For the second time in the last three years, the Flyers failed to qualify for the playoffs. After finishing a disappointing 33-31-18, they hope to turn their fortunes around this year -- and it starts this week. The Flyers open training camp on Friday with preseason games beginning next week.
Here are Metro’s three storylines to keep an eye on during training camp.
Learning new coach Dave Hakstol’s system
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When Craig Berube took over as head coach for Peter Laviolette three games into the 2013-2014 season, the Flyers went from an offensive-minded system to a more defensive style that included more back-checking from the forwards.
Hakstol’s system is centered around defense as well but requires speed, especially from the back end. Unfortunately, it’s an area where the Flyers come up short.
Even with the departure of the lumbering Nick Grossmann in the offseason and the addition of Russian Evgeni Medvedev, the parent team still lacks the necessary speed on the blue line to keep pace with most elite teams and run Hakstol’s system efficiently.
So it will be interesting to watch how the Flyers learn and implement Hakstol’s system even though the roster pieces don’t really fit the puzzle yet.
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Finding secondary scoring
It was a treat to watch Jake Voracek chase after the scoring and assist titles (he finished fourth in scoring and second in assists), Claude Giroux post another dominant season and Wayne Simmonds net a team-high 28 goals despite missing the final seven games with a broken foot, but there was little other offensive support.
The forwards accounted for nearly 40 percent of the offense last season. When Voracek and Giroux went into mini slumps two-thirds through the season, there was no one else to pick up the slack.
The Flyers need more production from their second and third line players, especially Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Matt Read as well as newcomer Sam Gagner.
The rookie watch
There are not many spots open on the roster as the Flyers return mostly the same team as last year, but there are plenty of rookies to keep an eye on who might sneak on with an impressive camp or if a veteran gets injured.
The obvious ones are on defense, where as many as six players will battle to impress. There are the last three first-round draft picks Ivan Provorov (2015), Travis Sanheim (2014) and Sam Morin (2013) as well as standouts Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg and Mark Alt.
On offense, the Flyers are waiting for 2012 first-round pick Scott Laughton to have a breakout season, while Nick Cousins and this year’s other first-round pick Travis Konecny offer intrigue.