Predicting Philadelphia Flyers' Best Player at Each Position in 5 Years
The Philadelphia Flyers have really done a good job building up their farm system in the last two years, and they already had a lot of good, young talent in the NHL already. That makes predicting the Flyers' best player at each position in five years a difficult task.
There were a lot of really close calls here, and I could definitely see a couple of these positions unfolding in different ways.
We also have to take into consideration some future changes to the roster, which could completely shake all of this up.
But for now, here are my predictions for the Flyers' best player at each position in five years.
Goalie: Anthony Stolarz
The Flyers have had some overdocumented goaltender struggles over the past couple of decades, but things are really looking up now.
Steve Mason is the starter for the foreseeable future, but it's highly unlikely he's still the No. 1 netminder five years from now.
There is a pretty good chance that that guy is Anthony Stolarz, Philadelphia's second-round pick in the 2012 draft. He's been very good for the London Knights of the OHL, and we could see him in orange and black sooner rather than later.
But even if he takes a few years to continue developing, the 6'5" 20-year-old has a ton of upside and is a near-lock to be the starter in 2019.
Defense: Robert Hagg
This may be a bit of a surprise here. I'm sure many people would have picked Shayne Gostisbehere, while others may have opted for 2013 first-round pick Sam Morin. Others still may have opted for 2014 first-rounder Travis Sanheim.
But Robert Hagg, selected in the second round of the 2013 draft, is the best all-around talent that the Flyers have in their system right now.
Gostisbehere could very well make the big club this season, and I'm confident he'll turn into a very good offensive defenseman. But I'm not so sure about his defensive side. The opposite goes for Morin, who just isn't a great skater or puck mover and may struggle to keep up at the NHL level.
Both of those guys could still turn into very solid players. But Hagg has the ability in both ends to be a true first-pairing guy. He skates well, is strong on the puck, and has very good vision and passing ability.
Left Wing: Someone New
The fact of the matter is that Philly doesn't really have anyone to put here right now. Michael Raffl is a nice player, but the Flyers are in trouble if he's their best left winger in five years.
And there is not anyone in the pipeline right now who seems to have any legitimate chance of being an impact NHL player.
So this one is very likely to be a player not currently with the organization.
Center: Claude Giroux
I was oh so close to putting Sean Couturier here, mostly because Claude Giroux will be on the wrong side of 30 in five years. But 31 isn't too old, and Giroux will still be the man in Philly.
He's shaping up to be the team's best captain in a long time after being a Hart Trophy finalist this past season. His skill is off the charts, and he's growing nicely into his role as a leader.
There's no reason to think Giroux won't be a first-line center putting up 75-plus points per season as a 31-year-old.
Right Wing: Wayne Simmonds
Everyone seemed to finally realize how good Wayne Simmonds can be this past season (and maybe Simmonds realized that himself).
He went on an absolute tear in the second half of the season and finished the year with 29 goals and 31 assists, building on a solid first two years in Philadelphia.
The fans really seem to have taken to Simmonds' tough style of play and humble demeanor off the ice. He can skate, forecheck, score and fight, which makes him the ultimate scrappy Philadelphia-style player.
At 30 years old in five years, Simmonds may not be quite the skater he is today, but he'll definitely be an assistant captain (which could even happen this season) and still be able to put the puck in the back of the net.