Flyers

Chuck Fletcher on the future of Wayne Simmonds and who's untouchable

Chuck Fletcher on the future of Wayne Simmonds and who's untouchable

VOORHEES, N.J. — Chuck Fletcher is at a crucial juncture of the season with the Flyers currently 14 points back of an Eastern Conference playoff spot and the NHL trade deadline now less than a month away.

The Flyers' general manager held a post-All Star break “State of the Flyers” in which he discussed at length a number of pressing topics.

1. A new deal for Simmonds doesn't appear imminent

Fletcher didn’t get too detailed into negotiations regarding Wayne Simmonds' agent, but he has spoken to Simmonds and his representative and I think it’s clear Simmonds wants a long-term contract and the Flyers are hesitant to make that type of commitment.

To compound those issues are league-wide reports that Simmonds will be a hot commodity on the trade market, which only strengthens his bargaining chip as a player that other teams around the league covet. My feeling is that Simmonds will be traded and the Flyers get a nice return to help them moving forward for next season.

Fletcher is also mindful of the Flyers' salary cap situation moving forward as Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton and Travis Sanheim all need new contracts after this season as well. 

Fletcher: “I’ve certainly had some meetings with them and I think we all know where we stand and I can’t really predict how it’s going to play out, but clearly in the next few weeks we will have to resolve that one way or the other.”

2. Giroux is an untouchable, but outside of that ...

This was perhaps some of the more intriguing stuff Fletcher provided as he gave some insight when questioned about the leadership group of the team moving forward.

I would put Sean Couturier in that same group as you need an effective two-way center to win a Stanley Cup championship if you look at teams like the Blackhawks (Jonathan Toews), the Bruins (Patrice Bergeron) and the Kings (Anze Kopitar). Provorov to some degree is untouchable unless you receive an overwhelming return.

Fletcher: “We have a lot of good players here but I would never say never to almost anybody besides [Claude] Giroux. Giroux’s got the no-trade and he’s our captain and probably one of the best players in the history of the franchise. So I don’t think that makes much sense. But there’s a lot of guys that don’t make much sense either, but I can’t say never.”

The Flyers' GM also believes he can be "a buyer and a seller" before the deadline, whereas his predecessor Ron Hextall took more of the seller’s approach with his team out of the playoffs in 2014-15 and in 2016-17, adding primarily draft picks. I foresee Fletcher trying to add more NHL-ready players that fill a need or a certain role on the Flyers.

Fletcher: “We have things we can do to improve this team pretty quickly. But clearly we’ve dug ourselves a big hole for this year, so what I’m trying to do is talk to every team in the league and looking for opportunities. Whether it’s now, the summer, we need to find some pieces to improve our team.”

3. Expect to see Morin and Myers soon

Which promising defenseman will we see play his first game with the Flyers this season? Once he’s completely healthy and ready to go, Samuel Morin will report to the Phantoms for a conditioning stint that can last no longer than two weeks.

Speaking with Morin on Sunday, it’s all about timing, the mental side of his game and finding that trust within himself. He believes a mid-to-late February return is a more likely timeframe.

As far as Philippe Myers, Fletcher saw the 22-year-old defenseman over the bye week and was highly impressed in his evaluation that he’s NHL-ready.  

Fletcher: “Myers, to me, looks like he’s earned the right to get some games. He’s played really well. What I like about Phil is there’s a lot more consistency in his games.”

4. Weise is done with the Flyers

As reported two weeks ago, Dale Weise will no longer be a part of the Flyers moving forward as Fletcher is looking to move him to another team as part of a packaged deal in which the Flyers may end up eating a portion of his salary.  

Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be a fallout between the player and the organization other than that Fletcher was ready to move on and give his roster position to someone else (like Mikhail Vorobyev) where the team could evaluate their future moving forward.

Fletcher: “He’s been working out on his own. I spoke to him again yesterday, and once the American League All-Star break’s over, he’ll report to Lehigh, and he’s obviously hungry to get playing, and to find a situation that’s better for himself.”

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Flyers at Panthers: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Panthers: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

It's time for Morgan Frost.

The 20-year-old center will make his highly anticipated NHL debut Tuesday when the Flyers (10-6-4) visit the Panthers (10-5-5).

Let's get into the essentials:

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

• Following the Flyers' third-period collapse in which they blew a 3-0 lead to the Islanders Saturday, head coach Alain Vigneault didn't seem overly angry or perplexed.

It's probably because he easily identified what led to the Flyers' 4-3 shootout loss. As jarring as that defeat was for the Flyers in front of the home fans, Vigneault wasn't concerned on Monday about any problematic trend.

