be the final chapter for Wayne Simmonds as a member of the Flyers.
Let’s be clear, Simmonds did not have a bad season offensively in 2017-18, scoring 24 goals and 47 points. His play clearly dropped off due to injuries, however, so returning healthy and contributing on all fronts is important.
Not only is Simmonds trying to prove he’s fully healthy and capable of producing, but it’s also a contract year and the opportunity to win a new deal with the Flyers or strike big in free agency looms.
Nolan Patrick - It’s the exact opposite case of Simmonds. Nolan Patrick started off slow, scoring just four goals and 11 points in his first 41 games through the end of January. He finished the season with better numbers and looking much more like the player advertised in the draft. Patrick scored nine goals and 19 points in the final 32 games.
Entering the 2018-19 season fully healthy and now familiar with the NHL game, Patrick is poised to have a breakout year after an up-and-down rookie season.
Jordan Weal - Weal has been mentioned numerous times by Ron Hextall as a third-line center option. If that is the case, he needs to be a lot better than the player on the ice in the 2017-18 season.
Weal didn’t have a bad season in terms of his energy level, but after scoring eight goals and 12 points in 23 games in 2016-17, more offensive production was desired. In 69 games, Weal had eight goals and 21 points, not nearly enough production, especially if he is to be a third-line center option.
Weal is also in a contract year, and the 26-year-old is at a critical point of his career where a big season could mean a big contract. The future keeps coming quickly for the Flyers, and it was at one time perceived that Weal could have a big part in that future. He needs a huge bounce-back season to still factor into the Flyers future.
Scott Laughton - Similar to Weal, Laughton is primed for an opportunity to step into a bigger role with the Flyers. The 2012 first-round pick has been in and out of the lineup for the first several seasons of his career. He played in 81 games last season, posting a career-high 10 goals and 20 points, one shy of his career high, in a fourth-line role.
Laughton figures to be in play for the third-line center role as well. Like Weal, time could be running out for him factoring into the long-term future of the Flyers.
James van Riemsdyk - In his three seasons with the Flyers, van Riemsdyk scored 47 goals and 99 points in 196 games. Following his third NHL season, he was shipped to Toronto, where he ultimately came into his own. Last season, despite seeing his lowest average ice time since arriving in Toronto, he scored a career-high 36 goals.
As the Flyers big free-agent signing of the offseason, and now a more-established player, the expectations are higher for JVR, who is going to be expected to play a big role in the offensive depth that the Flyers have in the upcoming season.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.