Upgrading Flyers’ power play should be a high priority

Flyers general manager Daniel Briere

      Not many teams that finished in the bottom half of the NHL power play rankings made it to the Stanley Cup playoffs this spring.

      No one has to remind the Flyers. They completed the season dead last in the league at a mediocre 12.2 percent. That’s the worst success rate in team history.

      There is no statistic to tell us how many games the Flyers truly lost “because” they failed to score a power-play goal. But we do know Philadelphia did not score a goal with the man advantage an incredible 55 games out of 82.

      If that doesn’t set off alarms in the front office, we don’t know what will.

      How to fix it?

      Well, in the short term, it would appear to be a case of adding at least one player who can run the show from the point (like a Shayne Gostisbehere, for example) and someone of size, stature and skill (like a James van Riemsdyk) who can stand in front of a goaltender and take away his sightline, plus put back rebounds.

      The Flyers can add players either through a trade, the draft (June 28-29) or the free-agent signing period (starting July 1).

      Both general manager Daniel Briere and head coach John Tortorella acknowledged the team has to make improvements in this department if the Flyers have serious plans to end a four-year playoff drought.

      “We talked about it, we have to bring more talent into the organization,” Tortorella said last week. “That’s not blaming the players who are on the power play. We have to add talent to our team.

      “It cannot be as bad as it was this year with the people we had. We have to look at ourselves as an organization and we are.”

      Getting the power-play percentage back to a respectable number is high on everyone’s to-do list.

      “I think we need to have a discussion in our organization with our power play,” Tortorella said. “(Power play director) Rocky Thompson is one hell of a coach. He’s so frustrated. As the players are, we all are, with the power play.

      “I have a general manager who was one of the best power-play guys in the game. We’re going to sit as an organization with those people and just discuss it this summer. I think it’s a point of emphasis for us. We did a lot of work on the power play, it was just not good.”

      It’s not like the Flyers didn’t give everyone a chance to show what they could do on the power play. It was a rotating cast on the point. Even Egor Zamula spent some time in that position. It didn’t really matter.

      Briere could probably oversee the power play himself if he didn’t have to watch over the entire organization.

      “Obviously it’s not good enough,” he said. “It’s going to be an area that we’re going to focus on. I don’t know if it’s going to be done from the outside. It might have to be done with what we have. I don’t see anyone coming (internally) and making the jump to help us right away.

      “But we hope that guys like a Jamie Drysdale with another year under his belt – Owen Tippett, Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost. . .I hope these guys with another year under their belts can help out.”

      >Draft lottery just around the corner

      The National Hockey League announced the 2024 NHL Draft Lottery will be held on Tuesday, May 7, at NHL Network’s Secaucus, N.J., studio. The event will be broadcast on ESPN, Sportsnet and TVA Sports (time to be announced next week).

      The lottery will determine the order of selection for the first 16 picks in the first round of the draft. Participants are all teams that did not qualify for the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs (or the teams that have acquired the first-round drafting positions of those non-playoff teams).

      Also, the NHL announced changes to the draft lottery format on March 23, 2021. Among the changes in effect since 2022 is a limit on the total number of selections (10) a team participating in the draft lottery can “move up” in the event it wins one of the lottery draws. Thus, only the top 11 seeds will be eligible to receive the first overall selection in the 2024 NHL Draft.

      The allocation of odds for the first lottery draw of the 2024 draft lottery is as follows:

      Draft lottery participants (Fewest points to most)

      >Odds

San Jose Sharks: 18.5 percent.

Chicago Blackhawks: 13.5 percent.

Anaheim Ducks: 11.5 percent.

Columbus Blue Jackets: 9.5 percent.

Montreal Canadiens: 8.5 percent.

Utah: 7.5 percent.

Ottawa Senators: 6.5 percent.

Seattle Kraken: 6.0 percent.

Calgary Flames, 5.0 percent.

New Jersey Devils: 3.5 percent.

Buffalo Sabres: 3.0 percent.

FLYERS: 2.5 percent.

Minnesota Wild: 2.0 percent.

Pittsburgh Penguins: 1.5 percent.

Detroit Red Wings: 0.5 percent.

St. Louis Blues: 0.5 percent.

     According to the NHL, the odds for the remaining teams will increase on a proportionate basis for the second lottery draw, based on which team wins the first lottery draw.

     The 14 teams not selected in the 2024 NHL draft lottery will be assigned the remaining 2024 NHL Draft selections (among 1 through 16 in the first round), in inverse order of regular-season points.

     NHL Central Scouting has released its final rankings for the 2024 NHL Draft, where Boston University (Hockey East) forward Macklin Celebrini tops the list of North America-based skaters and Nizhny Novgorod (KHL) defenseman Anton Silayev leads all Europe-based skaters.

      >Lehigh Valley advances

      The Flyers have to be encouraged by the play of some of their prospects in the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ two-game sweep of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the best-of-three opening round of the AHL Calder Cup playoffs.

      Tortorella and Briere were in attendance to watch coach Ian Laperriere’s crew play some spirited hockey.

      Next up: The Hershey Bears in a best-of-seven match which gets underway Wednesday in Hershey.

 

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About Wayne Fish 2452 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.