Mike Haviland gives opponent's perspective on Flyers prospect Wade Allison making the pro jump

Mike Haviland gives opponent's perspective on Flyers prospect Wade Allison making the pro jump

Mike Haviland has experienced the entire gamut of hockey.

The 52-year-old native of Middletown, New Jersey, has coached at the NHL, AHL, ECHL and NCAA levels. He won the 2010 Stanley Cup as an assistant with the Blackhawks and owns a pair of ECHL championships when he was the bench boss of the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies and Trenton Titans.

Haviland has learned about pro players and players aspiring to be pros. There's a keen sense to identifying the differences between the two.

As the head coach of Colorado College, Haviland watched Flyers prospect Wade Allison score five points (two goals, three assists) for Western Michigan during a two-game series in January. The senior Allison was clicking for the Broncos as they swept Haviland's Tigers in the weekend set. A week and two months later, Allison inked his entry-level contract with the Flyers, officially starting his pro career.

“He possesses a great package of size, speed and skill, and we strongly believe he’ll be an NHL power forward moving forward," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said in a statement on March 27 when the 2016 second-round pick signed.

Haviland had no addendums to the description, specifically the power forward section. Allison matured into a pro-ready 6-foot-2, 205-pound winger with four years at Western Michigan and playing for Andy Murray, a former Flyers assistant coach who has 10 years of NHL head coaching experience.

"I know Flahrsy a little bit, too, and I agree," Haviland said last Wednesday in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "Listen, I think the biggest thing with anybody from college, it’s the learning curve and how long is that curve until they can understand what it’s like to be a pro and how hard it is daily.

"Learning under Andy Murray and that staff there I’m sure has helped Wade understand what it is to be a pro because Andy understands it and so does his staff.

"When Wade plays hard and he was really getting after it like I’ve seen, he’s a dangerous player. I’m sure Philly wants the curve to be quick and not take a lot of time, but that’s just the way it is.”

With Allison, Haviland emphasized power forward. During 2018-19 — a season in which Allison was not himself after tearing his ACL, abruptly ending a special sophomore year — Colorado College held the junior to one assist over four games.

The 2019-20 season was not the same story. Allison faced the Tigers only twice but had a four-point game in the second matchup after netting a goal in the first meeting. Through the two games, Allison was that authoritative power forward, playing on his terms and recording eight shots to go along with a plus-5 rating.

I think Wade took his game to a different level. He was dangerous every time he touched the puck, it didn’t matter who he was playing with. He was always dangerous on the power play, but I think he was more dangerous every time this year. When we played them, he was making something happen — more of that power forward, taking things to the net, a noticeable player and a dangerous player.

It just seemed that he was at a different level this year for me.

(Allison's first goal against Colorado College)

(Allison's second goal against Colorado College)

In his final collegiate season, Allison scored 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) in 26 games, with 17 of his points coming at even strength. Because of injury issues, he played 30 or more games only once in his four years with the Broncos. As a result of the injuries, staying in college made much more sense. Similar to fellow Flyers prospect Tanner Laczynski, a four-year forward out of Ohio State, Allison's transition to the AHL and NHL from a physical standpoint shouldn't be as drastic as it would be for a younger player making an expedited jump.

Both Allison and Laczynski will be 23 years old in 2020-21.

"They’re men, they’re good hockey players and I expect that they’ll challenge for spots right away," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said in March. "Whether they can make it, time will tell. But they’re players that are very close to being able to step in and play.”

There's enticement to Allison's pro ceiling because he has a craftiness and skill set to potentially play up in the lineup. Then there's the size and disruptiveness to profile down in the lineup.

He could be a wild card.

Haviland likened Allison to Troy Brouwer, a 6-foot-3, 213-pound winger who won the 2010 Cup in Chicago. Brouwer has scored 20-plus goals and 40-plus points three times in his 14-year career.

“I would probably say a pro guy, because I spent so many years in pro hockey, for me, he’s got a little bit of Troy Brouwer," Haviland said. "Brouwsy could score when he played like that power forward type of player. I think Wade maybe is a little bit more fluid through the neutral ice. Brouwer was more of a north-south guy and Brouwsy had a tremendous career, I loved him and he was one of my favorite players, but I saw a lot of Wade in that — dangerous in the offensive end and when they play that power forward game, they can be really effective. I think that’s where Wade can be.”

