Oh, and we just had to sit in the cold and watch the boys get their dicks kicked in by the fucking goddamn Penguins.
So let's throw this season in the trash and take a look toward the future. We have a Ryan White playoff run to root for. The draft is four months away. Training camp starts in September. The sun is going to engulf the earth in a fiery death soon enough.
Let's put on our GM hats and try to envision a Flyers team that can compete with the Penguins, Capitals, and Wilds of the league. Here is what you need:
- Three centers
- Five Good Wingers
- Four Good Defensemen
- A Goalie
- A Forward And A Defenseman Who Can Fight
Claude Giroux is one of them, and if you disagree then you should remove yourself from the Flyers fan base. He has taken the torch as best captain in Philadelphia (Chase Utley and Brian Dawkins were the two most recent holders). He is exactly what you want out of a Flyers captain - skill, attitude, everything.
Sean Couturier is also one of the three centers on this hypothetical team, and disagreeing here is almost more egregious than wanting to trade Giroux. The old adage is that Stanley Cup contenders have a Hart contender and a Selke contender. Regardless of who you think could be the Hart guy, Couts is inarguably the Selke guy. He consistently shuts down the opposition's best players, and he doesn't even need good linemates to do it. A trio of Couturier with Jake Voracek and quite literally any NHL player will be successful.
The third center position is a bit of a question mark, especially considering we're going at least a year (maybe as many as three years) into the future. It could be Nick Cousins, Scott Laughton, or Jordan Weal - though they all seem to be better suited on the wing. It could be recent draftees German Rubtsov or Pascal Laberge, though it's tough to accurately project their development. And, of course, if the Flyers continue their downward trend this season, they could land a high-end prospect in June, like Casey Middlestadt or Nico Hischier.
Five Good Wingers
Let's bang out the easy ones first. Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds are among the league's best. Michael Raffl is among the league's most underrated. Brayden Schenn is among the league's top powerplay scorers.
Travis Konecny or Oskar Lindblom will likely round out the group, though it's not out of the realm of possibility that Taylor Leier or one of the Cousins/Laughton/Weal trio could end up taking on a larger role.
And from a player development standpoint, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Wade Allison, or Mikhail Vorobyov could end up being NHL contributors.
The Flyers' system has a well-known batch of high-end talent on defense, but their depth at wing is impressive - and they should be able to add to it this summer.
Four Good Defensemen
Take your pick: Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Sam Morin, Phil Myers, Radko Gudas, Robert Hagg.
That was easy.
This has to be Anthony Stolarz, right? I mean I joke on Twitter about how he has the best 5v5 save percentage in NHL history at this point in his career (he hasn't allowed an even-strength goal in two games), but he's showed signs of being able to take over as soon as next season. Any contract extension or free agent signing in front of him is merely a stopgap until he takes the reigns, or at least that's how I believe it should play out.
A Forward And A Defenseman Who Can Fight
I want to include the caveat that this can't double-dip from the first three categories. You don't want your players who are Actually Good to be sitting in the penalty box for five minutes at a time. You want a guy like Ryan White, who certainly would have reacted differently than the Minnesota Wild did when Jared Spurgeon was speared in the face.
You need a guy like Brandon Manning in the lineup on defense, and the Flyers will have to re-sign Ryan White to a two-year deal this summer after he wins the Cup with Minnesota.
Raffl - Giroux - Lindblom
Konecny - Couturier - Voracek
Weal - Rubtsov - Simmonds
Schenn - Laberge - White
Provorov - Gudas
Sanheim - Morin
Gostisbehere - Myers