Flyers

Analyzing Flyers' free-agent class, Part 1

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Analyzing Flyers' free-agent class, Part 1

While the hockey world awaits July 1 and the start of free agency, the Flyers are still looking to get their own house in order as they make the crucial financial decisions with a handful of restricted and unrestricted free agents. The organization has between now and the June 25 deadline to make qualifying offers to their RFAs.

We break down the Flyers’ free agents and their futures moving forward with Part 1 of our two-part series:

Valtteri Filppula (UFA)
Filppula simply doesn’t have the speed to keep up with the league’s younger, more skilled forwards. However, he proved he can still be a valuable asset on a penalty kill, a mentor to younger players and capable of that occasional big game (Game 5 vs. Penguins).

Comparable player: Tomas Plekanec, Maple Leafs
You have to think these two players will be watching to see what the other does when free agency starts on July 1. Both are in their mid-30s and play a very defensively-responsible game, while their offense has receded significantly over the past few years. Interested teams would be looking at both players as third or even fourth-line checking forwards.

Outlook: I’d be really surprised if the Flyers lock up Filppula before free agency starts. Filppula will be looking for a multi-year contract, which in all likelihood would be the last contract he signs. The Flyers can afford to wait out the situation and sign him to a more team-friendly one-year deal that would be at a 50-75 percent reduction over his most recent $5 million cap hit. 

Robert Hagg (RFA)
Hagg surprised many by earning a full-time role with the Flyers straight out of camp. A bruising defenseman who’s a good complement to a more offensive-minded blueliner, although he can be sneaky offensively as well. Hagg’s game tailed off over the second half of the season, but as a rookie, that’s not uncommon. Expect Hagg to bounce back in Year 2. 

Comparable player: Derek Forbort, Kings
Forbort plays a similar game to Hagg, although not quite as punishing with his checks and hits along the boards. Over the past two seasons, Forbort averaged just over 20 minutes per game for the Kings, who have considerably more depth on their blue line. Forbort signed a two-year RFA deal after seeing action in 14 games as a rookie.  

Outlook: General manager Ron Hextall would like to lock up Hagg for at least two seasons around the $1.25-1.5 million range and keep him under club control as a restricted free agent. You have to think Hagg’s agent would also like a short-term bridge, which would give his client a chance to prove his worth and then cash in with a more lucrative deal next season or in 2020.   

Taylor Leier (RFA) 
Leier showed potential as a valuable fourth-line forward who brings quickness and skill to the bottom six. Leier needs to develop into a more reliable penalty killer and provide that consistent jolt of energy he showed in the first 20-25 games of the season while maintaining defensive responsibilities.

Comparable player: Tomas Hyka, Golden Knights
Drafted two rounds after Leier in 2012, Hyka went unsigned by the Kings before he eventually latched on with the Golden Knights. Both Leier and Hyka are smaller, energy guys still looking to prove they belong in the NHL.

Outlook: Under club control, look for the Flyers to offer Leier a short-term contract with the expectation that he takes the next step in his development as an NHL regular.

Alex Lyon (RFA)
Lyon can take pride in his first two pro seasons coming out of Yale. He progressed from 2016-17 to this past season and gave the Flyers some decent play in net over his 11 appearances following injuries to Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth. Lyon wasn’t rattled when he was called upon at a moment’s notice to join the Flyers in a pinch this past season.   

Comparable player: Garret Sparks, Maple Leafs
Interestingly, these two AHL goalies battled each other in the Eastern Conference Finals. While Sparks didn’t take the collegiate route that Lyon did, the Leafs have shown patience with the 24-year-old netminder who has played just 17 games with the Maple Leafs in 2015-16. He will have earned between $575K-675K in the three years after signing his entry-level contract.  

Outlook: Somehow, I find a way to keep Lyon in the organization on a two-year, two-way deal around $750K annually. Lyon understands his role and how he fits in. He’s perfect as a backup to Carter Hart, who I expect to start the season with the Phantoms. 

2019 Flyers development camp: Roster, schedule and more

2019 Flyers development camp: Roster, schedule and more

The future will be prevalent this week at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, starting Tuesday through Saturday as the team holds its annual development camp.

Some of the organization's brightest and newest prospects will be in attendance, learning the fine details of how to be a pro with various drills and off-ice training.

Let's get you set for the 2019 edition with five things to know.

