Fearless forecast for the Flyers' 2022-23 season


The John Tortorella era of Flyers hockey kicks off Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

With the veteran head coach behind the bench, the Flyers open the 2022-23 season against the Devils (7 p.m. ET/ESPN+, Hulu).

Tortorella will begin his attempt at turning around the franchise, which has missed the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 1992-93 and 1993-94. The Flyers went 25-46-11 last season. Now it's Tortorella time.

"There are high expectations put on the players by the coaching staff each and every day in how we play," Tortorella said Wednesday. "I'm not going to go on a media tour and talk about, 'We're going to be this, we're going to be that.' Because first of all, I don't know. And I think it's wrong for the coach to do it, especially this coach, because I just believe deeply I'm taking it one day at a time."

Here's our Flyers Fearless Forecast, featuring projections for how the team will finish and a random assortment of bold predictions from NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jordan Hall and Joe Fordyce.



Flyers prediction/Cup prediction

Tortorella will definitely make his imprint. He has a track record of getting more out of less and is a team-concept kind of coach.

The Flyers will have to be a detail-oriented, outwork-you bunch if they want to be more competitive than last season.

"I think where this organization is right now, I think the small things need to be addressed, the minute things need to be addressed," Tortorella said a week ago. "Because I think we have to start there to create the proper foundation here. I do. I think there's sloppiness here, and when there's sloppiness, you have to start over. It's a new staff, we're starting over. The smallest little things I'm looking for, because I think those things turn into a bigger thing. It's a disease sometimes. That's how we're going about it."

This is very much a transitional year for the organization. Everything that could go wrong last season, went wrong for the Flyers. They were a 61-point team in 2021-22. One would think there's a solid chance they have some better fortune this season. With a new coaching staff, some more youth and better luck, let's say they finish with around 73-75 points.

We're predicting the Flyers to miss the playoffs for a third straight season, but this year doesn't have to be about that. Tortorella himself is being realistic about that. The franchise's focus should be making progress — figuring out what it has, developing players and building it up from there. And if the Flyers surprise, they'll have every right to remind folks.

As for the Stanley Cup prediction, the Avalanche are built to repeat. They'll knock off the Hurricanes in a fun Cup Final.

Stating his Cates

This is pretty bold, but what's a fearless forecast without fearlessness? How about Noah Cates scoring 20 goals?

There's a very good shot he doesn't hit that number. His effectiveness won't be judged on goals.

But he just seems to do everything right. He works hard for his chances and that could blossom into opportunistic scoring.

Management loves the kid and Tortorella really likes him, too.

A full season of the 23-year-old Cates in the lineup and that kind of goal production would be an extremely positive development for the Flyers.

Power outage

Maybe this isn't too bold given the Flyers had an NHL-worst 12.6 power play percentage last season, but their man advantage could really struggle again.

There's a new coach (Rocky Thompson) and different personnel, which will cause growing pains on the power play.

This team will have to be defensive, so expect the man advantage to go through its battles. It's always the power play in Philly, right? 



Flyers prediction/Cup prediction

The Flyers will miss the playoffs for a third consecutive season, but with Tortorella's direction, they won’t be the worst team in the Eastern Conference (more on that below).

When looking at the league as a whole, last year I predicted the Maple Leafs to reach the Stanley Cup Final against the Avalanche. The Colorado part came through, but Toronto is still Cup-less since the 1960s.

For this season, I’m going with another team north of the border, the Oilers, who at some point have to cash in on having Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the same team. I see Edmonton facing the Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final. Looking at the Rangers, they have top-end talent when it comes to scoring and are strong on the blue line with the dynamic former Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox leading the way.

Don’t @ me Flyers fans, but I see the Rangers winning the Stanley Cup.  

Progress will happen

I think this will be a building year for the Flyers. The on-ice product will look better than the offseason comments on social media and the roster on paper. After all, it is a Tortorella-led team, and his teams are always competitive.

I believe there will be some bumps in the road, particularly with a few of the team’s veterans potentially clashing with Tortorella's coaching style at different points during the season. But in the end, they'll benefit from their new coach’s approach. 

Helping Hart

I think Carter Hart will benefit from Tortorella’s defensive style, making it easier on the goaltender. And I think the addition of Tony DeAngelo will at least help alleviate the sting provided by the absence yet again of Ryan Ellis, who is expected to miss the season.

The coach, the players and the front office haven’t minced words. There’s some work to do here, and while it could be a slow process, I do think this season will provide some building blocks.

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