Flyers

Comcast Spectacor introduces new eSports brand Philadelphia Fusion

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Comcast Spectacor introduces new eSports brand Philadelphia Fusion

Meet the Philadelphia Fusion.

Representing Philadelphia as one of the newest additions to a budding competitive eSports scene, the Fusion, owned by Comcast Spectacor, is the latest brand introduced for the inaugural season of Overwatch League beginning in December.

"We are thrilled to introduce the Philadelphia Fusion brand and team colors as we continue our exciting march toward the start of the season," said Dave Scott, president and CEO of Comcast Spectacor.

Utilizing orange and black, the Fusion will match the Flyers, also owned by Comcast Spectacor, in colors and logo simplicity. 

"Orange and black are colors of passion here in Philadelphia," Scott said. "We are proud to incorporate them as we continue to formulate our coaching staff and roster of players."

As the company explains in its official release, the choice for the name Fusion was inspired by "distinct entities coming together to create a new whole that generates power and heat."

And that might be more than simple graphic design. Facing powerhouse teams such as the Dallas Fuel — made up of one of North America's most potent clubs, EnVyUs, and London Spitfire (which consists of South Korean Overwatch champions GC Busan) — the Fusion will ultimately need chemistry and team dynamic to excel. 

The team, being put together piece-by-piece, is expected to officially introduce its coaching staff and roster in the upcoming weeks.  

The Fusion join the Boston Uprising, Fuel, San Francisco Shock, Seoul Dynasty, Spitfire, New York Excelsior, Los Angeles Valiant and Shanghai Dragons, as the first official brands introduced. The brands for Miami, Houston and a second Los Angeles team have yet to be announced.

Beginning preseason matches on Dec. 6, Overwatch League, which will feature 6-on-6 objective-based team play, officially kicks off its regular season on Jan. 10.

For those unfamiliar, Overwatch League is a geo-based eSports league made up of 12 teams from around the world. Unlike other eSports leagues which are typically made of up independent club teams not bound to a specific location, this one features teams representing particular cities around the globe with league-specific brands. 

It's a new dynamic to mainstream eSports competition.

Overwatch League is also an infant compared to the industry. It's viewed as a long-term investment with extreme growth potential. Ownership groups, made up by the likes of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, New York Mets owner Jeff Wilpon, Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke and more, paid a reported $20 million or more to carve out a spot.

 

Anthony Stolarz, with a lot to prove, among Flyers' qualified RFAs

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Zack Hill/Flyers

Anthony Stolarz, with a lot to prove, among Flyers' qualified RFAs

VOORHEES, N.J. — Anthony Stolarz is still very much a part of the Flyers' organization. 

So is Alex Lyon.

Both players received qualifying offers Monday from the Flyers. Teams have until 4 p.m. Monday to tender qualifying offers to their restricted free agents. The move is more procedural than anything so teams still retain negotiating rights.

In all, the Flyers tendered six players — a group that also includes defenseman Robert Hagg and forwards Taylor Leier, Tyrell Goulbourne and Danick Martel. As expected, the organization did not extend a qualifying offer to Petr Mrazek, who will now hit the free-agent market on July 1.

If a player rejects the qualifying offer, they still remain a restricted free agent and their rights are retained by the Flyers.

However, the Flyers weren’t about to lose a young prospect with nothing in return, so in all likelihood, Stolarz and Lyon will be with the organization when training camp opens in September. The goaltending situation is perhaps the most intriguing with four netminders with NHL experience along with highly-prized prospect Carter Hart joining the mix in 2018-19.

“It’s just competition. No one is going to go in there and had you a job, so you have to earn it,” Stolarz said Monday. “I think the thing for me is to prove I’m healthy. I don’t think I’ve skated since the end of January. I had the one flare up before one of my games and it had nothing to do with my knee injury. It was a separate injury. I think the biggest thing is proving I’m healthy and going out there and working to prove I’m still a high-caliber goalie.”

Stolarz went through a rigorous workout Monday at the Flyers Skate Zone and even took shots from defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. He doesn’t see the knee injury derailing his offseason following last summer’s surgery to repair the meniscus tear that required months of rehab.

Now, the 2012 second-round pick, who was actually selected higher than Hart was, can prove why he was such a valued commodity coming out of the draft six years ago. 

“I definitely think I’m still an NHL-caliber goalie,” Stolarz said. “I think with my size and quickness, it’s two attributes that you don’t see too often — guys like Pekka Rinne and Ben Bishop. I think the biggest thing with me is, just proving I can stay healthy.

