Flyers

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Shayne Gostisbehere

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Shayne Gostisbehere

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 Shayne Gostisbehere. 

Destra

There’s no denying Gostisbehere struggled for the majority of the 2019-20 season. From injuries to never fully getting his legs under him and all of the trade rumors surrounding him, it was a pretty underwhelming season. 

While he may not be the strong offensively inclined defenseman we once thought he could be based off his stellar 2017-18 season, the Flyers have seen a whole lot worse than him on the blue line in recent years. So, while he’s fallen short of expectations, it doesn’t automatically mean he’s a bad player — but rather still figuring things out. He is the type of player that thrives when confident and there didn't seem to be much confidence this season. 

He did appear to be one of the weaker links, but that’s also in part to the Flyers having solid defense overall, making him mostly stand out in a negative way. Again, it could have been far, far worse. I truly hope he puts this season behind him and finds the missing piece to his game once more. What a threat the Flyers could be (even more so) if Gostisbehere finds himself again. 

C- for Ghost.

Emmer

High expectations have been on Gostisbehere to have another season like he did in 2017-18, when he had 13 goals and 52 assists for 65 points with 33 points on the power play and a plus-10 rating. Clearly the potential is high, but unfortunately it wasn’t displayed during this 2019-20 regular season.

The consistency just wasn’t there for No. 53. The coaching staff expected more out of him at different points in the season — especially when keeping him out of the lineup as a healthy scratch for three games in November. He did get back in the lineup to have six points and a plus-3 mark in the next 18 games, but then came injury in early January, which made it more difficult for Gostisbehere to build up consistency.

Dealing with injury obviously didn’t make things easier, but hopefully this extended time off will be a good thing for Gostisbehere — who should be plenty healthy when the puck is dropped again.

He gets a B-.

Hatcher

Gostisbehere is an interesting case. I know everyone wants him to be the producer on the blue line that he was a couple years ago, and we haven’t exactly seen that. And, I truly think that since he’s gotten that bad knee operated on, cleaned out and doing better, we’ll see now see Gostisbehere back to his old form.

That being said, I really do commend him on how he’s handled this season during stretches when he’s struggled. He’s openly admitted that at times he’s mentally gotten in his own way. Overthinking things. When the coaching staff scratched him so he could mentally reset, he handled it like an absolute pro.

Mike Yeo told us a while back that his response is what you want to see in a guy. He’s a pro, he understood it, but he’s angry, he’s hungry and he wants to be the guy again. I believe now that the knee is getting back to where it needs to be, we could see that happen.

B for Gostisbehere.

Fordyce 

This is a tough one; Ghost had a tough season. Gostisbehere would tell you himself that this was not a great season. He was in and out of the lineup and had stretches of injury. Ghost looked like a shell of the player we saw come up a few years ago who totally reinvigorated the Flyers' team, particularly on the power play.  

I believe most of Ghost’s difficulties have to do with confidence. When Ghost is a confident player, it’s visible on the ice, perhaps more than any player I’ve ever seen. When Ghost makes the little fake at the blue line and stick handles deep into the offensive zone, that’s a confident Ghost. With the exception of a small stretch this season, we didn’t see that player much of the time.

Ghost has been the subject of trade rumors the past two seasons, so maybe the weight of that on his mind has affected his play. Either way, the Flyers need a confident Ghost going forward. Whether he’s in the lineup for the round robin and playoffs or for next season, there are big decisions involving his future that have to be made.  

Overall, a C- for Gostisbehere. 

Hall

Gostisbehere endured a trying and turbulent regular season.

Anyone would be frustrated if their own season transpired the way his did.

He entered 2019-20 facing pressure to rekindle his offensive prowess from 2017-18, when he put up a career-high 65 points, fourth most among NHL defensemen that season. 

He was then a healthy scratch for three games during November, a stretch in which he was honest about fighting his confidence more than he had ever done before.

To compound everything, Gostisbehere dealt with a lingering left knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery Jan. 14. Gostisbehere returned to action Feb. 6 but showed rust and head coach Alain Vigneault admitted the defenseman’s path back could have been better structured by the club.

Gostisbehere’s issues with his knee ended up prolonging. Because of the injury and some healthy scratches, Gostisbehere didn’t play in 24 of the Flyers’ final 26 games before the NHL stoppage.

Frustrating, right?

The 27-year-old finished the regular season with 12 points in 42 games. Unfortunately for Gostisbehere, the season went completely awry and unplanned.

The 24-team return-to-play tournament and 2020-21 season could give him a refreshing chance to restart — and finally be healthy.

A C- for Gostisbehere’s difficult season.

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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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