The Philadelphia Flyers have been relatively quiet since the regular season ended on April 29. However, a consequential offseason with a head coaching change, the fifth-overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft, and major indicators of the future direction of the franchise looms. Rumors are swirling about the upcoming decisions of general manager (GM) Chuck Fletcher as fans wait for the dominoes to fall.
Cassidy Enters Mix for Head Coach
The search for a new head coach continues for the Flyers. Veterans like Barry Trotz and John Tortorella have dominated the chatter in Philadelphia in recent weeks, and a new candidate joined the pack on Tuesday. The Boston Bruins fired head coach Bruce Cassidy, who led them to six playoff appearances in six seasons behind the bench and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019. A coveted new candidate will stir the pot in an already intriguing rumor mill.
Signs point to St. Louis Blues assistant coach Jim Montgomery as a logical option for the vacancy. Fletcher spoke during his exit interview about the importance of playing with the puck more often. Montgomery had an “obsession with possession” during his tenure as head coach of the Dallas Stars (from Dallas Morning News, ‘Puck don’t lie: Jim Montgomery’s obsession with possession becomes a common theme for Stars,’ 11/12/18).
Related: Flyers Must Pursue Jim Montgomery as Next Head Coach
As discussed on the Stick 2 Hockey podcast, the organization looks at the Blues as a model for success they can practically emulate because of their defensive structure and their ability to rely on forward depth instead of leaning on one superstar. They would likely trust an assistant from the staff of former Flyers head coach Craig Berube. Sleeper candidates like Mike Vellucci and Kirk Muller will also get consideration.
Masterton Trophy Runner-Up Kevin Hayes
Kevin Hayes finished second to Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price in voting for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy given to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.” A horrifyingly difficult year for Hayes began with the tragic death of his brother at age 31 last summer, and repeated injuries kept him off the ice and away from the team for extended periods during the first half of the 2021-22 season.
He admirably returned from his third surgery in an eight-month span on March 5 with his team well out of the playoff race. His resurgence inspired confidence and pride within the organization and became one of the few bright spots in a dismal season. The 6-foot-5 center tallied 21 points in 28 games after the return and showed the same style of play that made him a fan favorite during the 2019-20 season. The runner-up finish should only improve that positive sentiment.
Former Flyers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs
Former Flyers winger Nicolas Aubé-Kubel has advanced to the Stanley Cup Final as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. His role has dwindled for the high-powered attack of the Western Conference champions, as he received minimal ice time in just two games played in their series victory against the Edmonton Oilers.
Pierre-Édouard Bellemare and Brian Elliott of the Tampa Bay Lightning hope to join Aubé-Kubel as former Flyers competing for the sport’s holy grail. They’ve evened the series against trade deadline casualty Justin Braun and the New York Rangers while the Oilers bailed out after using Derick Brassard in the lineup for just one of their 16 postseason games.
NHL Scouting Combine
The NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo, NY ended on Saturday. Assistant GM Brent Flahr told Bill Meltzer that the organization will prioritize other elements of prospect evaluations ahead of the NHL Entry Draft in Montreal in July.
“I don’t believe in changing rankings based on a combine interview with a player, but it can fill in a few gaps or maybe address a red flag such (as) an injury,” Flahr said.
Despite the lack of commitment to tangible outcomes from the combine, the Flyers have interest in Western Hockey League star Matthew Savoie as a potential target with the fifth-overall pick. Russ Cohen also identified Rieger Lorenz as a player of interest for Philadelphia after the first round. They do not currently own a second-round selection, however.