Coming off that last game, I’ve looked at the game, I’ve analyzed it. Even though it’s our third game in four nights, we’re in good shape. We made three bad changes that changed the whole dynamic, the whole complexion of that game. It’s something that is very fixable, very easy, it doesn’t worry me at all.

If that's the case, the Flyers should start wrapping up third-period leads, something they haven't done of late and it has been costly.

• What makes Frost's debut even more exciting is where the Flyers are placing the 2017 first-round pick in the lineup. He will center the first line between Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny.

It couldn't be a better chance to show what we can do. Right now, the entire lineup needs Frost's impact and his play could dictate how long this call-up lasts with the big club

• Philippe Myers was surprisingly scratched last Saturday. After a real promising seven games, the Flyers were not happy with the 22-year-old's performance last Friday during a 2-1 loss to the Senators in which he played only 14:12 minutes.

The Flyers love his upside but want to see him be consistently smarter.

“He could have been responsible for nine scoring chances against with some of those turnovers," Vigneault said Monday. "Not everybody played great, but that was one above. Sometimes it’s just a reset. Phil is going to get back in there, maybe [Tuesday], reset. He has an opportunity, we’ve watched some tape with him, he’s a good young player. We’ve got a lot of belief that he can be a regular, a good player in this league."

• The Panthers are scoring 3.55 goals per game, fifth best in the NHL, but are also allowing 3.55 goals per game, fourth worst in the league.

Florida will test the Flyers in the third period as it has scored the NHL's second-most goals in the final frame with 29.

Sergei Bobrovsky is not off to the best start in South Florida at 7-4-4 with a 3.53 goals-against average and .882 save percentage. The two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender signed a seven-year, $70 million contract on July 1.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Morgan Frost-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Joel Farabee
James van Riemsdyk-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek
Andy Andreoff-Michael Raffl-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Shayne Gostisbehere-Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

 

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Future Flyers Report: Wisconsin's Wyatt Kalynuk one of four prospects to watch in Big Ten

Future Flyers Report: Wisconsin's Wyatt Kalynuk one of four prospects to watch in Big Ten

It’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

• The Flyers have some exciting young defensemen at the pro level. They also have some at the college and junior ranks.

Two that have received a lot of attention are Cam York and Egor Zamula. York was the Flyers' first-round pick this summer and is in his freshman year at Michigan, while Zamula is a near-point-per-game 19-year-old playing for the WHL's Calgary Hitmen.

Another defenseman to keep tabs on his Wyatt Kalynuk, who the Flyers selected in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. The junior at Wisconsin had a goal, eight shots and seven blocked shots over two games against Notre Dame last weekend.

The 16th-ranked Badgers sport exciting underclassmen with Cole Caufield (2019 top-15 pick), Alex Turcotte (2019 top-five pick) and K'Andre Miller (2018 top-25 pick).

“The goal is to win a national championship," Kalynuk said this summer at Flyers development camp.

Kalynuk is a huge piece for Wisconsin. The 22-year-old has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) through 12 games.

"Probably my biggest strength is skating," Kalynuk said. "At Wisconsin, getting bigger, stronger and faster just improves it even more.

“I would consider myself a late bloomer, but it’s not a knock on me or anybody."

Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher checked out the Badgers last season in February. Wisconsin was playing Flyers prospect Tanner Laczynski and Ohio State. With Kalynuk, Laczynski, York and Bryce Brodzinski (2019 seventh-round pick at Minnesota), the Flyers will be watching plenty of Big Ten hockey this season.

Quick hits

• Goalie Kirill Ustimenko, a 2017 third-round pick, had a 32-save shutout for the ECHL's Reading Royals in a 1-0 win last Saturday over the Wheeling Nailers. The 20-year-old has a 2.57 goals-against average in 10 games (six wins).

• Isaac Ratcliffe has missed the Phantoms' last three games with an injury. The 2017 second-round pick is transitioning to the pro level with three points (one goal, two assists) in 12 games.

• Noah Cates scored his team-leading fifth goal in Minnesota Duluth's 3-2 win Saturday over Miami (Ohio). The 2017 fifth-round pick is a sophomore on the country's ninth-ranked team.

"We talk about him every day and we can't stop bragging about him," Flyers player development coach Kjell Samuelsson said this summer.

• Jay O'Brien, a 2018 first-round pick, is second in the BCHL with 40 points (15 goals, 25 assists) through 26 games for the Penticton Vees.

• Wyatte Wylie, another defenseman to watch, is a point-per-game player right now with five goals and 14 assists in 19 contests for the WHL's Everett Silvertips.

 

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