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.”
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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