Note: This will be a weekly feature, hopefully appearing on Monday mornings rather than Tuesdays, hitting on the biggest Philadelphia Flyers’ topics over the past week.
Sanheim Over Morin
In the first game of the regular season, coach Dave Hakstol decided to bench both Samuel Morin and Travis Sanheim in favor of Brandon Manning. Manning had an awful game and Hakstol made the wise choice to make a change.
In somewhat of a surprising twist, the third-year coach decided to insert Sanheim over Morin. Both had strong regular preseasons, but Morin seemed to have the inside track and is a year older.
Sanheim has played two games — the second much better than the first — and according to most reports will continue to play over Morin. The 6-foot-7 defensman is expected to be heading back to Lehigh Valley in the coming days:
Personally, I’m surprised that Sanheim is the one playing. I thought Morin had the better preseason and while Sanheim has the higher potential and even basement, I thought Morin was more ready now.
Sanheim could still work on defense in the AHL. Morin may be past many development steps at this stage.
But it’s nice to see that Manning is taking a seat to one of the young defensemen. Hopefully that’s a trend that continues to grow on the Flyers’ blue line.
Dale Weise Still In
Hakstol deserves credit for benching Manning, but there’s still necessary criticism directed at him regarding Dale Weise. The former Montreal Canadien has easily been the worst Flyers forward and even worse, he’s playing on the third line.
Playing with Weise is Travis Konecny and Valtteri Filppula or Nolan Patrick. Filppula may not be favored by every Flyers fan, but Weise is dragging down all three of those skilled players.
Weise has shown no offensive creativity and struggles with controlling breakout passes, stymieing the Flyers’ offense before it even leaves its own zone. As I said in his season preview, he seems to be a step behind in offensive instinct.
Hakstol played Weise just 64 games last season and the 29 year old didn’t have any serious injuries. For Philadelphia, hopefully Hakstol will go down that road sooner rather than later.
First Line Starting to Click
I really never thought the Flyers would move Claude Giroux to left wing so early. I thought the team would wait for Patrick to prove himself before giving him top six minutes.
I’m still not completely sure the rookie is ready for that, but the first line was created with offensive flair in mind. With Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek form the best offensive line the Flyers have seen in quite some time.
They had plenty of chances in the first two games, but it took until the third contest for the line to cash in. In the second period Saturday night, Voracek carried the puck behind the Anaheim Ducks’ net before making a backhand pass to Couturier in front of the net.
Couturier ripped a shot past John Gibson giving the 24 year old his first of the season. With the chances the line has been creating, it’s likely only the start for the trio.
Irving for Tokarski
The Flyers made their first trade of the season Monday, acquiring Dustin Tokarski from the Ducks for future considerations. In a separate deal, because Leland Irving is on an AHL contract, the Flyers/Phantoms sent Irving to the San Diego Gulls (the Ducks’ AHL affiliate) for future considerations. Essentially, it was Irving for Tokarski.
For the Flyers’ organization, Tokarski gives the Phantoms a more reliable backup and in the event of a Philly goaltender injury, a better replacement when Alex Lyon is recalled. With Michal Neuvirth one of the Flyers’ netminders, that’s a very real possibility.
This shouldn’t change the fact that Lyon is the first recall while Anthony Stolarz is injured, but if Tokarski’s name sounds familiar it’s because he played five games in the Eastern Conference finals for the Canadiens in 2014.
That gives the Phantoms some impressive goalie depth this season, even if Stolarz isn’t back until the stretch run in March or April, or if he doesn’t return at all.
For the Ducks, they had one too many AHL goalies and dealing Tokarski saves them one contract off the books.