Flyers

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Sean Couturier

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Sean Couturier

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October.

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances.

Today we will be looking at Sean Couturier. 

Destra

You can’t say enough great things about Couturier — seriously, we could break down his style of play into a multi-part series and everyone would rave about the player that No. 14 has become. To be a top-line center in the league deserves praise in itself, but to also be looked at as a favorite to take home the Selke Trophy is just the cherry on top. 

He is the glue of the Flyers and helps bridge the gap from the youth of the team to veterans, and has done it all as a leader. He rightfully earned the “A” permanently stitched to his sweater in 2019-20 (he wore it for home games the previous season) and chances are, it’s going to reside there during the remainder of his career in Philadelphia. 

Seriously, have you looked at his contract recently? It could very well be the best one in the league when it comes to outperforming it. 

Couturier found himself by the top of just about every stat, being third on the team in goals (22), second in assists (37), second in points (59) and leading the way in faceoffs at an impressive 59.63 percent. While his projection for the complete season (70 points — 26 goals, 44 assists) would fall below his numbers of his previous two, they fail to showcase the significant growth of his 200-foot game and level of aggression every time he hits the ice. 

I don’t care if it’s corny, I’m giving Couturier an A++ and a certificate for “Best Flyer of the season.” I’ll also be prepping a certificate for “Selke winner” — though, he might just prefer the trophy. Understandable. 

Emmer

This team wouldn’t have had the success it did in the regular season without Couturier.

Couturier is arguably the most consistent Flyer. The past few seasons, he’s continued to progress with the orange and black and this year, it only got better. His 200-foot style, his ability to play against any of the league’s top-tier players, his talents in the faceoff dot and simply his skill with the puck continues to be one of the best in the league.

This season, Couturier fell just 17 points of his career best and while those final 13 games would have helped narrow that margin, he still recorded his second-best plus/minus of his career in the regular season with a plus-21. The way he can make anyone who plays on a line with him get their production going is something to admire.

Away from that, one of the biggest ways he stepped up was in the tough times — after a loss. Couturier recorded 14 goals and 20 assists in games following a loss this season. That kind of response out of No. 14 was crucial for the orange and black.

This might be the easiest grade I’ve ever had to give. Couturier is an A+ with potential to make it an A++ if and when the season resumes.

Hatcher

I would like to name Couturier valedictorian of the 2019-20 Flyers season for obvious reasons. The man is an absolute workhorse. We talk about his defensive game all the time, but the way he’s developed into a consistent producer for this team goes so far beyond just his own numbers this season. He is the remedy for players in a slump, and a player that also complements stars playing at the highest level.

He’s at the forefront of the Selke Trophy conversation with Patrice Bergeron for a reason, and a lead-by-example kind of guy. He’s one of the forces that has prevented the Flyers from being a team that falls into long losing skids (an issue that has plagued them in recent history). Of his 59 points this season, 34 of them came in games following a Flyers loss. He handles defensive duties against the best players in the league with apparent ease, while making everyone around him look better offensively.

A's across the board.

Fordyce 

The list of best two-way centers in the NHL starts with Couturier and Bergeron of the Bruins in no particular order. However, Couturier’s biggest value this season was how he made other players better. If a player is struggling, put them with Couturier, and they’re sure to find their way.

Two things stand out about Couturier’s game this season. First off, he got better as the season went along, and whenever the Flyers needed a pick me up, No. 14 was there. Secondly, to have that much impact on the offensive end while on a nightly basis having to deal with the opponent’s top forward is something few players in the league are capable of. 

A+ with a star and smiley face for Couturier.

Hall

We don’t have to check Couturier’s math. This is an easy grade.

You’d be hard-pressed to find areas in which Couturier should have done more or needed to be better.

With five points and a minus-7 mark through the first 10 games, maybe he could have gotten off to a better start? Even that’s nitpicking.

Couturier factors into everything, he went scoreless in consecutive games only six times and he’s got a bona-fide chance at the Selke Trophy.

Easy A.

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Travis Konecny

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Travis Konecny

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October. 

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances. 

Today we will be looking at Travis Konecny. 

Destra

The Flyers would have been a fraction of the team it was this season without Konecny. You can’t say enough good things about the player he’s becoming. Now, at the end of his fourth season with the Flyers, he’s finally found exactly where he belongs on this roster. 

No. 11 has always been the kind of player to get under the opposing team’s skin — luckily, he’s on the Flyers' side. There was a distinct shift in confidence throughout the 2019-20 season and it was noticeable in all aspects of his game. While it could have something to do with his shiny new six-year contract, he also had a fresh start with the new additions behind the bench. 

Konecny dressed for 66 games this season and posted a team best in points with 61 (24 goals, 37 assists). This is the third straight season he’s ended with 24 goals, but had play not been suspended because of the growing COVID-19 concerns, he would have most likely found himself with a new career high. 

A+ for Konecny — and expectations are most definitely going to be raised moving forward.  

Emmer

This one is an easy grade.

The 2019-20 season was hands down Konecny’s best of his career. He was showing a more confident style that we hadn’t seen before, making more risky plays with the puck, taking more chances and capitalizing — all of which was portrayed in his 61 points in 66 games, which led the team.

