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Tippett’s 2022-23 “Prove-It” Season Going Off Without a Hitch

(Heather Barry Images, LLC)

The Claude Giroux saga last season was lengthy, and the initial reaction to the trade was poor because it didn’t seem like the Philadelphia Flyers had recouped much of anything in the deal.

The longest tenured captain who played 1,000 games on the dot for the franchise, while also being at or near the top of almost every single statistical category in franchise history, who was still playing at an elite level as well should’ve fetched more than a third-round pick the following year, a first-round pick 2 years down the road, and a former first-round pick who had yet to make his mark with the NHL club. The Flyers were handcuffed due to the no-movement clause that Giroux held, and it was reported that he was unwilling to budge from his preferred destination in Florida. The Panthers definitely used that as a leverage tool knowing the Flyers didn’t have a plan B, which lessened the package ever so slightly.

Giroux performed very well with the Panthers where he recorded 20 assists and 23 points in just 18 regular season games, while also chipping in with 3 goals and 8 points in 10 postseason appearances before bowing out to in-state rival Tampa Bay. The Panthers traded 2 first-round picks, a third-round pick, a fourth-round pick, and 2 prospects in exchange for a quick postseason exit after finally winning the Presidents’ Trophy. Owen Tippett, on the other hand, played in 21 of his 63 games with the Flyers, scored 4 goals and 7 points, fired 53 shots on goal, and averaged almost 3 more minutes of ice time per game with the Flyers at 15:12. The Flyers were very pleased and intrigued by his performance and while he didn’t get the puck luck that would’ve made the acquisition initially that much better, the opportunities were there and ripe for the taking.

As an impending RFA, the Flyers didn’t have any issues in re-upping Tippett and he signed a 2-year contract worth $1.5 million per season. Both he and Morgan Frost signed prove-it deals with their short careers reaching that penultimate moment. The thing that worked most in his favour was that he was only 23 years old at the time of the deal and the Flyers were working on building around a core of players under the age of 25. Due to the fact that he was traded for Claude Giroux and the fact that that piece of information would hang over him for quite some time, he became a building block for the present and future.

Without Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson to start the season, Joel Farabee trying to quickly regain his form after offseason surgery, and John Tortorella looking for someone to step up offensively, Tippett started the season with a little bit of a chip on his shoulders. He had 6 goals and 10 points through his first 13 games, 38 shots on goal for a percentage of a 15.8 success rate, and 16 minutes of ice time – if you take out the season opener where he only played 4:20 due to injury, that number jumps up to 18:03. He missed 2 weeks due to a concussion, but he came back firing on all cylinders and was rewarded with plenty of ice time and extra opportunities.

As has been the case for most players on the Flyers, there are moments within the season where you can easily pick out when the team was doing very well versus performing poorly. Tippett then went 8 games without recording a point, before scoring 7 goals and 14 points in his following 18 – in December-January when the Flyers picked things up – and then has since sagged back with the rest of the team with 4 goals in his last 18 games. He’s not the only one who has struggled with teammates like Joel Farabee, Travis Konecny, Morgan Frost, James van Riemsdyk, and Scott Laughton all suffering during the same period.

Overall, Tippett has had a good season, has smashed all his previous career-highs, and should be a focal point with the season coming to an end. He has 17 goals and 32 points through 56 games, with his previous highs being 10 goals and 21 points in 63 games. He is averaging 16:11 of ice time on the season compared to the 13:25 he played in a combined 63 games last year, has 149 shots which is already 23 more than last season, has attempted 271 shots which is 58 more than his previous high, and is converting at an 11.4% clip compared to his 2020-21 high of 8.1%.

Tippett has also not shied away from using his body with 97 hits, and he also has 31 takeaways which is 2nd best on the team behind Noah Cates. His CF% of 49.2 is 7th-highest behind James van Riemsdyk, Elliot Desnoyers, Kevin Hayes, Lukas Sedlak, Travis Konecny, and Cam York, and his FF% is 10th-highest but Desnoyers (1 game), Sedlak (27 games), Max Willman (9 games), and Kieffer Bellows (17 games) are above his 49.8%. Offensively, he’s been a sparkplug when on the ice, he has an eye for the net, and the Flyers seemingly finally have a shoot-first player in their midst.

Tippett has formed a good relationship with his head coach, he’s being trusted with more ice time, and with Konecny out of the lineup with an upper-body injury coupled with Farabee struggling to make inroads at the moment, Tortorella will be – and has been – leaning on Tippett more and more. He played 20:02 against the Edmonton Oilers where he scored a goal and would have scored the go-ahead goal in the third period were he not robbed by Stuart Skinner. He also played 18:54 the game before against the Calgary Flames.

He’s making the most out of his opportunities and Chuck Fletcher has gotten himself a steal – the first time you can really say that – with Tippett only affecting the salary cap by $1.5 million.

– All stats used are courtesy of Hockey Reference

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