- Re-sign Brayden Schenn, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning, Nick Cousins, and Ryan White
- Not give up any major prospects to move up in the draft
That's pretty simple, and it's nothing outlandish based on what we've seen from Hexy over the past two years. Today I have less of a roster-based wish, and really more of a Hakstol wish than a Hextall wish. I'd like to see the Flyers balance their top nine forwards.
For a long time, the decision was always "should we keep Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek together or split them up?" Most of the "split them up" camp wanted to put Voracek on the wing of Sean Couturier.
But after seeing what we saw out of all three of those players, I think it's fair for me to expect the team to play well with a Giroux line, a Voracek line, and a Couturier line.
The Giroux Line
Capable of generating offense, naturally, because it's centered by the man who has more points than anyone else in the NHL in the last five years. It's also capable of strong defensive play at even strength, as we saw in the Washington series (and I sort of talked about here).
I'm a big fan of "if it's not broken, don't fix it" and I'd leave this line as Schenn-Giroux-Simmonds. Those two complement Giroux as his wingers, and they all possess enough skill to finish the chances that they have (and will continue to) create.
The Couturier Line
Coots, Raffl, Read. Defensively responsible, offensively capable. There isn't too much more to say, other than that is a very solid "third" line.
The Voracek Line
Jake doesn't necessarily need to be "sheltered", but I'd love him to be the linchpin of the primarily offensive-minded line. The issue is, if we're leaving the Giroux line in tact and splitting Coots out to his own line for next year, there isn't a ton of elite-level skill available to play alongside him.
I want to table this for just a second, because I'm going to combine Jake's linemate options with the last of the forward trios...
The Fourth Line
Bellemare, at less than $800k, is a bargain fourth line center. Vandevelde, at the same cap hit, seems to have carved out a spot as a fourth liner and penalty killer. Those two will probably play the same amount as they did this season, as it seems Dave Hakstol really appreciates the game that they play.
Now, back to the holes on Voracek's line. There is a center spot and a winger spot available there, plus the open wing on the fourth line. Those three spots will be up for grabs to Scott Laughton, Nick Cousins, Ryan White (probably), Jordan Weal (probably not), Taylor Leier (maybe), Travis Konecny (probably not), another prospect (probably not), or a fee agent signing (more on that in the coming weeks).
Laughton and Konecny are both first-round picks, and it would really make a lot of people in Philly salivate if a pre-season line combination of Konecny-Laughton-Voracek happened. But Konecny will likely spend the season back in Sarnia in the OHL.
Cousins and Leier, though they don't have the same pedigree as TK, certainly could contribute as the third piece of Jake's line. White, as much as I love him, is probably best suited as a fourth liner. Gagner would fit in nicely with Voracek again, but he's probably heading somewhere else for more money. It's asinine to talk about other free agents at this point, because there are just too many variables.
2016-17 Flyers Lineup Volume 1
And, because I'm on a roll, here's my Off The Cuff/Haven't Really Thought About It Much defense pairings:
Del Zotto - Schultz
Gudas - Manning
Gostisbehere - Streit