Each week, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.
Going End to End this week are Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone, all producers/reporters for CSNPhilly.com.
The question: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?
What Shayne Gostisbehere accomplished in his rookie season was unforgettable. He set Flyers records, broke some NHL rookie records and finished with 17 goals in 64 games.
The list can go on and on. He can become the first Flyer to win the Calder Trophy when the NHL Awards are announced on June 22. We all want to see what "Ghost" can do as an encore.
But now Gostisbehere has expectations. Lofty expectations — fair or not.
Gostisbehere will be expected to quarterback the power play, a job he excelled at this season and wrangled away from Mark Streit, whose injury paved the way for his call-up.
In addition, Gostisbehere will be asked to produce offensively and consistently as well as continue to hone his defensive game, which still has areas that needs improvement.
Seventeen goals will be difficult to duplicate and we should not hold him to — or expect — that number again in his sophomore season. We should all temper our expectations.
But the reason I believe Gostisbehere has the most to lose in 2016-17 is because he's very much still a growing product. There will be growing pains and should he hit those next season, how will he bounce back from it? Defensemen generally develop at a slower pace than forwards, and for Gostisbehere to enjoy so much success in Year 1, how will he react to a step backward in 2016-17? It's a weighted response and one that's geared more toward the long-term, but to me, Gostisbehere has the most to lose next season.
I believe Matt Read will be back next season.
After all, he’s under contract through the 2017-18 campaign.
But his leash will be as short as it’s even been. At 30 years old, he’ll be fighting just to dress. And when he gets playing time, he’ll have to do enough to show he deserves it over other candidates, many of which will be young, spry and hungry for jobs.
Read said he learned a lot last season.
Will he make adjustments and carve out a role in Dave Hakstol’s system?
Next season, we’ll get an answer.
If he doesn’t, his time in Philadelphia could quickly dissolve.
And who knows what that would mean for his NHL career.
Want to talk about having something to lose? How about possibly losing a job, which is a very real possibility for Scott Laughton next season.
The young forward, who will turn 22 on Monday, posted seven goals and 14 assists in a career-high 71 games this season. But much more telling was the fact he found himself in the press box as a healthy scratch down the stretch, as Dave Hakstol felt there were better options as the team completed its improbable run to the playoffs. And that came after he was moved from his natural center position to the wing for the first time since he represented Canada in the world junior tournament.
His inconsistency has come a pretty bad time because as more and more talented prospects come through the system, roster spots with the big club become more and more precious. Laughton will need to have a very good summer and training camp to earn his spot again. The forward prospects will push him during camp, which could be a good thing. But even if Laughton makes the Flyers out of camp when the season starts, the leash could still be short.
Ron Hextall makes no bones about how he prefers to hold on to young talent and let it develop. But we could be at the point where the Flyers want to see Laughton take the next step. And it could be a much different story if you replace young talent with young talent.