Flyers

Breaking down 2019-20 third-line competition after Flyers' signing of Chris Stewart to pro tryout

Breaking down 2019-20 third-line competition after Flyers' signing of Chris Stewart to pro tryout

You can never have enough competition.

There will be plenty of it when training camp rolls around in September as the Flyers have a third-line job opening on the wing.

General manager Chuck Fletcher added a candidate Wednesday by signing forward Chris Stewart to an NHL pro tryout for camp.

Stewart, 31, was a 2006 first-round draft pick of the Avalanche and has played 652 career NHL games between six teams. His best season came as a 22-year-old with the Avalanche in 2009-10, when he scored 64 points (28 goals, 36 assists) over 77 games. Last season, he played in the EIHL for the Nottingham Panthers, scoring 13 points (six goals, seven assists) through 23 games.

The 6-foot-2, 242-pound winger has ties to the Flyers' GM. He played parts of three seasons for Fletcher's Wild from 2014 to 2018, putting up 25 goals, 20 assists and a plus-6 rating in 146 games.

The Flyers like their options for the third-line winger vacancy. The names include Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Isaac Ratcliffe, German Rubtsov, Carsen Twarynski, Mikhail Vorobyev, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Andy Andreoff and Kurtis Gabriel.

Farabee and Frost have drawn a lot of attention as young first-round draft picks coming off big seasons with Boston University (see story) and the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (see story), respectively. Rubtsov is an underrated option given his size, advanced game and positional versatility. Ratcliffe is a 6-foot-6 winger who scored 50 goals last season with the OHL's Guelph Storm, while Vorobyev saw time with the Flyers in 2018-19.

"It's more than Farabee and Frost," Fletcher said July 1. "I think Rubtsov had a tremendous prospect camp here. Ratcliffe is a quality young player. Vorobyev is a young man that we feel is going to come back next year a little bit stronger.

"There are several players down there that can play games, never mind Andreoff, who's a player that I think will make a very strong push to make our team this season. Kurtis Gabriel is a player that's played games in the NHL the past few seasons. We have a lot of options. That's what training camp is for — it's an opportunity for players to come in and show that they belong. It should be an exciting camp."

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers vs. Rangers: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Rangers: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Ready for some playoff-like hockey?

A home-and-home set that will feel like the postseason is on tap for the Flyers (36-20-7) and Rangers (35-24-4), starting Friday night in Philadelphia.

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers and Rangers are two of the NHL's hottest teams.

They happen to be division rivals and play each other twice over the next three days.

The Flyers have won four straight and are 14-5-1 since Jan. 8 with an NHL-best 3.60 goals per game. The Rangers have won five straight and are 9-1-0 over their last 10 games.

These next two games are pivotal for both clubs. For the Flyers, they can continue to fortify their playoff hopes while delivering a haymaker to New York's chances.

With 79 points, the Flyers are in third place of the Metropolitan Division and only a point back of the second-place Penguins. Thanks to their surge, the Rangers are only two points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot and five behind the Flyers.

Pittsburgh, Carolina and Columbus are also in action tonight. Buckle up.

• Kevin Hayes has kept tabs on his old team.

He knows of New York's run and sees the damage Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad have caused.

Panarin, who has 32 goals and 55 assists, is on an 11-game point streak (five goals, 11 assists), while Zibanejad has scored a goal in six straight games and owns 27 points over his last 18 games (13 goals, 14 assists).

The Rangers have won nine straight road games by a combined score of 34-17.

I watch some of their games when I’m at home on the couch," Hayes said Friday after morning skate. "It looks like they’re buying in defensively, they’ve got five guys back to the house pretty much every time it’s in the zone, and then their elite players are putting up some serious numbers.

Mika was out for a lot of games. You watch him, for me, from when I first met him, he’s the biggest improvement I’ve seen on the ice. That guy is lighting it up this year. I don’t think he gets enough credit, he probably gets a lot of credit with the New York media, but around the league, I don’t think he gets enough credit. He’s an elite player in this league and he’s dominating right now.

I think taking away him and Panarin are big keys for the game tonight and on Sunday.

• Derek Grant and Nate Thompson will each play their second game with the Flyers.

In their Philly debuts, both centers played 12-plus minutes.

Grant's responsibilities could grow with each game.

“Derek Grant, we’ve got some experimenting to do there," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. "We see some potential, we see a lot of smarts without the puck. We’ll let them play, see how they do tonight and we’re going to figure this out here as we move forward.”

• Carter Hart is 17-2-2 with a 1.65 goals-against average and .941 save percentage at home.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Derek Grant-Tyler Pitlick
Michael Raffl-Nate Thompson-Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg-Justin Braun

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers give 15-year-old fan a contract, and then the day of his life

Flyers give 15-year-old fan a contract, and then the day of his life

The Flyers announced an eye-catching transaction Thursday: a one-day contract with a young local hockey fan, 15-year-old Blake Steigauf.

Steigauf, an enormous Flyers fan and a sophomore at Manheim Central High School who was diagnosed with cancer last April, partnered with Make-A-Wish Philadelphia and on Thursday spent a dream day with the Flyers.

Currently a player for Manehim Central's high school hockey team, Steigauf hit the ice with his favorite player, Flyers captain Claude Giroux, and spent time on the ice during practice with the team.

After taking a few shots — and netting a few goals — against Flyers goalie Brian Elliott, Steigauf and Giroux were chatting when Giroux gave Steigauf his stick and told the young star it was his to keep.

When Giroux gave Steigauf his stick, Elliott swooped in from behind and chirped the Flyers captain: "You've scored more with it than he has."

After practice, Giroux talked about Steigauf's game, and leaned into the razzing.

"You can see that [Steigauf's] been playing," Giroux said. "He's got a good shot. It was good. I gave him my stick, so hopefully ... those sticks don't score a lot of goals, but hopefully he's gonna change that."

In his locker stall after practice, Steigauf was thrilled.

"I'm speechless," Steigauf said. "It was just phenomenal out there. All the guys, they're truly amazing."

Steigauf and Giroux shared lunch together, where Steigauf hopefully gave Giroux a few pointers:

After practice, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher announced the one-day contract at a press conference. Steigauf will join the Flyers on Friday for their Feb. 28 game against the Rangers, according to the team:

Blake's game-day experience will mirror that of his new official teammates, arriving at the arena through the private player's entrance, dressing in an official locker room stall, and lining up alongside the team in the player tunnel. Sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime moment, Blake will lead the team out of the tunnel onto the ice and take an official solo "rookie lap" around Wells Fargo Center ice before watching warmups from the team bench. 

As his final game-night duty, Head Coach Alain Vigneault has requested that Blake present the night's starting lineup before he returns to the ice and stands side-by-side with the starters on the blue line during the singing of the National Anthem.

Both on and off the ice, the Flyers are on a roll.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers