Over the past few seasons, the Philadelphia Flyers have been hesitant to accept change and admit to a rebuild. But, new GM Danny Briere and head coach John Tortorella have fully bought into a rebuild and doing it the right way.
“In my mind, we were rebuilding last year,” head coach John Tortorella admitted on Thursday. “I don’t care what we said or what was allowed to be said, we were rebuilding.”
Even while it hasn’t been admitted til this offseason, the Flyers have been slowly transitioning to getting younger and building for the future. A future that includes the potential stars of Cutter Gauthier and Matvei Michkov.
But, as the Flyers hit the ice for the 2023-24 season, neither Gauthier or Michkov will be in orange & black.
Instead, the Flyers will be focusing on finding their young foundation to craft around Gauthier & Michkov. In particular, on the back end.
During the offseason, the Flyers re-shaped their blue line with a trade, buyout, and retirement. Ivan Provorov – traded to Columbus, Tony DeAngelo – bought out of the final year of his contract, and Justin Braun – retired from NHL, has opened up three lineup spots on the blue line. Spots that will be taken by younger players.
“We’re gonna have some horror shows certain games with our young back end,” head coach John Tortorella said about his young blue line on Thursday. “But, we’re going to work with them. We’re going to live through some of the mistakes and see what we have there.”
Tortorella went on to explain that “when some veteran guys leave, it opens up more spots for the young guys to grow.”
The growing pains the Flyers will experience on the back end are not a bad thing. As John Tortorella put it, they are teaching moments for the younger guys.
This season, the primary focus for the Flyers on the blue line is to grow. While growing, their back end may get knocked down more than once this season. But, growing will come with time and experience.
Travis Sanheim To Start On Right Side
Last season, Travis Sanheim was primarily used as the Flyers second pair left hand defenseman.
With the departure of Ivan Provorov, many believed Sanheim would become the Flyers top pair left hand defenseman. However, for now, Travis Sanheim will start on the right side per head coach John Tortorella.
The main reason the Flyers will start Sanheim on the right side is to give Cam York, who played mostly on the right side last season, the chance to play the left side.
Marc Staal The Mentor
When Justin Braun decided to retire, the Flyers were left with a veteran void on their blue line. To solve this, the Flyers signed Marc Staal.
Staal, a 16-year veteran, will replace Braun as the Flyers veteran voice to help the young blue line. A move that will see Staal as an extension of the coaching staff, rather than a spot blocker for one of the young guys.
“Marc Staal is gonna play a major role with them (younger guys),” head coach John Tortorella said about Staal’s role. “He’s a Staal. He’s a great pro and it’s a huge asset for us just to have him around the locker room.”
Tortorella added “as I stated to him, he’s not gonna get in the way of the kids, of us developing the kids. There are gonna be some nights he’s not gonna play. But, he’s gonna be just as important on those nights and those days leading up to games that he’s maybe not playing in than he is putting the uniform on.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Eric Hartline – USA TODAY Sports