“Taking that year off at first took a toll on me mentally and it hit me hard, but as the year went on, I was able to watch some Flyers games and watch some goalies and take some things from other goalies and incorporate them into my game.”

More on the Flyers

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How John Carlson's extension with Capitals impacts Flyers

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USA Today Images

How John Carlson's extension with Capitals impacts Flyers

John Carlson was never going to be a Philadelphia Flyer. Now it's official.

The Washington Capitals on Sunday night re-signed Carlson to an eight-year, $64 million contract extension with an annual average value of $8 million.

Carlson was able to begin speaking with potential suitors beginning at 12 a.m. Sunday morning, and according to a report, teams had begun lining up to speak with him.

For starters, it takes the big fish in the defensemen aisle off the market. While the Flyers did not have a realistic chance at signing Carlson, it doesn't mean that the veteran defenseman's contract does not have an impact on the orange and black.

[From NBC Sports Washington: Carlson agrees to stay with Capitals]

It also keeps Carlson in the Metropolitan Division. The Caps, who won their first Stanley Cup this season, now have most of their core signed through 2019-20. The only item left on their grocery list is a head coach, and it's the only vacancy left.

There was a point during the 2017-18 season the Flyers were leading the Metropolitan Division but ultimately finished in third place. The Capitals won the divisional crown for their third straight season, and they're easily the frontrunner for it again in 2018-19.

Had Carlson left, it would have left the Capitals a huge hole to fill this summer and one that doesn't have any replacement-level alternatives.

Carlson led all NHL defensemen in scoring during the regular season (68 points) and playoffs (20) in 2017-18. He had points in four of the Capitals' five Cup games against the Vegas. Add in that he's a righty shot, he was irreplaceable with the options the Capitals had.

Which brings us the options and the Flyers.

Free agency

Carlson headlined an underwhelming free-agent class. We're not counting restricted free agents because no one signs them. The last offer sheet was Ryan O'Reilly in 2013, but Colorado matched. The last one accepted was the Oilers signing Dustin Penner in 2007.

After the NHL draft Saturday, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall reiterated his interest in adding a top-four D-man. He had previously called right-handed defensemen a "big fill."

Despite having about $21.7 million in cap space, Hextall said two weeks ago that "we have money to spend short term." That would have counted the Flyers out on Carlson.

So who's available that could interest the Flyers? Let's begin with the righties.

Mike Green, Red Wings: 32 years old, 33 points and a $6-million AAV in 2017-18.

Kevin Bieksa, Anaheim Ducks: 37 years old, 8 points, $4 million AAV in 2017-18.

Andrej Sustr, Tampa Bay Lightning: 27 years old, 7 points, $1.95 million AAV in 2017-18.

Not exactly an exciting group but a couple of veterans who may tickle Hextall's fancy.

Potential left-handed defensemen:

Calvin De Haan, Islanders: 27 years old, 13 points, $3.3 million AAV in 2017-18.

Ian Cole, Blue Jackets: 29 years old, 20 points, $2.5 million AAV in 2017-18.

John Moore, Devils: 27 years old, 18 points, $1.95 million AAV in 2017-18.

We'll touch more on individual players as we inch closer to when free agency opens Sunday, but the pool isn't exactly deep.

The Provorov factor

On Sunday, the Flyers may sign Ivan Provorov to an extension as the 21-year-old is entering the final year of his entry-level contract. Earlier this month, we made the case as to why it makes sense for the Flyers to extend Provorov this summer (see story). That remains true.

In our case, we used Drew Doughty's eight-year, $56 million contract signed as a 21-year-old in 2011 as an example. With Carlson, we now have another comparable.

Now, this is Carlson's third NHL contract. Provorov's next will be his second. But that's semantics. Carlson's $8 million cap hit seems to be the going rate this summer.

Arizona is reportedly signing Oliver Ekman-Larsson, 26, to an eight-year extension upward of $8 million per, which can't be official until Sunday.

Hextall has often come out on the better side of the contract he's signed. Even the Dale Weise deal wasn't totally bad — the term was the issue. So it's possible we're inflating Provorov's next deal a bit, but the parameters are there.

The going rate for a No. 1 defenseman who can play 25 minutes a night is in between $7 million and $8 million. Provorov is already that for the Flyers.

More on the Flyers

• Flyers' draft shows big year for USA Hockey

• Hextall surprised by Flyers' quiet draft weekend

• With O'Brien, Hextall shows he's 'never' one to be safe

• With Philly ties, Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

• Samuelsson continues family's NHL tradition