Paul Holmgren and the Philadelphia Flyers have moved quickly late in this summer, using some of that money that they saved when they missed out on Shea Weber to extend the contracts of some of their key players around the lineup.
Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell are the two beneficiaries of the free cash, as both have signed new contract extensions in the past couple weeks. But as Holmgren and the Flyers move to sign the two, the question should certainly be asked as to whether or not there is actually a core group for this team.
Obviously any discussion about a core begins with Claude Giroux. He’s one of the game’s rising stars and should be a force in this league for years to come. He’s the centerpiece of this team and will be the player to build around. But after Giroux, where are the core players for this team?
Beyond Giroux, there aren’t exactly a wealth of candidates. There are some young players on this team, Sean Couturier and Matt Read in particular, that were very impressive last season but have a bit of a ways to go before they really establish themselves in the NHL.
Of those that could be considered “core” players for this team, almost all of them reside on the forward lines for now. Defensively, you could throw Kimmo Timonen in the discussion, but he’s very near the end of his career. Outside of him, the Flyers are still looking for someone to be “that guy” on the blue line, which is why they made such a big run at Weber.
So who could be mentioned in the same sentence as Giroux as a core member of this team? Scott Hartnell has put up some numbers the past few seasons that could have him in the discussion and now he has the contract to back it up. Wayne Simmonds still has a ways to go in his already impressive game. Jakub Voracek is a guy that could end up being a very, very good player within the next couple of years. And then you have Brayden Schenn, who certainly has the potential to be a mainstay in the middle for this team.
Overall, it’s difficult to decide whether or not this team has a set group of guys they are trying to build around. There are some names in there, to be sure, but it may be a bit before we actually see an actual core established with this team.