Hey guys! Sven here with our stop in the City of Brotherly Love for 31 in 31! Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2018-19 fantasy hockey season: The 31 in 31 daily segment. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material! Reminder that the stat totals are from last season.
Claude Giroux – 82GP 34-68-102. Though Giroux is likely a consensus late-first-round-pick guy, I’m low on him for a few reasons. First, I think his goal total will regress not dramatically, but solid 5-10 as he is not historically a goal scorer. Second, his 102-point campaign was a 16-point jump from his previous career-high, and at 30 years old I’m not sure if he will hit this margin again. Don’t get me wrong Giroux is a tremendous player, but I don’t think he will have another 100-point season. Even with a sizable regression, he is still looking at 75-80 points which is top-tier.
Jakub Voracek – 82GP 20-65-85. Voracek was a sleeper going into last year after two straight seasons that were historically bad for the 2007 first-rounder. Giroux/the Flyers’ PP success helped Voracek put together a monster 85-point year, but much like Giroux I think Voracek will come back down to earth this season. Ranked 25th by ESPN, there are a number of other players around this ranking that will receive undivided attention when it comes to ice time and PP time, making them a little bit safer of a pick compared to the 29-year-old Voracek. He is destined to have another great season, but is ranked a tad high for my liking.
James van Riemsdyk – 81GP 36-18-54. The Flyers certainly aren’t fat, but their top-six has really cultivated some mass with this pickup (I hope you get that reference!) JVR reunited with the team that drafted him 2nd overall in 2007, inking a fresh deal with the Flyers this offseason. With this guy, what you see is what you get. A big-bodied winger that will clog the front of the net and use his hands in tight to pop 30 goals fairly consistently when healthy. Likely to grab a top-six role and perhaps compete with Simmonds for the net-front role on PP#1, there’s no doubt in my mind that JVR will fit nicely into this Flyers lineup. He will likely be available in the early-teen rounds of your draft.
Sean Couturier – 82GP 31-45-76. Ahhh, one of my top picks for the “over my head” award for the 2017-18 season. Couturier exploded for 76 points last season (LITERALLY doubling his previous career high) and established himself as the Flyers’ #1C. Though he is one of my favourite players to watch for his hardworking defensive play and power, he will also take a step backward this season like Giroux. He hasn’t proven himself to me as a proven point-producer, but will likely continue to be the #1C and #2PP draw-taker this season. He could prove to be one of the biggest fantasy letdowns of 2019, or he could be a steal at 70th on ESPN. Your gamble!
Travis Konecny – 81GP 24-23-47. Konecny put together a respectable sophomore season and performed very well down the stretch on the top line, making him the shoo-in for #1W going into this season with the regression of the player below. If Konecny is on a line with Couturier and Giroux, there is no question he will put up at least 50 points next year. Entering his third season, the 2015 first-rounder’s ceiling is – well, I don’t know. The Flyers could surprise me again this year and continue to score at a feverish pace and their entire top six could all have 70 points – but 55-60 points and establishing himself as a top-six forward sounds more likely for Konecny.
Wayne Simmonds – 75GP 24-22-46. One of my biggest disappointments of my 2017-18 fantasy season was drafting Simmonds early. Though it was a non-PIMs league, the main change in his play was his PIM total being cut in half. Though 46 points is still solid, top-six and #1PP minutes on a team that seemed to all get better around him is ridiculous. With younger players getting big opportunities around him, Simmonds appears to be a middle-six candidate at best. He may be able to bounce-back and will likely still see PP time (taking reps at the front of the net with JVR), but I’m not taking another chance at him unless he plummets.
Nolan Patrick – 73GP 13-17-30. Somewhat considered a steal at #2 overall in the 2017 draft for the Flyers, Patrick did not have a stunning rookie season. This is partly due to his sheltered minutes; however, he looks to be the team’s #2C going into the season. Due to the Sophomore Slump possibility, he was undrafted in my ten-teamer league (which you will hear more about soon!) Patrick may be able to break out if he is provided with the ice time to by his team, and I will be scoping him out all season to stream if he takes off.
