Flyers

Flyers' Jordan Weal faces a bit of ironic reality

Flyers' Jordan Weal faces a bit of ironic reality

VOORHEES, N.J. — Dave Hakstol didn't sugarcoat it.

He was discussing Jordan Weal and how it took an injury to James van Riemsdyk to get him in the lineup. Weal opened the 2017-18 regular season on the second line with Nolan Patrick and Wayne Simmonds. After being considered a third-line center candidate during this preseason, Weal started 2018-19 as a healthy scratch.

"In terms of the No. 3 centerman position, [Mikhail Vorobyev] beat him out," Hakstol said Monday at Flyers Skate Zone. "So that had him on the outside looking in.

"Whichever way you want to look at it, he was outside of the top nine. There's no shame in that, Jordan had a good, hard-working camp, but going into the first couple of games, he was the odd man out of that group.

"Now he gets an opportunity to go in and his play will dictate the opportunity for him."

There was a taste of irony Monday for Weal. While he gets his shot to prove he can make a difference among the Flyers' forwards, it comes next to the guy who "beat him out" for the role at his natural position. Weal, 26, will slide into van Riemsdyk's left wing spot on the third line, alongside the 21-year-old Vorobyev and Simmonds.

No, Weal won't be playing down the middle, where he's most comfortable and some of his playmaking strengths are accentuated.

But getting on the ice in the home opener Tuesday? He'll take it.

Weal has played well with Simmonds in the past and is excited to see Vorobyev up close, not from the press box.

"He's been playing really well," Weal said. "He made this team right out of camp and he's earned it. It's going to be good to get out there and play with him. It seems like he's always in the right spot, making good plays. Me and Simmer can get out there and get some pucks and win some battles — it'll be good to work with those two."

During training camp, Weal admitted to overthinking the intricacies of the wing position last season and how the transition took longer than he had hoped (see story).

Those struggles could turn out to beneficial.

"I definitely learned a lot," Weal said. "I think every part of my game got a little more comfortable coming into this year. It's just a year-to-year thing. As you get more comfortable with the team, with the guys, with the league, you learn the dos and don'ts."

Simmonds knows what Weal can do.

"He's strong on the puck, he's good on puck battles, he's a hound dog," Simmonds said. "He forechecks like crazy."

Lineup from practice

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindblom-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Jordan Weal-Mikhail Vorobyev-Wayne Simmonds
Scott Laughton-Jori Lehtera-Michael Raffl

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg-Andrew MacDonald
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Calvin Pickard
Michal Neuvirth

Quotable

"T.K., putting his speed, his tenacity, his playmaking, some of that dynamic ability together with Patty and Oskar, has a chance to grow into something that can be very effective as well. We're going to watch that."

- Dave Hakstol

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5 Flyers takeaways: Why Brian Elliott is back, what could be next, more

5 Flyers takeaways: Why Brian Elliott is back, what could be next, more

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers continued their busy roster construction with the re-signing of goalie Brian Elliott on Wednesday afternoon to nail down the team's backup for Carter Hart in 2019-20.

General manager Chuck Fletcher has made things happen, while the start of the July 1 free agency period has yet to arrive.

With that said, let's get into five takeaways on the recent developments with the Flyers:

1. Good for the Hart?

The Flyers did their homework in search for a backup goaltender. After exhausting and analyzing all avenues, they were confident with bringing back Elliott, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent.

"We took full advantage of the shopping period, as I believe he did, too," Fletcher said Wednesday at Flyers Skate Zone. "We spoke to quite a few goaltenders this week, quite a few agents for goaltenders this week. We did a lot of due diligence looking into everyone's background, medical histories and stats — everything we can do."

Fletcher said the Flyers talked "extensively" to both Elliott and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Cam Talbot. Ultimately, Talbot indicated to the Flyers that he was "looking for a situation where he felt he might play a little bit more than what he anticipated playing here," Fletcher said.

As we wrote here, Elliott was a cost-effective, internal option for the Flyers. Does his recent injury history make the decision a risk? Absolutely, but Fletcher noted how Elliott finished the 2018-19 season healthy and said the 34-year-old feels "the best he's felt in a while" since his core muscle issues.

He has a full summer of training. He's not just rehabbing, he's training.

At the end of the day, we know Brian as well as, if not better than, everybody — we know his medical history, we know how he fits in the room, we know how he fits with Carter and we know how well he plays.

He takes care of himself, he's a high-end competitor and he's a good teammate. For us, it made a lot of sense.

2. Net gains

Elliott is competitive and will push Hart for playing time. Given Talbot was eyeing more starts elsewhere, it's clear Elliott was receptive to the situation with the Flyers: Hart is the guy. It doesn't mean Elliott won't be needed. After all, Hart will be only 21 years old and in his first full NHL season, while the Flyers have 17 back-to-back sets on their schedule.

"I anticipate both guys playing," Fletcher said. "I think the days of a 65- to 70-game goaltender are probably gone. Somewhere in the 30-to-50 range for each guy … it'll depend on performance, health and schedule."

