Flyers

Could this be a troubling sign for Flyers?

Could this be a troubling sign for Flyers?

Jakub Voracek listed off the things that many ponder about these equivocal Flyers.

He was running down all the positive developments to the team's 2017-18 season.

For one, Voracek himself had a career year (65 assists, 85 points). So did Claude Giroux (34 goals, 68 assists, 102 points) and Sean Couturier (31 goals, 45 assists, 76 points). Shayne Gostisbehere did the same (52 assists, 65 points), while Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov made significant leaps in Year 2. Even an injury-ravaged Wayne Simmonds managed 24 goals.

Yet, here the Flyers were, needing all 82 regular-season games to clinch a playoff berth before losing another first-round series that felt more lopsided than even. The Flyers were outscored by the Penguins, 28-15, while dropping all three games at home by a combined tally of 18-6.

Then again, they were able to push the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions to six games and would have forced a Game 7 had they held a 4-2 second-period lead. Konecny felt the Flyers had Pittsburgh "exposed." Brian Elliott was convinced they were winning the series after that two-goal advantage.

But, really, how close were they?

"It seems like we were really far," Couturier said two weeks ago at the Flyers' end-of-the-season press conferences. "They dominated us, but at the same time, I feel we were that close to beating them. Maybe it's funny to say, but if we capitalized on a few chances earlier in games, if we're a little more disciplined, then they don't take over and it's a tight series."

From a personal standpoint, so much went right for the Flyers during the regular season. Still, this offseason, they're left in the same position they've been in since 2012-13: no playoffs or a first-round defeat.

"Even if we didn't have a great playoffs, we basically almost pushed the Stanley Cup champions into a Game 7," Voracek said.

"We've got to win at least a playoff series next year. But a lot of bright futures, lot of guys that had great years and hopefully we're not that far off."

Which is a phrase the Flyers have reiterated at past clean-out days. And it's hard to blame them. The players are supposed to believe general manager Ron Hextall's plan is moving forward and nearing greater accomplishments.

In 2017-18, the problem certainly wasn't the core pieces, at least not during the regular season. 

What might be the biggest issues?

Many say it's the goaltending. Some may think it's the coaching. Or maybe the Flyers are just a year away from the youth finally meeting the core in perfect harmony.

"Now we have young players coming up and making a difference," Giroux said. "You look at our team and we have a good balance of older and younger guys. I'm not sure what the plan is coming September, but if we have the same team in the locker room, we're going to be pretty happy about that."

However, what's worrisome is the Flyers' mainstays (and even some of the kids) were significantly productive across the board but the end result remained the same.

So, sure, there are plenty of questions.

With more cap space, should the Flyers add in free agency? How much different will the defense look? Which prospects are next? Will the goaltending tandem hold up?

But these ones should go near the top of the list: can the big boys do it all again and will it even be enough?

NHL draft 2018: Preview, start time, pick order, live stream and how to watch Round 1

NHL draft 2018: Preview, start time, pick order, live stream and how to watch Round 1

The 2018 NHL draft has arrived and the Flyers are about to get busy.

The team owns nine picks, including two in Friday night's first round.

Day 2 of the draft kicks off Saturday morning with Rounds 2-7. We'll have everything you need to know for then, but first, let's get you set for Day 1.

Essentials, Day 1

When: June 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: American Airlines Center (Dallas)
Network: NBCSN
Live stream: NBCSports
Social media: @NBCSPhilly 

Order

1. Buffalo Sabres
2. Carolina Hurricanes
3. Montreal Canadiens
4. Ottawa Senators
5. Arizona Coyotes
6. Detroit Red Wings
7. Vancouver Canucks
8. Chicago Blackhawks
9. New York Rangers
10. Edmonton Oilers
11. New York Islanders
12. New York Islanders
13. Dallas Stars
14. Philadelphia Flyers
15. Florida Panthers
16. Colorado Avalanche
17. New Jersey Devils
18. Columbus Blue Jackets
19. Philadelphia Flyers
20. Los Angeles Kings
21. San Jose Sharks
22. Ottawa Senators
23. Anaheim Ducks
24. Minnesota Wild
25. Toronto Maple Leafs
26. New York Rangers
27. Chicago Blackhawks
28. New York Rangers
29. St. Louis Blues
30. Detroit Red Wings
31. Washington Capitals

Targets

The Flyers would like to add more pure goal-scoring wingers to their system, while general manager Ron Hextall said last week they need to "restock a little bit" on defense, preferably with a right-handed shot. And, the GM also likes to build down the middle with versatile centers, which he's done early the previous two drafts.

