Flyers

The fine balance of Flyers' process will have great say in NHL trade deadline motives

The fine balance of Flyers' process will have great say in NHL trade deadline motives

VOORHEES, N.J. — As Chuck Fletcher watched Philippe Myers push the puck up ice and Travis Sanheim finish with the game-tying third-period goal Monday night, the Flyers’ general manager remembered a key aspect to the organization’s process.

In Fletcher’s first full season as GM, the Flyers have improved and are vying for a return to the playoffs. They entered Tuesday four points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division and holding the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.

They are also very young. They’ve played 11 rookies so far and have given numerous auditions to prospects in hopes of solidifying their bottom six.

Nothing has been set in stone as their depth at forward and down the middle remains up in the air, particularly with the absences of Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder).

All of which will make the Feb. 24 trade deadline an interesting time for Fletcher in his decisions to either add to the club or trust its younger internal options.

Fletcher got a tip when he saw the 23-year-old Sanheim and 22-year-old Myers deliver a huge goal in the Flyers’ 6-5 shootout win over the Bruins.

“You go back to that 4-on-4 sequence where you have got a couple young defensemen who have had some ups and downs this year,” Fletcher said Tuesday at Flyers Skate Zone. “Sanheim throws the puck to Myers. They are both jumping up there, leading the rush. Myers throws it back to Sanheim. Sanheim goes on a third effort and scores a goal. You kind of get reminded a little bit of the need to be patient with young players.

“That was a tremendous goal. Those are great players on the ice for the Bruins. We’ve got a lot of these kids to grow, so I don’t know that we’re looking to bump too many guys out of key spots right now. Certainly if we can increase our depth, find another guy to help in certain situations, I think we’d be very open to that.”

Cap-wise, the Flyers are not in a favorable position to make a huge acquisition at the trade deadline unless it likely involves current players on the roster, not just draft picks or prospects. The Flyers have only $579,444 in cap space, per CapFriendly.com.

“A lot of teams are up against it,” Fletcher said of the cap. “You have to maybe look at including players in the deal. It’s hard to trade a fourth-round pick for a $4 million player. With our group right now, I don’t know that’s what we’re looking to do. If we can improve our team, we will.

“We're a decent offensive team but the main reason why we're trending better this year is our defensive play."

A couple of in-house players who could once again force the Flyers’ hand — or at least make looking outside not as appealing — are Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost, two of the organization’s top prospects coming into the 2019-20 season.

The 19-year-old Farabee has been with the Flyers for 37 games and plays the right way with an advanced hockey IQ. Currently seeing lesser minutes, Farabee has three goals and 12 points. The 2018 first-round pick is regarded as a point-producing winger. If he can provide a lift in secondary scoring, the Flyers can feel more comfortable pushing forward without external help.

“We've been talking to teams all year to see if that's a way we can improve, that makes sense,” Fletcher said. “But clearly, I think over time, the young guys will get better. I mean, Joel Farabee's got three goals this year. My guess is he won't have three goals this time next year.

“He's obviously going to get better and better. … So young guys tend to take those steps. Will it be this year? I don't know, I think it's going to be a little bit of both.

“The thing with Joel is his game is so much more advanced than the other kids away from the puck and defensively. He's one of our best forwards in terms of puck management and game management.”

Frost gave the Flyers an offensive jolt in November and is now back with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley for further development and to regain some confidence. After scoring two goals and three points in his first two NHL games, the 20-year-old center had four points (all assists) over his final 16 games.

The 2017 first-round pick’s ability to make plays down the middle can potentially help the Flyers both offensively and with lineup flexibility.

“If he's the best player and deserves to be here, he'll be here,” Fletcher said. “We have been trying to balance that long-term development versus short-term help for the Flyers and there's been a lot of juggling.

“Hopefully over the next couple weeks he continues to grow, build that and feel good about his game. You love bringing kids up when they feel good about their game, when they're in a good spot.”

With the deadline nearing, the Flyers won’t lose focus on development, but they will have to find out if their kids are enough to make the present about the playoffs again.

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Travis Konecny, James van Riemsdyk click as Flyers deliver much-needed response with win over Kings

Travis Konecny, James van Riemsdyk click as Flyers deliver much-needed response with win over Kings

BOX SCORE

That’s more like it.

Head coach Alain Vigneault challenged his team to play on its terms and the Flyers responded with a 4-1 win Saturday night over the Kings at the Wells Fargo Center, just two days after a sloppy 4-1 home loss to the Canadiens.

The Flyers (26-17-6) have earned at least a point in 20 of 24 home games (16-4-4).

With the victory, the Flyers are two points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division and hold the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.

The Kings (18-27-5) have lost seven of their last eight games since beating the Flyers, 5-3, on New Year’s Eve.

