https://www.nhl.com/news/philadelphi...?tid=282278696

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor



The 2018-19 NHL season begins Oct. 3. With training camps open, NHL.com is taking a look at the five keys, the inside scoop on roster questions, and the projected lines for all 31 teams. Today, the Philadelphia Flyers.

Coach: Dave Hakstol (third season)

Last season: 42-26-14; third place Metropolitan Division, lost to Pittsburgh Penguins in Eastern Conference First Round

5 KEYS
1. Finding a third-line center

Mikhail Vorobyev and Jordan Weal have emerged as the top contenders to fill the spot. Vorobyev, 21, had 29 points (nine goals, 20 assists) in 58 games with Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League in his first North American season and has been impressive during training camp.

"I didn't know what level he would be able to be at in camp on a consistent basis," coach Dave Hakstol told the Courier-Post. "Last year as a young player, this year, there's a lot of maturity in every part of his game."

Weal, 26, had 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 69 games last season. He has played the wing during his three seasons with the Flyers but is a natural center.

"When I'm in the middle of the ice, it seems like it's a little easier of a spot to create and make players around you better, and that's what I feel I do best," Weal said. "At the end of the day, [Hakstol] is going to make the call. But if I go out there and do what I can do, I think I'll be just fine."

2. Where does Simmonds fit?
Wayne Simmonds scored 24 goals despite a litany of injuries, including a pelvis tear before training camp last season that was surgically repaired after the season. The emergence of Travis Konecny on the top line likely bumps Simmonds to a third-line spot at 5-on-5, and the signing of forward James van Riemsdyk brings into question the 30-year-old's spot on the first power play. Simmonds also is entering the final season of his contract and has been mentioned in trade rumors. He maintains a loud voice in the locker room because of his work ethic, but his future with the organization is a question.

3. Patrick, take two
Nolan Patrick ended last season with 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in his final 33 regular-season games and a strong performance during the Stanley Cup Playoffs with two points (one goal, one assist) in six games. He's entering his second NHL season after his first surgery-free offseason since 2015, and the 20-year-old center is excited to get going.

"Obviously I want to start where I ended last year and keep building off that," he said.

Patrick likely will start the season on a line with van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek, and with good health a 60-point season is possible.

4. Improve the penalty kill
The Flyers were 29th in the NHL on the penalty kill last season (75.8 percent) but did little to address it during the offseason. General manager Ron Hextall said he's confident a full season with some tactical changes made late last season will improve the results. Philadelphia was 18th on the penalty kill after Feb. 22 (78.4 percent in 22 games).

"Internally our guys have got to get better," Hextall said. "That's the bottom line there."

5. The goalie question
Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth each had offseason surgery, but the expectation is they will be Philadelphia's goaltenders this season. But Neuvirth has a lower-body injury and is questionable to start the season. Alex Lyon, who played 11 games last season when Elliott and Neuvirth were injured, is out about three more weeks with a lower-body injury sustained Sept. 18. That could open a spot for top prospect Carter Hart, who has a .957 save percentage in three preseason games. The 20-year-old was expected to start the season with Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League but could have played himself into NHL consideration. Anthony Stolarz also is in the running. The 24-year-old played seven games with the Flyers in 2016-17 but missed most of last season because of a knee injury.



ROSTER RUNDOWN
Making the cut

Defenseman Philippe Myers could be ready for an NHL spot after an impressive first professional season with Lehigh Valley of the AHL last season. The 21-year-old had 21 points (five goals, 16 assists) and a plus-12 rating in 50 regular-season games, and seven points (four goals, three assists) in 13 AHL playoff games. He's big (6-foot-5, 210 pounds) and strong enough to handle opposing forwards and brings a needed right-handed shot.



Most intriguing addition
There's a welcome familiarity for the Flyers and van Riemsdyk, who signed a five-year contract July 1 to rejoin to the team that selected him with the No. 2 pick of the 2007 NHL Draft. Van Riemsdyk returns after six seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, capped by an NHL career-high 36 goals last season. Philadelphia was overly reliant on its top line of left wing Claude Giroux, center Sean Couturier and Konecny last season. A second line of van Riemsdyk, Patrick and Voracek has the potential to give the Flyers vastly improved scoring depth and create favorable matchups on the road.



Biggest potential surprise

Weal became a bit of a forgotten piece for the Flyers last season but has the chance to make a big impact if he can win the third-line center spot. He was a big offensive producer as a center in junior hockey and close to a point-per-game player as a center in four full AHL seasons (219 points in 255 games). He's getting the chance to play in the middle now, and if he can center an effective third line, likely with left wing Oskar Lindblom and Simmonds, it would give the Flyers the potential for three productive scoring lines.


Ready to break through
Defenseman Travis Sanheim began last season in the NHL but was sent to the AHL on Jan. 22 after he had five points (one goal, four assists) and was minus-10 in 35 games. He came back March 9 better prepared for the NHL and had five points (one goal, four assists) and a plus-4 rating in 14 games. He averaged 16:27 of ice time per game after being recalled, up from 15:31 prior to his demotion. The 22-year-old could open the season on the left side of the second defense pair and potentially see time on the second power play.


PROJECTED LINEUP
Claude Giroux -- Sean Couturier -- Travis Konecny

James van Riemsdyk -- Nolan Patrick -- Jakub Voracek

Oskar Lindblom -- Jordan Weal -- Wayne Simmonds

Scott Laughton -- Jori Lehtera -- Taylor Leier

Ivan Provorov -- Shayne Gostisbehere

Travis Sanheim -- Andrew MacDonald

Robert Hagg -- Radko Gudas

Brian Elliott

Anthony Stolarz