Flyers

Flyers general manager search: Steve Greeley, a young high-riser with a connection

Flyers general manager search: Steve Greeley, a young high-riser with a connection

Former Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher is the front-runner

Blue Jackets assistant GM Bill Zito is a dark horse candidate with a solid working relationship with Flyers president Paul Holmgren.

The Flyers' GM search will take "weeks, not months." The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reported the Flyers' list is down to four.

Another name connected to the search is Sabres assistant general manager Steve Greeley, a 38-year-old who appears on the fast track to running a franchise soon.

According to TSN's Frank Seravalli, Greeley is on the Flyers' list of GM candidates but the team had yet to ask permission from Buffalo to talk to him.

Why Greeley's a fit

While Dean Lombardi is not a candidate for the GM job, the former Kings general manager will advise Holmgren on the job search. That's significant because Lombardi hired Greeley as a scout in 2006 in Los Angeles. That connection doesn't hurt. Holmgren made it clear the Flyers would want a fresh perspective in the next GM and Greeley would be that despite the Lombardi connection.

Greeley is a hot name rising in the hockey circles. He oversees the Sabres' pro scouting staff and player development department and previously interviewed for the Carolina GM job. He spent seven years as an amateur and pro scout with the Kings and then jumped into the coaching waters, becoming an associate head coach at Boston University. He then joined the Rangers as their assistant director of player personnel before going to the Sabres.

The book on Greeley is that he's a hockey guy with a modern perspective who takes analytics into the equation. Holmgren said he's looking for a "new voice with a different mindset that can push the team to the next level." Greeley certainly would be a new voice.

Why Greeley's not a fit

As my linemate Jordan Hall mentioned, the Flyers appear to desire a general manager who's been there before, especially since they want to be players at the NHL trade deadline in February.

Greeley's résumé doesn't include previous GM experience, which doesn't automatically disqualify him but could be a roadblock. Seravalli's report, though, suggests otherwise.

Then we have to factor in Buffalo. The Sabres very well may decline the Flyers' request to speak with Greeley should Holmgren ask. Highly doubtful, especially since they granted the Hurricanes permission, but it's still on the table.

What they're saying

"I think Sabres assistant GM Steve Greeley would be a good hire for Philly. Played 4 years at BU. 38 years old. Smart. He interviewed with Carolina. He oversees pro scouting staff and player development department in Buffalo. I think he'd be a great hire."

- John Buccigross, ESPN broadcaster

"Greeley is credited with having massive role in the Rangers' recruitment of Jimmy Vesey and he was the recruiting guru at Boston University. He relates very well to today's players. He's also very caught up on what statistics are saying about hockey in 2018."

- Adam Herman, BlueShirtBanter

"Greeley is another bright guy who is well versed on both the old-school and analytics-based approaches."

- Bill Meltzer, Flyers official website and HockeyBuzz contributor

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Devils reportedly interested in former Flyers head coaches Peter Laviolette, John Stevens

Devils reportedly interested in former Flyers head coaches Peter Laviolette, John Stevens

With the NHL's 24-team return-to-play plan, naturally some hockey fans have enjoyed poking fun at the seven clubs left out of the field.

The Devils being one of them.

But not is all bad for the Flyers' Metropolitan Division foe. New Jersey has a 7.5 percent chance to earn the No. 1 overall draft slot after landing the top pick in 2019 (Jack Hughes) and 2017 (Nico Hischier). For the 2020 draft, the Devils could end up with three first-round selections.

Not an awful spot.

New Jersey is also in the market for a head coach after finishing the 2019-20 campaign with interim bench boss Alain Nasreddine. There are some big fish out there and the Devils could reel one in — possibly a former Flyers head coach. According to a report Thursday by Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman in his latest 31 Thoughts column, New Jersey is eyeing at least four candidates for its vacancy.

Two of them spent time behind the Flyers' bench in 2009-10, when the club made a run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Per Friedman:

As for the coaching search, word is the Devils are eyeing at least four candidates. I believe that includes incumbent Alain Nasreddine, along with Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette and John Stevens. There may be one more. The wrinkle here is that [interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald] did the initial interviews, and will any of them want him as their boss should they be choice? It’s also possible ownership will want a conversation before any decision is made. It’s a unique time to try and hire someone.

