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March 08, 2023

Four reasons to watch the Flyers the rest of the way

Another disappointing season leaves the Flyers trying to see what they have for next year over the final few weeks.

Just when you thought the Flyers couldn't sink any lower, the Rangers come into town and their fans took over the Wells Fargo Center

And just when you thought it couldn't get any lower than that, a trade deadline where the Flyers stressed they were selling and trying to get younger passes, and they didn't really do much of either

At this point, after a decade of mediocrity, you'd think this team would be met with little more than apathy around town, but after the deadline passed, there was anger.

After the deadline, sports talk radio was leading with frustration over the Flyers, and that almost never happens. 

Then in a season ticket holder town hall over the weekend, fans showed up for it. They were not happy

Over the years, the organization – as far as the on-ice product goes – has given the city every last reason to not care about the Philadelphia Flyers, and yet people still clearly want to. 

But as the past couple of weeks has made clear, it's going to be a long time before any of that dedication feels worth it again.

That leaves everyone still following the team with 18 more games this season – following Tuesday night's 5-2 loss in Tampa – that aren't really going anywhere.

Still, there are a few things to watch out for heading into a summer that will hopefully, finally give a clear direction to where the Flyers are trying to go.

Term and timeline

As the deadline neared, Kevin Hayes' name popped up, Ivan Provorov's name popped up, and even Joel Farabee's name made it into the rumor mill. 

But these are all guys with terms that were always going to be hard to move midseason, or in Farabee's case, a rumored situation that the Flyers seemingly would much rather fix. 

Mainly with Hayes and Provrov, however, they'll each have one less year left on their contracts in the summer, making the idea of taking them on in a trade a bit more palatable to other teams. 

For Hayes, it's a matter of the Flyers wanting a younger roster and finally seeming to accept that they're staring down a rebuild – even if they don't want to call it that. And at age 30, it doesn't look like he'll fit that direction anymore.

For Provorov, he and the team have been rumored to be heading toward a breakup for a long time, going as far back as late last season. 

Now would be the time for both to put on a good showing to start finding possible suitors. 

Follow your Hart

It didn't often look like it, but Carter Hart has put in a pretty solid season so far. 

Starting 45 games, he has just a .908 save percentage but has looked way more fundamentally sound in goal compared to the previous two years. 

He's been taking away angles, fighting off rebounds into non-danger areas and – especially in bigger games like against New York last week – has shown off some incredible anticipation when high-powered offenses try to use their passing to get him stretched out post-to-post. 

Still just 24 years old, Hart is under contract for next season, but will the Flyers keep him in the fold beyond that? They do – head coach John Tortorella especially – like Samuel Ersson a lot, but at the same time, the team has been vocal at multiple points this season that Hart has been their best player. 

And more to Hart's end, would he want to spend the prime of his career in a rebuild?

Tippett's ceiling

The key return in the Claude Giroux trade late last season, Owen Tippett's progress has been one of the more pleasant surprises around the club. 

Finally afforded steady ice time and an opportunity to carve out a role in the NHL, the 24-year old winger quickly established a career year and was knocking on the door of the 20-goal mark with 18 heading into Tuesday night against the Lightning. 

Tippett already came in with a good shot and an innate ability to find open ice, which has more than paid off for him so far this season, but over this last stretch of games, Tortorella said Tuesday he'd like to see him use more of his power to drive the puck toward the net.

"I just like the progression that he's gone through," Tortorella said of Tippett's ceiling. "What he becomes, I'm not making any prediction. There's more there, more important, I think he thinks there's more there."

The pieces of tomorrow

Prospects Tyson Foerster, Elliot Desnoyers, Olle Lycksell, and Ersson are in Lehigh Valley right now to help the Phantoms in a playoff push and have made big strides this year while they've been up there. 

Last summer's No. 5 overall pick Cutter Gauthier, meanwhile, has 16 goals and 34 points in 30 games for Boston College and is nearing the end of his freshman season. He'll figure out what he wants to do next once the collegiate season is over, but a jump to the NHL could be on the table.

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