Flyers

Flyers observations: Analyzing the Wyatt Kalynuk, Mikhail Vorobyev matters

Flyers observations: Analyzing the Wyatt Kalynuk, Mikhail Vorobyev matters

As the Flyers continue to prepare for July 10, the expected start date of training camp in the NHL's return-to-play plan, some matters regarding the future popped up over last weekend.

Let's take a look at those in Flyers observations:

• Prospect Wyatt Kalynuk, the Flyers' 2017 seventh-round pick who has decided to forgo his senior year at Wisconsin, is now able to test free agency.

With Kalynuk as a 20-year-old draftee, the Flyers had a 30-day window to sign the Badgers' product to his entry-level contract after he officially left school (as outlined here by Broad Street Hockey). Both sides have not come to terms on a deal, which ends the Flyers' exclusive rights to the defenseman.

The 6-foot-1, 189-pound Kalynuk has developed into an advanced skater with promising puck-moving tools.

"He’s an elite offensive defenseman," Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato said in March.

While Kalynuk is permitted to look elsewhere, the Flyers are still very much in the running to keep the prospect in their organizational picture.

One reason for optimism on the Flyers' chances to sign Kalynuk:

The 23-year-old knows the Flyers' way having been to three development camps at the team's practice facility in Voorhees, New Jersey. Over the last three-plus years, he has built strong relationships with Flyers development personnel like Kjell Samuelsson and John Riley (not to mention with the club's scouting staff), so there very well could be a sense of loyalty and comfortableness, which should hold weight in Kalynuk's decision.

"Philly has had lots of people here and been very instrumental in his growth as a player," Granato said in March. "I think when they drafted him, they recognized out of the gate that this guy could be a big part of their organization moving forward. They’ve been hands on, they’ve been here a lot, they’ve done it respectfully in a way that they’ve helped him a ton in preparing to get ready for the next step.”

(Winslow Townson/AP Images)

One reason for concern on the Flyers' chances to sign Kalynuk:

His shot to crack the NHL is closer to now than it is in the distance. At 23 years old and well-groomed, Kalynuk could be eyeing the speediest climb to the NHL and bigger opportunity; the faster he gets to the league and the more he plays, the better he sets himself up for his next contract. Considering he's an older prospect, that's particularly important.

The Flyers are pretty deep and young on the blue line. Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers, Robert Hagg and Mark Friedman are all 25 years old or younger. Prospects Egor Zamula, Wyatte Wylie and Linus Hogberg are also turning pro in 2020-21, while 2019 first-round pick Cam York isn't far behind.

Could Kalynuk have a clearer path and greater role in another organization? Very possibly yes, something his camp could be contemplating.

This is a total guess on a team to watch for Kalynuk's services: the Kings. Ron Hextall, who is now an advisor in Los Angeles' hockey operations department, drafted Kalynuk. Granato, Kalynuk's college coach, played seven years for the Kings and was teammates with current Los Angeles general manager Rob Blake. The Kings are retooling and could look to add on the back end to start.

• Per a report by a Russian media outlet, Mikhail Vorobyev, a fourth-round pick of the Flyers in 2015, will sign a three-year contract to play in the KHL next season.

The 23-year-old center had five different stints with the Flyers over the last two seasons. Vorobyev is a skilled passer with good vision but he struggled to sustain effort and consistency in his call-ups to the Flyers.

He just never seemed to look comfortable with the Flyers. Playing in his native country should be good for Vorobyev and the move isn't overly surprising given he was going to become a restricted free agent during the offseason and the Flyers have strengthened their depth at forward.

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Travis Konecny

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Travis Konecny

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October. 

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances. 

Today we will be looking at Travis Konecny. 

Destra

The Flyers would have been a fraction of the team it was this season without Konecny. You can’t say enough good things about the player he’s becoming. Now, at the end of his fourth season with the Flyers, he’s finally found exactly where he belongs on this roster. 

No. 11 has always been the kind of player to get under the opposing team’s skin — luckily, he’s on the Flyers' side. There was a distinct shift in confidence throughout the 2019-20 season and it was noticeable in all aspects of his game. While it could have something to do with his shiny new six-year contract, he also had a fresh start with the new additions behind the bench. 

Konecny dressed for 66 games this season and posted a team best in points with 61 (24 goals, 37 assists). This is the third straight season he’s ended with 24 goals, but had play not been suspended because of the growing COVID-19 concerns, he would have most likely found himself with a new career high. 

A+ for Konecny — and expectations are most definitely going to be raised moving forward.  

Emmer

This one is an easy grade.

The 2019-20 season was hands down Konecny’s best of his career. He was showing a more confident style that we hadn’t seen before, making more risky plays with the puck, taking more chances and capitalizing — all of which was portrayed in his 61 points in 66 games, which led the team.

He also stepped up on the Flyers’ improved power play this season, recording five goals and 18 assists on the man advantage. He was a spark plug — he consistently brought energy to the bench and to the game, especially when he made it on the score sheet.

