Flyers

Could youth impact Flyers' NHL trade deadline decision with Wayne Simmonds?

Could youth impact Flyers' NHL trade deadline decision with Wayne Simmonds?

While the Flyers boast a team with a well-established core, the roster also features an impressionable group expected to steer the future.

The Flyers have 10 players 24 years old or younger. Those 10 players have played a combined 1,229 NHL games.

Wayne Simmonds has played 824.

As much as Simmonds provides toughness, goal-scoring ability and power-play expertise, he also sets an example — which may be near as important as to what he could bring back in a trade before the 3 p.m. deadline Monday.

Saturday night in the Eagles' massive Lincoln Financial Field locker room, 22-year-old Oskar Lindblom started a moment between the Flyers' core of Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux, a trio together since 2011.

Lindblom is in his first full NHL season. The Swedish winger has come into his own, playing a top-six role and looking like a significant piece to the Flyers' future.

In the Linc locker room, he watched the emotions of the scene and took something from it. In fact, a player like Simmonds molds everyone — youngsters and vets.

"That was cool," Lindblom said. "All those guys, they're the core of the group. To see them talk and just be around them, that's good for all of us. We can learn so much from them and they're good leaders. It was great."

That's just a part of the equation for general manager Chuck Fletcher, who holds the gavel to the not-so-envious decision with Simmonds, a pending unrestricted free agent coveted by teams eyeing a significant playoff run right now.

For the Flyers, clinging to playoff hopes this season, much of right now is about next year and beyond, trying to set up 2019-20 as best as possible.

Ultimately, that has to be Fletcher's objective as he starts to retool the club's future.

Simmonds is 30 years old and due a new contract in the offseason after turning out to be a bargain for the Flyers over the past six seasons. For his new deal, he should be looking more long term, which probably isn't in the Flyers' ideal plan.

But Fletcher's call isn't so simple when you look at Simmonds' influence, not only within the organization and city, but also on the Flyers' youthfulness. 

"Well, for starters, he makes everybody play braver, there's no question about it," Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said. "The energy he brings, whether it’s a hit or a fight or whatever it might be, his enthusiasm on the bench. 

"I don't know what is going happen moving forward with him but I'm certainly hoping he's here with us and he provides us with a lot. 

"Whatever appreciation I had for him before I took the job here, I have even more now."

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Future Flyers Report: Egor Zamula continues to make a name for himself, Jay O'Brien dominating the BCHL

Future Flyers Report: Egor Zamula continues to make a name for himself, Jay O'Brien dominating the BCHL

Another week of hockey has come and gone, so it's time for another check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

• Things were quiet for defenseman Egor Zamula last week, but he made sure to turn up the volume heading into the next one. 

Zamula added another two goals, giving him an impressive 17 points on the season. He ranks second in points with the Calgary Hitmen and first in assists with 11.

It is also worth noting that Zamula is first among defensemen in plus-minus with a plus-18. This also puts him as fourth-best in the league.

This is a pretty impressive and rather rare sight to see a player who went undrafted find so much success. The Flyers have lucked out in recent years with finding two undrafted defensemen that have quickly made names for themselves — Zamula being one and Philippe Myers the other. If his upside is as great as it's projected to be, talk about another steal and even more depth at the blue line.

Jay O'Brien continues to flourish in the BCHL. In three games with the Penticton Vees this past week, O'Brien tallied six points (three goals, three assists).

In addition to that, he also extended his point streak to eight games. He now has 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists) through 23 games. Only two other players in the league — Kent Johnson and Michael Colella, who both play for the Trail Smoke Eaters — have more points.

The Vees also announced on Nov. 7 that O'Brien was their first ever player of the month for the month of October.


Quick hits

• It was another weekend of racking up points for Morgan Frost. He had a two-assist night on Saturday and also scored his fifth goal of the season on Sunday. He now has 12 points in 13 games.

It's also important to note the assist on Frost's goal came from Maksim Sushko. It was Sushko's only point of the weekend, but a beauty at that.

