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How Young is the Flyers’ Defense, Really?

When John Tortorella talked to the media on September 21st, he spoke about the defense and while doing so insinuated the defense would be young heading into the 2023-2024 season.

With the regular season a week away, the defense seems pretty set. And it’s not very young. As of right now, here’s what the d-pairings will be to open up the season unless something crazy happens between now and October 12th.

Cam York (22 years old) – Rasmus Ristolainen (28 years old)

Marc Staal (36 years old) – Travis Sanheim (27 years old)

Nick Seeler (30 years old) – Sean Walker (28 years old)

Egor Zamula (23 years old)

That’s an average age of 27.7 years old.

Yeah, I get it. Andrae, Attard, and others should all receive 10+ games in the NHL throughout the season. But there are 82 games in an NHL season. What the hell are we doing with the 60+ games in which these kids aren’t playing? Every team has injuries. The Rangers don’t claim their defense core is super young because they had to bring up Zac Jones for a few games. And, wildly enough, their defense is even younger than ours… as a playoff team looking to compete for the Cup.

It’s just a little confusing. Yeah, Marc Staal brings veteran leadership and will definitely garner you a pick at the trade deadline. But, what? A 4th or 5th-round pick if we’re really lucky? Staal got traded to Detriot along with a 2021 2nd-round pick (Artem Grushnikov) from the Rangers in 2020 for…Future Considerations.

Granted, Staal had a $5.7m tag on him back in 2020, but still, what are you really expecting back for this guy exactly?

Having veteran leadership is nice, don’t get me wrong. I’m not questioning what a solid veteran player can bring to a young, rebuilding locker room like the Flyers. But what are Sean Couturier, Cam Atkinson, Scott Laughton, the entire projected fourth line, Sean Walker, and Nick Seeler here for? Those guys bring plenty of veteran leadership to surround the young guys with. We don’t need anymore? We’re not trying to win a cup here?

If it were me, Staal would be on a plane on his way to a playoff-hopeful team in the next coming days. Let’s not act like he is going to play his way into us getting more than a late-round pick for him this season. He’ll be in and out of the lineup for Zamula. And while, yeah, that is a young guy getting a look, why does it need to be revolving? Especially with Andrae in the shadows?

York – Ristolainen

Andrae/Zamula – Sanheim

Zamula/Andrae – Walker


Andrae will not play tonight but is still with the team. He won’t get another chance to go out there and impress Torts and company, so either they already have him penciled in (with a trick up their sleeve and I’m writing this for nothing) or you’re not playing young kids who have earned a spot out of camp because of Marc Staal.

It won’t be the end of the world for Emil to go back to the Phantoms and play on the top pair until he comes back up but it just seems like we’re delaying the inevitable here. “He’ll be back, no doubt”. Yeah, there’s no doubt because HE’S READY NOW.

And with Andrae in particular, he was playing in the SHL before the AHL. He’s already gone through the process of being a pro. Let’s not treat him like a kid coming straight out of juniors. If he’s ready, and he sure as hell looks ready, then don’t stall him for 36-year-old Marc freakin’ Staal.

Playing Marc Staal over Andrae, Zamula, or Ginning, especially after good camps from all three players is just blah for me. I’m sorry.

Torts did tell reporters not to necessarily assume that this is the opening night lineup per Charlie O’Connor on X, so maybe the plan of trading one of Staal or Seeler is happening but probably not.

It’ll be an interesting topic of conversation over the next few days in Flyers world, that’s for sure.

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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