Flyers

Flyers general manager search: Why Bill Zito is an interesting dark horse choice

Flyers general manager search: Why Bill Zito is an interesting dark horse choice

Want an under-the-radar candidate for the Flyers' general manager vacancy?

Bill Zito could be the guy.

Zito is the assistant general manager for the Blue Jackets, whom he has been with since August 2013, and also oversees the club's AHL affiliate Cleveland Monsters.

The 54-year-old Yale graduate used an agency and scouting background as a springboard into hockey management. 

Why Zito's a fit

Zito is known for being numbers savvy, which would only help with balancing the salary cap and wisely conducting contract negotiations, aspects the Flyers lacked before Ron Hextall.

Zito has represented a number of current and former NHL players — including Kimmo Timonen — and also brings a good eye for talent, according to Flyers official website contributor Bill Meltzer.

Why Zito's not a fit

The Flyers look like they want a candidate with a résumé already deep in general manager experience — a GM that has been there, done that on pulling off big trades and making tough decisions.

"I think you have to look at everything," Flyers president Paul Holmgren said Tuesday. "We're very focused on the trade deadline coming up on Feb. 25 and we think there could be some opportunities out there and, frankly, we don't want to miss out."

Zito doesn't have the track record quite yet as he hasn't held a role higher than AGM.

What they're saying

"Now that Jason Botterill is in Buffalo and Julien BriseBois has finally taken over in Tampa Bay, my next 'assistant general manager destined for greatness in the big chair' is Bill Zito."

- Greg Wyshynski, ESPN.com

"Another candidate that would make sense to me but I’ve not confirmed whether the Flyers will reach out to him is Columbus Blue Jackets assistant GM Bill Zito who spoke with Carolina about its GM job last season and seems ready for the next step in his career."

- Pierre LeBrun, The Athletic

"As mentioned by Pierre LeBrun, a dark horse name for Flyers GM search is Columbus assistant GM Bill Zito. He will become an NHL GM — some liken him to Ray Shero — and had a good working relationship with Homer when Paul was Flyers GM and Zito was an agent (Timonen among others)."

- Meltzer, Flyers official website contributor

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2020 NHL All-Star Game: Flyers' Travis Konecny shows off his career-high stuff for Metropolitan Division

2020 NHL All-Star Game: Flyers' Travis Konecny shows off his career-high stuff for Metropolitan Division

BOX SCORE

Travis Konecny stormed into the NHL All-Star break already with a new career high in assists. The Flyers' winger has 26 helpers and is projected to finish with 44, a sign of significant growth in a breakout 2019-20 season for the 22-year-old.

On Saturday night in the 2020 All-Star Game at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Konecny put his facilitating on display during the 3-on-3 action featuring the world's best players. He finished with three assists in the Metropolitan Division's 9-5 semifinal loss to the Atlantic Division.

"I had a lot of fun," Konecny said Saturday, via Flyers senior director of public relations and communications Zack Hill. "It was pretty funny, I was watching my parents in the stands and my mom didn't understand why we weren't playing like a real game.

"It's my first game and it's her first time seeing it. I don't know if she was expecting me to be blocking shots and forechecking, stuff like that. I had a lot of fun with it.

"It was a really cool experience, getting to play with some players, too, that I usually won't get the chance to play with was fun."

Konecny playing in his first All-Star Game at 22 years old should be exciting for the Flyers. Claude Giroux was 23 years old for his first All-Star Game back in 2011. The future looks bright for Konecny, who signed a new six-year, $33 million contract back in mid-September.

With 17 goals and 43 points through 47 games, Konecny is eight goals and seven points away from setting career highs across the board.

A breakout, indeed.

Here are more sights and scenes from Konecny's first All-Star Game:

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Why Flyers fans should be hopeful about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Why Flyers fans should be hopeful about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Today, we break down why Flyers fans should be hopeful for the post-All-Star break stretch. On Sunday, we’ll look at the reasons for concern.

Through 50 games, the Flyers have done two important things. They’ve played well within the division and have dominated at home. 

Those two trends bode well for after the All-Star break because divisional games become much bigger and confidence at home is paramount as the pressure builds.

The Flyers are 17-4-4 at home and 9-2-3 against Metropolitan foes. The marks are notable given the Flyers fell sorely short in those areas last season, when they finished 19-18-4 at home and 10-16-2 in divisional play.

Another positive is the Flyers are getting healthier after the break. Shayne Gostisbehere (knee) could be back Friday in the Flyers’ first game out of the bye week, while Carter Hart (abdominal strain) is expected to return not long after.

But what might be the Flyers’ most convincing piece of evidence for optimism is how they’ve performed against the NHL’s best teams. The Flyers have shown they can play with any club, which is huge for their own belief moving forward.

The Flyers are 11th in the NHL standings at 27-17-6. They've gone 9-5-3 against the top-10 teams and 5-1-1 vs. the top four.

Head coach Alain Vigneault has a history of taking teams to the playoffs, and doing so in Year 1 on the job. At his previous three stops (Canadiens, Canucks, Rangers), each of his first seasons produced playoff bids and at least one series victory.

Vigneault’s track record will be tested over the Flyers’ final 32 games.

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