If the Flyers can get 30 games out of Elliott, they'd take it. Even after he missed a 40-game stretch last season with a lower-body injury, Elliott still managed to play 26 games.

3. Placing Pitlick

The Flyers on Monday acquired forward Tyler Pitlick in a trade with the Stars.

How does the 27-year-old work into the team's plans?

"He's been mainly a bottom-six player," Fletcher said. "He's played the third line, he's the played fourth line, he brings good size, he's a good skater. Has a pretty consistent north-south, physical game. Brings a lot of energy. Shoots the puck pretty well, he can certainly score a goal, but his bread and butter is that puck pressure, forechecking type of game. The size and the speed fit well with what we want to try to create in terms of our bottom six."

The Flyers definitely want to be tougher to play against and Pitlick should help. If anything, he gives Alain Vigneault and the coaching staff another piece. Moving Ryan Hartman in the deal offered the Flyers a bit more cost certainty with the cap and signing their restricted free agents.

4. More to come?

Are the Flyers done adding? Not necessarily.

The club has around $16 million in cap space if Philippe Myers makes the roster over David Schlemko. Fletcher still needs to sign four restricted free agents in Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Scott Laughton and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

"We have plenty of cap space to bring our players back," Fletcher said. "Whether we have enough to go add another player, I'm not sure about that."

With the way the offseason has gone, don't ever rule out a trade. But it sounds like if the Flyers are seeking anything else, it will come in the form of depth at forward.

"We feel we've made some key additions, we've filled some holes and we have some pretty good young kids coming, too," Fletcher said. "I think our depth will be significantly better and hopefully on July 1 and 2, we'll have some more announcements to make on some players that can come in and help our organization — whether it's in Lehigh Valley or Philadelphia. I think we'll be in a good space in having good players and having sufficient depth."

5. A kid's game

Fletcher has not ruled out a prospect taking a job within the group of forwards. That, along with the cap, are reasons for why the Flyers don't appear overly eager to land a high-end forward before training camp.

Some prospects that could potentially fill out the Flyers' lineup: Aube-Kubel, Carsen Twarynski, Mikhail Vorobyev, Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost and Isaac Ratcliffe.

"We have five real good wingers — certainly better wingers than any team I've been a part of," Fletcher said. "To me, that wasn't an area of weakness. But we'll see. We'll also see what comes out of training camp. Just watching this development camp, there are a lot of young kids, and ideally they all get some time in the American league, but there's a lot of high-end talent here.

"It's been impressive to see. Our scouting staff has done a tremendous job. This is the most talent I've seen in a development camp in my whatever number of years I've been in the business — both in terms of quality and quantity and every position.

"At some point, there's certainly players in this camp right now that could impact our roster in a positive way."

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Flyers sign Brian Elliott to 1-year contract extension

Flyers sign Brian Elliott to 1-year contract extension

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers have their backup for Carter Hart.

Brian Elliott on Wednesday signed a one-year, $2 million contract extension with the Flyers. The 34-year-old was set to become an unrestricted free agent after two seasons with the Flyers in which he went 34-22-8 with a 2.77 goals-against average and .908 save percentage over 69 games (65 starts). He has battled injuries each year, missing a 40-game stretch last season because of a lower-body injury and significant time in 2017-18 following core muscle surgery he underwent on Feb. 13.

The backup to Hart will be crucial in 2019-20. Not only will Hart be just 21 years old and facing his first full NHL season, but the Flyers also play 17 back-to-back sets, which is four more than they did a year ago. Thirteen of those sets will be a part of stretches in which the Flyers play three games in four nights.

"Brian has played well for us the last two seasons," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a release by the team. "He is a proven, quality goaltender who competes and battles hard every time he has the net. We are excited to have him rejoin our team."

The Flyers had Elliott and Cam Talbot, two soon-to-be unrestricted free agents, as No. 2 options. They also could have gone the trade or free-agent market route. Fletcher, though, had more pressing areas to address like signing Kevin Hayes to bolster the forwards, reshaping the defense and creating as much cap flexibility as possible. Elliott was a veteran, cost-effective, internal option, but was he the best option?

While Elliott doesn't appear as the most reliable backup given his age and recent injury history, he's played in a tandem for most his career, is familiar with the Flyers and has at least been productive when healthy. He'll have to prove he can stay healthy enough to spell Hart from time to time. If he can't, the Flyers could be in trouble — again — and scrambling for somebody that can be trusted.

At his end-of-the season press conference, you could sense Elliott's competitiveness.

"The mentor thing gets kind of caught up. It's a tough word choice," Elliott said. "I think [Hart] needs someone that is going to help him along the way and push him to be better. Hartsy is a great young goalie and is going to be good in this league for a long time. The Philly fans have a lot to look forward to."

The Flyers have around $16 million in cap space if Philippe Myers is on the roster over David Schlemko. Fletcher has to re-sign restricted free agents Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Scott Laughton and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

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