His confident play landed him his first All-Star selection and his improved shooting percentage was a major key to the Flyers' offense.

A for Konecny.

Fordyce 

Konecny is an easy grade for me — it’s an obvious A. When Konecny is playing well, it’s infectious and has an effect on the entire team. The energy and spark that No. 11 plays with on a nightly basis is one of the most valuable parts of T.K.'s game.

This was a big growth season for Konecny, too, as he played a more disciplined game and shed some of the bad habits which had cost him and the Flyers in previous seasons with penalties and so forth. That can’t be understated. 

Now let's look at the numbers. In 66 games this season, Konecny equaled his career high in goals and if it were a normal season, it’s a virtual lock that he would have a new career high. Konecny’s 61 points were a career high and while he maintained his status as a scoring threat, he became more of a playmaker, dishing out a career-high 37 assists, 12 more than his previous high. 

This is certainly a player the Flyers will rely on in the future and this season was a huge leap. 

A for Konecny. 

Hall

On the heels of signing a new six-year, $33 million deal, Konecny had six three-point performances in 2019-20 after having a combined two over his first three NHL seasons.

That's big-time growth from a 23-year-old foundation piece.

Konecny led the Flyers in goals (24) and points (61) through 66 games. His 37 assists were a career high and he was one marker away from a new personal best.

The Flyers went 31-9-2 when he recorded at least a point and 10-9-5 when he had gone scoreless.

Konecny deserves an A for taking huge strides and backing up his contract.

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Kevin Hayes

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Kevin Hayes

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October.

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances.

Today we will be looking at Kevin Hayes. 

Destra

Man oh man am I thrilled to be giving Hayes the grade he’s getting today. This time last year, Flyers fans were beyond the point of disappointment at the signing of the center — it’s safe to say things have taken a turn for the best. The Hayes signing was instantly justified before the 2019-20 season was even in full swing because of the news about Nolan Patrick and his migraine disorder. Had he not been brought in, the lines down the middle would have been very weak. 

Hayes didn’t miss a single one of the 69 games the Flyers played this season. During that time, he racked up an impressive 41 points (23 goals, 18 assists). He also had a career best in shorthanded goals (four) and game-winning goals (five). 

On top of the player he has been on the ice, Hayes has also helped the Flyers in many other ways. He’s a big personality and jumped into a leadership role almost instantly. I’d say he exceeded expectations on the first year of his contract. 

A+ … not bad for a former ref

Emmer

Kevin “I used to ref” Hayes brought a lot of excitement in his first year with the orange and black.

Because of the shortened season, Hayes recorded 23 goals in under 70 games, just two markers short of his career high. His 200-foot style that was anticipated in the preseason thrived in many ways throughout the year, especially on the penalty kill.

Last season, the Flyers' PK ranked 26th in the league, operating at 78.5 percent. This season, the PK ranked 11th at 81.8 percent — Hayes had a lot to do with it. He also led the team with four shorthanded goals — the most in his career.

Offensively, you could argue his consistency could have been stronger. He had a stretch in early November during which he went 10 games without a point and another six-game drought in early February, but when he did end up making it on the score sheet, he was a game-changer. The Flyers were 19-0-1 when Hayes scored a goal during the regular season; he was a spark plug out there. He loved big-game situations, as well — five game-winning goals can attest to that.

Away from his skill, Hayes brought energy, fun off the ice and extremely creative nicknames (very important). 

A- for Hayes.

Fordyce 

Hayes began his Flyers tenure with a big contract and big expectations. Last offseason, Hayes signed a seven-year, $50 million deal, which raised some eyebrows. At that time, Hayes had eclipsed the 20-goal plateau only one time in his career. However, through 69 games this season he had 23 goals, just two short of his career high, and he almost certainly would have bested that if the Flyers had played a full 82 games. 

Hayes delivered the full package to a team that desperately needed that when it signed him after trading for his contractual rights ahead of free agency. His two-way game is his most valuable asset and this season we’ve seen Hayes single-handedly kill penalties by keeping possession of the puck. It’s one thing to sign a big-time deal, it’s another to deliver on the expectations set forth by said deal. Additionally, Hayes is an invaluable member of the team in terms of locker room chemistry.

Hayes gets an A.

Hall

During his first regular season with the Flyers, Hayes more than lived up to the hype and pressure of signing a seven-year, $50 million deal in this city.

While we tend to fixate on offensive production in this game, especially for higher-paid players, Hayes had an immeasurable impact on the Flyers in the locker room, which can be just as important as any statistic.

But statistically speaking, he also did plenty of good things. Not only did the 28-year-old center make the Flyers tougher to play against, but he was also on pace to break his career high of 25 goals (he finished with 23 in 69 games) and did wonders for the team's penalty kill. In fact, Hayes scored four shorthanded goals, the same number the Flyers put up as a team in 2018-19 over a full 82-game season.

An A- for Hayes because his impact has already been felt in a multitude of ways.

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