• Vigneault was not happy with the letdown against Montreal on home ice after such a positive stretch in which the Flyers took down the NHL’s three best teams.

“We’ve got to execute, we’ve got to compete,” Vigneault said Saturday after morning skate. “We’re at our best when we’re on top of people, we’re taking people out of the equation.”

For the most part, the Flyers took the Kings out of the equation, a team that put up four first-period goals on the orange and black in the previous meeting.

• Vigneault put Travis Konecny and James van Riemsdyk on a line with Claude Giroux down the middle.

Konecny and van Riemsdyk instantly clicked. JVR found Konecny twice as the duo handed the Flyers a 2-0 lead (see highlights).

Konecny is eight goals and eight points away from setting new career highs in both categories, while the Flyers are 8-0-0 this season when the 22-year-old records a multi-point game.

Meanwhile, van Riemsdyk tacked on the Flyers’ fourth goal to give him a three-point game. The big winger has five points (one goal, four assists) in his last four games.

The Flyers go to a different level when he produces — 15-3-0 in games that he registers at least one point.

Giroux was sharp, as well, with two assists after he had scored just one point in his previous five games.

A good call by Vigneault.

• Brian Elliott received a rare home start with Carter Hart out (right lower abdominal strain) two to three weeks.

The 34-year-old goalie was reliable once again with 34 saves after knocking off the defending champion Blues with 30 saves Wednesday.

The Flyers will need him next Tuesday against the Penguins.

• Joel Farabee has two goals in the last two games after scoring two goals in his previous 30 games.

The 19-year-old climbed to the Flyers with a goal-scoring prowess and could be a crucial secondary option to the team down the stretch.

Expect his role to grow (see story).

• Justin Braun and Robert Hagg were solid as a new defensive pair.

• Nolan Patrick on Saturday got in more work with skills coach Angelo Ricci.

Patrick, who is recovering from a migraine disorder, has not been cleared for contact and there is no timetable for his return. Patrick and the Flyers have said the expectation is for the 21-year-old center to play this season.

“He’s been skating harder,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Tuesday. “Getting his heart rate up higher, I think he’s feeling a bit better. Again, it’s hard to predict. Once we have certain information, if he’s cleared for contact or anything like that, we will obviously let you guys know right away. I can just tell you from the on- and off-ice workouts he’s doing, he is progressing. But there certainly isn’t any clear path as to which way this will go.

“We still think he has a real good future ahead of him and speaking with a lot of the medical people that have dealt with him, they all anticipate him coming back and so that's why I'm optimistic he will, but I just can't give you a timeframe.”

• The Flyers host the Penguins Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN) before going on their NHL-mandated Jan. 22-30 bye week.

Konecny will represent the Flyers at the NHL All-Star festivities Jan. 24-25 in St. Louis (see story).

 

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As Jeff Carter's Kings make trip to Philly, is the former Flyer a trade deadline target?

As Jeff Carter's Kings make trip to Philly, is the former Flyer a trade deadline target?

Jeff Carter was back in Philadelphia Saturday night as his Kings played the Flyers.

After the Feb. 24 trade deadline, could he be somewhere else other than Los Angeles?

It's not outside the realm of possibility.

The Kings entered Saturday's action in the basement of the Western Conference and may be a team looking to sell some veteran parts to a contender.

Carter is 35 years old but under contract for next season and 2021-22 with a cap hit of $5,272,727, according to CapFriendly.com. The center brings a lot of pedigree as a two-time Stanley Cup champion and a four-time 30-plus goal-scorer. He can still score the puck a bit as he's projected to finish with 23 goals this season.

If Los Angeles wants to retool and shifts its focus to the future, Carter has the potential to earn it a decent return if contending teams are interested in his services.

Has he ever thought about playing in Philly again?

“I don’t want to leave L.A., I can tell you that right now," he said to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Taryn Hatcher on Saturday night's edition of Flyers Pregame Live. "But I loved playing in Philly, I had some great years here, I have a lot of friends and family. Whatever happens, happens.

"It’s been a long time since I played here but I still enjoy coming back, a lot friends here, my wife’s from here, so some family and stuff like that. Always enjoy coming back and seeing everybody.”

While the Flyers are a team that could be looking for depth and scoring down the middle, they're not exactly in position to trade for a player with the contract like Carter's deal. They would have to include players from their roster in the exchange or make other moves. Subtracting, or doing so significantly, is probably not their plan right now.

"It’s hard to trade a fourth-round pick for a $4 million player," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Tuesday (see story). "With our group right now, I don’t know that’s what we’re looking to do. If we can improve our team, we will."

But you never know. Carter certainly knows anything can happen in this business.

"I love playing in L.A. and being a part of this team," he said. "We’ll see where it goes.”

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