With 2020 fast approaching, now more than ever, is an apt time to look back upon the great players who have worn the orange and black. From 2010 through 2019, the Philadelphia Flyers have seen their fair share of triumph and mediocrity. Obviously no Stanley Cups were added to the trophy case, but they did have some deep runs in the playoffs. Couple that with some blockbuster trades and free agent signings and this list became a more difficult task than I initially anticipated. My criteria for creating this team was focused mainly on stats and team impact. I also restricted the guidelines to include only the player’s time with the Flyers, and not their entire career. Playoff performances were factored in, as well.
First Forward Line – Giroux, Voracek, Hartnell
The Flyers’ All-Decade team features a top line of captain Claude Giroux centering Scott Hartnell and Jake Voracek. Giroux has played with the Flyers since 2008 and has been far and away the best player in the organization. His consistent point production mixed with his penchant for big plays makes him the obvious choice for the number one center spot. Giroux currently ranks fourth all time in points with the Flyers. Just counting this decade, he has scored 761 points.
Pair him with one current and one former linemate in Voracek and Hartnell and this line provides a great mix of skill and tenacity. Hartnell, a fan favorite, spent half the decade with the Flyers and brought scoring and bite to the ice. Amassing over 100 goals in the orange and black, and famously taunting the Pittsburgh Penguins crowd, Hartnell is a clear choice for the top line. Voracek, who joined the team in 2011, has been a mainstay of the lineup ever since. In 643 games with the Flyers he has put up 532 points, including 164 goals.
Voracek has been deadly consistent over the decade and is a serious play driver. His puck protection and pursuit have been unrivaled on the team since his arrival.
Second Forward Line – Briere, van Riemsdyk, Simmonds
The top six is rounded out with fan favorites who all contributed to some of the Flyers’ biggest on-ice moments. Danny Briere centers James van Riemsdyk and Wayne Simmonds. Briere, still with the organization to this day, will go down as one of the best free-agent signings the Flyers ever made. Rightly dubbed “Mr. Playoffs,” he brought scoring and puck possession to the ice every night. With 72 points in 68 career playoff games as a Flyer, Briere was as clutch as any Flyer before him. He also centered one of the most dominant lines in Flyers’ history featuring Hartnell and Ville Leino.
Van Riemsdyk, drafted by the Flyers in the 2009-10 season, has already had two different stints with the team. Recently completing his 300th game with the Flyers, “JVR” has contributed 86 goals and 84 assists. In terms of raw talent, van Riemsdyk earned his spot on this list as he possesses a goal-scoring touch most players don’t.
Simmonds, “the Wayne Train,” rounds out this list as a premiere Flyer forward. He embodies the Broad Street Bullies of old with his unique blend of power and skill. In his eight years with the Flyers, he potted 203 goals and 784 penalty minutes. A Flyer through and through, Simmonds was a beacon for this team for most of the decade. He was always the first to step and defend his teammates, as well as score a crucial goal. He was the Flyers’ top threat on various power play units.
Third Forward Line – Richards, Carter, Jagr
This third line that I threw together may come as a bit of a shock. I dubbed it a “catalyst” line as these players, who didn’t play much in this decade, were integral in shaping the team throughout the years. Mike Richards is flanked by Jeff Carter and Jaromir Jagr.
All of these players, in their own right, were superstars at one point during their careers. Both Richards and Carter were the faces of this team during their tenure and Jagr is a bonafide hall of famer. Richards scored 128 points in his two seasons this decade and Carter contributed 127. I included Richards and Carter as their two respective trades defined this team. Carter was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Voracek, a first-round pick (Sean Couturier), and a third-round pick. Richards netted the Flyers’ Brayden Schenn, Simmonds, and an undisclosed draft pick. Voracek, Couturier, Schenn, and Simmonds are all on my All-Decade team, so I felt compelled to include Carter and Richards.
Jagr was added to this team as his presence on the ice and in the locker room is still felt to this day. He scored 54 points in his one year with the Flyers and 8 points in 11 playoff games. His work ethic, tenacity, and longevity — he’s still playing hockey at age 47 — rubbed off on the younger guys and paid dividends. He helped turn Giroux into the player that he is today. Also the impact of Jagr, a longtime Penguin, signing with the Flyers added a new saga to a storied rivalry.
Fourth Forward Line – Couturier, Schenn, Laughton
Couturier centers Schenn, and Scott Laughton. I know a few Flyers fans are groaning right now, particularly at the inclusion of Schenn and Laughton. Schenn played 424 games in the orange and black totaling 246 points. His time with the Flyers cannot be underscored as he was a key part of this team’s transition from the days of Carter and Richards. He showed heart and was able to play in any situation which is why he made this team.
Couturier, who should probably be higher on this list, is quickly becoming the Flyers’ best player with a combination of scoring and two-way play. Since being drafted by the Flyers eighth overall, he has evolved from a shutdown center to an annual Selke Trophy candidate. Couturier has scored 372 points in 616 career games with the team, including back-to-back 76 point seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19. Laughton was added to this list because I believe he embodies what the Flyers are. He’s a guy who can play in any role or situation and thrive in it. With only 88 points in 291 career games, his real value comes on the Flyers’ penalty kill and the shutdown style of hockey he plays. Laughton has shined at every position and every line for the Flyers and was a must-include for me.
