The 2020-21 season holds a lot of potential for the Philadelphia Flyers. After last year’s impressive and successful turnaround, expectations are high as they seek consecutive postseason appearances for the first time in almost a decade.
Like plenty of other teams, the Flyers will enter the season with players looking to reach individual milestones.
Although a group of emerging young stars leads the team, veteran players could reach the most significant milestones next season.
Next year’s proposed, shortened 56-game season shuts the door on a few potential milestones, but there are still plenty of achievements and franchise records within reach for the Flyers.
With players like Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, and Carter Hart leading the way for next year’s team, their success is dependent on the young stars. Regardless, their roster won’t allow many opportunities for new names to crack the lineup. As the beginning of the season approaches, and with only a few bottom-six forward positions still available, speculation is growing about which prospects could join the roster.
If either Morgan Frost or Nolan Patrick earns a spot on opening night, it could be some time before we see any other new faces in the Flyers’ lineup. As the season goes on, however, and injuries and other circumstances open up roster spots, no shortage of prospects could see their first NHL action. Star up-and-comers such as Tanner Laczynski, Issac Ratcliffe, Wyatte Wylie, or Noah Cates would likely reach career firsts.
While the shortened 2021 season might hinder a player like Jake Voracek from reaching 1,000 career games, James van Riemsdyk from hitting 800 games, or Shayne Gostisbehere and Scott Laughton from 400 games, there are still plenty of impressive and attainable individual achievements that players could reach.
There are a handful of Flyers likely to hit their next career marker in games played this season.
Sean Couturier (53 away) and Justin Braun (31 away) lead the way as they hunt down 700 career games played. Behind them are Kevin Hayes (50 away) and Michael Raffl (30 away), who are both one healthy season away from 500 games played.
Konecny is just one game away from his 300th career game and will get a good jump on the path to 350.
There aren’t too many notable milestones we could see in this category in 2021. Jake Voracek, however, is just 12 assists away from 500 on his career and only 5 points away from 700.
Van Riemsdyk sits just 19 away from the 500-point mark, with Hayes the closest behind him, just 30 points short of 300 going into his seventh NHL season.
Three players (Konecny, Braun, Gostisbehere) are all within reach of their 200th career point.
The goaltending milestones we could see reached by Carter Hart or Brian Elliott aren’t necessarily anything to write home about. With 40 career wins and set to return as the Flyers’ netminder next season, it’s likely we’ll see Hart hit the 50-win mark as well as earn his 100th career start.
Elliott, on the other hand, is just nine wins away from the 250th of his career, which seems a reachable goal even as he assumes the backup role once again.
A Massive Coaching Achievement
It’s been a while since the Flyers had good reason to celebrate their head coach. Already, fans have accepted their new bench boss Alain Vigneault with open arms after a successful 41-win first season in Philadelphia and passing the great Pat Quinn for 10th place on the all-time wins list.
Heading into his second season, Vigneault is on the brink of another incredible achievement to add to his celebrated coaching career. With 11 wins next season, he can become the ninth head coach in NHL history to hit the 700-win plateau. He’ll also become the fifth active head coach, joining Joel Quenneville, Barry Trotz, Lindy Ruff, and Paul Maurice to reach the milestone.
For such an incredible coaching achievement, it’s unfortunate that Vigneault won’t be able to reach it in front of a packed Wells Fargo Center.
A Big Year Ahead For the Captain
You might have noticed that one of the most tenured Flyers, captain Claude Giroux, hasn’t been mentioned once.
Look no further. The 2020-21 season could be big for the soon to be 33-year-old, as he’s on the verge of several personal milestones and a few franchise records as well.
Giroux is just 11 games short of the 900-game milestone, making him the third player to do so, all in the orange and black. He’s also just 42 assists from 600 on his career. It’s a tall order for a 56-game season but doable for a player with inherent playmaking skills like Giroux.
As NHL.com’s Bill Meltzer laid out in a piece from early November, he could also surpass five franchise records. Giroux could overtake Bill Barber for sole possession of second on the Flyers’ all-time games played leaderboard in 15 games next season.
If he can string together anything higher than a 34-point season, he can tie or pass Flyers legend Brian Propp for third on the franchise’s all-time points list. With 257 career goals, he also stares down a number of franchise legends, most notably Simon Gagne, who he can pass for ninth all-time with seven or more goals.
Lastly, with 18 power-play points, he can move into first place all-time in that category, passing the great Bobby Clarke. No matter what he accomplishes next season, the team records he’s poised to break speaks to how valuable Giroux has been to the organization and how clearly his name is cemented in the franchise’s history.
The shortened, 56-game schedule puts certain milestones out of reach for some, but otherwise, most of the Flyers have a solid chance at hitting their next career marks. While the overall success of the team is obviously still the main focus for the upcoming season, there are plenty of personal accolades for Flyers fans to celebrate.