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May 17, 2024

Flyers stay or go: Gauging the futures of Scott Laughton, Travis Konecny, other forwards

The Flyers are still building, and will longtime forwards like Scott Laughton, Travis Konecny, and Joel Farabee remain a part of the long-term picture?

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Scott-Laughton-Flyers-2024-NHL.jpg Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Will Scott Laughton still be a Flyer next season?

The Flyers enter the summer coming off a surprise playoff push that stalled out, but with Danny Brière's and John Tortorella's sights locked on to the future rather than any quick fixes to get the team over the short-term hump in the here and now. 

That means the roster is still very much in progress, with potentially a few key decisions on it looming over the near horizon. 

So who stays and who goes? 

Here's a rundown of the current roster with the best possible gauge of each player's status in orange and black, starting with the forwards and working from the leadership group on down (note that all contract terms are via CapFriendly):

Sean Couturier (C)

Couturier went on a downswing as soon as he was named captain in February, was scratched for a couple of games and let it be known that he didn't agree with Tortorella about it, then made some more waves late last month when he hired hockey super agent Pat Brisson to represent him (per the Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli). 

Was that a tell of Couturier angling to make his way out of Philadelphia? Who really knows, but leaning toward probably not. 

It has to be remembered that Couturier returned to the ice in a weird spot. Multiple back issues kept him away for nearly two years, and once he could skate again, he was skating well enough that there were few reservations in the moment midway through the season about piling on to his ice time. 

But that all might have caught up to him, leading to Couturier's struggles over the final stretch of the season since it had been such a long time since he played that much hockey. 

And to the scratchings and disagreements with Tortorella, both seemed to indicate during their exit interviews that they would iron those issues out and talk it out over the offseason. 

The other thing: Couturier is 31 and has six years remaining on his current contract at $7.75 million per. Even if he wanted out, that's a tough move. 

Things can always change, sometimes on a dime as Brière and the Flyers learned quickly over the course of this past season, but more likely than not, Sean Couturier will still be in orange and black on opening night with the C on his chest.

Travis Konecny (A)

Konecny just put up a career season (33 goals, 35 assists, 68 points), and with one more year left on his contract, he's in line for a big payday. 

He's 27 and in the prime of his career, stepped up in responsibility and play in the two years since Tortorella took over behind the bench, and plays a high-flying game up and down the ice that can really get the puck moving downhill for a Flyers team that is still learning how to do that in other ways. 

Konecny can still fit the Flyers' timeline, and keeping him around for it seems to be the intention on the organization's end. 

And while it's not a complete lock, the thought of an extension leaving this past season felt a lot more like a matter of when rather than if.

Scott Laughton (A)

Laughton's name has been out on the rumor mill for a while now. He's stayed put through all of it, but after the Game 82 loss to the Capitals, he seemed the most torn out of any Flyer afterward. 

Furthermore, here's Laughton on the Nasty Knuckles podcast from a few weeks ago talking about his awareness of the trade rumors and playing through them:

Laughton has been around for years and has developed into a dependable, hard-checking bottom-six center, which on a $3 million term for two more years, can be appealing to a lot of clubs, especially around the deadline when playoff contenders are gearing up for a run. 

He wants to stay, and the Flyers don't want to trade him, but the understanding has seemed pretty clear that if the right offer comes along, then the organization is moving forward.

With the draft approaching, it's probably wise to keep an eye out here.

Cam Atkinson

Props to Atkinson for making his way back from neck surgery and missing an entire season, but he's 34 and looked cooked for the better part of this past one.

He has one year left on his deal at $5.875 million. There more than likely isn't much of a trade market for him, and while a buyout isn't ideal, it wouldn't be the worst idea either.

It's hard to imagine him still on the team next opening night. 

Bobby Brink

The Flyers went looking to Brink for any spark of offense as they pushed later into the season, but he did need another stint down with the Phantoms in the AHL to develop more and in a lot of ways is still learning how to be an everyday pro in the NHL. 

The 22-year old will more than likely get that chance to keep doing so here, though he will need a new contract as an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent. Granted, that probably won't cost the Flyers much.

Noah Cates

Cates is 25 and will have this coming season at $2,625,000 left on his current deal before becoming an arbitration-eligible RFA. 

He's a still somewhat young depth forward, and while he struggled this season, he forechecks like crazy and can switch out between center and wing, which gives a little flexibility in the lineup. 

He'll probably be back in a support role. 

Nic Deslauriers

Deslauriers came in and out of the lineup a lot more regularly this past season and has two years left on his contract at $1.75 million. 

