The 2015-16 season was a surprisingly impressive one for the Philadelphia Flyers. The men in orange and black finished in 5th place in the strong Metropolitan Division with a 41-27-14 record (96 points) which was good enough to enter the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the second and final wild-card team in the Eastern Conference.
Unfortunately, being awarded the second wild card spot meant a first round matchup with the Washington Capitals. Philadelphia did their best to stick with the Presidents’ Trophy winners but eventually was eliminated in Game 6.
Now that hockey is officially done for the Flyers until next season, it is now time to reflect on players individual performances. Let’s the start dishing out of final grades by evaluating some of Philadelphia’s forwards.
Claude Giroux (B)
In his ninth season with the orange and black, the Flyers’ captain managed to lead the team in points with 67 in 78 games. Although Giroux’s point total was a team best this season, it was six points less than the previous season and 19 less than his 86 in 2013-14. The 28-yeard-old from Hearst, Ontario also led the Flyers in assists this season 45 and finished third on the team in goals with 22. In addition, Giroux tallied six power play and five game-winning goals.
Although Giroux experienced a drop in point production in 2015-16, there is no denying that he is the lifeblood of this Flyers franchise. He is the team’s leader in almost every sense of the word (not including the playoffs) and played a major role in the Flyers’ success this season. Without their captain, Philadelphia would have been a lottery team, not a playoff one.
Wayne Simmonds (A)
Simmonds continued to demonstrate his value to the Flyers’ organization with another fantastic season. His fifth season with Philadelphia turned out to be his best as he matched his career-high in points (60) and beat his previous career high goal total of 29 with 32 this season. In addition, Simmonds added 28 assists. The 28-year-old winger was most effective on the power play this season, scoring 13 goals and adding eight assists.
Simmonds was not only a point producer for the orange and black, he was a key player in almost every aspect of play (again, not counting the postseason). What Simmonds brings as far as skill, he matches in aggressive play. He led his team in penalty minutes which of course can prove to be costly but demonstrates that Simmonds is not afraid to get down and dirty when need be.
Brayden Schenn (A-)
After numerous seasons of trade speculation and discussions revolving around Schenn not living up to his potential, the fifth year Flyer finally experienced his breakout season during the 2015-16 campaign. Schenn finally proved to be a reliable scorer, netting 26 goals which was good enough for second-best on the team. Schenn also surpassed his prior career-high point total 47 by recording 59 this season. Similar to Simmonds, Schenn experienced a great deal of success on the power play finding twine on 11 separate occasions.
This season, Schenn finally proved his value to the Flyers organization. I am sure that General Manager, Ron Hextall, can say with confidence that the 24-year-old from Saskatoon is a part of this team’s core. I expect Schenn to continue his progression next season.
Jakub Voracek (C)
Many felt that the 2014-15 season was when Voracek finally established himself as a star in the National Hockey League. His career high point total of 81 was one of the best in the league and it was appearing as if Voracek and Giroux were becoming one of the most powerful duos in all of hockey.
Unfortunately, Voracek was unable to match the success he experienced in 2014-15 this season. After signing the 26-year-old winger to an eight-year contract last July, the Flyers were awarded a very subpar year from their star. Jake only managed to light the lamp 11 times but did record 44 assists. A point total of 55 is normally quite respectable, but not when it comes from one of your stars. Simply put, Voracek had a season to forget and the Flyers are hoping that he can turn things around next year.
Sean Couturier (B+)
Couturier’s statistics are never going to wow anybody. However, he is one of the most important players on the Philadelphia Flyers. The 23-year-old recorded 11 goals and 28 assists for the orange and black this season but proved to be the best defensive forward on the team. His plus/minus of eight was second-best on the team among forwards. In addition, Couturier won 48.6% of his faceoffs which always helps with possession.
Couturier is one of those players that just does all of the things that don’t get all the flash. Without him, the Flyers would not be in the position they currently find themselves in. A team always needs players who can score points but there is so much more to hockey than just goals and assists. Couturier makes sure he always provides “everything else” for his team.
This was only part one of my final grades for the forwards of the Philadelphia Flyers. Look for part two as well as grades for defensemen and goalies soon.
John Gove is an experienced hockey writer who admires the game at all levels. Currently, John is a contributor for The Hockey Writers, covering the Philadelphia Flyers.