Revisiting Preseason Bold Predictions for Philadelphia Flyers
Before the 2013-14 NHL season began, I took on the daunting task of making some bold predictions for some of the Philadelphia Flyers' best players. For reference, the link to that previous article is here.
Those predictions were, by nature, bold. Obviously, it was unlikely that any of them would come true, but they still started some good discussion, and it is now valuable to look back on them.
The results are interesting and speak to the direction of the team. Let's take a look at how I did. It's ugly, but bear with me and maybe we'll learn a thing or two.
Voracek Is a Top-15 Scorer in the League
Verdict: 38th overall
This is one that I thought I actually could be right about, and Jakub Voracek had me scratching my head all season.
He seemed to take a big step forward as a point-per-game player last season. I really figured he would just continue improving alongside Claude Giroux and be a legitimate force this year.
In the preseason article, I said I thought Voracek could score in the 70s, and he ended up pretty close with 62. If he can just figure out how to be more consistent, then big things will be in store for Voracek.
Schenn Brothers Become Stars
I knew this one was a pretty big reach, especially for Luke. But neither he nor Brayden emerged as a bona fide star for the Flyers, and I'm growing less convinced that it'll ever happen.
Luke actually looked better as the season wore on and was solid in the playoffs. He just brings no offense and is too slow to ever be a first-pairing guy.
Brayden had a lot of time on the second line but just has yet to look like he'll take that next step to stardom. He's frustratingly absent on offense for long stretches and finished with just 41 points. He is a restricted free agent this offseason, so his future is yet to be determined.
Giroux Is Hart Trophy Finalist
Verdict: NAILED IT
After an absolutely brutal start to the season, it looked like this prediction was going to be woefully wrong. But then Giroux proved why he is one of the best players in the league.
From the middle of November until the end of the season, Giroux was arguably the best player in the entire NHL. He racked up the points, including an absurd 21 in February.
But he also excelled in every facet of the game, playing hard every shift, forechecking and being responsible defensively while proving himself as the captain of the Flyers. His nomination for the Hart Trophy is proof that he is an elite NHL player.
Simmonds Scores 40 Goals
Verdict: 29 goals
This was probably my boldest prediction, and I'm actually somewhat happy with the turnout. Simmonds may not have reached 40, but he proved himself as a phenomenal player for the Flyers.
This prediction was sort of a numerically oriented way of saying, "Simmonds will turn into an elite power forward." And if that had been the heading, I would have considered it to be a correct prediction, because he was a force both offensively and physically for Philly.
He got off to a slow start—like everyone else—but then scored 24 goals after December 17, giving him a 0.49 goals-per-game average in those 49 games. If he scored at that pace over an 82-game season, Simmonds would have netted almost exactly 40 goals. So, this is a pseudo-victory in my book.
Timonen Is a Top-5 Scoring Defenseman
Verdict: 35th overall
"Kimmo Timonen should get some weight lifted off of his shoulders in 2013 with the addition of Mark Streit, and I think his level of play will elevate as a result."
That's what I said in this slide for the preseason article, and it turned out I actually had it backwards. It seems like Timonen's presence actually helped Mark Streit, who was excellent offensively for the Flyers.
Timonen was average, but Streit was fifth on the team in points with 44. This prediction would have been better off for Streit, who finished tied for 14th among NHL defensemen in points. Timonen's future with the team remains in limbo.
Lecavalier Is 3rd-Highest Scorer on Team
Verdict: ninth on team
This was probably the biggest bust and most disappointing element of my article and the Flyers' season as a whole. Vincent Lecavalier looked incredibly mediocre and wore down as the season went on.
After getting a big five-year contract from the Flyers in the offseason, Lecavalier played in 69 games and scored 20 goals along with only 37 points, good for ninth on the squad.
In the playoffs, he was demoted to the fourth line and didn't get hardly any big minutes. It'll be interesting to see what happens next season if he continues playing at such a low level, because that big contract will look worse with each passing day.