Ron Hextall's vision for the Flyers
Wayne Simmonds, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek combined for 80 goals in 2013-14. (AP)
This is the final part in a series looking back on the Flyers' roster from 2013-14. Previously: A look back at the goaltenders and defensemen.
New Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said he wants a team on the ice that is strong down the middle.
By “middle,” he said, he means in goal, on defense and at center.
Without question, the Flyers have one of the best groups of forwards in the NHL. They are not just strong down the middle, but actually overcrowded there, although they may be lacking a little size.
On their offseason wish list is a left wing to fortify Sean Couturier’s third line. Yet Hextall said if he had to choose a spot to show a weakness, it would be at wing.
Look for the Flyers to promote from within in filling forward gaps this coming season and not through free agency, unless the right player and salary is there.
Age: Turns 24 this June
Stats: 1 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 Pt., plus-1, 13:22 MIN
Cap hit: Restricted free agent
Although he was a call-up winger for just one game in the regular season, we are including him because he was one of the few impact players during the seven-game playoff series against the Rangers, with two goals and an assist for three points. This is a savvy offensive player, who is not afraid to go into the dirty areas. He’s a goal scorer and he gets his shots on net. So why didn’t then-GM Paul Holmgren bring him up sooner? Why was the club playing Steve Downie? Akeson deserves a long look in training camp. He will be re-signed. His NHL salary this year was $715,000.
Age: Turns 22 next December
Stats: 82 GP, 13 G, 26 A, 39 Pts., plus-1, 19:05 MIN
Cap hit: $1.75 million
Couturier was the Flyers' most dedicated defensive center and is a future Selke Trophy candidate if he ever gets his offensive numbers up. No reason he can’t be another Mike Richards if he bears down. You can’t score if you don’t shoot the puck, and Couturier averaged just two shots a game, which is well under where he needs to be. Alarmingly, he was a turnover mess during the Rangers series. Great chemistry with Matt Read. Capable of scoring more than one shorthanded goal given his opportunities. Tied for second in shorthanded points (five) in the NHL. Now if the Flyers can just find that second winger to complement Couturier and Read.
Age: Turns 28 next April
Stats: 53 GP, 3 G, 14 A, 17 Pts., minus-3, 13:32 MIN
Cap hit: Unrestricted free agent
Easily the worst in-season deal that Holmgren made, dumping Max Talbot, the club’s best penalty-killing forward, for a guy with a reputation for inconsistent play and a penchant for taking dumb penalties. Both of which marked Downie’s tenure here. At least two concussions ruined his season, but again, wouldn’t Akeson have given this team more from the get-go? Downie’s $2.65 million salary was wasted here. Won’t be re-signed.
Age: Turns 27 next January
Stats: 82 GP, 28 G, 58 A, 86 Pts., plus-7, 20:26 MIN
Cap hit: $8.275 million
Overcame a lot with his hand injury suffered last summer that greatly affected him during the month of October. Went 15 games without a goal. Yet the club’s top center finished with 79 points over the final 67 games. Was second in the league in power play assists (30) and fourth in power play points (37), one behind Sidney Crosby. Still a young captain learning what to say after losses, and frankly, he too often lets the team off the hook. His take on being satisfied with the adversity the club overcame to make the playoffs and saying the team had a good year rubbed people the wrong way. Needs a little dose of Chris Pronger reality in him, but that may not be in Giroux’s personality. In a playoff series in which so many Flyers came up small, he led the way with six points in seven games without help and was the club’s best defensive forward. A legit Hart Trophy candidate. His eight-year, $66.2 million contract extension kicks in this fall.
Age: Turns 34 in August
Stats: 80 GP, 4 G, 5 A, 9 Pts, minus-15, 9:50 MIN
Cap hit: Unrestricted free agent
A really underrated versatile center and swing-forward, who is a rock when it comes to winning defensive draws. Hall won a club-high 60 percent of his draws and took over 500 faceoffs. Unfortunately, the Flyers will likely move on without him with Scott Laughton is waiting in the wings. Hall will land somewhere. He earned $600,000 this season. Doubtful to be re-signed.
Age: Turns 33 next April
Stats: 78 GP, 20 G, 32 A, 52 Pts., plus-11, 16:52 MIN
Cap hit: $4.75 million
The left winger had his third-most productive season as a Flyer, even though, like others, he disappeared in the postseason. Sometimes seems like the perfect fit on the top line and other times seems better suited to play with another similar forward, such as Wayne Simmonds. Hartnell might be best served splitting time -- as he did this year -- on two different lines, especially given he had just 20 goals this season compared to 37 two years ago that earned him his lengthy contract extension.