Power forwards aren't always flashy and the mindset of one might not be a style many wrap their arms around. Head coach Alain Vigneault's system is predicated on that effort.

It could be Allison's quickest ticket to the NHL.

“I’ve had a lot of guys come out of college when I was in the American League and even in the NHL, some of them, the curve is 30 games in the American League and some guys are a year in the American League," Haviland said. "I think Wade has that chance to make an impact on a very good Philadelphia team and organization. He’s going to be a really good pro player because of his IQ and his skill set. If he buys into that power forward thing — certainly I don’t have him on a regular basis, but I’ve seen it — if he becomes that power forward, I think he could be an impact guy for them.”

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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. 


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


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.


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.


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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Will Flyers re-sign Justin Braun, Derek Grant when NHL free agency rolls around?

Will Flyers re-sign Justin Braun, Derek Grant when NHL free agency rolls around?

July 1 came and went rather quietly in the hockey world. Annually, the day is filled with players signing new contracts and joining new teams as the free agency period officially opens.

This year, that was obviously not the case. As the NHL and NHLPA continue to work toward a resumption and eventual conclusion of the 2019-20 season, the entry draft and free agency must wait.

According to a report by TSN's Bob McKenzie, both sides are looking at Nov. 1 being the new July 1.

The offseason will be different and challenging considering the times. The salary cap floor, which typically climbs each year, is expected to remain flat at $81.5 million. In an excellent article published Wednesday, TSN's Frank Seravalli highlighted the key questions and challenges facing free agency, while outlining his top 50 pending unrestricted free agents.

On Seravalli's list were two current Flyers: Justin Braun at No. 19 and Derek Grant at No. 41. Will the Flyers re-sign them? With the league's return-to-play 24-team tournament still to be held, a lot can change from now until Nov. 1, but let's break down the Flyers' outlook for both of these players.


The case for Braun is interesting and the chances of the Flyers re-signing the experienced defenseman feel like 50-50. Braun, a stay-at-home blueliner who specializes in killing plays, helped stabilize the Flyers on the back end and improved their goal-prevention efforts (which were a major problem last season).

However, the Flyers will be cognizant of his age. Braun is 33 years old and made $3.8 million this season. At the current stage of his career, what will Braun be eyeing for his next deal? One would think he'd have to look for a cheaper price if he wants more years on his new contract, something that can be attractive to a veteran player eyeing job security.

The Flyers, though, have solid youth and depth at his position, along with a nice stable of blue-line prospects in the system. Understandably, for those reasons the Flyers might be wary of dedicating years to an older defenseman.

If Braun is willing to be pretty flexible in his terms, the Flyers shouldn't be opposed to bringing him back. He has made them better in 2019-20. But if push comes to shove a bit, especially in a tighter offseason, the Flyers may have to say thank you and move forward with their youngsters or another option.


The initial impression of the Grant trade deadline acquisition was good rental for cheap.

What made Grant such a cost-effective move by general manager Chuck Fletcher? Grant, 29 years old at the time, could help the playoff-hungry Flyers down the stretch with only a $700,000 cap hit and no years left on his contract.

Grant made such a positive impact in his seven-game regular-season audition with the Flyers that they'll absolutely consider re-signing him. The 6-foot-3, 206-pound center also delivered a timely career year of 15 goals and 25 points between his time with the Ducks and Flyers, setting himself up for a nice pay increase.

Grant should be appealing to bring back for the Flyers because he can play down the middle and on the wing; his ability to move around makes him less likely to block a Flyers prospect at a specific position. If Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder) is healthy in 2020-21 and the Flyers are deeper at center, Grant can help on the wing. If Patrick's situation remains uncertain and the Flyers lack depth, Grant can bolster things by playing his natural position.

The 24-team tournament could really factor into the Grant equation. If the 30-year-old has an influential tourney and the Flyers go on a run, he could win over the club. He's a quality bottom-six guy who won't require a hefty contract that severely handcuffs the Flyers next season or down the line.

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