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Flyers Looking to Be Consistent Playoff Contender

Flyers Looking to Be Consistent Playoff Contender
This has already been a busy offseason for the Flyers, and the biggest question is if the team assembled is ready to compete for a playoff berth next season.
 
The Flyers have made several moves, which includes the NHL draft. The spot that the Flyers (or any team) would like to get to is to become a playoff team every year.
 
In the NHL, more than any league, a team has a chance to win a championship, if they can just get to the postseason. The difference often between the first and eight seed in a conference isn’t great, especially this past season.
 
Here is the Flyers recent history, which has been spotty at best:
 
2012-2013 – no playoffs
2013-2014 – eliminated in the first round.
2014-2015 – no playoffs.
2015-2016 – eliminated in the first round.
2016-2017 – no playoffs.
2017-2018 – lost in the first round.
2018-2019 – no playoffs.
 
The Flyers haven’t won a playoff series since he 2011-2012 season when they lost in the conference semifinals.
 
This is a disappointing recent track record, especially for a franchise that will spend every last dollar it is able to in the salary cap to win.
 
The Flyers have been in a tough situation, wanting to be competitive with veterans while developing young players. As the recent results show, this hasn’t worked consistently.
 
The big move was signing Kevin Hayes, who is likely to be the team’s No. 2 center. Hayes signed a seven-year deal for $50 million.
 
The Flyers in the past have been burned by signing mediocre players to big deals. That is not to suggest that Hayes is mediocre, but his stats have been.
 
Here is a player whose career high in goals was 25 when he played for the New York Rangers, coached by now Flyers coach Alain Vigneault.
 
This past season Hayes had a career-high 55 points (19 goals, 36 assists) in 71 games for the Rangers and then Winnipeg Jets.
 
While the Flyers value his two-way ability, paying somebody and average of a little more than $7 million a year for somebody who never reached 60 points appears excessive.
 
Hayes (6-5, 215) will being an aggressive style, and he allows Nolan Patrick to move down to the No. 3 center spot, where he probably should have been all along.
 
Hayes, 27, had a combined 19 goals and a career-high 55 points in 71 games last season for the Rangers and Winnipeg Jets.
 
The play of Hayes will be the determining factor whether the Flyers will have a strong offseason.
 
The Flyers also acquired veteran defensemen Justin Braun and Matt Niskanen. Their defense will look drastically different this year.
 
They acquired forward Tyler Pitlick who scored eight goals in 47 games with Dallas.
 
The Flyers recently made qualifying offers to Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton and Nic Aube-Kubel. That prevented them from becoming unrestricted free agents.
 
Provorov and Konecny are two potential cornerstone players.
 
The Flyers also signed defenseman Travis Sanheim to a two-year extension.
 
The draft choices, led by first round defenseman Cam York, are likely a few years away, but to be successful, the Flyers have to draft well.
 
The Flyers will likely make other moves but at least they feel that with Carter Hart, they have a goaltender who can carry them for years.
 
That has been such a problem with the Flyers. Now they can focus on improving their scoring. They hope that Hayes will be a big part of that.

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At this point the Flyers do appear to be better than they were to end last season, but is it good enough to return to the playoffs? That remains the big question.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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