John Gove The Hockey Writers
Flyers Final Grades: Forwards Part 2
The 2015-16 season was a surprisingly impressive one for the Philadelphia Flyers. The men in orange and black finished in 5th place in the strong Metropolitan Division with a 41-27-14 record (96 points) which was good enough to enter the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the second and final wild-card team in the Eastern Conference.
Unfortunately, being awarded the second wild card spot meant a first round matchup with the Washington Capitals. Philadelphia did their best to stick with the Presidents’ Trophy winners but eventually was eliminated in Game 6.
The offseason is here which gives us the opportunity to look back and reflect on the season before we all turn into armchair general managers. I continue my evaluation of each member of the 2015-16 Flyers with part two of forward grades. Part one can be found here.
Michael Raffl (B-)
Raffl continued to prove that he is a valuable asset to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2015-2106. No, he is never going to post the flashy numbers but that is unnecessary from a bottom-six forward such as Raffl. After only playing in 67 games in 2014-2015, the third year Flyer played in all 82 games this season, in which he recorded 13 goals and 18 assists. Raffl’s 31 points were a career high. In addition, he proved to not be a liability defensively with a plus/minus of nine on the year. Again, Raffl’s stats may not wow anyone but he is a solid and reliable member of this team.
Matt Read (C)
After only scoring eight goals last season, everyone was expecting a bounceback year for Read in 2015-16. Unfortunately, that was not the case as he only managed to put the puck in the net on 11 occasions. Read’s 26 points this season were disappointing, to say the least, and at 29-years-old, it is safe to say that he is not the type of forward we are ever going to expect big numbers from. Still, Read was able to contribute a strong defensive effort and was one of the better possession forwards on the team.
Scott Laughton (C)
The Flyers’ 2012 first round draft pick 71 games this season. That was 40 more than the prior season. In Laughton’s first “full” season in the National Hockey League, he managed to score seven goals and add 14 assists. He is still developing his game as professional and those numbers will hopefully improve as the 21-year-old continues to progress. Laughton proved to be a reliable-enough depth forward this season but I hope to see his role on the team increase in time.
Ryan White (C+)
White demonstrated this season that he is the epitome of old school Philadelphia Flyers hockey. He’s a high-energy forward that is in the opposition’s face throughout a game’s entirety. Of course, White’s 208 hits and time spent in the penalty box are what most people will use to define his season. However, the second-year Flyer also managed to score 11 goals this season.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (C)
Bellemare had another solid season as a bottom-six forward for the Flyers. His seven goals and seven assists were an improvement from last season’s six goals and six assists. Offensive production is not in Bellemare’s wheelhouse so nobody was expecting crazy numbers. He played well on the penalty kill and did a good job filling his role on the team.
Chris VandeVelde (C)
For the most part, you can apply what was written about Bellemare and apply it here. VandeVelde was effective in his role for the Flyers this season.
Nick Cousins (C+)
The former third round pick from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft played in 36 games for Philadelphia this season. In his time with the Flyers, Cousins demonstrated some signs of promise. He scored six goals on 41 shots and added five assists to his name as well. Cousins knocked some people around with 38 hits and managed to stay out of the penalty box for the most part. Time will tell how effective the youngster will be for Philadelphia but 2015-2016 was certainly a step in the right direction.
Sam Gagner (C-)
Gagner’s 2015-2016 season with the Flyers was an interesting one. Expectations were not very high when he was acquired from Arizona and many people viewed him as your typical low-risk/high-reward situation. For most of the season, Gagner was not effective. However, he did show some signs of being a reliable forward towards the end of the season. Gagner’s point total was low (16) and the Flyers desperately were in need of more scoring. I find it extremely unlikely that he is back with the team next season.
R.J. Umberger (F-)
If there were a lower grade than an F available, Umberger would deserve it. Since joining the Flyers, he has been a major disappointment. The guy managed a measly two goals in 39 games this year and will hopefully be bought out by the Flyers this offseason.
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