Alex Lyon had a solid performance Saturday night when the Phantoms won in overtime against the Hershey Bears, only letting in two goals. Through six games played this season, he is 3-1-2 with a 2.10 GAA and .920 save percentage.

Noah Cates had a pair of goals in as many games this weekend with the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. That gives him four goals thus far in eight games. Funny enough, he and his brother Jackson Cates are tied in first for goals on the team.

• Shifting gears to Western Michigan, Ronnie Attard scored the game-winning goal on Nov. 8. In that game, Wade Allison also tallied an assist. That was Allison's first point since Oct. 12.

Wyatt Wylie had a successful weekend on the road with Everett, collecting three points (one goal, two assists) in a two-game span. He now leads the WHL in power play assists with 10. Wyatt and the Silvertips won both games and they currently lead the U.S. Division with a 13-4-0-0 record.

Felix Sandstrom did not dress for either game this weekend for the Reading Royals. Through six games, he has a .890 save percentage and 2.80 GAA.

Down at defense

• This past Wednesday, while on a conditioning stint with the Phantoms, Samuel Morin suffered a torn ACL in his right knee for the second time in 19 months. He will miss the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

• It's still unknown how long Mark Friedman will be out for the Phantoms after he left Saturday's game in the first period. He was injured directly following a collision against the boards and needed assistance off the ice. The Phantoms also recalled defenseman James De Haas from Reading, which could imply Friedman's injury may keep him out for a significant amount of time.

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What Travis Konecny pondered this summer has him playing like a star for Flyers

What Travis Konecny pondered this summer has him playing like a star for Flyers

As Travis Konecny waited out the entire offseason before inking his new contract, signaling his first real payday in the NHL, there was ample time for self-reflection.

“I thought a lot this summer about who I am as a player,” Konecny said last week.

The 22-year-old was coming off back-to-back 24-goal seasons and looked poised for a significant leap in 2019-20, especially after signing a six-year, $33 million deal.

Konecny wasn’t daydreaming about lofty goals or inflated production.

“I really wanted to do what was best for the team and every single night focus on two points,” he said. “Individual stats kind of come with that, when you’re playing an all-around game for the team. I’m not saying I play an all-around game every single night. I try to do my best to help the team. Some nights are better than the others, but I think that’s been my main focus — really trying to give my best effort every night and be able to go home saying that I tried to do my part.”

On Sunday night, Konecny played more than just a mere part. This was a stage for stars, a game at TD Garden against a team with three Stanley Cup Final appearances and a title over the past nine seasons. Names like David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara were featured in the Bruins’ lineup, opposing Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier and the Flyers.

And Konecny was a star.

He has been one this season for the Flyers, who are off to their best start since 2011-12, when the team last eclipsed 100 points and won a playoff series.

In just over a four-minute span Sunday, Konecny seized control of TD Garden with a goal and primary assist, handing the Flyers a surprising 2-0 lead during the first period. He finished with two points and a plus-2 mark as the Flyers took down the home-dominant Bruins, 3-2, in a shootout (see observations).

Both the mighty Pastrnak and the four-time Selke Trophy award winner Bergeron went scoreless, while Marchand potted a goal.

The Flyers didn’t receive big-time numbers from their household guys as Giroux and Voracek failed to crack the score sheet. James van Riemsdyk and Kevin Hayes also went without a point.

But Konecny has made those types of games OK and winnable for the Flyers, even when facing a Bruins group that was 7-0-1 at home and among the NHL’s top-five teams in points, goals per game and fewest goals allowed per game.

Last season, the Flyers were 10-19-2 when Giroux went scoreless and 10-19-2 when Voracek went scoreless. This season, they already have five wins when Giroux has gone scoreless and seven wins when Voracek has gone scoreless.

Sure, Konecny has put up his fair share of points with a team-leading 19 (eight goals, 11 assists) to push the Flyers to a 10-5-2 record through 17 games.

Most importantly, though, he has stuck to what he thought about this summer — consistently doing what is best for his team every single night.

Right now, that’s playing like a star.

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