He also stepped up on the Flyers’ improved power play this season, recording five goals and 18 assists on the man advantage. He was a spark plug — he consistently brought energy to the bench and to the game, especially when he made it on the score sheet.

His confident play landed him his first All-Star selection and his improved shooting percentage was a major key to the Flyers' offense.

A for Konecny.

Fordyce 

Konecny is an easy grade for me — it’s an obvious A. When Konecny is playing well, it’s infectious and has an effect on the entire team. The energy and spark that No. 11 plays with on a nightly basis is one of the most valuable parts of T.K.'s game.

This was a big growth season for Konecny, too, as he played a more disciplined game and shed some of the bad habits which had cost him and the Flyers in previous seasons with penalties and so forth. That can’t be understated. 

Now let's look at the numbers. In 66 games this season, Konecny equaled his career high in goals and if it were a normal season, it’s a virtual lock that he would have a new career high. Konecny’s 61 points were a career high and while he maintained his status as a scoring threat, he became more of a playmaker, dishing out a career-high 37 assists, 12 more than his previous high. 

This is certainly a player the Flyers will rely on in the future and this season was a huge leap. 

A for Konecny. 

Hall

On the heels of signing a new six-year, $33 million deal, Konecny had six three-point performances in 2019-20 after having a combined two over his first three NHL seasons.

That's big-time growth from a 23-year-old foundation piece.

Konecny led the Flyers in goals (24) and points (61) through 66 games. His 37 assists were a career high and he was one marker away from a new personal best.

The Flyers went 31-9-2 when he recorded at least a point and 10-9-5 when he had gone scoreless.

Konecny deserves an A for taking huge strides and backing up his contract.

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Kevin Hayes

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Kevin Hayes

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October.

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances.

Today we will be looking at Kevin Hayes. 

Destra

Man oh man am I thrilled to be giving Hayes the grade he’s getting today. This time last year, Flyers fans were beyond the point of disappointment at the signing of the center — it’s safe to say things have taken a turn for the best. The Hayes signing was instantly justified before the 2019-20 season was even in full swing because of the news about Nolan Patrick and his migraine disorder. Had he not been brought in, the lines down the middle would have been very weak. 

Hayes didn’t miss a single one of the 69 games the Flyers played this season. During that time, he racked up an impressive 41 points (23 goals, 18 assists). He also had a career best in shorthanded goals (four) and game-winning goals (five). 

On top of the player he has been on the ice, Hayes has also helped the Flyers in many other ways. He’s a big personality and jumped into a leadership role almost instantly. I’d say he exceeded expectations on the first year of his contract. 

A+ … not bad for a former ref

Emmer

Kevin “I used to ref” Hayes brought a lot of excitement in his first year with the orange and black.

Because of the shortened season, Hayes recorded 23 goals in under 70 games, just two markers short of his career high. His 200-foot style that was anticipated in the preseason thrived in many ways throughout the year, especially on the penalty kill.

Last season, the Flyers' PK ranked 26th in the league, operating at 78.5 percent. This season, the PK ranked 11th at 81.8 percent — Hayes had a lot to do with it. He also led the team with four shorthanded goals — the most in his career.

Offensively, you could argue his consistency could have been stronger. He had a stretch in early November during which he went 10 games without a point and another six-game drought in early February, but when he did end up making it on the score sheet, he was a game-changer. The Flyers were 19-0-1 when Hayes scored a goal during the regular season; he was a spark plug out there. He loved big-game situations, as well — five game-winning goals can attest to that.

Away from his skill, Hayes brought energy, fun off the ice and extremely creative nicknames (very important). 

A- for Hayes.

Fordyce 

Hayes began his Flyers tenure with a big contract and big expectations. Last offseason, Hayes signed a seven-year, $50 million deal, which raised some eyebrows. At that time, Hayes had eclipsed the 20-goal plateau only one time in his career. However, through 69 games this season he had 23 goals, just two short of his career high, and he almost certainly would have bested that if the Flyers had played a full 82 games. 

Hayes delivered the full package to a team that desperately needed that when it signed him after trading for his contractual rights ahead of free agency. His two-way game is his most valuable asset and this season we’ve seen Hayes single-handedly kill penalties by keeping possession of the puck. It’s one thing to sign a big-time deal, it’s another to deliver on the expectations set forth by said deal. Additionally, Hayes is an invaluable member of the team in terms of locker room chemistry.

Hayes gets an A.

Hall

During his first regular season with the Flyers, Hayes more than lived up to the hype and pressure of signing a seven-year, $50 million deal in this city.

While we tend to fixate on offensive production in this game, especially for higher-paid players, Hayes had an immeasurable impact on the Flyers in the locker room, which can be just as important as any statistic.

But statistically speaking, he also did plenty of good things. Not only did the 28-year-old center make the Flyers tougher to play against, but he was also on pace to break his career high of 25 goals (he finished with 23 in 69 games) and did wonders for the team's penalty kill. In fact, Hayes scored four shorthanded goals, the same number the Flyers put up as a team in 2018-19 over a full 82-game season.

An A- for Hayes because his impact has already been felt in a multitude of ways.

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