Flyers

Flyers notes, quotes and tidbits: Connor McDavid comes to town; Matt Read to play?

Flyers notes, quotes and tidbits: Connor McDavid comes to town; Matt Read to play?

VOORHEES, N.J. — Believe it or not, the Flyers are aware of 20-year-old Oilers phenom Connor McDavid. That doesn't make preparing for the 2017 Art Ross Trophy (most points in NHL) winner any easier, let alone slow him down.

“You have to be understated a little bit and say you're going to be aware when he's on the ice, but obviously there's more to it," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said Friday. "He's a heck of a player and a guy that can make something happen at any time.”

McDavid has picked up right where he left off last season when he led the NHL with 100 points and 70 assists. Six games into the 2017-18 campaign, the third-year centerman already has three goals and five assists, and he's doing it in style. His two helpers helped lift Edmonton over the Blackhawks on Thursday, one of which led to the game-winner in overtime, the other — a no-look, behind-the-back pass — making highlight reels everywhere.

So, yeah, the Flyers are well aware of McDavid and what he's capable of. That doesn't mean he'll be easy to stop.

"We just have to take time and space away from him," defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. "That's the biggest thing. You just can't give him space out there. He's going to wind it up and wheel.

“We're aware of it. We're going to stick to our game plan, nothing special, but obviously be aware when he's on the ice.”

The Flyers knew all about McDavid last season, too. He still managed to find the back of the net twice and rack up three assists in those two meetings.

McDavid has also experienced success against both of the Flyers netminders. As a member of the Flames, probable starter Brian Elliott posted an 0-3-1 record with a .870 save percentage in four appearances against the Oilers in 2016-17. Michal Neuvirth was 0-1 and allowed six goals in his only meeting.

It seems all the Flyers can do is be aware of the challenges McDavid presents.

"Probably everywhere they go, they have reporters asking the other team what their plan is against him," Elliott said.

“He's just a unique talent that you have to be aware of at all times. He's able to make plays that a lot of other guys aren't. You just have to be on your toes. You have to respect him, but you have to play your game and make sure you're tough no matter who it is out there.”

Laughton confident
Brandon Manning isn't the only member of the Flyers who has experience with McDavid. Scott Laughton has been up close and personal with the budding superstar, having played against him in junior and in some camps.

With Laughton centering the Flyers' fourth line, he should have some opportunities to put his familiarity of McDavid to the test. The Flyers are going to need any advantage they can get — no matter how small or insignificant it might seem.

"I went to a pro camp with McDavid in Toronto in the summer, and he's special," Laughton said. "He's got the best hands I've seen. He's a world-class talent.

“At the same time, tomorrow I'm going to try to limit his space, get in his face and make it hard for him to get going and get speed. I think I can try to keep up with him once I get my speed going.”

Laughton seemed confident about potentially matching up against McDavid. At least he has a plan, anyway.

“There's not much you can do," Laughton said. "You just have to be hard to play against, be in his face all night and kind of get him off his game that way.”

Injury report
Flyers forwards Wayne Simmonds and Taylor Leier both missed Friday's skate with what the club termed as maintenance days.

Simmonds was already dealing with a lower-body injury before he was clipped in the face by a stick during Thursday's 1-0 loss to the Predators. It doesn't sound like anything that should prevent the 10-year veteran from suiting up against the Oilers, but clearly, he's banged up right now.

Leier's absence was a bit more of a mystery, and given the 23-year-old rookie's inexperience, missing practice would seem to point to an injury of some kind.

In a bit of good news on the injury front, Jordan Weal returned to practice for the Flyers. However, he refused to let on as to whether he'll be on the ice Saturday.

“Just got out there, went for a twirl," Weal said. "It's day to day right now, so just taking it day by day.”

Matt Read replaced Simmonds during the skate and could be preparing to make his regular-season debut. Read joined Weal and Valtteri Filppula on Simmonds' unit, while Jori Lehtera took Leier's place on the fourth line.