Flyers fans had it difficult enough seeing Wayne Simmonds in Devils red for most of this season. Laviolette attempting to lead New Jersey back to playoff hockey for just the second time in nine seasons would be interesting to follow from afar. Nobody would doubt his ability to do it. Laviolette, who was fired by the Predators in January, has taken all four teams he has coached to the playoffs and three of them to the Stanley Cup Final, winning it all with the Hurricanes in 2006.

Stevens hasn't been an NHL head coach since 2018-19, when he was fired by the Kings 13 games into the season. He led the Flyers to back-to-back playoff appearances from 2007 to 2009 and was let go by the club 25 games into the 2009-10 campaign, opening the door for Laviolette's tenure in Philadelphia.

If Laviolette goes to the Devils, he'll have coached four teams now currently in the Metropolitan Division. Alain Vigneault (Rangers, Flyers), Barry Trotz (Capitals, Islanders) and John Tortorella (Rangers, Blue Jackets) have also coached multiple clubs in the division.

Laviolette would certainly give the division another heavy hitter behind the bench.

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2020 NHL playoffs: Flyers' outlook for round robin, first round

2020 NHL playoffs: Flyers' outlook for round robin, first round

The round-robin tournament of the NHL's 24-team return-to-play format will represent different kinds of importance for the fourth-seeded Flyers.

Firstly, they couldn't ask for a better tune-up ahead of their first-round series. They'll play each of the Eastern Conference's top three teams once before meeting their opening-round opponent.

Secondly, those dates with the East's best could help the Flyers climb even more. The total points accumulated in the round-robin tournament will determine the conference's seed Nos. 1-4. If there are ties after the set of games, which will feature regular-season overtime and shootout rules, the regular-season points percentages of each club will serve as the tiebreaker.

How could the Flyers fare in the round-robin portion and what would it ultimately mean for their outlook in the 24-team setup?

Here are three factors to note:

1. Can Flyers win round robin?

They shouldn't be considered heavy underdogs. The Flyers will be confident in their opportunity to improve their seed after going 2-1-0 against the top-seeded Bruins during the regular season and 3-0-1 vs. the third-seeded Capitals. The second-seeded Lightning were the one club that gave the Flyers trouble. The Flyers dropped two games in regulation to Tampa Bay, but one was a 1-0 defeat and the other was a chippy 5-3 loss with an empty-netter in the final 22 seconds.

The Flyers have a goalie who keeps them in games and a group that held its own with the fellow top seeds in major statistical categories:

Goals per game

Lightning — 3.47
Capitals — 3.42
Flyers — 3.29
Bruins — 3.24

Goals against per game

Bruins — 2.39
Flyers — 2.77
Lightning — 2.77
Capitals — 3.07

Power play percentage

Bruins — 25.2
Lightning — 23.1
Flyers — 20.8
Capitals — 19.4

Penalty kill percentage

Bruins — 84.3
Capitals — 82.6
Flyers — 81.8
Lightning — 81.4

2. Wait, would they want to climb?

It's an interesting question right now because the NHL and NHLPA are undetermined on the format for the first and second rounds, whether it be bracketed or reseeding after the qualifying round.

That's a huge question.

Say the Flyers stayed at No. 4 in a bracket-style scenario and the 12th-seeded Canadiens knocked off the fifth-seeded Penguins, the Flyers would face Montreal. On paper, that would be a pretty favorable matchup against the lowest seed in the East. Whereas the No. 1 seed in the conference would face the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchup.

If the league instead agrees to reseed, such a scenario would see the No. 1 seed face the Canadiens during the first round, whereas the Flyers, as the fourth seed, would get the highest remaining seed to advance from the qualifying round.

When/if the Flyers play round-robin games, the NHL will have made a decision on the format for the first and second rounds. Right now, just about everything is undecided for the Flyers.

3. The good thing?

The Flyers can't hurt themselves in the round robin. As the lowest seed of the four, they can only improve their seed. If the Flyers struggle, they stay put at No. 4 and at least played three competitive warmup games for their first-round series.

The Flyers went 22-8-5 against the Eastern Conference playoff field during the regular season, so they'll like their chances against whichever team they draw.

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