The Best Flyers Players of the Decade
As the 2010s come to a close, it is a time to look back and reflect on the last 10 years. While it was certainly a disappointing decade for the Flyers, particularly over the last several years, there are still things that can be looked at as positives.
Today, we will look back at some of the top players of the decade for the Flyers, where there are certainly some obvious standouts that have cemented their place in franchise history. We will list five forwards, five defensemen and three goalies.
Claude Giroux - There is really no other Flyers who has defined the decade more than Claude Giroux. The Flyers forward emerged early in the decade as one of the top players on the roster, eventually becoming the captain of the Flyers in 2013. Giroux has risen to the top of several lists in Flyers franchise history, second in assists, third in games played and fourth in points. Giroux is now Philadelphia’s longest-tenured athlete and is the only athlete in the city to have played for the entire decade, start to finish.
Jake Voracek - Voracek arrived in the summer of 2011 and has been a fixture of the core ever since. Voracek approached point-per-game totals in his second season with the Flyers -- the lockout-shortened 2013 season -- then really broke out in the 2014-15 season with 81 points in 82. Next to Giroux, Voracek is the closest to being a Flyers for the entire decade.
Wayne Simmonds - Simmonds didn’t get to Philadelphia until the 2011-12 season and his time with the Flyers ended before the decade was up. That said, Simmonds embodied what it means to be a Flyer and embraced the city with an understanding of its rugged and tenacious exterior, yet passion at the heart. He was also one heck of a goal scorer in his time with the Flyers, emerging into an All-Star talent.
Sean Couturier - Couturier does not have the longevity within the decade in terms of games played that Giroux or Voracek do -- he missed time in three seasons with injury -- but he does have the tenure. Drafted in 2011 and immediately making the team as an 18-year-old, it is easy to forget that Couturier is only 27 with nine seasons in the NHL under his belt. The emergence of Couturier’s offensive game has been a welcome sight over the last three seasons after being consistently one of the best defensive forwards in the game.
Scott Hartnell - Scott Hartnell was only with the Flyers until the end of the 2013-14 season, but had some pretty memorable seasons individually. In the 2011-12 season, he had 37 goals and 67 points, both career highs. Three times in the decade, he was a 20-goal scorer. As one of the members of the last team to win a playoff series in 2012 and a catalyst of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final team, Hartnell’s place in Flyers history is certainly well-cemented.
Honorable Mention: Brayden Schenn - Brayden Schenn joined the Flyers with just nine games of NHL experience. His first goal came in the Winter Classic in 2012. In his final four seasons with the Flyers, he reached the 20-goal mark three times. He spent five seasons in the decade with the Flyers, becoming a rising star before being traded to St. Louis at the NHL Draft in 2017.
Kimmo Timonen - From the start of the decade through the trade deadline in 2015, Kimmo Timonen was one of the players who was always reliable, always honest and just an overall warrior on the ice. Timonen made Philadelphia his home after eight seasons in Nashville and played the final five of his eight seasons in Philadelphia in the 2010s. At the deadline in 2015, the Flyers gave him a shot. He was set to return to the ice after missing the entire season to that point with blood clots and instead of suiting up for the Flyers was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks, who went on a Stanley Cup run, allowing Timonen to ride off into the sunset as a champion.
Mark Streit - Streit only played four seasons with the Flyers, but he proved to be a reliable part of the blue line as a minutes leader as the Flyers waited for the young crop of defensemen to reach the next level. Streit’s first two seasons with the Flyers were very successful offensively. He scored 19 goals over the first two seasons and had 96 points, including a 52-point season in 2014-15.
Shayne Gostisbehere - When Shayne Gostisbehere got to the NHL in the 2014-15 season, he took the league by storm. He scored 17 goals and 46 points in his rookie season in just 64 games, including a 15-game points streak that still stands as a record for a rookie defenseman. In 2017-18, he scored 13 goals but topped his point total, reaching 65 points in 78 games. The last couple of seasons have been a struggle for Gostisbehere, but he will also be the first of the young defensemen of the decade to break through and really make a lot of noise in the league.
Chris Pronger - Pronger’s leadership in the 2010 Stanley Cup run was really incredible. It led to Pronger becoming the team’s captain in the 2011-12 season. Unfortunately, Pronger suffered a career-ending injury dealing with concussions and headaches for years. His place in Flyers history remains, as his seasons on the ice were solid, but the injury ultimately cut his time in Philly short.
Ivan Provorov - Provorov’s career is just four seasons old, but he has already established himself as a workhorse defenseman with great awareness defensively and some offensive prowess that can still be unlocked. Two seasons ago, Provorov scored 17 goals and 41 points, then saw the totals drop the next year to seven goals and 26 points. Provorov has never missed a game and regularly plays 25 minutes or more a night. He’s a machine on the ice and really has no limits for how much he can play. With a new contract under his belt starting this season, he may not be at the top of this list, but he certainly could be on his way to topping the list in the next decade.
Honorable Mention: Braydon Coburn - Coburn is actually the defenseman with the most games played for the Flyers in the last decade, despite being traded in 2015 at the trade deadline. Coburn was always a steady part of the blue line, from the 2010 team that reached the Stanley Cup Final to the playoff teams in 2012 and 2014.
Steve Mason - He may go down as one of the more under-appreciated goalies in Flyers history, especially given his rankings among them. Steve Mason ranks among the greatest goalies in Flyers history, playing in the third-most games among netminders and becoming just the third goalie in franchise history to reach 100 wins as a Flyer. His save percentage of .918 ranks second in franchise history and his GAA of 2.47 ranks fourth. While the Flyers really never experienced much postseason success with Mason, his numbers were always consistent and he provided stability in goal at a time when the Flyers lacked it defensively.
Sergei Bobrovsky - Bobrovsky only played two seasons with the Flyers, but the feeling that he is one that got away from the Flyers, given his success over the rest of the decade, certainly makes him a player of the 2010s. Add in that the Flyers had very little stability in goal outside of Mason over the years and Bobrovsky’s place is very solid on this list.
Carter Hart - Hart didn’t make the NHL until December of 2018, so how is he a Flyer of the decade? Hart’s story with the Flyers really starts in June 2016 when he was drafted in the second round. There was a lot of hype surrounding the pick, that the Flyers had emerged with the best goalie in the draft. In the World Junior Championships in 2016, he suffered the shootout loss to the US in the Gold Medal Game. The next year, he returned to World Juniors and won gold. A year later, he was an NHL goalie. His junior career was highly profiled after being drafted by the Flyers and his pro career prior to the NHL ended up being short given the need for a goalie to be called up at almost every turn in the Flyers season. As the decade ends, Hart has established himself as the goalie of the future. We’ll probably see him on this list next decade too.
Honorable Mention: Michael Leighton - Michael Leighton’s Flyers career spans 33 regular-season games, but it’s the playoffs where Leighton became a part of Flyers history. In 2010, Leighton had to step in as the top netminder when Brian Boucher went down with injury. Leighton started in 13 games and won eight. He had a stellar two and a half games against Boston to help the Flyers complete a dramatic comeback from down 3-0 in the series and then dominated the series against Montreal, posting three shutouts in the series. Leighton had his struggles in the Stanley Cup Final and did give up the deciding goal to Patrick Kane, but the run to the Final had a lot to do with remarkable goaltending by Leighton in relief of an injured Boucher.