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. 

Sean Couturier reveals an interesting nickname and clowns Michael Raffl

Sean Couturier reveals an interesting nickname and clowns Michael Raffl

Sean Couturier has been in Philadelphia for nine years and there's a nickname that hasn't become public.

On Saturday night, the NHL tweeted out a video of Couturier to promote the NHL Gaming World Championship. This is where we learned of this interesting nugget.

Paul Bissonnette, the host of the video, alerts Couturier that he had some dirt on the nine-year veteran from Claude Giroux.

It's revealed that his teammates call Couturier "Elton John" because when going in for a breakaway, he sometimes looks like he's carrying a piano on his back.

That's one you can't live down.

Once the spotlight is taken off Couturier, he chose Michael Raffl as the biggest jokester on the team and started modifying some of his skills and attributes in NHL20.

For example, Couturier gives Raffl a high mark for speed, but pokes fun at his lack of physicality. The body checking attribute came down big time.

For the rest of Couturier's answers, watch the video here:

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Catching up on Carter Hart in live stream, teammates troll in the comments

Catching up on Carter Hart in live stream, teammates troll in the comments

With the season on hold, many of the Flyers have gone back to their hometowns for the time being, until they receive word about what the next step will be for the NHL.

That gave Carter Hart the chance to check in with NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes on Friday night during an Instagram live. There, they talked about a wide range of things, including hobbies, an ugly suit trip and Hart even had a few teammates crash the chat room.

There’s a lot of extra time on the players’ hands right now, so what has Hart been up to? Mostly playing guitar and a lot of NBA2K.

He plays both electric and acoustic guitar, but it’s still a work in progress.

“I just wanted to get into something a little different,” Hart said. “I thought guitar would be the easiest thing to try and pick up, but it’s pretty hard.” 

And with the mention of the NBA, of course Weekes had to check in and see who Hart had been rooting for leading up to the season on pause. Obviously, many in Canada cheer for the Raptors but now that he’s playing in Philadelphia? 

“Living in Philly now, I've got to cheer for the Sixers,” Hart said.

Smart answer from the 21-year-old. And he certainly nailed the dynamic of the fans that he loves playing in front of. 

“If we’re sucking, they’re going to let us know,” Hart joked. “But if we’re winning, they’re behind us.”

Then a conversation that originally stemmed from pizza turned into Hart breaking down a roast session about him from his teammates. Apparently, the team had an ugly suit trip when it was off to Columbus — something that we’ll definitely need to do more research on — but Hart has only a handful of suits on the regular rotation. 

“I only have three suits,” Hart said. “I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to wear this,’ and I show up to the plane and everyone was like, ‘That’s the suit you wear all of the time.’

“I was like, ‘Wow, what do you want from me? You guys hate it anyways.’” 

Of course, it’s all in good fun … at least we hope. 

And soon enough, his buddies crashed the chat. About 75 percent through the stream, Nolan Patrick joined the party and started to have some fun in the comment section.  It wasn’t long before the captain Claude Giroux tuned in as well, coaching the young goalie of how to get to his end point when talking in an interview. Always looking out for the kiddo. Former teammate Dale Weise even joined the chat party, so naturally him and Patrick were joking around. 



It’s safe to say these guys certainly miss seeing each other daily. Hopefully we’ll get more live streams in the near future. 

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