His role is pretty limited as a fourth-line checker who can lay down a hard hit or give a jolt with a fight, but he's not a particularly great skater otherwise. 

Count on him being back, but mostly because it's hard to imagine much of a market for him over the summer.

Joel Farabee

Farabee just put up his best season yet (22 goals, 28 assists, 50 points), but it sure didn't feel like it in the latter half of it. 

Out of all the notable Flyers who tapered off in the home stretch of the season, Farabee arguably slumped the worst with only 11 points over the last 35 games, and all after a run to the midway point of the year where you would see his name on the scoresheet nearly every night. 

The 24-year old definitely did take another stride this past season and was a key reason why the Flyers had surprisingly played their way into the playoff picture. 

But then he disappeared. And then his name got tossed out there on the rumor mill

Farabee has three more years left at $5.5 million per. 

Odds are he'll be back, but he might not be entirely untouchable approaching the draft and free agency. If there's an offer with high picks on the table or a young, high-ceiling roster player (preferably a center), the Flyers should at least consider the thought. 

Tyson Foerster

Foerster reached the 20-goal mark in his first full NHL season and with an admitted defensive focus. He's 22. He's not going anywhere.

Morgan Frost

Frost might very well remain an enigma for as long as he's in Philadelphia. 

Right now, he's the Flyers' best offensive center, and this past season – especially after a talk with Tortorella following another scratching – he became a much more authoritative one through the middle of ice. But he'll be amazing for one week (usually when Arizona is near on the schedule) then go quiet for two.

His place on the team seems a lot more carved out than it previously was, but at the same time, "secure" probably isn't the word to describe it. 

The 25-year old has a spot in the lineup to lose heading toward camp, which is boosted by the Flyers' overall lack of center depth, but maybe that shouldn't prevent the team from seeing what other reasonable options might be out there.

Denis Gurianov

Brière took a flyer on Gurianov at the trade deadline in exchange for a fresh start for Wade Allison in Nashville. Once upon a time, Gurianov was a power play sharpshooter who looked to be a rising star in Dallas, but he fell off and got lost in the shuffle into Nashville's minor league team in Milwaukee. 

There was some hope that Gurianov might be able to re-discover his power play touch at a time when a woeful Flyers' unit badly needed any help it could get, but that idea was thrown out the window just as quickly as it was said out loud. 

Gurianov played four games for the Flyers then disappeared from the lineup entirely, and Brière even said after the season that it's unlikely he comes back. 

Garnet Hathaway

A veteran grinder who quickly established himself as a key presence in a developing locker room. He has another year on his deal at $2.375 million. There's a whole lot of low-cost benefit to keeping him around, so unless an extreme offer comes along, the Flyers should and probably will. 

Ryan Johansen

The Flyers took on Johansen as part of the Sean Walker deadline deal with Colorado but had no real plans for him. 

He passed through waivers and was assigned to Lehigh Valley in the AHL, but never played. 

Turns out he was hurt, to the point where it's uncertain if he'll be able to play anymore.

Said Brière on the matter during his exit interview with the media last month: "All I can tell you is I don't expect him to be back. I don't exactly know the situation. We're dealing on the medical side with him. I think the number one thing for him is to get him back to being able to play at this time. He doesn't think he can play hockey. Again, I wish I had a better answer for you, but we need to get him better to figure out if there's even a remote chance of him dressing for the organization at whatever level."

Johansen will be 32 in July and carries a cap hit of $4 million for one more season, though it seems highly doubtful that he'll ever put on a Flyers uniform. 

Olle Lycksell

Lycksell will be 25 in August and signed a two-year, two-way deal last summer. He's good for any extended call-ups from the AHL in a depth role if there's an opening, but it'll have to be seen over the next few months if he can earn a full-time spot. 

He'll more than likely be around, it's just in what way. 

Ryan Poehling

Poehling came in as a speedy, hard-checking center who quickly became a key piece to the Flyers' bottom-six and even saw time further up in the lineup late in the season. 

He was punching above his weight there on the top lines, but did so at a point when the Flyers were rapidly running out of gas in their playoff push and needed any kind of final spark. 

Poehling signed a two-year, $3.8 million extension at the end of January. Tortorella, Brière, and the rest of the front office are all pretty high on him. 

He should stay in the picture for a bit.

Owen Tippett

Tippett tapered off in the home stretch of the season – a lot of guys did – but he scored 28 goals to beat his previous career-high of 27 from the season before and just signed an eight-year, $49.6 million contract extension in January with the belief from the organization that he is only going to get better. 

He is also not going anywhere.

Forwards | Defensemen | Goaltenders

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