Projecting Philadelphia Flyers' Forward Lines for the 2014-15 Season
The Philadelphia Flyers are spending yet another offseason watching other teams duke it out to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.
New GM Ron Hextall will have a number of decisions to make this offseason. While there should be a few significant changes, they figure to be mostly on defense.
Barring some unforseen major moves, the Flyers' forward lines will mostly look the same as they did in the 2013-14 season, with a couple minor alterations and one top prospect breaking in.
Scott Hartnell-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek
There really isn't much of a chance that the Flyers' first line gets broken up next year. One possible change would be to trade away Hartnell this offseason.
Say what you want about Hartnell (and trust me, there are a few things I'd like to), but he did have 20 goals and 32 assists this past season and is a great presence in the locker room.
I would love to try and get something for him in a trade, but I doubt any team would be willing to give up much. As it is, this line did combine for 200 points last year, so nobody should be too upset if they're back together in 2014-15.
Vincent Lecavalier-Brayden Schenn-Wayne Simmonds
This is probably my least favorite line, mostly because of Lecavalier getting stuck over on the left wing. But for his development, Schenn needs to continue getting good minutes at center.
Simmonds has developed into a bona fide power forward who could easily play top line minutes if Hartnell gets moved and things get juggled around. He and Schenn play well together.
But Lecavalier, like Hartnell, is another guy I would love to try and trade this offseason because he didn't play very well and just doesn't fit in anywhere. With him out of position on the left, this will be a good but inconsistent second line.
Michael Raffl-Sean Couturier-Matt Read
Steve Downie got a lot of time here this season, but he was inconsistent, injured and ultimately should not be back in 2014-15.
That still leaves the Flyers with a very solid third line anchored by the ever-improving Couturier. His presence in the middle makes this trio a real solid two-way trio.
Read emerged as a great two-way player this season as well, getting big PK minutes, and Raffl is a good skater and hard worker who did play well on the first line and was considered to start there but would fit right in alongside Couturier and Read here.
Tye McGinn-Scott Laughton-Adam Hall
Here's where things get really tricky and interesting. Laughton needs to be in the NHL next year, and there's an overwhelming likelihood that he will be.
With the Flyers' roster as it currently stands, there's just no room for him to move into the top three lines, which is part of why I am in favor of trading Hartnell and/or Lecavalier.
But as it stands, he will be centering the fourth line. Hall has to have a spot because of his penalty killing and clutch faceoff ability. That leaves the last winger position to McGinn, Zac Rinaldo and Jason Akeson.
I'm sick of Rinaldo's penchant for taking penalties. Akeson played really well in the playoffs, but he's not suited for a fourth-line type of role while McGinn could excel there. There will be injuries, and Akeson will get his chances then.