Matt Read

Matt Read clears waivers as Flyers' roster is set ... for now

Matt Read clears waivers as Flyers' roster is set ... for now

Updated: 3:12 p.m.

Maybe Matt Read hasn't seen his last days in a Flyers uniform.
 
The 31-year-old winger cleared waivers and was loaned to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley on Tuesday, as the Flyers are set with their 23-man roster ahead of Wednesday night's season opener in San Jose, California, against the Sharks.
 
The Flyers' waiving of Read on Monday was to open a spot for 23-year-old Taylor Leier, a 2012 fourth-round pick who impressed in the preseason with three points (two goals, one assist) in four games. Read, a veteran of six seasons — all with the Flyers — has not been able to rediscover his early success and is on the final year of a four-year, $14.5 million deal. With Read headed to the AHL, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Greg Paone has more on what it means monetarily for the Flyers right here.
 
But Read may be back soon. While the Flyers' roster is at the NHL-mandated 23, things could change once defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere's health is assured. Gostisbehere suffered an upper-body injury in last Sunday's preseason finale, forcing the Flyers to carry rookie defensemen Robert Hagg, Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim all to the West Coast, with eight overall blueliners on the roster. Gostisbehere took part in Tuesday's practice and said he's good to go for Wednesday.
 
General manager Ron Hextall will not keep his young prospects just to be extras. When the Flyers are completely confident in Gostisbehere's health, either Morin or Sanheim (the latter more likely) will be sent to the AHL, while a forward (very possibly Read) will be recalled.
 
Gostisbehere has not been placed on injured reserve, another sign that his issue is not overly serious and all three rookie defensemen are on board for safety measures.
 
Nonetheless, the roster is ready for now, as are the Flyers, who open the 2017-18 season with a four-game road trip.
 
Here's a look at the 23 players for opening night Wednesday and our best projection of the Game 1 lineup:
 
Forwards (13)
 
Sean Couturier
Valtteri Filppula
Claude Giroux
Travis Konecny
Scott Laughton
Jori Lehtera
Taylor Leier
Nolan Patrick
Michael Raffl
Wayne Simmonds
Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal
Dale Weise
 
Defensemen (8)

Shayne Gostisbehere
Radko Gudas
Robert Hagg
Andrew MacDonald
Brandon Manning
Sam Morin
Ivan Provorov
Travis Sanheim
 
Goalies (2)
 
Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth
 
Projected lineup
 
Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
 
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
 
Travis Konecny-Valtteri Filppula-Dale Weise
 
Michael Raffl-Scott Laughton-Taylor Leier
 
Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
 
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg
 
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas
 
Goalies
Michal Neuvirth
 
Brian Elliott
 
Scratches: Forward Jori Lehtera, and defensemen Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim.

Flyers waive Matt Read to reach final roster number

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Flyers waive Matt Read to reach final roster number

The mystery behind the Flyers' final cut before Wednesday's season opener in San Jose has been revealed.

And it's a surprise.

Matt Read, a six-year veteran who has spent his entire NHL career with the Flyers, was placed on waivers Monday. If he clears, he could be assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley.

That would trim the Flyers' final roster from 24 players to the mandated 23 players.

According to NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Boruk, Read was not in attendance at a mandatory Flyers corporate event Monday morning. Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg, Nolan Patrick and Taylor Leier were.

Those five rookies will be making the trip to San Jose.

Considering general manager Ron Hextall's penchant for trusting veterans rather than rushing younger players to the NHL before they could be ready, this move was on the unexpected side.

The 31-year-old Read, who signed with the Flyers as a college free agent out of Bemidji State prior to the 2011-12 season, has scored 86 goals and added 100 assists for 186 points in 418 games in an orange and black sweater. He also has four goals and four assists in 24 career playoff games.

He burst onto the scene and was a key component of Flyers teams from 2011-14, when he scored 57 goals during that stretch. His best season was his rookie year when he posted career highs in goals (24), assists (23) and points (47), all while playing substantial roles on both the Flyers' power-play and penalty-kill units.

Things started to go downhill in 2014-15 for Read. Known at the time for his speed, he suffered a high-ankle sprain at the start of the season and never truly rediscovered his burst. In the last three seasons, starting with 2014-15, Read has scored just 29 goals and found himself as a healthy scratch on more than one occasion.

Long story short, Read became expendable.

The 30 other NHL teams now have a chance to claim Read and take on his cap hit of $3.625 million for the rest of this season. His contract ends after this year.

If he goes unclaimed, Read could be assigned to Lehigh Valley, where he would provide the Flyers $1.025 million in cap relief. If that's the case, he still would count for $2.6 million on the Flyers' cap. It would be similar to the situation with Andrew MacDonald two seasons ago. MacDonald was eventually called up later in the season, and Read certainly could be this season.

If Read were to be stashed with the Phantoms, the Flyers would have approximately $2.424 million in cap space at this very moment, according to CapFriendly.com.

As for who remains on the team right now, this move likely means the 23-year-old Leier and 23-year-old Scott Laughton will take over the roles Read fit into with the chance to advance up the lineup.

Michael Raffl, Matt Read healthy and in shape, looking for rebound seasons

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Michael Raffl, Matt Read healthy and in shape, looking for rebound seasons

VOORHEES, N.J. — Their 20-goal seasons seem like an eternity ago, and now Matt Read and Michael Raffl are spending this year’s training camp trying to prove themselves all over again.

