5 Flyers takeaways: Kevin Hayes, 2019 NHL draft, trades, more

5 Flyers takeaways: Kevin Hayes, 2019 NHL draft, trades, more

VOORHEES, N.J. — Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant general manager Brent Flahr addressed the media Monday morning ahead of the June 21-22 NHL entry draft.

Much more than the draft was discussed.

Let's get into five takeaways from the gathering:

1. What to say about Hayes

Fletcher said there was no update on the Flyers' negotiations with soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Kevin Hayes, who they acquired in a trade last week (see story). Hayes has not visited Philadelphia yet but Fletcher said they're "hoping to get together here in the near future."

"I've had some good preliminary conversations with Kevin and his representation," Fletcher said. "This week, I expect to follow up with Kevin and his camp and we'll see where it goes. I don't know how to characterize it other than we've had good conversations and we're hopeful we can find a way to make something work."

The Flyers are in a strong spot. They can present their sales pitch before any other clubs have the chance to and they "have more cap space than most teams," as Fletcher said. Hayes is a Northeast guy (he's from Dorchester, Massachusetts) and his former coach from 2014-18 with the Rangers is now the Flyers' bench boss.

There's a lot to like and the Flyers know it. Now, they're ahead of the game.

"I don't have a vibe other than he's certainly open-minded," Fletcher said. "You have to remember, it's also two or three weeks away from getting to July 1. That's a nice status to attain in this league. Certainly he's earned that right and we're respectful of that, but I think we have a lot to offer here in Philly. We'll continue to speak to him and he's open-minded to conversations, or at least that's what his camp has said to us and obviously we have strong interest in him."

2. Draft philosophy

With the 11th overall pick in the draft, the Flyers will take the best player available and the most upside. However, Flahr did mention the Flyers would like to replenish at defensemen.

The 2019 draft is heavy with forwards, which could allow some of the crop's top blueliners to drop to the Flyers. This draft also has good depth and the Flyers have nine picks.

"We have some young defensemen that are in the NHL right now and a couple coming, but we'd probably like to add defensemen depth to our organization going forward," Flahr said. "Whether that's at 11 or in the second or third rounds, we'll see. But if the best player is a left winger, we'll address that. Centermen are hard to get and if they're there, typically they don't last very long in the first round, the top ones anyway. We'll see how it plays out and we'll go from there."

Some of the draft's best defensemen are Bowen Byram (not likely to fall to the Flyers), Philip Broberg, Victor Soderstrom, Thomas Harley and Cam York.

"We have a couple of defensemen in our top 10 that we like," Flahr said.

"We've identified probably five or six guys that we think have a chance to be there at 11 and probably some of the other teams in front of us will dictate that. But we're really confident we're going to get a good player."

3. Trading No. 11?

Fletcher has a large focus on improving the Flyers now, so trading the No. 11 pick is definitely an option.

"It still may be a bit early," Fletcher said. "I've certainly mentioned it to teams that we're open to any concepts. There hasn't really been a big push for the pick at this point. As you get closer, things can change."

A ton can change, especially on draft night when talks heat up and teams have a clearer focus on what they want. Just think of the Brayden Schenn trade in 2017.

"If we keep our pick and stay at 11, we're going to get a really good player," Fletcher said. "It is a pretty good chip and in certain scenarios, I wouldn't hesitate to move it if it could really help our team."

What does Flahr think of dealing the first-rounder?

"It always hurts for me," he said with a laugh.

"If we're going to trade 11, it's going to be for a significant piece and it won't be a rental, it'll be a younger play realistically."

4. Feeling restricted?

It sounds like it could take some time for the Flyers to sign their restricted free agents as there's a bit of a stalemate across the NHL.

"It's an interesting market, I will say that," Fletcher said. "In fact, even looking around the league, there's been very few signings to date. It seems that market is becoming … a little bit more aggressively priced, I guess is the way to put it, based on the last couple of years."

The Flyers' RFAs are Scott Laughton, Travis Konecny, Ryan Hartman, Justin Bailey, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. Three of the most notables are Konecny, Provorov and Sanheim, younger players who could see bridge deals or longer-term contracts. That will all play into the length of negotiations and the Flyers' other avenues to improve.

"We've had good conversations with the representations for all of those players and we will meet with some agents at the draft in Vancouver a couple of those days and try to get together and talk," Fletcher said. "My sense is everybody [around the league] is kind of waiting for somebody else to do something. I don't think anything is going to happen quickly, but we're hopeful we'll get everything done."

5. Scout's honor

With Fletcher's arrival, he has not made changes to the Flyers' scouting staff. After all, the club has impressively rebuilt the farm system behind its efforts.

"I've been very, very impressed with the amateur scouting staff," Fletcher said. "It's a strong group, a lot of experience. We all recognize the way the game is going.

"There are differing opinions, there's not group think, guys challenge each other in the room and we work hard at the list and we've worked very hard the last couple weeks at the list."

Flahr, who worked for Fletcher in Minnesota, has had a rather smooth transition given he's known the staff from working in the field and with some members in the past. When it comes to the draft, Fletcher puts his trust in Flahr and the staff.

"Chuck's been good, he lets me make our decisions," Flahr said. "He has some input, but he doesn't get a lot of time to spend out there watching. He'll go watch the top guys sometimes and watch on video. But we have a good staff, an experienced staff.

"I was really happy with the meetings, you didn't have guys sitting on their hands with the new group coming in. We had lots of tough conversations and hopefully at the end of the day, we'll come to a list that we're happy with. But Chuck always lets us do our job."

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Flyers weren't kidding themselves about the process

Flyers weren't kidding themselves about the process

Maybe Alain Vigneault wanted to make a point.

