The Flyers play nine exhibition games this fall, starting with Tuesday’s home game against the Rangers. It’s a chance for some players to get into game shape, rookies to impress the club’s brass and also a key stretch for certain players to set the tone for a pivotal year.
Here are the Metro’s five players who face key seasons and are worth watching in the preseason games.
Is he worth $66 million over the next eight years? Can he post 81 points and finish in the top five in the league in scoring again? Is he a legit superstar in the NHL and one-half of the one of the best scoring tandem in the league? Or was last year’s breakout season a fluke? Voracek gets to prove that last year was not an anomaly but rather the start of an all-star career.
His goal totals from 2011-12 to ’13-’14:
11 (in 42 games during strike-shortened season)
His goal total from last season: Eight. In his defense, Read played through a high-ankle sprain for most of last year that slowed him down considerably. He had offseason surgery is reportedly 100 percent recovered. The Flyers desperately need his speed and scoring touch to return to help fortify a third line that was anemic offensively last year.
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The former sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft never met expectations during his six years in Edmonton and disappointed last year in Arizona. In the last year of his contract, Gagner has a new lease on his career with the Flyers. Still only 26 years old, Gagner adds speed and skill and is excellent in shootouts – a desperate need for the Flyers - and could be the ideal complement on one of the top two lines.
Brayden / Luke Schenn
Is this final year of the Schenn brothers? The underwhelming and underachieving siblings could be on their way out the door. Each one is in the last year of his contract and have given the organization little reason to extend the relationship. Even though Brayden posted a career-high 47 points, there were points of the season he was invisible despite playing on the top two lines. Luke was a healthy scratch a multitude of times over the final games last year and finished with a minus-2. He might also be trade bait if a team loses a defenseman to injury in the preseason.
Michael Del Zotto
For the first half of the season, MDZ could barely get on the ice. Then over the final two-plus months, it was difficult to keep him off of it. He was a healthy scratch for 11 of 14 games in December but was a lethal weapon offensively over the final 30 games. After signing a two-year, $7.75 million deal over the summer, he could be one of their top defensemen.