Don't read too much into those combinations, however, as the availability of Simmonds, Weal and Leier will no doubt play a role.

Sanheim sticks in the lineup
Following his strong showing against Nashville on Thursday, it appears rookie defenseman Travis Sanheim will suit up for his second game in a row.

Sanheim was a healthy scratch for the Flyers' previous two contests but drew rave reviews for his performance against the Predators. He was paired with Radko Gudas at practice, while Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg continued their partnership.

Manning may be the odd man out Saturday, despite his history with McDavid. Ivan Provorov and Andrew MacDonald remained a unit at practice, with Manning getting some work in MacDonald's spot.

Manning was hopeful he would be in uniform. Hakstol, on the other hand, downplayed Manning's personal rivalry with McDavid as it pertains to any decision about which defensemen will skate.

“It's a situation for us every game where we have that tough decision," Hakstol said. "Regardless of whether it's one particular team, we'll look at it situationally and consider all of those factors as to who the six are that dress tomorrow. There's a lot of different factors involved."

2020 NHL draft profile: With 'real mature game,' defenseman Ryan O'Rourke shouldn't be overlooked

2020 NHL draft profile: With 'real mature game,' defenseman Ryan O'Rourke shouldn't be overlooked

The entire picture for the 2020 NHL draft remains cloudy with the ongoing suspension of the 2019-20 regular season because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Where will the Flyers be picking? When and how will the draft be held? Those questions are currently unanswered.

The Flyers hold seven total selections and, as of right now, are slotted with the 26th overall pick.

“I think it’s a decent draft — I don’t know if it’s top end," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said April 25 in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "The top 10, 12 guys look like pretty high end. There’s a bit of a drop-off, but there’s some depth to the draft for a couple of rounds. We don’t know totally where we’re picking, but we have an idea. We have some guys targeted we feel we would be very happy with in the top couple of rounds and then we still have some work to do to clean up the mid-to-later-round picks.

"Obviously you’d want the big, scoring, playmaking center, anybody does. We’re in a position where we’ll likely be taking the best player available. 

"Realistically the players you draft now are two or three years down the road, best-case scenario. Some cases you get surprised. But by then, your team needs are different. We’ll do the best we can, we have an idea of where our holes are going forward and places where we certainly want to add depth to, whether it’s center or scoring winger or defense, we’ll see what happens. We’ll prepare, we weigh guys against each other, the pros and cons and we’ll do the best we can there.”

This month and into June, we'll continue to break down options for the Flyers at No. 26.

Ryan O'Rourke

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot
Weight: 178
Shoots: Left
Team: Soo Greyhounds

Scouting report

O'Rourke is particularly appealing because his defensive game is already refined. The 18-year-old takes immense pride in playing in his own end, while his offensive game features untapped potential.

As team captain, O'Rourke led the OHL's Greyhounds with a plus-16 mark and scored 37 points (seven goals, 30 assists) in 54 games.

O'Rourke doesn't get enough credit for his adeptness at pushing the puck north. He can get up ice and is an intelligent passer.

“A real steady player," Flahr said May 12. "He’s a 6-footer, but a competitive guy, his outlet passing, moving the puck up ice is probably his bread and butter. He can defend, he can do a little of everything. You’ve got to be a little careful of your viewings because he plays so much up there, you have to pace yourself, so there could be another level to what he can do. Plays a real mature game I think is the best description of him.”

Fit with Flyers

As we noted when looking at William Wallinder, the Flyers are well-stocked at defensemen but won't shy away from drafting the best player available to load up even more on the back end.

O'Rourke fits the bill of blueliners the Flyers like — guys with quality size and mobility. The Soo defenseman might be a fringe first-rounder, so he's expected to be available for the Flyers. The club is likely looking more for a center or winger in the first round, but O'Rourke brings a lot to the table. The Hockey Writers' Mark Scheig believes O'Rourke will be the steal of the draft.