1. Development, not evaluation

It's time for the annual reminder: Flyers development camp is about providing the team's prospects with proper training habits — on and off the ice — to grow as players. The five-day session is not about Flyers coaches and officials analyzing the prospects for the purpose of evaluation and future roster construction.

The whole premise of camp is for it to be educational.

2. Keep your eyes peeled

While the Flyers won't be evaluating, there will be plenty to watch for fans. With each development camp, there is always a ton of talent on the ice with many future pros and some prospects on the NHL doorstep.

For example, last summer's development camp featured Carter Hart, Philippe Myers, Mikhail Vorobyev and Mark Friedman, all of whom played for the Flyers in 2018-19.

This year's crop of players features some of the organization's top prospects and a trio of forwards who could join the Flyers at some point in 2019-20.

3. Numbers to watch

There are two sheets of ice at Skate Zone that will oftentimes be used simultaneously throughout camp.

With 41 players listed on the camp roster, which includes newcomers to the organization, here are five players to watch:

No. 48, Morgan Frost — A can't-miss playmaking center who was ranked as the 13th-best prospect in hockey by ESPN's Chris Peters during March. Over his final two junior hockey seasons, Frost combined for 221 points (79 goals, 142 assists) and a plus-103 rating in 125 regular-season games with the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (see story).

He'll be turning pro in 2019-20 and will be pushing for the Flyers during training camp. You'll want to keep an eye on him, especially when he's doing this:

No. 60, Joel Farabee — An advanced, quick-rising winger who needed just one year of college hockey before turning pro. Farabee, a strategic goal-scorer with a lot of skill, put up 17 goals and 36 points in 37 games with Boston University and was named the 2019 Tim Taylor Award winner for national Rookie of the Year.

"If he needs some seasoning in Lehigh, that happens with a lot of really strong prospects, but it also wouldn't surprise me when the Flyers have him in their opening night lineup next October," U.S. under-18 head coach John Wroblewski said to NBC Sports Philadelphia in late March (see story).

No. 76, Isaac Ratcliffe — Another goal-scoring winger, Ratcliffe is hard to miss, not only thanks to his 6-foot-6 frame, but also because of his superb hands and soft touch. The 2017 second-round pick scored 50 goals and 82 points in 65 regular-season games for the OHL's Guelph Storm before tacking on 30 more points (15 goals, 15 assists) in 24 playoff games (see story).

Just like Frost and Farabee, Ratcliffe is turning pro in 2019-20.

No. 45, Cam York — The Flyers' newest first-round pick, York will get his first taste of the organization. The defenseman does not lack skill or scoring ability. The Flyers watched York a lot before drafting him No. 14 overall last weekend.

"He's put up big numbers offensively," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said (see story). "He's a talented guy and projects to be a very good defenseman for a long time."

No. 54, Yegor Zamula — An under-the-radar defenseman who could have a Myers-like climb. Zamula is 6-foot-3, 176 pounds and had a promising 2018-19 season with 56 points (10 goals, 46 assists) in 61 regular-season games for the WHL's Calgary Hitmen. Here's how the Flyers found the undrafted product and signed him (see story).

Below is the full camp roster.


4. The schedule

The development camp is free and open to the public.

Fans can watch along the boards from certain areas or in the stands.

The 3-on-3 tournament has always been a fan-favorite event. A new wrinkle is the 5-on-5 scrimmage Saturday night, which should be fun.

Here is the full camp schedule (which is subject to change) with times. The sessions for goaltenders are 8:15-9:45 a.m. and 1-2:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, 10:30-11:45 a.m. on Friday and 10-11:15 a.m. on Saturday.

5. The staff

The Flyers' player development coaches run camp, while general manager Chuck Fletcher and head coach Alain Vigneault will sure to be watching some of it.

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Ryan Hartman has been traded, but he might not find out for a few days

Ryan Hartman has been traded, but he might not find out for a few days

Hey Ryan, it’s Chuck, I have something very important to tell you, please give me a call back when you get a chance.

Well, that’s awkward.

After a busy offseason already, Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher pulled off yet another trade today (see story) and the piece heading out of Philly may legitimately not know about the deal. Looks like, from his tweet, that Ryan Hartman is on vacation.

Don’t worry, Flyers fans are trying to help in any way they can to let him know.

If you recall, Hartman was the return for Wayne Simmonds last year before the trade deadline, so essentially, this deal for Tyler Pitlick is a straight swap with Simmer.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this, it’s pretty funny. You wonder if Hartman knew it was coming. If not, enjoy the lake and wishing you all the best next season.

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