The Philadelphia Flyers have long rested their success on the shoulders of stalwart veterans Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. The 2019-20 NHL season, is no different, producing middling results as of late. The team hasn’t been overly good or bad, but being average isn’t a recipe the Flyers can use to see extended playoff success.
New head coach Alain Vigneault, no stranger to making roster changes, is hoping an infusion of youth will power his team to high postseason hopes. As it stands the Flyers have had eight rookies play in games this season, with five making their NHL debut. Morgan Frost, Joel Farabee, German Rubtsov, Carsen Twarynski, Connor Bunnaman, Mikhail Vorobyev, Sam Morin, and Philippe Myers have brought a much-needed boost to the NHL roster.
A Full Stable of Youth
The Flyers’ youth movement has yielded some incredible returns in the form of Frost, Farabee, and Myers. Frost, drafted 27th overall in the 2017 Entry Draft, made his season debut against the Florida Panthers. In a flash of brilliance; Frost dug the puck out of the corner, walked in front, and roofed a backhander on Vezina-winner Sergei Bobrovsky. Frost became the first Flyer rookie to score in his debut since Jason Akeson in 2013. He continued his scoring touch against the Carolina Hurricanes, potting his second career goal and two assists.
Farabee, despite being sent down to the AHL to start the season, has produced five points in fifteen games. While those numbers haven’t set the league on fire, he’s earned the trust of his coach and is often deployed in defensive situations.
He has made his mark on the lineup by appearing on each of the Flyers’ four lines. Myers has brought speed and an offensive jump to the blue line allowing him to make plays and contribute on the score sheet. He’s put up five points in his nine games with the team, potting three goals.
Everyone Can Contribute
The Flyers have leaned heavily on their young forwards in the bottom half of the line up as well. Twarynski, Bunnaman, and Rubtsov have all drawn defensive responsibilities while also contributing on the penalty kill. Twarynski has played the most of the three forwards, bringing speed and tenacity to the fourth line. He’s spent some time on the third line but has mostly been relegated to a checking role. Bunnaman and Rubtsov will draw more playing time in the future as they have already shown an aptitude for the defensive side of the game. Vigneault knows that he can rely on multiple young forwards to fill the holes he sees in the lineup.
Maybe Next Year
It seems like a bad stroke of luck that each year Flyers’ fans hear about a new Morin injury. Appearing in only one game this season, the former first-round pick has been sidelined with an ACL injury. Fans will have to wait until next year for Morin to contribute more to the big club. Vorobyev has appeared in six games for the orange and black this season. While he hasn’t been a big contributor, he has shown a knack for faceoffs and the penalty kill. The Flyers have a lot of depth down the middle so I suspect we won’t see much more of him this season, barring an injury.
The Flyers will have to lean heavily on their younger players to power through the season. Many players in their first season are drawing veteran responsibilities from Vigneault. So far the early returns have been promising, rookie forwards and defenders alike are not only producing but flourishing in their new roles. While not technically a rookie, goaltender Carter Hart is also a large part of the youth movement, bringing a steadying confidence to the net.
Look for Frost, Farabee, and Myers to continue to solidify their young NHL careers this season. If the rookies’ play can continue at its current level, the Flyers should have no issues relying on their young players, and using them as a springboard to the postseason.