It would be somewhat surprising if he's the Flyers' pick at No. 26. If O'Rourke is in their ballpark during the second round, though, he'll definitely have the club's attention.

(Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

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More on the 2020 NHL draft

2020 NHL draft profile: Daniel Torgersson has 'unique size,' ability to 'dominate'

2020 NHL draft profile: Daniel Torgersson has 'unique size,' ability to 'dominate'

The entire picture for the 2020 NHL draft remains cloudy with the ongoing suspension of the 2019-20 regular season because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Where will the Flyers be picking? When and how will the draft be held? Those questions are currently unanswered.

The Flyers hold seven total selections and, as of right now, are slotted with the 26th overall pick.

“I think it’s a decent draft — I don’t know if it’s top end," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said April 25 in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "The top 10, 12 guys look like pretty high end. There’s a bit of a drop-off, but there’s some depth to the draft for a couple of rounds. We don’t know totally where we’re picking, but we have an idea. We have some guys targeted we feel we would be very happy with in the top couple of rounds and then we still have some work to do to clean up the mid-to-later-round picks.

"Obviously you’d want the big, scoring, playmaking center, anybody does. We’re in a position where we’ll likely be taking the best player available. 

"Realistically the players you draft now are two or three years down the road, best-case scenario. Some cases you get surprised. But by then, your team needs are different. We’ll do the best we can, we have an idea of where our holes are going forward and places where we certainly want to add depth to, whether it’s center or scoring winger or defense, we’ll see what happens. We’ll prepare, we weigh guys against each other, the pros and cons and we’ll do the best we can there.”

This month and into June, we'll continue to break down options for the Flyers at No. 26.

Daniel Torgersson

Position: Winger
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 199
Shoots: Left
Team: Frolunda HC

Scouting report

Playing in Sweden's top junior league SuperElit, Torgersson finished tied for fourth with 26 goals and third with a plus-38 rating. The 18-year-old was over a point-per-game scorer for Frolunda, putting up 44 points in 39 games. He got a taste of the Swedish Elite League, going scoreless in six games, and showed a well-rounded makeup at the Five Nations tournament.

A rangy winger who is proficient around the net, Torgersson can also move well and understands how to augment talented centers. There will be a good amount of projection with Torgersson, who has the tools to develop into an NHL winger.

There's some Isaac Ratcliffe in the Swede. Ratcliffe, the Flyers' 2017 second-round pick, is a 6-foot-6, 203-pound, lefty-shot winger with impressive mobility. Ratcliffe's hands and touch are considerably better than Torgersson's, but both players are big wingers with scoring ability. In 2019-20, Ratcliffe experienced his first season at the pro level, learning how important it is to use his size with the puck just as much as his skill.

Torgersson will need to prove he can utilize his frame and score in harder ways against men.

“Big body, strong down low on the walls, can shoot it," Flahr said last week. "He is a winger, for sure, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg with him. Eventually he’s going to hopefully dominate using his size and ability to get to the net and shoot the puck. On the national teams and certainly on the junior teams, he complements skilled centers pretty well and obviously he has unique size.”


Fit with Flyers

The draft stock for Torgersson has fluctuated as he's the 13th-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting and considered the 27th-best player in the draft by TSN's Craig Button. However, ESPN's Chris Peters rated Torgersson at No. 61 among the class and many view him as a second-round pick.

The Flyers, who have some nice wingers in the system but are not exceptionally deep at the position, could get two cracks at Torgersson with their first- or second-round pick. The Flyers may not see Torgersson as the best player available during the first round if they end up picking at No. 26 overall and they do not have a third-round selection after the Justin Braun trade.

But when a winger can score with that type of size, the Flyers will certainly be interested, especially if Torgersson is available in the second round.

“Everybody has seen him," Flahr said of his staff. "He plays on a fairly prominent team over there with a number of prospects, he’s been on all the national teams.”

(Christian Wahlgren/Pucksnack.com)

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More on the 2020 NHL draft