After failing to return to Stanley Cup contention for the second year in a row, the Philadelphia Flyers need to find a way to turn things around heading into next season. The franchise has not missed the playoffs in consecutive years in more than 20 years, and even though the last two years have been nothing short of disappointing, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
Although no longer members of the Flyers organization, there are a handful of former players on other rosters with a shot at making a run to the Stanley Cup Final with different teams this season. Fans would much rather still see these players in orange and black, but wish some former fan favorites nothing but the best of luck on their pursuit of the cup.
Claude Giroux, Florida Panthers
After spending his entire career in the Flyers organization, Claude Giroux made the tough decision to move onto another team at this year’s trade deadline. Giroux was a member of the Flyers for a total of 1,000 games before being traded to the Florida Panthers.
At the time of the move, he felt the Panthers gave him the best shot at winning a cup this season as one of the best teams in the league heading into the second half of the year. He joined Radko Gudas, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Robert Hägg, who were all members of the Flyers at some point.
“It was like Christmas morning the other day when we got these guys,” Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette said. “It’s going to take probably a little bit of time. My biggest concern is, they’re so talented, they’re such great players, that they’re just going to try to force-feed things to each other where I just want them to be themselves, play hockey. Their IQ levels are off the charts. They’ll figure it, out but it might take some time and we’re very well aware of that. But smart players usually always figure things out.”
Since joining the Panthers’ talented lineup, Giroux showed flashes of his younger self. In 18 games played, he tallied 23 points (3 goals and 20 assists), and was a major part of the power play down the stretch. His leadership and experience will be extremely valuable to a talented, but young Panthers roster.
The Panthers have a tough first-round matchup with the Washington Capitals, a familiar Metropolitan Division rival of the former Flyers’ captain. His insight on the Capitals’ roster will come in handy late in the series, as he played in 56 career games against them, and recorded 51 points (24 Goals and 27 Assists). This could finally be the year he captures the ever-so-elusive Cup he has been after the entirety of his career. The series is tied at two games apiece, so this is truly anyone’s series to take at this point.
Wayne Simmonds, Toronto Maple Leafs
One of the most beloved members of the Flyers organization over the last 10 years, Wayne Simmonds is now a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Simmonds spent eight seasons in Philadelphia, playing 584 games and collecting 378 points (203 Goals and 175 Assists). He quickly solidified himself as a fan favorite for his ability to score goals in close, and his physical style of play. He was not afraid to throw his body around and stand up for his teammates when needed.
Simmonds joined the Maple Leafs at the beginning of the season to fill an enforcer role on an incredibly young and talented team. His main job on the team is to be a physical presence, but he is still more than capable of putting the puck in the back of the net. In 110 games with Toronto, he has 25 points (12 Goals and 13 Assists) and 141 penalty minutes.
The Leafs drew the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round, and with the series tied at two games apiece, it is difficult to say who has the advantage. Simmonds and the Leafs have played strong so far in this series, but a matchup with the Lightning is no easy task.
Simmonds has struggled in the series so far, but his leadership is ultimately his biggest contribution at this point in his career. He is still in search of winning his first Cup, so maybe this will finally be his opportunity to bring a championship back to the City of Toronto.
Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues
While this former Philadelphia Flyer already has a Cup since leaving the organization, Brayden Schenn is just an easy player to root for. Having spent six years with the orange and black, Schenn played a total of 424 games with the Flyers. During his career with Philadelphia, he totaled 246 points (109 Goals and 139 Assists) all while capturing the hearts of fans. He left the organization in a trade to the St. Louis Blues in 2017 that many did not agree with, but things seemed to work out for the better. He went on to win the Cup with the Blues in 2019 during their magical run to the Finals.
”He’s a good player,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said at the time of the trade. “He fits into the age group of the guys we’re building around (Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Colton Parayko, and Alex Pietrangelo). A real good player. He’s got a nice contract for three years. We’re excited to have him.”
This year is much different for the Blues, as they were not favored to win entering their series against the Minnesota Wild, but that series is currently tied at two games apiece. Schenn scored the overtime goal against the Wild at the end of the regular season that clinched a playoff spot, so he can’t be counted out of this series despite only registering one assist to this point. Over the course of his playoff career, he collected 33 points (11 goals and 22 Assists) in 67 games played, so he is no stranger to stepping up against some of the world’s best players. Be on the lookout for him to break out in the next two games of the series as things heat up.
As the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs continue to progress, hopefully these former Flyers will remain in the hunt for the Cup. Regardless of what ends up happening this season, maybe Philadelphia can learn a thing or two heading into next year from the teams playing well into the summer night.
Bobby Bader Jr. is a freelance journalist born and raised in Philadelphia, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers since the start of the 2020-21 National Hockey League Season. He currently works with the Hershey Cubs Hockey Club (USPHL Premier) as the team’s media coordinator and serves as the Assistant Sports Information Director at Penn State Harrisburg. For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Bobby on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo in articles like this one.