Hockey News picks Flyers 4th in East

The Hockey News picked the Flyers to finish in fourth place in the Eastern Conference this season. (David Maialetti / Staff File Photo)

Last summer, The Hockey News picked the Flyers to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1975.

After a shaky regular season, they fell just two wins short of proving that right.

Last week, the sport’s bible hit newsstands with its annual yearbook with predictions for the upcoming season with Mike Richards featured on the cover. But THN's outlook wasn't as rosy.

THN picked the Flyers to finish in 4th place in the Eastern Conference and for the Vancouver Canucks to win the Cup for the first time in the franchise’s 40 year history.

They see last year’s Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks also falling to 4th place in the West.

Here’s how they view the East, with last year’s standings in parenthesis:

1. Washington (1)
2. Pittsburgh (4)
3. Boston (6)
5. New Jersey (2)
6. Buffalo (3)
7. Tampa Bay (12)
8. Montreal (8)

9. Carolina (11)
10. Ottawa (5)
11. Atlanta (10)
12. Toronto (15)
13. New York Rangers (9)
14. New York Islanders (13)
15. Florida (14)

That doesn’t mean the Flyers don’t have a shot at winning the Cup, as their 7th place finish last year showed, but THN doesn’t group them among the elite: “Again, in picking the Canucks, we’re not saying that Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit and Washington have no chance to be the last franchise standing as of mid-June,” it reads.

THN also ranked the 50 best players in the NHL. Richards was ranked 23rd, a step up from 28th last season, and Chris Pronger jumped 7 spots from 23rd to 16th. Jeff Carter was left off the list. Sidney Crosby also swapped spots with Alex Ovechkin for No. 1 and No. 2. Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (2), Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews (5) and Lightning sensation Steven Stamkos (10) jumped into the Top 10 after not being ranked last season. Vincent Lecavalier slid from 12th to 50th.

Exactly 10 years ago, Pronger, then 25, was ranked the 4th best player in the game. Today, he holds the best ranking (4th to 16th) of the five players who are still active and on the list today: Nicklas Lidstrom (7th to 17th), Martin Brodeur (17th to 26th), Daniel Alfredsson (47th to 43rd), Lecavalier (48th to 50th).

The magazine called Pronger "one of the most valuable defensemen" and "by far the best sneaky-dirty player in the NHL." He played a combined 2,784:09 minutes last year, second only to Chicago's Duncan Keith.

In 2000-01, five Flyers were in the Top 50: John LeClair, Eric Lindros, Mark Recchi, Eric Desjardins and Keith Primeau. Other players who later came to Philly were Peter Forsberg, Tony Amonte and Derian Hatcher.

The Flyers open training camp on Sept. 17, their first preseason game is at the Wells Fargo Center on Sept. 21 and they will open the regular season on Oct. 7 in the first game at Pittsburgh’s new Consol Energy Center.

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