Flyers Not Ready to Challenge League’s Elite Teams Yet
The Flyers certainly made things interesting with a Game 5 win and a 4-2 lead midway through Game 6, but the Pittsburgh Penguins ultimately proved to be too overpowering for the Orange and Black.
It’s not the result of the series, but the areas within a game where the Flyers showed their insufficiencies and the Penguins showed their experience that proved to be the bigger downfall.
The Flyers seemingly defied some odds in making the playoffs. They had a 10-game losing streak in November that suggested this team wasn’t playoff material. The thought was similar entering the season.
Well, they made it, the last team to clinch a playoff spot in the East. Despite what the standings showed, which was a third-place finish in the Metropolitan Division, the Flyers are not a team ready to run with the league’s elite team. Not even close by the Penguins standards.
With the season and a rather one-sided playoff series in the books, time for some evaluation from the Flyers at all levels.
For Ron Hextall, Start Building This Team Out
This Flyers team had its ups and downs. There was the low of a 10-game losing streak. There was the high of a tremendous month of February and a handful of days in first place in the Metropolitan Division.
Ultimately, the Flyers don’t have the roster makeup to be among the top teams in the division and East, but also shouldn’t be a team that is squeezing into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.
This is where the offseason gets critical for Ron Hextall.
It’s time for the Flyers to start building a contender and speeding up the process. That happens in two ways.
First, the Flyers can’t stray from adding young players. Last season, it was Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny. This season, it was Nolan Patrick, Robert Hagg, Travis Sanheim and Oskar Lindblom. Next season, there needs to be even more. Guys like Sam Morin, Mike Vecchione, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Phil Myers need to be on the radar. And who knows if another prospect, say Morgan Frost or German Rubtsov or somebody of that nature, proves to have a tremendous camp and earns a roster spot.
However it happens, don’t stop the youth movement.
But don’t overlook the importance of veteran presence either. That said, veteran presence needs to be redefined to a degree.
There’s no question the Flyers had veteran presence. But when your veteran presence is also proving to be a liability within a game, it’s setting the team back.
The Flyers have proven to be capable of stringing together wins and making the playoffs. Now is the time to put the retooling, rebuilding, whatever you want to call it into another gear. If a significant upgrade can be made via trade, explore it. If a free agent is worth the cost, go for it.
For the last three years, the blueprint has been strictly through internal building. It’s time to explore all avenues for improvement while letting some of the liabilities and dead weight walk.
Kevin Durso is Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.