Age: Turns 35 next April
Stats: 69 GP, 20 G, 17 A, 37 Pts., minus-16, 15:11 MIN
Cap hit: $4.5 million
Another bad signing both for the club and this veteran center. The Flyers made a big splash last summer after he was amnestied, mistakenly thinking they could convert him to a scoring winger. What they should have done is traded for Bobby Ryan. Lecavalier wasn’t able to unseat any of their centers and he failed at both left and right wing. That said, he still scored 20 goals. He suffered a back injury in late November that wasn’t really detected until December and he never seemed right after that. Can’t be playing so few minutes -- 10:41 in the playoffs -- for that kind of money and needs to play in a top-nine spot, not fourth-line center. This is Hextall’s problem to solve now.
Age: Turns 24 in July
Stats: 18 GP, 4 G, 1 A, 5 Pts., minus-1, 11:10 MIN
Cap hit: Restricted free agent
The Flyers seemed a lot higher on McGinn a few years ago, before his eye injury. He hasn’t been thought of in the same way since and some of the things he brings –- physicality and offense -- seemed to come and disappear. McGinn had a chance to make a name for himself here and didn’t, nor did he dress for the playoffs. Earned $775,000. If re-signed, needs to show the organization more.
Age: Turns 26 next December
Stats: 68 GP, 9 G, 13 A, 22 Pts., plus-2, 13:02 MIN
Cap hit: $1.1 million
Another versatile forward, who can play wing or center. Was a pleasant surprise. Showed a lot of promise and one-on-one grit in his very first taste of North American hockey. Needs to capitalize more on his offensive chances. He can play anywhere in the lineup –- a bonus -- and has speed. New contract kicks in this fall.
Age: Turns 28 next month
Stats: 75 GP, 22 G, 18 A, 40 Pts., minus-4, 18:47 MIN
Cap hit: $3.625 million
Had his second-most productive season with the Flyers. He has become virtually inseparable from Couturier on his line. They are the part of the “pairs” Peter Laviolette put in place and Craig Berube has retained. Have to wonder how much more offensive-minded Read would be if he played outside the checking role. Again, his line needs another winger to give the club more options. His four shorthanded goals were impressive. Like so many other Flyers, he has a new deal that dramatically raises his salary next fall: a four-year, $14.5 million contract.
Age: Turns 24 next month
Stats: 67 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 4 Pts., minus-13, 7:41 MIN
Cap hit: $750,000
While the coaching staff raves about the energy he brings on the ice, his points-to-plus/minus ratio is severely compromised. Averages a hit per minute played, but could be so much more effective if he decided to channel more energy into creating an offensive chance rather than looking to splatter someone. Made more advances this season in drawing penalties as opposed to taking them, but still takes a bad penalty at the wrong time. Playing on the edge will always be a challenge for this winger.
Age: Turns 29 in July
Stats: 34 GP, 2 G, 0 A, 2 Pts., minus-8, 4:56 MIN
Cap hit: $675,000
The Flyers have a true enforcer, one who played less than half a season. Berube spotted this winger as needed throughout. Compiled a 6-2-2 fight record. His 10 bouts were a career-high. Much like Jody Shelley in that role, Rosehill is not only well-liked and respected, but has thoughtful opinions on the game.
Age: Turns 26 in August
Stats: 82 GP, 29 G, 31 A, 60 Pts., minus-4, 16:46 MIN
Cap hit: $3.975 million
Banner season for the former L.A. King with career highs in goals, assists, points and ice time. Not only that, Simmonds broadened his game to finish among the league leaders in power play goals (second overall with 15) while also netting 24 power play points. A perfect power forward. He had a monster Game 6 in the playoffs against the Rangers. Problem was, like so many of the Flyers' forwards, disappeared for much of that series.
Age: Turns 25 in August
Stats: 82 GP, 23 G, 39 A, 62 Pts., plus-11, 17:11 MIN
Cap hit: $4.25 million
Career highs in games played, goals, assists, points and ice time. Also tied his career-high in plus/minus (three times at plus-11). The right winger came here as a project player from Columbus and has truly blossomed into one of two forwards –- the other is Giroux -- who is simply untouchable. How much Jaromir Jagr influenced him we will never be quite sure, yet fans should be grateful. Voracek has become a serious, motivated player, who is not afraid to speak is mind. Was the Flyers' most determined forward against the Rangers with two goals and four points. Should become a greater threat on the power play (eight goals) next season.
Age: Turns 23 in August
Stats: 82 GP, 20 G, 21 A, 41 Pts., even 15:44 MIN.
Status: Restricted free agent
He has been at the center of the Vinny Lecavalier dilemma since the season began. Because the organization elected to go with Schenn at center, that bounced Lecavalier to the wing – both wings and then, ultimately, to another lesser liner. Schenn seems capable of providing more offense than he has even though he had a career season all-around. Yet the fact that then GM Paul Holmgren allowed him to go the entire season as an RFA without getting a contract done strongly implies he won’t be back. It’s looking like he’ll be moved to solve the Lecavalier dilemma and create additional cap space for the club. He made $870,000 last season on his entry-level deal and was looking for a major increase in his next contract. Seems like it won't be here. Again, the Flyers could package him with brother Luke if they make a move to trade him. It's Ron Hextall's first issue to solve.