Defense Pair #1 – Timonen & Pronger
The top defense pairing of the decade is none other than Kimmo Timonen and Chris Pronger. Timonen, who joined the Flyers as part of the Hartnell trade, was a true leader and driving force on the back end. In seven years with the team, he put up 270 points while quarterbacking various top power play units. His veteran presence on and off the ice was crucial in the development of younger players. I will never forget when he stepped up to fight Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang in the playoffs. He was a solid, number-one defenseman for the team and many fans were sad to see him leave in a trade to the Chicago Blackhawks.
I included Pronger here because in his short time in Philadelphia, he was an absolute monster. He was a defenseman like the Flyers never had before and he would punish opposing teams all over the ice. With 92 points in 145 games, he was a force to be reckoned with. An unrivaled leader and mentor, he defined the Flyers’ defense during his short stint. I still contend that if he didn’t go down with an unfortunate eye injury, the Flyers would have won a Stanley Cup.
Defense Pairing #2 – Provorov & Coburn
Ivan Provorov and Braydon Coburn round out the top four of the Flyers All-Decade defense. Provorov, selected seventh overall in 2015, has transformed from the heir-apparent to the bonafide number-one defenseman this team has needed. He absolutely eats minutes on a nightly basis and has the skill to rack up points when he gets hot. He’s scored 39 goals in four years with the team and totaled 120 points. His value for this team, since his draft, has been incredibly high. Provorov is resilient, unyielding, and most important of all, available. He hasn’t missed a regular season game for the orange and black yet. I imagine he will be making the Flyers’ next All-Decade team and potentially go down as one of the Flyers’ best.
Coburn, while not particularly flashy, was a solid stay-at-home defenseman for the Flyers. He spent nine years with the team and was constantly making the smart or physical play. Only amassing 161 points in 576 games, Coburn managed an average of 21:57 ice time per game. He was stalwart in his time here and I was so sad to see him go in a trade to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Defense Pairing #3 – Gostisbehere & Streit
Shayne Gostisbehere and Mark Streit round out the third pairing as they both brought a particularly offensive skill set to the Flyers’ defense. Gostisbehere burst onto the scene for the Flyers in the 2015-16 season. He was an absolute phenom, putting up 46 points in 64 games during his rookie season. Since then, he has been a consistent contributor and the Flyers’ go-to power play quarterback. In 333 total games with the orange and black, he has scored 198 points. While his defensive side has been suspect at times, he has made long strides in recent years to become a more complete player.
Streit spent four years with the Flyers as a power play specialist and mentor. He spent much of his time teaching and helping the Flyers’ growing d-core and I saw him as a real value to the team. He had 140 totals points in 274 games with Flyers, including 61 points on the man advantage. I believe the inclusion of Streit here showcases how barren the Flyers’ defense has been over the past decade. This is by no means a detriment to Streit, who’s a great player in his own right, just a testament to how the Flyers have needed defense for years.
Starting Goaltender – Steve Mason
It comes as no surprise to any Flyers faithful that the weakest position group of this team has always been goaltending. This past decade has been no different as the Flyers have iced 18 different goaltenders over that span. There has been little to no consistency at the position, which made choosing the All-Decade goaltenders pretty simple. The Flyers No. 1 goaltender of the decade is Steve Mason.
With a five-year tenure under his belt, Mason was as steady as the Flyers could hope for. He amassed 104 wins over 221 starts and made big saves when he needed to. I’m sure most will remember some of his poor playoff performances, but he was good when the Flyers needed him to be. I believe that Mason would have been more well received had the team in front of him played better. I don’t think he got a real chance in Philadelphia and that will always bother me.
Backup Goaltender – Carter Hart
I’m giving the back-up spot to Carter Hart. The Flyers haven’t seen this much raw talent in a goaltender since Bernie Parent. He only has two years in this decade but he changed the team as soon as he was drafted. Hart was drafted 48th overall in 2016, and fans have been excited ever since that pick. Seriously, the hype surrounding this kid overtook almost every other storyline the Flyers have had since. He’s been the talk of the town and his stats are starting to back it up. Over 57 starts, Hart has posted a 2.65 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. There is no doubt in my mind that Hart will define the next decade of Flyers’ goaltending as he has already made his mark on this one.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the humongous signing of Ilya Bryzagalov. The Flyers wanted to show the fans their commitment to winning by signing a top free-agent goaltender. Bryzgalov won 52 games in 97 starts and was for many, a disappointment. Made famous by his outrageous quotes and comments, Bryzgalov never lived up to the contract the Flyers gave him. He wasn’t a bad goalie, just didn’t measure up to the pressure bestowed upon him. He deserves a mention here as his signing was a defining moment of the past decade for the Flyers.
A Final Word
The Flyers All-Decade team was not an easy task, as it was filled with tough choices and some pretty large snubs. My biggest honorable mentions are Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Carle, Travis Konency, and Michael Raffl. This past decade was filled with triumph and heartbreak as the team found success but never the ultimate goal. The future does look bright as the team evolves from one decade to the next. The torch has been passed in almost every aspect of the team. Mason to Hart, Richards to Giroux, Timonen to Provorov — the next 10 years look promising. Here’s to a bright past and an even brighter future. Let’s go Flyers.