Flyers

Debating Flyers' biggest positive from 2019-20 training camp, preseason

Debating Flyers' biggest positive from 2019-20 training camp, preseason

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall.

The topic: After touching on the disappointments, who was the Flyers' biggest positive during training camp and the preseason?

Destra

He has been an underdog for most of his career, but not anymore. Heading into this training camp, it seemed like many forgot this prospect made it to the final cut in 2018-19 before coming up just a tad short. But this time around, Carsen Twarynski made sure to hit the ground running (or should I say hit the ice skating) and put his name on everyone’s radar for 2019-20.

With the game constantly advancing, teams can no longer play and succeed with having only two solid lines that can produce. Every line needs to contribute, every player. Twarynski has the capability to solidify the bottom half of the roster. And the best part is? He hasn’t even reached his fullest potential yet.

Twarynski netted two goals, tying him for most scored in the preseason on the Flyers. But something stood out with his play on every shift he took — his refusal to quit.

The 21-year-old decided to stay in the area during the offseason, training in Voorhees, New Jersey. It may seem like a cliché — but hard work truly does pay off.

Emmer

From the first day the orange and black hit the ice for training camp in Voorhees, New Jersey, Joel Farabee made a name for himself on the Flyers’ roster. 

He was put to the test on Day 1, filling in on the first line for a then contract-less Travis Konecny, and as the preseason games began, his role continued to grow.

“He’s a real smart player,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said last week. “For a 19-year-old player, I think he’s ahead of the curve with a respect to awareness of the game away from the puck, his defensive understanding of the game.”

Though he never played lower than the third line in five preseason games and didn’t make it on the score sheet once, that “awareness of the game away from the puck” still impressed head coach Alain Vigneault. 

“If he's not in the lineup that first game, it would be a surprise,” Vigneault said last Thursday. “He's played extremely well. In my mind, if we would start tomorrow, he would probably be in our lineup.”

He turned heads in the preseason, but was it enough? As the regular season begins Friday, the major question is when will he fit into the Flyers' lineup?

“He’s obviously a highly competitive kid,” Fletcher said last week. “Very intelligent kid. But it’s a tough league for a 19-year old player. What we do with Joel will be what’s right for the team, but also what’s right for him in the long run.”

Regardless of what happens before the opener, Farabee has a future with the Flyers, whether it’s now or later.

Hall

A bit of an outside-the-box pick: Justin Braun.

Before his arrival, we didn’t know much about the 6-foot-2, 205-pound defenseman because he played out on the West Coast in San Jose, where Brent Burns has long been the man along the blue line.

However, there’s a reason why Braun played nine years for the Sharks, has put up 20:43 minutes per game over the past six seasons to go with a plus-32 rating and sports 84 career playoff appearances on his résumé.

He understands defense and the intricacies of goal prevention.

"If you want to end plays in this league, you've got to have a good stick and then you've got to get body,” Braun said on Day 1 of training camp. “If you're soft out there, you're going to be in your D-zone all night. You've got to end those plays quick and try to get it going north, otherwise you're going to have a long night. Every shift I try to do that so I don't have to spend too much time in my D-zone."

San Jose has been one of the NHL’s top teams since the 2015-16 season, when it went to the Stanley Cup Final.

“Harped on gap all the time — like, we didn't want guys crossing the blue line with the puck,” Braun said. “We wanted them to dump it, get it back, turn it over.”

The 32-year-old is an underrated upgrade for the Flyers’ defense.

"Braun isn’t going to win any contests for artistic merit on the ice, but he competes and he has a great stick," Fletcher said on Day 1 of training camp. "I went back and watched 20 games of clips just the other day again, he is unbelievable stick on puck. He is hard to play against. It's like seaweed, he's out there, there's arms and he’s battling and pushing you and poke-checking and he brings a real veteran savvy to the defensive part of the game."

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Flyers place Andy Welinski on NHL waivers, will create more cap space

Flyers place Andy Welinski on NHL waivers, will create more cap space

Andy Welinski, who had been out with a lower-body injury, was deemed healthy Monday and placed on waivers.

If the 26-year-old defenseman expectedly clears, he will report to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

The move is notable for a few reasons.

The Flyers' cap space will increase from $283,811 to $1,033,811, according to CapFriendly.com.

Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder) remains on injured reserve and counts against the cap like Welinski did. When the 20-year-old center is healthy, the Flyers will have room for him because the roster is at 21 players. Patrick appears to be getting closer to a return as he is with the Flyers on their current three-game road trip.

The Flyers might still make a move when Patrick inserts the lineup. An odd man out could be Connor Bunnaman or Carsen Twarynski, both 21-year-old rookies. It would make sense if the Flyers want them playing games at Lehigh Valley rather than sitting in the press box as an extra forward.

If the Flyers decide to send one of those players down, it would also create more cap flexibility. Chris Stewart, a veteran winger who turns 32 years old this month, remains with the team on a pro tryout.

As for Welinski, he will help a young Phantoms team if he clears waivers. Welinski has played 146 career AHL games and appeared in a career-high 26 games for the Ducks last season.

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Is Jakub Voracek's trimmed ice time a big deal?

Is Jakub Voracek's trimmed ice time a big deal?

Jakub Voracek’s 14:30 ice time Saturday night was certainly noteworthy.

It marked the 30-year-old winger’s fewest minutes in a game since the 2015-16 season. When the Flyers were trailing, 2-1, during the third period, one of their best and most experienced playmakers saw no more than three minutes of the ice. In the final stanza, Voracek was bumped off the first line and had shifts with the team’s fourth unit.

The development, which comes in the third game of the season under a new head coach, is nothing to sweep under the rug as if it never happened.

Is it troubling, though? No, at least not yet.

The fact is the Flyers have great depth in their top six. So much so that James van Riemsdyk, a two-time 30-goal scorer and the Flyers’ fourth-highest-paid player, opened the season on the third line.

On Saturday night in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Canucks (see observations), the Flyers were looking to spark their offense during the third period. They had one goal and 17 shots on net at the time. Head coach Alain Vigneault has said how he’s still searching for the best chemistry within his forward combinations and defensive pairs.

JVR, who finished with 15:11 and 15:37 minutes in the Flyers’ first two games, respectively, played 20:19 Saturday night. His jump to the first line was effective as the Flyers outshot the Canucks, 14-6, during the third period with van Riemsdyk, Kevin Hayes and Claude Giroux creating plenty of offense.

When asked Tuesday if he was inclined to experiment with lines early in the season, Vigneault said:

Yes, until I find the chemistry. I’m a firm believer in I think players like to stay on the same line — chemistry gets formed and accountability gets formed also between linemates and D partners. Last game against Chicago was the first time that I felt throughout the four lines we had some chemistry that enabled us to play well defensively and generate some chances offensively. How long that’s going to stay? It’s going to depend obviously on the players’ performance. Until I find the right mix — it could be a duo with a guy going in and out, it could be a line. I’d prefer it be lines, but that obviously depends on the players’ performances.

Vigneault will switch things up and try different combinations. He will also spread out ice time to maximize his push-the-pace, hard-on-the-attack style.

If anything, this is an indication that competition is aplenty among the Flyers’ forwards. There is talent available and minutes are up for grabs.

If you want those minutes, you have to earn them and then keep them.

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