Flyers

5 Flyers takeaways: Why Brian Elliott is back, what could be next, more

5 Flyers takeaways: Why Brian Elliott is back, what could be next, more

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers continued their busy roster construction with the re-signing of goalie Brian Elliott on Wednesday afternoon to nail down the team's backup for Carter Hart in 2019-20.

General manager Chuck Fletcher has made things happen, while the start of the July 1 free agency period has yet to arrive.

With that said, let's get into five takeaways on the recent developments with the Flyers:

1. Good for the Hart?

The Flyers did their homework in search for a backup goaltender. After exhausting and analyzing all avenues, they were confident with bringing back Elliott, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent.

"We took full advantage of the shopping period, as I believe he did, too," Fletcher said Wednesday at Flyers Skate Zone. "We spoke to quite a few goaltenders this week, quite a few agents for goaltenders this week. We did a lot of due diligence looking into everyone's background, medical histories and stats — everything we can do."

Fletcher said the Flyers talked "extensively" to both Elliott and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Cam Talbot. Ultimately, Talbot indicated to the Flyers that he was "looking for a situation where he felt he might play a little bit more than what he anticipated playing here," Fletcher said.

As we wrote here, Elliott was a cost-effective, internal option for the Flyers. Does his recent injury history make the decision a risk? Absolutely, but Fletcher noted how Elliott finished the 2018-19 season healthy and said the 34-year-old feels "the best he's felt in a while" since his core muscle issues.

He has a full summer of training. He's not just rehabbing, he's training.

At the end of the day, we know Brian as well as, if not better than, everybody — we know his medical history, we know how he fits in the room, we know how he fits with Carter and we know how well he plays.

He takes care of himself, he's a high-end competitor and he's a good teammate. For us, it made a lot of sense.

2. Net gains

Elliott is competitive and will push Hart for playing time. Given Talbot was eyeing more starts elsewhere, it's clear Elliott was receptive to the situation with the Flyers: Hart is the guy. It doesn't mean Elliott won't be needed. After all, Hart will be only 21 years old and in his first full NHL season, while the Flyers have 17 back-to-back sets on their schedule.

"I anticipate both guys playing," Fletcher said. "I think the days of a 65- to 70-game goaltender are probably gone. Somewhere in the 30-to-50 range for each guy … it'll depend on performance, health and schedule."

If the Flyers can get 30 games out of Elliott, they'd take it. Even after he missed a 40-game stretch last season with a lower-body injury, Elliott still managed to play 26 games.

3. Placing Pitlick

The Flyers on Monday acquired forward Tyler Pitlick in a trade with the Stars.

How does the 27-year-old work into the team's plans?

"He's been mainly a bottom-six player," Fletcher said. "He's played the third line, he's the played fourth line, he brings good size, he's a good skater. Has a pretty consistent north-south, physical game. Brings a lot of energy. Shoots the puck pretty well, he can certainly score a goal, but his bread and butter is that puck pressure, forechecking type of game. The size and the speed fit well with what we want to try to create in terms of our bottom six."

The Flyers definitely want to be tougher to play against and Pitlick should help. If anything, he gives Alain Vigneault and the coaching staff another piece. Moving Ryan Hartman in the deal offered the Flyers a bit more cost certainty with the cap and signing their restricted free agents.

4. More to come?

Are the Flyers done adding? Not necessarily.

The club has around $16 million in cap space if Philippe Myers makes the roster over David Schlemko. Fletcher still needs to sign four restricted free agents in Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Scott Laughton and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

"We have plenty of cap space to bring our players back," Fletcher said. "Whether we have enough to go add another player, I'm not sure about that."

With the way the offseason has gone, don't ever rule out a trade. But it sounds like if the Flyers are seeking anything else, it will come in the form of depth at forward.

"We feel we've made some key additions, we've filled some holes and we have some pretty good young kids coming, too," Fletcher said. "I think our depth will be significantly better and hopefully on July 1 and 2, we'll have some more announcements to make on some players that can come in and help our organization — whether it's in Lehigh Valley or Philadelphia. I think we'll be in a good space in having good players and having sufficient depth."

