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Free washer | In the cellar without rebuilding

It’s hard to imagine worse: being destined for the bottom of the general classification without being in reconstruction.

Posted at 11:57 a.m.

Mathias Brunet

Mathias Brunet
The Press

This scenario awaits the Philadelphia Flyers, one of whose rare hopes of success rests on… its new coach John Tortorella.

The infirmary is already full with Sean Couturier, Ryan Ellis and young Bobby Brink all out with long-term injuries. The star of the last ten years, Claude Giroux, now plays for the Ottawa Senators.

In Couturier’s absence, Kevin Hayes will be asked to fill the number one center position. Hayes, 30, the highest-earning offensive earner at $7.1 million per season, has failed to play more than 69 games in a season in three years, nor top the 41-point mark.

Last year’s top scorer, James Van Riemsdyk, 24 goals, has been on the market for two years. We would offer it to anyone without getting anything in return.

In defense, Tony DeAngelo will be called upon to replace Ellis. Philadelphia traded second-round (2024), third-round (2023) and fourth-round (2022) picks to the Hurricanes to get it. Despite his defensive shortcomings, DeAngelo should end up on first pair with Ivan Provorov. Travis Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen, acquired from the Sabers a year ago as first- and second-round picks, will form the second pair.

In goal, 24-year-old Carter Hart, still mediocre last year, will now be supported by Felix Sandstrom, 25, .902 in the American League last year. Sandstrom might even steal his job. Provided that his injury suffered on Saturday is not too serious.

Philadelphia reporters and fans try not to be depressed by the results of the preseason games, without success. The Flyers have scored four goals in as many games and have a 6.7% power play save percentage…

“It would be nice if some young Flyers players would bring some hope,” writes veteran columnist Sam Carchidi this week, “to help this team eventually get back on the road to respectability. This road would be less bumpy if one of the best players of his generation, Connor Bedard, found himself there from the 2023 draft.

Cardichi therefore dares to dream of a reconstruction, or at least the first choice overall in 2023. GM Chuck Fletcher, on the other hand, continues to talk about cosmetic changes, and uses the word reset lip service.

Philadelphia was aiming for the top, but finished at 29e overall ranking rank last year and at 19e rank the previous year. To allow him to achieve his grandiose ideas, Fletcher squandered many choices.

The Flyers therefore find themselves with a mediocre team while having drafted 17 players during the last three vintages, including only four in the first two rounds.

By way of comparison, the Canadian, displayed among the teams in reconstruction, drafted 28 players, including ten from the first two rounds, and added in trades two players drafted from the first three rounds in the last three years: Emil Heineman, Justin Barron and Ty Smilanic.

For Claude Giroux, Chuck Fletcher got the Panthers a first-round pick in 2024, the young Owen Tippett, who is still looking to establish himself in the NHL at 23, and a third-round pick in 2023. Philadelphia also gave up a fifth-round pick in 2024.

For Ben Chiarot, Kent Hughes got a 2023 first-round pick, a 2022 fourth-round pick (Cédrick Guidon) and prospect Ty Smilanic. He gave up no choice. Smilanic, the 2020 third-round draft pick, lacks the profile of Tippett, a 2017 first-round pick, but is younger at 20. And anyway, Chiarot is not Giroux.

Montreal has two first-round picks in the bank for 2023, its second- and third-round picks, three fourth-round picks and two fifth-round picks. He picked up a 2024 second-round pick from the Avalanche in the trade of Artturi Lehkonen to make up for the loss of the second-round pick offered to the Coyotes for Christian Dvorak by Marc Bergevin.

The Flyers still have their first-round pick in 2023, but the second-round pick belongs to the Sabers. They have two first-round picks in 2024, but still no second-round pick unless they get one by then.

Forward Cutter Gauthier, drafted fifth overall in 2022, could join the team at the end of the season, after finishing his at Boston College. Joel Farabee, 22, suffered a drop in productivity last year with 34 points in 63 games, four fewer than the previous season in 55 games, but he remains a promising young forward.

Defender Cam York should break through the formation, but we may regret having drafted him a rank before Cole Caufield.

Let’s see if the owners will accept Chuck Fletcher’s excuses for a long time, and if Daniel Brière will not become the architect of the revival of the Flyers.

Good start in the NCAA for Lane Hutson

PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Lane Hutson

5-foot-9, 155-pound defensemen are generally not popular with NHL scouts. Despite his 32 points in just 27 games in the American development program in the USHL, Lane Hutson was still available at the end of the second round, at 62e rank, for the Canadian. Hutson impressed at team development camp this summer with his speed and puck skills. He even grew an inch, from 5ft 8 to 5ft 9 in the past year.

In his NCAA debut on Saturday, Hutson had three assists in Boston University’s 8-2 victory over Bentley University. The road to the NHL is long, especially for a defenseman of this size, but this introduction remains worthy of mention.

Short defenders like Torey Krug, Jared Spurgeon, Samuel Girard and Quinn Hughes have managed to hold their own in recent years despite being no taller than 5-foot-10. Hutson was drafted thanks to the Edmonton Oilers’ second-round pick of Brett Kulak.

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