Flyers director of player development Kjell Samuelsson talks Morgan Frost, Philippe Myers, development camp

Flyers director of player development Kjell Samuelsson talks Morgan Frost, Philippe Myers, development camp

VOORHEES, N.J. — Morgan Frost had filled out his frame since the last time he was here.

Considerably too.

Frost stood by his stall Thursday after the first day of the Flyers' 2018 development camp not only one year older but also noticeably more mature physically. Since Sault Ste. Marie's season concluded one day before Frost turned 19 years old, the 2017 first-round pick had gained nine pounds. He finished the 2017-18 campaign at 175 pounds but came to Voorhees weighing 184.

One day on the beach with U.S. Navy SEALs and Frost has to head back to the cafeteria.

“I actually weighed myself today,” he said. “After training yesterday, I was about 181. Trying to get a good dinner in here.”

If there's one thing holding Frost back from receiving a legitimate opportunity to make the Flyers in training camp, it’s his size. He still needs to add strength. Even on the team’s development-camp roster, he’s listed at 172 pounds. His goal is to play above 180.

With that comes the point of development camp. Teaching prospects how to be professionals, the small details that get overlooked. Think of groceries and laundry, everyday tasks we don’t even think about. The camp is more than just boring hockey drills.

For a prospect like Frost, it’s about learning how to gain the right weight, sustaining it and playing with it. For others, it’s about learning patience and taming the lion inside.

“They can’t get fully developed physically in one summer,” Flyers director of player development Kjell Samuelsson said. “That’s impossible, but they believe that. They go after it and then realize when next season starts, it’s going to take a long time.”

Take Mark Friedman into account.

Friedman, a 2014 third-round pick, is now in his fifth development camp. One has to wonder how much more Friedman can take out of it, even after turning pro last season. But as Samuelsson was quick to note, development camp is a little different for college players.

Because of their amateur status, a college player can't sign an entry-level contract and still play NCAA hockey like a major junior player can. As a result, they can’t participate in training camp and preseason, which was one factor why a prospect like Friedman is here.

Samuelsson said the Flyers require college players to attend development for one year after turning pro.

“We have changed the camp a little bit too,” Samuelsson said. “There’s always new things he can pick up. I honestly think he can learn a lot still. You never stop learning in hockey. I think [Friedman] can learn a lot still and he has a lot to learn just to become a pro.”

Another development camp veteran is Philippe Myers, who the Flyers discovered as an undrafted free agent in 2015. Now in his third camp, Myers is one of the team’s top prospects.

Myers’ first pro season in Lehigh Valley can be split into two tales. The first, Myers suffered through injuries. The second, he started to look like the player that began stealing headlines.

As the Flyers enter this summer looking to add a defenseman, Myers is the team’s best internal option to push for a roster spot in training camp. He’s a right-handed shot who skates well and moves the puck.

But Samuelsson was reluctant to say Myers is NHL-ready.

“If he had played a whole year," Samuelsson said, "maybe he would be close. But he was hurt a lot, so I think he needs more time in the minors."

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule: Flames look to avoid 2-game series deficit vs. Avalanche

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule: Flames look to avoid 2-game series deficit vs. Avalanche

The NHL-best Lightning were shockingly swept by the Blue Jackets in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The NHL's second-best team the Flames are in some first-round trouble, too. Calgary is facing a 2-1 series deficit against the Avalanche with Game 4 Wednesday night in Colorado.

Below is the full schedule for Day 8 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can watch the entire playoffs on the networks of NBC. 

Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs (TOR 2-1)
Game 4, Eastern Conference first round
7 p.m. ET | TV: NBCSN | Live stream here

Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars (NSH 2-1)
Game 4, Western Conference first round
8 p.m. ET | TV: USA | Live stream here

Calgary Flames at Colorado Avalanche (COL 2-1)
Game 4, Western Conference first round
10 p.m. ET | TV: NBCSN | Live stream here

Why Flyers did just fine with Alain Vigneault, not Joel Quenneville

Why Flyers did just fine with Alain Vigneault, not Joel Quenneville

It's uncertain how hard the Flyers went after Joel Quenneville or if the team was even in on the three-time Stanley Cup champion at all.

On the day Quenneville took the Panthers' head coaching job, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher appeared unflappable when asked about his level of disappointment with the news.

"I'm happy for Joel," Fletcher said April 8. "We're less than 48 hours since the end of our season and the process of identifying the next head coach of the Flyers will start today. We'll start the process.

"He's not available. I'm not going to speculate on names or people that may be available or were available or were available in past years. It's a big decision for the Flyers."

Backup plan or not, Fletcher didn't do too shabby with his big decision, tabbing Alain Vigneault as the Flyers' new head coach. 

Maybe there's some short-term memory with the outside perception of the hire. When you see Vigneault's name, many think of his final days with the Rangers. After four winning seasons, New York fired Vigneault last April as the team was ready for a fresh approach following a 25-point drop-off.

Well, the same happened with Quenneville. While he experienced a much longer and more fruitful run of success in Chicago, the situation eventually grew sour to the point in which new direction was wanted. Quenneville was fired 15 games into this season after his worst year with the Blackhawks in 2017-18.

Vigneault is not Quenneville. But he's no slouch, either.

The Flyers needed a coach with experience and got one.

Vigneault has led three teams to the Presidents' Trophy and two to the Stanley Cup Final. In 16 seasons as an NHL head coach, 11 have featured playoff berths, with eight of those teams advancing past the first round (see 5 takeaways).

He owns three 50-win seasons and eight 100-point seasons. The Flyers haven't won 50 or more games in a season since 1985-86 and haven't amassed 100 or more points in a season since 2011-12, when they last won a playoff series (see story).

"I think his track record speaks for itself," Fletcher said Monday. "He's had success at the junior level, had success in the minor leagues, and he's had success in the NHL. You can't have success at all those levels unless you're good at developing players and good at connecting with veteran players. He's a guy that gets his teams to play hard and gets his players to buy in."

And for Fletcher, what likely made Vigneault such an attractive candidate is the head coach's track record in Year 1 on the job. At Vigneault's previous three stops (Canadiens, Canucks, Rangers), each of his first seasons resulted in playoff bids and at least one series win. Overall, his combined record in those seasons was 131-89-26 with a .585 points percentage.

"Right now, it's about trying to continue to build our group and become as competitive as quickly as we can," Fletcher said.

Quenneville was clearly set on South Florida.

It's also clear why that didn't break the Flyers' hearts.

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