“A little bit, yeah,” Read said recently. “I try and tell myself every day to be the hardest-working guy out there, and move your feet as much as you can, win puck battles and the other things will come as we go. Just try and be in a lot better shape than I was, not that I was in bad shape, but just try and play a full game and every shift at a high pace. Just keep working hard and hopefully, things can turn around, opportunities will come, and you just got to bear down on them.

“You've got to have something inside you that drives you through the summer,” Raffl said. “You've got to have a goal in mind. I want to come to camp and be the fittest guy in here. That’s all I can do in terms of how I prepare, especially with last season and all the injuries. I don’t want another year like that.”

From the day Read arrived in 2011, he seized his opportunities by utilizing his speed and relying on his hardest-working-guy attitude. His 24 goals led all rookies and he finished fourth in Calder Trophy voting behind Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog, Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and New Jersey’s Adam Henrique as the league’s top rookie. Read was considered one of the Flyers' most productive even-strength forwards. You may be surprised to know, but during that stretch (2011-14), only Claude Giroux’s 49 and Jakub Voracek’s 47 even-strength goals topped Read’s three-year total of 46. 

Read was rewarded with a four-year, $14.5 million contract and he hasn’t been the same since suffering a high ankle sprain just a month into that new deal. Once the injury became publicized, every time Read went through a scoring drought, questions regarding the ankle would resurface, and yet, he never missed any significant time playing through pain.    

Two years after Read burst onto the scene, Raffl followed suit, earning a roster spot with the Flyers straight out of camp as another undrafted rookie. Raffl’s transition to the NHL was not nearly as impactful as Read’s, as he scored nine goals to go along with 22 points in his rookie season. However, Raffl found his niche during his sophomore season, scoring a career-high 21 goals playing on a line with Giroux and Voracek. The big-bodied Raffl quickly understood that to keep up with highly-skilled players, the best thing to do was crash the net and good things would happen. Like Read, Raffl also benefitted financially by inking a three-year, $7 million extension.

However, last season was Raffl’s worst in orange and black. He never felt right battling through an upper-body injury during the first month of the season and then missing the final six weeks after suffering an MCL sprain.

“I was banged up all the way through,” Raffl said. ”I had a long summer and a lot of time to work on some stuff. I feel fantastic out there right now.”

Both guys felt better when their cellphones went silent back in June as Vegas was composing its expansion roster. And even though Read and Raffl were left exposed, the Golden Knights selected Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Raffl clearly had no ambitions of continuing his career in Nevada.

"I like it here, I like where I’m at. I love Philadelphia,” Raffl said. “This is where I’ve signed for three years. I want to be here.” 

Read, on the other hand, had a more realistic and philosophical approach to the situation.

“It’s completely out of your hands,” Read said. “If it happened, it happened. If it doesn’t, you just come back to camp here and get ready for the season. If it’s out of your control, why worry about it, why fret about it? You just prepare yourself and it doesn’t matter if you’re there or you come back here. You just have to show up and be able to have a good season again. It’s out of your hands and I didn’t worry about it too much.”

Now Read and Raffl are back in the same dressing room and, for the first week of camp even, on the same line along with Scott Laughton. Together that trio proved to be a hard-checking line against Islanders superstar John Tavares, Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee in the preseason opener.

“Laughts brings a lot of speed to the middle and Raffy is obviously someone on the forecheck who separates a guy from the puck, and when he has the puck he usually does the right thing with it,” Read said. “It’s easy to play with those guys and we had fun. We had a lot of ice time. It’s a good way to start the preseason."

They may be together now, but one of those final roster spots could essentially come down to Read or Raffl.

Roster cuts
The Flyers reduced their roster by 18 players Thursday morning. Connor Bunnaman (Kitchener — OHL), Pascal Laberge (Victoriaville — QMJHL), Ivan Kosorenkov (Victoriaville — QMJHL), German Rubtsov (Chicoutimi — QMJHL) and Carter Hart (Everett — WHL) were returned to their junior teams.

Rubtsov, the Flyers' 2016 first-round pick, was returned to his junior team, rather than sent to the AHL for which he was eligible.

Forwards Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Radel Fazleev, Tyrell Goulbourne, Danick Martel, Carsen Twarynski, Mikhail Vorobyev, defensemen James de Haas, Mark Friedman, Maxim Lamarche, Phil Myers, Reece Wilcox, and goaltenders Leland Irving and John Muse were assigned to the Flyers' AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Flyers' training camp roster now stands at 36.

“Obviously, today there’s separation in terms of where we go from here in camp,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We still have a good number of players in camp. Today is the day when the competition starts to rise in terms of some of the tougher decisions that are coming down the road here.”

Tonight in the preseason game against the Bruins, Hakstol will be forced to dress nine players who suited up in the split-squad games against the Islanders, including Taylor Leier, who continues to make a strong push to make the opening night roster (see story).

“Taylor Leier will be back in the lineup tonight,” Hakstol said. “He’s coming off a really good performance last night. Those are the kind of performances and that’s the type of impact you want to see out of the young players who are working to make our hockey team.”

Here is tonight's roster: