Flyers will rebuild based on successful NHL plans

Flyers will rebuild based on successful NHL plans

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The Philadelphia Flyers’ newly assembled front office will set out to make the franchise “the envy of the NHL” with the first long-term reconstruction in its 56-year history. General manager (GM) Danny Briere and president of hockey operations Keith Jones both talked about other organizations that can provide a plan for the Flyers to properly transform into Stanley Cup contenders.

“Even when I was playing as a player, I was still someone who studied my opponents, also studied my GMs, and what they were doing and if the other GMs were doing it,” Brière told the Philadelphia media during of his introductory press conference. as interim CEO in March.

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Jones brings experience as a national and local broadcaster while Briere was a rising executive in different areas of business operations. Add 26 years of NHL playing experience between them, and it’s easy to recognize that the new duo have seen much of the cause of success and failure around the game. ‘inspire ?

The gold standard: Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning are the gold standard for building teams in the NHL, and Jones correctly acknowledged that during a media scrum when the Flyers introduced the ‘new era of Orange’ at Wells Fargo. Center on May 19.

“To me, Tampa is the team. They did it well. They brought skill and then added toughness. I think that’s ideally what you want to do. We weren’t really able to to do it. We have toughness. Now we need skill, so it’s kind of the opposite, but… We want to be like Tampa. We want to be tough against. We want our best players to be the best in the world. They did it,” he said.

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Lightning have built an arsenal of top players with incredible execution in the draft. They laid their foundation by picking Steven Stamkos with the first overall pick in 2008 and Victor Hedman with the second overall pick in 2009. However, the premium picks were far from their only way of finding players to contribute to the top. of training. .

They made their picks by selecting Nikita Kucherov in the second round and Ondřej Palát in the seventh round in 2011, Andrei Vasilevskiy with the 19th overall pick in 2012, Brayden Point in the third round in 2014, and Anthony Cirelli in the third round. in 2015.

The Flyers have given up significant draft capital over the past two offseasons, but selling veterans on three straight terms has helped offset the costs. They own the Florida Panthers’ 2024 first-round pick, and they’ll also likely cash in on a compensatory second-round pick. Their accumulation of mid-round picks increases the chances of winning gold like the Lightning did with Point.

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It’s not impossible for them to stockpile a wealth of talent like Tampa Bay did in the draft, but it’s not very likely. They would need a current prospect like Tyson Foerster, Emil Andrae or Bobby Brink to shatter expectations by becoming a front row player and strong development from Cutter Gauthier and the player they take with the seventh overall pick in June . They would still need a lot of luck with their other selections to steal the best players who can become the leading scorers for a Stanley Cup-challenged team.

Jones specifically pointed to Tampa Bay’s ability to complement its best players with depth that made them harder to play against. Julien BriseBois added Pat Maroon ahead of the 2019-20 season before acquiring Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow before the 2020 NHL trade deadline. The Lightning won the next two Stanley Cups and 11 consecutive playoffs after the acquisitions.

The Flyers signed Nicolas Deslauriers to a four-year contract in 2022, and they highlighted the value of Scott Laughton’s leadership and courage as a key part of the culture they hope to continue to build under the leadership of the Flyers. head coach John Tortorella. The plan to draft and develop players with offensive skills while toughness is already in place is a bit of a stretch considering how the NHL’s bottom six players are usually interchangeable. Most repairable sandpits play on short-term contracts with cheap wages, so it’s hard to keep them during a long-term rebuild. The Flyers will have to face the reality of the difficulty of prioritizing strong intangible players and investing significant capitalization resources in them over a long period of time.

Up: Devils, Senators, Red Wings

Briere spoke on 97.5 The Fanatic in March about his plan for the future in Philadelphia and examples of NHL teams moving in the right direction after hitting bottom in rebuilds.

“The (New Jersey) Devils are booming. The Red Wings (from Detroit), the Ottawa Senators, these are teams that have undergone reconstruction, and it is starting to pay off for them. So we’re probably two or three years behind them, but I think it’s time for us to start looking in the same direction,” the former Flyers playoff hero said.

The Devils jumped into the race with a second-place finish in the Metropolitan Division in 2022-23 and a victory in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They had missed the playoffs in nine of the previous 10 seasons. Some elements of the New Jersey track are of no value to the Flyers. Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, arguably their two best players, fell in New Jersey’s lap due to lottery luck.

New Jersey Devils Nico Hischier
Nico Hischier, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

However, the Flyers can learn from their former rivals by examining the allocation of resources that allowed them to acquire important pieces from outside the organization. General manager Tom Fitzgerald landed marquee free agents Dougie Hamilton and Ondřej Palát in back-to-back offseasons in 2021 and 2022 and still had enough financial flexibility to acquire Timo Meier at the 2023 NHL trade deadline. Logan Horn ranked the Devils with the second-best prospect pool in the league, which is even more impressive considering their high-profile acquisitions didn’t come at the expense of their future.

The Flyers don’t have the luxury of cap flexibility, and most prospecting experts consider their pool to be in the middle of the NHL pack. The extended time outside of the playoffs has helped the Devils manage their resources and position themselves to make aggressive moves. While Philadelphia fans might not want to hear it, the Flyers could have the same kind of long-term schedule due to the number of expensive long-term contracts on their books and their current lack of high-end prospects. range.

Briere pointed to the Senators and Red Wings as teams moving in the right direction. However, neither team has achieved enough to stand out as a true role model. Both teams approached the 2022 offseason aggressively after patiently waiting several seasons beforehand. The Senators signed Claude Giroux and traded for Alex DeBrincat while the Red Wings acquired Ville Husso, Andrew Copp and David Perron. The Atlantic Division rivals both improved in 2022-23, but neither made the playoffs.

Brière hopes the Flyers can rejuvenate. He’ll have to wait a few years before making any major changes in free agency that could push the Flyers into playoff contention. The organization faces an uphill battle to get its long-term salary cap structure in order.

Conference finalists: Panthers, Stars

The Dallas Stars reached the Western Conference Finals with an unusual mix of age groups making up the top of their roster. Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Joe Pavelski have each played 13 or more seasons in the NHL. A wave of younger players, including Jason Robertson, Miro Heiskanen and Roope Hintz, also became the centerpiece of the Stars.

The Florida Panthers seemed to have taken a big step back in 2022-23. Their regular-season point total dropped by 30 after the Presidents’ Trophy season in 2021-22, and they barely slipped into the Stanley Cup Playoffs as wild cards in the Eastern Conference. Acquiring Matthew Tkachuk has been invaluable during a playoff tear, and they now seem to have a franchise player as important to their team as any NHL player.

Philadelphia Flyers Danny Briere
Danny Briere, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Mike Fink recently wrote about the off-season retooling strategies the two conference finalists used last summer. Both teams brought in veteran coaches to change their chemistry. The Panthers signed Paul Maurice and the Stars brought in Peter DeBoer. Maurice oversaw an unpredictable hot playoff streak just a year after the Panthers quietly lost in the playoffs to geographic rival Lightning. The Stars benefited from the outstanding performances of their young talents that helped save the last years of their veterans for a push towards the Stanley Cup.

The Stars and Panthers provide some of the final reminders of how there are an endless amount of ways to build a Stanley Cup contender. Some fans and analysts might push for tanking to raise interim capital. Some teams might comply while others will insist on competing every season. Jones and Briere will have to look around the NHL and use their experience from past eras to their advantage and come up with a plan unique to the situation in Philadelphia that can successfully turn the tide.

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