5. A kid's game

Fletcher has not ruled out a prospect taking a job within the group of forwards. That, along with the cap, are reasons for why the Flyers don't appear overly eager to land a high-end forward before training camp.

Some prospects that could potentially fill out the Flyers' lineup: Aube-Kubel, Carsen Twarynski, Mikhail Vorobyev, Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost and Isaac Ratcliffe.

"We have five real good wingers — certainly better wingers than any team I've been a part of," Fletcher said. "To me, that wasn't an area of weakness. But we'll see. We'll also see what comes out of training camp. Just watching this development camp, there are a lot of young kids, and ideally they all get some time in the American league, but there's a lot of high-end talent here.

"It's been impressive to see. Our scouting staff has done a tremendous job. This is the most talent I've seen in a development camp in my whatever number of years I've been in the business — both in terms of quality and quantity and every position.

"At some point, there are certainly players in this camp right now that could impact our roster in a positive way."

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Flyers weekly observations: Something to think about with Alain Vigneault's system

Flyers weekly observations: Something to think about with Alain Vigneault's system

The Flyers went to the shootout two more times this week and stomached an 0-1-2 stretch punctuated by Saturday night's brutal collapse against the Islanders.

Twenty games into the 2019-20 season and the Flyers (10-6-4) are a complex group. Despite improvements under a new coaching staff with some new personnel, they are still the tough-to-predict Flyers.

Let's get into that and more with our weekly observations:

• When head coach Alain Vigneault's system is at its apex, all four lines are making an impact. Setting up shop in the offensive zone requires constant effort. The hard-on-the-attack, get-after-it premise can be taxing, so balance through the lineup is vital.

The Flyers haven't had that and their record reflects it. So, too, does their failure to close games. It's very possible they're running out of gas in the final 20 minutes.

The sharing of ice time can also lead to a style not conducive for high-volume individual point production. When everyone is going, the minutes and scoring can spread out.

Through 20 games, the production is down for Claude Giroux (13 points), Jakub Voracek (13), James van Riemsdyk (nine) and Kevin Hayes (seven). The Flyers don't need career years from those four; that probably wasn't going to happen. But the Flyers do need them for better balance or this team will have a difficult time finding consistency in Vigneault's system.

• On top of the way the Flyers want to play, their schedule hasn't been favorable — all of which could be having a negative effect on delivering knockout punches.

After playing in four different countries from Sept. 30 through October, the Flyers are in the midst of playing 16 games during November. They've already played five back-to-back sets out of 17 this season. In the second game of such situations, the Flyers are 1-2-2 and giving up 3.8 goals per game.

The Flyers have gone to the shootout seven times compared to just four times all of last season. Suddenly the start of games isn't an issue but instead finishing them has caused concerns.

Over the Flyers' last six games, they've been outscored 7-1 in the third period. Five of those six games have gone past regulation and at least three didn't have to.

“Not knowing exactly what we had to work with, I believe that we’re a work in progress and I really believe that we have steps forward to make," Vigneault said before Saturday night's game. "We’re not where I want this team to be, we’re not where I know our team wants to be. But we’re in a good place. We’re right there with a lot of good teams battling.”

• It's obvious by his faceoff work that Sean Couturier is still dealing with a shoulder strain.

The 26-year-old is one of the NHL's best in the dot but lost 12 of 13 faceoffs taken over three games this week. Last season, Couturier had 21 games in which he won at least 12 faceoffs.

He's clearly not the same guy in the circle. However, the injury hasn't stopped him from recording 10 points (four goals, six assists) and a plus-6 mark in his last 10 games.

“I feel better and better every day," he said Tuesday. "It’s more of don’t want to get it worse, want to heal it properly, don’t want it to last all year.”

The left-handed Couturier has limited his number of faceoffs and has even tried taking them right-handed.

“It’s something he’s worked on and it’s something that is pain-free for him," Vigneault said. "He does try it now or then. If the centerman gets kicked out, he’ll go in and try to win them on the side that doesn’t hurt. I hope he’s getting close because we need him to take draws.”

