Flyers

Chuck Fletcher: Flyers are 'bullish on Philippe Myers' upside'

Chuck Fletcher: Flyers are 'bullish on Philippe Myers' upside'

Back when Philippe Myers was called up to the Flyers in February, it was evident general manager Chuck Fletcher liked the 22-year-old prospect.

The Flyers were rolling through an NHL-best 10-game stretch at the time and pushing for the playoffs. Still, Fletcher had no qualms with trusting a kid who had no NHL experience to possibly jump into a postseason race.

"The fact that he's getting the call is a recognition of what he's accomplished and that he's knocking on the door," Fletcher said Feb. 9.

Where are the Flyers now on Myers?

Pretty high.

"We're bullish on Philippe Myers' upside," Fletcher said Saturday in a conference call.

Some of Fletcher's maneuvering with the Flyers' defense over the past two days has revolved around Myers and his ability to jump on a full-time role in 2019-20. The Flyers on Friday traded 29-year-old Radko Gudas in exchange for defenseman Matt Niskanen (see story). On Saturday, they parted ways with Andrew MacDonald, placing the 32-year-old on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract (see story).

While Fletcher's work is far from done, the Flyers' defense is already rounding into shape, with visions of Myers taking a big step forward. The overwhelming point of trading Gudas was to acquire Niskanen, who can benefit the Flyers' defense in a variety of ways (see story). But the move also came to fruition with Myers in mind.

"Radko has been a very effective third-pairing defenseman for us," Fletcher said. "He's been a great member of our organization, he's competed hard and certainly we appreciate everything he did for our organization. 

"Going forward, we feel we have an in-house player in Philippe Myers that can come in and take on some of that role. He's only played [21] games in the NHL, so there could be an adjustment period, but having the ability to maybe slot Philippe into that third slot on the right side, we feel is a real proper place for him to potentially start his NHL career."

Myers, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound righty shot, was rated a top-50 prospect by the NHL Network last season. He's come a long way from going undrafted in 2015. He's quick for his size, a fluid skater and brings offensive qualities, as well.

He showed plenty of glimpses in his 2018-19 showcase.

Here's an early look at the Flyers' potential 2019-20 defensive pairings:

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen

Shayne Gostisbehere-Travis Sanheim

Robert Hagg-Philippe Myers

"Certainly if we can find a guy that can play in our top four that we have the ability to acquire, we'll certainly look at it," Fletcher said. "I will say that we have some really top-end young defensemen here that have the potential to grow into that role. If you look at Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim … Shayne Gostisbehere is a young man that's been very effective in his young career so far, and by bringing in Matt Niskanen, we feel that we have some quality defensemen.

"You're always looking to upgrade if you can, but it will certainly depend on whether we can acquire that player and whether even that player is available.

"In saying our defense corps is young, I do believe it's the strength of our team going forward."

Myers can make it younger and stronger. In just two days, the Flyers cleared him a path, as if to say: Here's a spot, go take it.

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

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

VOORHEES, N.J. — It might be the best chance for Morgan Frost to prove himself.

The same can be said for Joel Farabee.

The Flyers will feature two of their brightest prospects in big spots Thursday night as the team continues its preseason against the Bruins.

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

Farabee turned heads playing alongside Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier during the first three days of training camp. So much so that head coach Alain Vigneault wanted to see the trio in game action.

The 19-year-old Farabee is a dynamic winger with an advanced hockey IQ and relentless effort. His case for the roster has strengthened ever since rookie camp and Thursday presents an ideal scenario for Farabee to garner more attention.

"I'm with probably the two-best players," Farabee said, "I think this is my best opportunity to showcase what I can do."

During training camp practices, the chemistry between Giroux, Couturier and Farabee looked natural. Couturier, the Flyers' first-line center, has been impressed by the 2018 first-round pick.

The little things, the little plays he does along the boards as a winger, especially as a center coming down the middle when you have some speed, he doesn't slow you down, he knows where you are and he knows where to put the puck. You can get a good read off of him knowing that whatever situation he's put in, he'll put the puck on your tape and find you. He's looking for you, he's looking to make plays. It's pretty nice to see from a young player.