That it’s not all about goals.

Philly is a results city and, ultimately, the NHL is a results business. But Vigneault firmly believes in the process behind the results. He will see past the goal tallies bolded in the box score — if the process is being grown and done right.

The Flyers’ head coach constantly refers to the process. It’s what matters most when he attempts to build a contender, especially in Year 1 with a new team.

The process, one would think, looked pretty good Monday night … right? 

Especially during a four-goal second period in which the Flyers blew open an eventual 6-2 win over the Golden Knights (see observations). After all, the Flyers had scored only four goals over their past two games, both lopsided losses.

But Vigneault had other thoughts. He wasn’t about to forget the meaning of the process. He could have easily said the goals came because the Flyers stuck to it.

He didn’t go there.

“We had some puck luck in the second, found a way to score four and got outstanding goaltending,” Vigneault said. “In my mind, that could have been our least effective period in the last eight. But we found a way to win that period, 4-0. Sometimes it works out that way.”

Found a way to score four goals? A least-effective period of four goals?

The Flyers were outshot by Vegas in the middle stanza, 18-13. Brian Elliott came up with monstrous saves as the Flyers permitted some Grade A chances to a dangerous Western Conference team. After the past two losses, the Flyers had mentioned that they expected to be on the positive end of fortunate wins, too — as in that’s hockey, teams can get outplayed and still come away with victories.

The Flyers scored only one goal in the first period Monday but outshot the Golden Knights, 15-7, and really got after them in the offensive zone. The Flyers would take that opening frame over their second period just about every time.

“We thought we played better in the games that we lost,” Michael Raffl said. “We got away from it in the second period a little bit. We’ve got to keep doing what we do and it’s going to work. At the end of the day, when you work like that and keep outshooting opponents, you’ll be on the better end of the game at the end most of the time.”

The Flyers had to practically defend themselves following back-to-back losses by a combined score of 10-4. The Flyers outshot the opposition, 91-38, but uneven defeats don’t sit well with fans, especially ones that have become accustomed to mediocre Octobers.

“Last two games, I know we didn't have the result we wanted, we lost both games, but if you really look into the game, if you understand the game, you understand that we played great games,” Claude Giroux said after morning skate Monday.

The Flyers were OK admitting that they didn’t play their best game against Vegas.

Especially Vigneault.

He’ll be honest about the process — good or bad, no matter what the final score.

“In the second period, we scored four but I really believe that in our last eight periods, it could have been our least effective as far as going north-south a little bit quick, our puck management, making the right plays at the right time,” Vigneault said. “But when we didn’t do it the right way, we got big saves and when they made a mistake in that second period, we were able to make them pay, which we hadn’t been able to do for quite some time.”

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How's that for a breakthrough? Flyers catch fire and beat Golden Knights to snap losing streak

How's that for a breakthrough? Flyers catch fire and beat Golden Knights to snap losing streak


The Flyers felt they had dominated their last two games.

The scoreboard said otherwise.

On Monday night, the Flyers quashed the debate by ripping off five goals through the first two periods en route to an emphatic 6-2 win over the Golden Knights at the Wells Fargo Center.

The victory for the Flyers (3-3-1) put a four-game losing streak to bed as Travis Konecny, Kevin Hayes, Michael Raffl (two), Matt Niskanen and Oskar Lindblom all scored.

The Golden Knights (6-4-0) were coming off a shutout of the Penguins and their penalty kill was 33 for 35 on the season.

The Flyers impressively put up a six-spot on Vegas with two of the goals coming on the man advantage.

• Alain Vigneault’s team made a statement in the second period with four goals. Quite frankly, it needed to make a statement. Winning the shot battle is not a statement — putting up crooked numbers, though, speaks volumes (see story).

The Flyers had scored seven combined goals through the first and second periods this season. They weren’t giving up a ton, but they weren’t capitalizing, either.

This time, the Flyers did, and against a pretty good Western Conference contender.

Now it’s a matter of producing consistently.

• Let’s not forget how good Brian Elliott was against the Golden Knights. He converted big saves, many of which came before the score turned lopsided.

After the Flyers had yielded 10 goals in their previous two games, the 34-year-old picked up 33 stops. He has 76 saves on 81 shots in three career matchups with Vegas.

He could get the next game in Chicago.

Golden Knights backup Oscar Dansk had a rough outing.

• Joel Farabee, the 14th overall pick in the 2018 draft, made his anticipated NHL debut just five games into his pro career.

Last Saturday, Farabee’s mother, grandmother and older brother traveled from Cicero, New York (right outside of Syracuse) to watch his game at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

His mother Pam was back on the road Monday with Farabee’s father Dave to watch their son’s first NHL game at the Wells Fargo Center.

Farabee, a skilled and strategic goal-scoring winger, didn’t score but exhibited his sharp reads and angles to the puck. He gives the Flyers a flashy skill in the bottom six, a type of player who can make a play out of nothing.

• There has been no slowing down Konecny and Lindblom, who have been the Flyers’ two best players. The Flyers have desperately needed some of their promising youth to take big steps. So far, so good from the 22-year-old Konecny and 23-year-old Lindblom.

Konecny has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in seven games.

For some perspective on his start, the Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau has eight points (three goals, five assists) in 10 games so far.

With his two-point effort, Lindblom has four goals and six points in seven games. Last season, he scored four goals in his first 45 games. The Flyers have put Lindblom in a position that suits him well and he’s taking advantage of it.

• The Flyers’ defensemen were strong and a combined plus-6.

• The unsung Raffl notched his first two-goal game since March 15, 2016.

• Four of the Flyers’ next five games are on the road.

To begin the stretch, the Flyers visit the Blackhawks on Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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