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Yikes! Flyers choke away 3-0 third-period lead for shootout loss to Islanders

Yikes! Flyers choke away 3-0 third-period lead for shootout loss to Islanders

BOX SCORE

The Flyers choked away a 3-0 third-period lead Saturday night en route to a crushing 4-3 shootout loss at the hands of the Islanders.

The aftermath: an ugly and lost weekend.

Returning home to the Wells Fargo Center, head coach Alain Vigneault's team was in prime position to secure a noteworthy win following a befuddling letdown in Ottawa the night prior.

The Flyers wilted, though, in the final stanza, wasting away an opportunity for a quality win within the division. The Flyers (10-6-4) have lost three straight and gone to the shootout seven times this season because of blown leads and an inability to finish games.

After scoring two goals over their last two games, both losses, the Flyers were able to put up three on New York through two periods. The Islanders entered allowing the NHL's fewest goals per game at 2.29.

If only the Flyers kept their foot on the gas.

Give credit to the Islanders (14-3-1) for storming back and extending their point streak to 14 games (13-0-1). They took advantage of a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty in the third period and completely had the Flyers on their heels.

• The Flyers are at the 20-game mark and this was not how they wanted to reach it. While they look different this season, they are still maddeningly inconsistent at times.

Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, James van Riemsdyk and Kevin Hayes went scoreless against New York.

It's a good thing when others are producing, but the Flyers will need to get their big boys going with the others. It hasn't happened yet and the team's record reflects it.

• Brian Elliott came in and out of his crease quite often Saturday night. He had a weird game as he made some timely saves but fell flat in the third period.

That's when they really needed him.

• Oskar Lindblom has arguably been the Flyers' best forward 20 games into the year. The 23-year-old plays on both special teams units and has nine goals and seven assists.

Other NHL players with nine goals so far: Sebastian Aho, Filip Forsberg and Artemi Panarin.

Lindblom had a two-point effort Saturday, marking his third multi-point game of the season after having four all of last season.

He has run away with the opportunity given to him by Vigneault and company.

• The new line of Lindblom, Joel Farabee and Sean Couturier features plenty of intrigue.

The group opened the game's scoring just 1:38 into the action when Lindblom found Couturier, who had a two-point performance himself. The Flyers were 12-5-2 when Couturier had a multi-point game last season.

Lindblom, Couturier and Farabee combined for five points. It still wasn't enough, which is troubling.

• Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere have been flip-flopping on the first and second power play units. Provorov was moved off the first group in Friday night's 2-1 loss to the Senators.

"Provy started off, he had three turnovers in the first 10 minutes, made a switch," Vigneault said before Saturday night's game. "Ghost seemed to me that he was playing a little bit better. If you want to play, you’ve got to make the plays."

Provorov made one on the man advantage Saturday to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead in the opening frame. He has four goals and nine assists in 20 games. Last season, he had four goals and eight assists through 40 games. The addition of Matt Niskanen has been huge for the 22-year-old defenseman.

• A little over two hours before puck drop, Vigneault said the Flyers had lineup decisions to make regarding some players nursing minor injuries.

The club's full roster took warmups. Afterward, Philippe Myers and Carsen Twarynski were the scratches as Robert Hagg and Chris Stewart played in their spots.

It's uncertain why the Flyers went that route. Vigneault said postgame that both Myers and Twarynski were healthy.

Myers will be back in the lineup. The 22-year-old defenseman has been great with three goals, an assist and a plus-7 mark in eight games since being called up from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Twarynski, a 21-year-old forward, is in a more precarious spot with Scott Laughton (broken finger) nearing his return from long-term injured reserve. Laughton could be back as soon as next Saturday's game against the Flames.

• The Flyers rocked military appreciation jerseys during warmups.

• The Flyers are off Sunday and practice Monday at 11:30 a.m. in Voorhees, New Jersey, before traveling to Florida for a matchup Tuesday with Joel Quenneville's Panthers (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

 

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