Philadelphia Flyers: A Look at Their Forward Depth Chart for 2013 Season
Now that the NHL lockout is mercifully over, fans across the hockey landscape can go back to doing that which fans do best—analysing their teams.
Who's the go-to scoring machine? Who's the shutdown two-way forward tasked with protecting a late one-goal lead? Who's going to power the power play? And who doesn't belong on the roster at all?
Those questions and many more can now be endlessly debated with a season (albeit a shortened one) just a little over a week away.
As with most teams, some of those questions are easy to answer for the Philadelphia Flyers while others warrant further investigation. But at least they're now really worth considering.
With that, here's a look at the Flyers' anticipated forward depth chart heading into the 2013 season.
12. Harry Zolnierczyk
Harry Zolnierczyk is probably the most likely suspect to find himself in and out of the Flyers' lineup this season.
A gritty but undersized forward, Harry Z notched three goals and three assists in 37 games in his rookie campaign last season.
If he proves his worth on the penalty kill and does the little things right (good defensive zone coverage, blocks shots) he'll see his minutes in Philadelphia increase and will have a solid chance to stay in the lineup.
11. Eric Wellwood
Eric Wellwood is exactly the type of player teams want on their fourth line.
He's a hard-working forward with great wheels who's shown the ability to chip in offensively. In his first season with the Flyers, Wellwood notched five goals and nine points in just 24 games.
He should start the season with the big club and will likely receive regular fourth-line minutes along with some penalty killing time. If all goes according to plan, Wellwood's production will continue to increase as his time in the NHL continues to grow.
10. Ruslan Fedotenko
Philly's lone offensive free-agent acquisition last season, Ruslan Fedotenko should provide some nice depth up front for the orange and black.
He's never been a prolific point producer, but Fedotenko should provide steady offensive production on either the Flyers' third or fourth line.
He's managed at least 20 points in each of his 11 NHL seasons and is an above-average puck possessor, which should help some of the budding forwards with which Fedotenko is likely to play.
9. Matt Read
In a season full of pleasant surprises, Matt Read may have been the most pleasant and the most surprising.
As a 25-year-old rookie, Read notched 24 goals and 47 points and should have been given serious consideration for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.
He won't catch opposing teams by surprise this season, but anyone with the goal-scoring acumen that Read displayed in his first season is bound for continued success.
8. Sean Couturier
Not even projected to crack last year's roster, Sean Couturier emerged as one of Philadelphia's top two-way forwards by season's end and was a huge cog in the team's opening-round playoff victory over Pittsburgh.
With Philly's current offensive depth, it's unlikely Couturier will see any power-play time this season, but he'll receive top-nine minutes and should improve on the 13 goals and 27 points he managed last season.
It will also be tremendously enjoyable to watch an already gifted, hard-working defensive forward continue to improve in one of the less glamorous aspects of the game.
7. Brayden Schenn
It's make-or-break time for Brayden Schenn.
The highly touted fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft will be a top-nine, and potentially top-six, forward for the Flyers to start the season and should be given every opportunity to produce in all phases of the game. The question now is whether Schenn will seize those opportunities or not.
Schenn was the prize for Philly in the Mike Richards trade with the Kings. Richards has already helped bring a Stanley Cup to Los Angeles. The Flyers now need to see growth from Schenn with the hopes that he can help one day bring a cup to Philly.
6. Max Talbot
Max Talbot may have only finished 10th on the team in scoring last season (34 points) but he was tied for fifth on the club with 19 goals.
Those 19 conversions were far and away a career high for Talbot, who had never scored more than 13 goals in a single year.
He's an honest, hard-working player (in other words, a prototypical Flyer) who will see plenty of ice in all situations this year.
5. Wayne Simmonds
In his first season in the City of Brotherly Love, Wayne Simmonds recorded career highs in both goals (28) and points (49).
His 28 goals were tied for second best on the club and Simmonds proved to be a force on the power play, jamming in 11 man-advantage markers, many of which were buried from just atop the opposition's goal crease.
Simmonds will continue to receive regular power-play time and will likely get second-line minutes as well, leading to ample scoring opportunities.
4. Jake Voracek
Jake Voracek is set to fill the void on Philadelphia's top line left by Jaromir Jagr's departure to Dallas.
As such, the 23-year-old forward will have every opportunity in the world to surpass the season-high 18 goals he produced a season ago.
It would also be downright shocking if a healthy Voracek didn't eclipse the 49 points he tallied a season ago playing on a line with the bruising power forward Scott Hartnell and one of the game's elite playmakers, Claude Giroux.
3. Danny Briere
Danny Briere is certainly entering the twilight of his career but isn't there just yet.
He posted 49 points in an injury-shortened season last year and has recorded 267 points in 330 career games in Philadelphia.
He may not be the quickest player on the frozen pond anymore, but he still possesses some of the best hands in and around the net and will see regular power-play time for the orange and black where he's specialized throughout his NHL career.
2. Scott Hartnell
Hartnell led all Flyers in goals last season and finished tied for sixth among all NHL skaters with 37 conversions.
A proven goal scorer, he's now recorded 20 or more tallies in six of his last seven season and will have every opportunity to light the lamp early and often playing alongside Philly's top player.
1. Claude Giroux
Giroux is clearly the team's best player. Heck, he's in the conversation for the best player in the NHL.
He's paced Philly in scoring each of the last two years and finished third among all NHLers last year with 93 points.
In the days to come, he'll likely be named the team's captain, and rightfully so, as this Flyers team goes as Giroux goes.
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