Last Word On Hockey brings our Team of the Decade series. We will dive into the best player at each position this decade for every organization. The biggest and best at each position, with the most memorable moments in franchise history. Here is the Philadelphia Flyers decade lineup.
Philadelphia Flyers Decade Team
At first glance, The Philadelphia Flyers have not had the most successful decade. They marched to the Stanley Cup finals in 2010 only to lose to the Chicago Blackhawks. The following years would see massive overhaul, including a carousel of general managers entering the fold. Most recently, the Flyers hired Chuck Fletcher to guide the team.
Look past the base-level observations, however, and you will see that although the Flyers did not enjoy tons of team success this last decade, they did feature a number of high-quality players.
Left-Wing: Claude Giroux
Claude Giroux is an unheralded superstar of this generation. He is also incredibly versatile, and could slot in at any of the forward positions in this lineup. Some may doubt his credentials as one of the decade’s best players, but Giroux consistently produces at a high level. Of all the players in the NHL, Giroux is fourth in scoring during the 2010s with 741 points in 763 games.
The versatile forward serves as the captain for the Philadelphia Flyers and has since the retirement of their last captain (who we’ll get to later.) Giroux also regularly finds himself receiving Selke Trophy votes as a solid two-way player. Team success hasn’t followed Philadelphia in the Giroux era, but no other player could be considered the face of this franchise.
Centre: Sean Couturier
Much like Giroux, Sean Couturier flies under the radar around the league. After being drafted 8th overall in 2011, Couturier was initially a bit disappointing. The Flyers were patient with the young centre, which eventually paid off in spades. Couturier was always a good defender, earning Selke votes in every season but one of his career. The offensive side of his game lagged behind in the early years of this decade.
That would change, however, in 2017-18. The centre exploded for 31 goals, more than doubling his previous career high of 15. Couturier proved this was not an anomaly the next season with a 33-goal year. Best of all, his defence hasn’t suffered at all with the goal-scoring explosion. The new Sean Couturier is absolutely deserving of a spot on this Philadelphia Flyers decade team.
Right-Wing: Jakub Voracek
Along with Giroux, Jakub Voracek has been a constant and reliable scoring option for the Flyers throughout the entire decade. The skilled Czech forward arrived in Philadelphia in 2011-2012. Voracek was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2008-2009. The Blue Jackets gave up on Voracek after a few disappointing seasons and shipped him to Philadelphia.
Voracek blossomed into a scoring threat with the Flyers and has been a consistent contributor since. The forward has made just one all-star game and is unlikely to win any major awards, but that shouldn’t downplay his value. In 9 years with the Flyers, Voracek has registered 561 points in 674 games. Known primarily for his play-making acumen, the winger has put up more than 40 assists in six straight seasons.
Left-Defence: Chris Pronger
The Chris Pronger that played in Philadelphia never quite rose to the levels of dominance he showed in St. Louis or Anaheim. Pronger is hated by many for his rough and, at times, dirty play. This has lead to many not giving the player the credit he deserves as one of the most game-controlling players in history. Pronger controlled the puck, chipped in offensively and punished opposing players. There’s a reason that he’s the only defender since Bobby Orr to win the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.
Even a slightly diminished Chris Pronger still stands as the best defender to suit up in Philadelphia this decade. The Flyers acquired the rugged D-man in a blockbuster draft-day trade with the Anaheim Ducks. History repeated itself as the addition of Chris Pronger meant a Stanley Cup run for his new team. Pronger’s three final teams; Edmonton, Anaheim and Philadelphia, all made the Stanley Cup Finals in the defender’s first year with the team. The Ontario native put up 55 points in 82 games that season.
An unfortunate run of injuries would cut his career short. Pronger didn’t spend a long time in Philadelphia, only playing 165 games over three seasons. But just as he had been everywhere else, he was excellent.
Right-Defence: Kimmo Timonen
Thought not the most flashy player on this team, Kimmo Timonen was a solid defender during his 16 year career. 7 of those years were spent in Philadelphia, where Timonen played an important role on the Flyers’ blue line. During his time with the Flyers, Timonen scored more than 30 points in every season but one.
The Finnish defender also played a responsible defensive game. His solid two-way play was an important presence during the Flyers’ 2010 cup run. Though he didn’t raise the cup in Philadelphia, Timonen got dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015 where he finally won a championship ring. This spot goes to Timonen over Ivan Provorov because the Flyers’ talented young D-man just doesn’t have a long enough resume for this kind of team.
Goaltender: Steve Mason
Let’s be honest, the goal-tending position for the Philadelphia Flyers decade team does not have a deep pool of hopefuls. Michael Leighton had his best showing of his career in back-stopping the team to the 2010 Stanley Cup finals, but disappeared into obscurity shortly after. Ilya Bryzgalov was brought in to stabilize the Philadelphia net for the first time since Ron Hextall suited up in Philly. His time, however, is much more remembered for his out of this world (pun intended) quotes in the media.
Steve Mason arrived in Philadelphia after a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Mason enjoyed a historic rookie season in Columbus before flaming out there. The goaltender’s time with the Flyers coincided with a bit of a down period for the team, so it may be hard to remember that Steve Mason actually had some productive years in the orange-and-black. In his four full seasons with the Flyers, Mason never started less than 51 games. He also registered three seasons of above .916 save percentage goal-tending.
Mason was productive in Philadelphia. The Flyers’ new goalie, Carter Hart, looks to be even better. But like Provorov, his sample size just isn’t big enough yet.
Philadelphia Flyers Decade Honourable Mentions
Few players embody what it means to be a Philadelphia Flyer like Mike Richards. Richards was a tenacious defence-first centre that looked like a young star for the Flyers after being drafted in 2003. The centre rose to the captaincy in Philadelphia and raised his offensive game as well at the beginning of the decade.
Richards’ game put hard miles on his body, and he declined fairly quickly after being traded to the Los Angeles Kings. Still, Richards’ tenacity and abrasive nature endeared him to the Flyers’ faithful.
Shayne Gostisbehere is one of the most inconsistent players in the NHL. When he’s on though, the defender is one of the most electrifying blue-liners in the league. in 340 games with the Flyers, Gostisbehere has registered 199 points.
The Flyers may look to trade the D-man soon, but he at least deserves a mention on this list.