• German Rubtsov is playing his third game in the last four days. The Flyers want a long look at the 21-year-old center and, so far, they've liked what they've seen. Nolan Patrick's injury has opened the door a bit for Rubtsov, Frost and some other centers.

"From the rookie camp to now, his pace has gotten better, I liked the fact that defensively, he seems responsible," Vigneault said of Rubtsov. "Right now, if he were to make our team, it would be more on that bottom six. That's where we're putting him, you've got to be able to kill penalties, he's a centerman, take faceoffs. With Nolan being out, it gives opportunities to other guys. He's getting a good look … we're going to continue this."

• Thursday will be the first time seeing the defensive duo of Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen. It could be the Flyers' top pair for the Oct. 4 season opener. Both move the puck up ice and Niskanen's presence should relieve some pressure off of the 22-year-old Provorov's shoulders.

• Brian Elliott will be in net for the first two periods. The next step for the backup goalie will be a full game. Carter Hart will also play two periods his next time out, then a full game.

Quotable

I definitely liked his game. It was the first time for me seeing him in a game-like situation, I liked his game. Chuck [Fletcher] and Brent [Flahr] both said that's the best game they had seen him play in the sense that he kept it simple, played a north-south game, was good on the forecheck, had a good stick, defensively was responsible and he was conscious of the things that we had talked about.

- Vigneault on potential bottom-six winger Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Joel Farabee
James van Riemsdyk-Morgan Frost-Jakub Voracek
Nicolas Aube-Kubel-German Rubtsov-Andy Andreoff
Carsen Twarynski-Connor Bunnaman-Kyle Criscuolo

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Shayne Gostisbehere-Justin Braun
Tyler Wotherspoon-Philippe Myers

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Alex Lyon

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Matt Niskanen: Claude Giroux 'holds his own, for sure,' in trash-talking

Matt Niskanen: Claude Giroux 'holds his own, for sure,' in trash-talking

Matt Niskanen has played 38 career games against the Flyers, so he's seen Philadelphia a lot.

Since 2011, the 32-year-old played 390 games for the Capitals and 214 for the Penguins. Those two teams aren't liked too much around the Delaware Valley.

He was on the Capitals when bracelets were thrown on the ice by frustrated Flyers fans during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was on the Penguins during 2012, when the Flyers last won a postseason series by beating Pittsburgh in the first round.

Now, he's wearing Flyers orange with Claude Giroux and company.

Following an offseason trade from the Capitals, he's embracing the opportunity to be on the Flyers' side for a change.

I've played two playoff series against the Flyers in my career," Niskanen said last month in a sit-down interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia's Taryn Hatcher and Derek Souders. "Things have gotten a little heated, a couple wild ones, a couple wild games, too. There's been some yapping back and forth and Giroux holds his own, for sure.

I won't dive into what he has said to me in the past, but yeah we've chatted before on the ice, I'll put it that way.

Niskanen won the 2018 Stanley Cup with the Capitals and the Flyers are expecting him to impact their young defensemen. Over the past six seasons, Niskanen has averaged 22:31 minutes per game while compiling a plus-91 mark. He is a skilled puck mover, which leads to positive goal prevention.

He has 125 career postseason games on his résumé. Prior to this offseason, Giroux had played the most playoff games on the Flyers' roster with 69.

Niskanen's experience is a welcomed addition for the Flyers.

"Played in Pittsburgh, who everybody seems to hate," Niskanen said. "Washington, who has had success recently, so they've been the hunted. And now in Philly, where it's rowdy. Games get physical, they can get nasty — you never leave Philly without a couple of bruises. It's going to be fun to see all three sides of this. I think Philly missing the playoffs last year, we're going to be the ones on the hunt this year — hungry, trying to get back into the playoff picture and try to leave a mark.

"We're going to chase down those teams and we might have to knock one of them out of the playoff picture. Wouldn't that be sweet?"

For more from Niskanen on the Flyers' young blueliners, winning the Stanley Cup and his expectations, watch the "Break the Ice" video above.

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