So, the Flyers could go a number of ways at picks Nos. 14 and 19.

Let's take a look at their potential first-round targets:

Profile: RW Oliver Wahlstrom

• Profile: C Jack McBain

• Profile: D Rasmus Sandin

• Profile: D Ryan Merkley

• Profile: RW Dominik Bokk

• Profile: D Noah Dobson

• Profile: C Rasmus Kupari

• Profile: RW Martin Kaut

• Profile: LW Grigori Denisenko

• Profile: C Jesperi Kotkaniemi

• Profile: RW Serron Noel

• Profile: LW Joel Farabee

• Profile: C Barrett Hayton

• Profile: C/LW Isac Lundestrom

• Profile: C Joseph Veleno

• Profile: RW Vitali Kravtso

Trades?

With two first-round spots and nine selections overall, the Flyers will certainly be open to trade talks, whether it's moving up, back or even a player.

Last year, Hextall made quite a bang on Day 1 shortly after 9:30 p.m. and swapped picks twice on Day 2.

What should we expect this time around?

• Will the Flyers make both of their 1st-round picks?

Trade talks or contract talks? The latest on Simmonds

Hextall doesn't plan on trading up in draft, but ...

Moving up has been Hextall's draft strategy

Flyers need to find needle in haystack on Day 2

Other recommended reading

• Prospects Flyers could select with 14th overall pick

• Prospects Flyers could select with 19th overall pick

Ty Smith, with little bit of Gostisbehere and Provorov, should attract Flyers

• History of the 14th overall pick

• History of the 19th overall pick

• NHL draft position preview: Center

• NHL draft position preview: Left wing

• NHL draft position preview: Right wing

• NHL draft position preview: Defensemen

Full breakdown of Flyers' 2018-19 schedule

usa_flyers_fans_wells_fargo_center_playoffs.jpg
USA Today Images

Full breakdown of Flyers' 2018-19 schedule

The NHL released the 2018-19 82-game regular-season schedule for all 31 teams Thursday night as the Flyers will open up in Las Vegas Oct. 4 before continuing on to Colorado Oct. 6 and then hosting the San Jose Sharks Oct. 9.

The Flyers' entire schedule can be found here.

Month-by-month breakdown

• October —12 (six home, six away, one back-to-back)
• November — 12 (seven home, five away, one back-to-back)
• December — 14 (four home, 10 away, three back-to-backs)
• January —13 (seven home, six away, two back-to-backs)
• February —13 (nine home, four away, two back-to-backs)
• March — 15 (seven home, eight away, three back-to-backs)
• April — 3 (one home, two away, no back-to-backs)

The Flyers have just 12 games on back-to-back nights, which is typically on the low end of a team’s schedule — they’ve had at least 15 back-to-backs in each of the past three seasons. Last season, the Edmonton Oilers had the fewest back-to-backs with just nine. 

Home-and-homes

The Flyers have a pair of home-and-home dates on their schedule — Nov. 5-8 against the Arizona Coyotes and a true home-and-home with the Detroit Red Wings Feb. 16-17.

December road tripping

The Flyers have two separate five-game road trips within the month of December. Last season, the Flyers' longest road trip was four games to begin their 82-game schedule. From Dec. 8-15, the Flyers will hit all four time zones starting in Buffalo before wrapping up the trip in Vancouver.  

Much less travel over second half

The midway point of the Flyers' season comes after Jan. 5 at home against the Calgary Flames. Over their final 41 games, they will leave the Eastern time zone just three times in a span of four games (Feb. 12 at Minnesota, March 21 at Chicago, April 2-4 at Dallas and St. Louis).

Waiting for the champs

Alex Ovechkin and the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals come to South Broad for the first time on March 6 and again eight days later on March 14 in their only two games at the Wells Fargo Center.

The rival Pittsburgh Penguins don’t come to Philadelphia until Feb. 11 and the Flyers will host them one final time just 12 days later when they face off at Lincoln Financial Field as part of the NHL’s Stadium Series.

November is easiest

The Flyers' easiest month comes in November with just 12 games over 30 days, including a five-game homestand from Nov. 8-17. Of their 12 opponents, only five made the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.

A kind finish?

The Flyers close out the regular season with eight non-playoff contenders over their final 10 games, including their last five games.  

Other games of interest

• Friday after Thanksgiving — vs. New York Rangers at 1 p.m. 

• New Year's Day — at Nashville Predators at 8:30 p.m.