Shayne Gostisbehere – 78GP 13-52-65. Ghost was a stud last season, proving in his third NHL season that sometimes the best defence is more offence. Going into this season, I think Ghost has the most upside among top-tier defencemen alongside Torey Krug. I think he will continue to be a key producer on the Flyers’ PP, and his defensive game will only get better as he matures.
Ivan Provorov – 82GP 17-24-41. Avoiding the Sophomore Slump last season, Provorov was a mid-season pick up that made a big difference for me in one of my leagues. At just 21 years old we have not seen the best of the Russian dman just yet, but he likely will not receive a ton of PP time given how dominant the Flyers’ first unit will be. He is a lock on the #2 unit and will likely continue to eat minutes at five-on-five, Provorov is a very attractive asset ranked in the early-teen rounds. So far I have seen defencemen go far earlier than they are ranked (as is natural), so I would look to add Provorov as a #2 maybe even #3 guy if you’re taking D early.
Brian Elliott – 43GP 2.66GAA 909SV%. Goaltending seems to be the only looming question mark for the Flyers. Elliott still hasn’t proven that he can be “the guy” for a team, reaching the 50GP mark just once in his illustrious career. Though he has the potential to be lights out in spurts, I only see him as a streamer at best. The Flyers will be good this year, but I’m not sure if he will get enough starts to be owned.
Michal Neuvirth – 22GP 2.60GAA 915SV%. Though he looked to be the starter-to-be with Washington years ago before the days of Holtby, Neuvirth has been consistent as a career backup. His main chance for being an own-able fantasy player will come if he takes over the starting role if/when Elliott struggles.
Oskar Lindblom – AHL: 54GP 16-18-34. Lindblom is a 2014 fifth-round pick that made the transition to North American professional hockey this season, putting up respectable numbers in the AHL and logging six points in 23 games with Philly. If he makes the main roster this season, it will be very difficult for anyone not in the top six on this Flyers team to chip in points. Though we have seen impressive seasons from underrated guys on top-heavy teams in the past, expect an up-and-down season for Lindblom in the bottom-six.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel – AHL: 72GP 18-28-46. Listed by DailyFaceoff as a guy to crack Philly’s fourth line, Aube-Kubel is another 2014 pick (but in the second round) that has slowly developed in the minors. With very solid major-junior numbers a few years back, Aube-Kubel will be a good young guy in the lineup down the road. We will see this year how he performs in his first big-leaugue season.
Carter Hart – WHL: 41GP 1.60GAA 947SV%. With microscopic numbers in Everett (WHL) last season and a very good showing at the WJC for Team Canada, Hart looks to be the potential starter down the road for the Flyers. Entering his first pro season with Lehigh Valley (AHL), Hart will face tougher competition this year but I’m sure he will still post respectable numbers in his transition year. In the event of injury, Hart may even get the taste of some NHL action at some point this season, and he is a very exciting prospect down in the minors.
German Rubtsov – QMJHL: 49GP 15-28-43. After making the jump to North America from the Russian Junior leagues two seasons ago, Rubtsov will now likely start the season in the AHL. A first-round pick in 2016, he is an energetic two-way centre that sort of sounds like he could pan out into a Couturier-type player. Some players fall off the map in their transition year, but Rubtsov’s defensively sound play will likely continue to produce good results, just not from a fantasy perspective right away.
Carsen Twarynski – WHL: 68GP 45-27-72. Yet another player jumping up from major-junior to the AHL (this has been the common theme of my prospects section if you haven’t noticed yet), Twarynski is a 2016 third-round pick with a big body and a killer finish. With 45 goals last season, I believe Twarynski can pan out into a prolific scorer in the Pros if put with the right line mates. I don’t expect him to see any NHL time this season, and with how the Flyers have historically let their players develop slowly in the minors we may not see him for a little bit.
Morgan Frost – OHL: 67GP 42-70-112. After a monster season in Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) last year, the Flyers likely won’t have room for Frost on their roster this season. What will likely happen is the 2017 first-rounder will have another big fish small pond season in major-junior, and continue to electrify. Though he is a little undersized, he has tremendous hockey sense and is known for his skating and playmaking abilities. There is no question he will make his way to the NHL soon, and hopefully the Flyers have a spot for him.