Flyers

Flyers prospect Wyatte Wylie in good company with Everett Silvertips

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Christina Daly/NBC Sports Philadelphia

Flyers prospect Wyatte Wylie in good company with Everett Silvertips

Carter Hart had almost become synonymous with Everett.

He spent four seasons with the Silvertips, impacted the community and became the first player to ever win the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy (WHL's top goalie) three times and CHL Goalie of the Year two times.

"He was the pride of Everett," Wyatte Wylie said.

As Hart took the Flyers by storm in 2018-19, Wylie quietly plugged away in Everett, Washington, continuing the orange and black connection with the Silvertips. Wylie, a 6-foot, 190-pound defenseman, turned into a good reason for Flyers fans to continue keeping tabs on Everett. The Flyers' 2018 fifth-round draft pick enjoyed his best season of junior hockey with 47 points (11 goals, 36 assists) in 67 regular-season games.

Among WHL blueliners, Wylie was tied for seventh in plus-minus at plus-33 — the same mark as Bowen Byram, who was the best defenseman in this summer's draft and went fourth overall to the Avalanche. Yes, plus-minus is a debated stat with many factors — the role of the player, the talent of the team, etc. — but that's impressive company.

"I really take pride in that," Wylie said last month at Flyers development camp. "I know it all depends on who you play with and stuff like that, but just to be in the plus category is a big upside. I really worked on that, made sure I kept the puck out of my end and I could focus on the other parts of my game."

Like adding offensive production to his arsenal. Wylie has always been regarded for sharp play and decision-making in his own zone. But during 2018-19, he also saw a 16-point increase from 2017-18, despite playing five fewer regular-season games.

"I knew I had to improve in all aspects of my game," Wylie said. "Coming back from [2018 development] camp, I took as much as I could, the stuff they taught me about stick-handling, everything like that — it really helped me improve my offense because you're ready for that first pass out of the zone because you're not stick-handling, you're ready to send it."

Similar to Hart, Everett holds special meaning to Wylie. Not only is it where he has played hockey for five of the past six years, but it's also the city in which he was born. Wylie was the first player ever drafted out of the town, which is about a 30-minute drive from Seattle. 

He and the folks in Everett are proud of Hart and not surprised by the goalie's ascension.

"It's awesome for him, everybody knew it was coming — it was just a matter of time," Wylie said. "He's an amazing goalie and I'm excited to see him."

The 19-year-old Wylie is eligible for a fourth and final season at the junior level. He has not yet signed an entry-level contract with the Flyers. At development camp, Wylie was uncertain if he would be returning to Everett for one more year. Things can change, possibly in training camp.

"If I end up going back there, I've just got to improve from last year and work on all aspects of my game," Wylie said. "Come back the next year ready to go."

It would also mean another year of keeping tabs on the Silvertips.

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Flyers roster cuts: Notable hopefuls remain in busy competition

Flyers roster cuts: Notable hopefuls remain in busy competition

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers made a hefty round of cuts a little earlier than anticipated.

They changed their preseason plan Friday morning as head coach Alain Vigneault and the front office decided this was the best course of action in preparation for the Oct. 4 season opener (see story).

The Flyers trimmed the roster by 18 players.

Tyler Wotherspoon, Nate Prosser, T.J. Brennan, Kyle Criscuolo and Reece Willcox will be placed on waivers Saturday. If they clear, they'll report to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Felix Sandstrom, Cal O'Reilly, Greg Carey, Maksim Sushko, Kirill Ustimenko, Gerry Fitzgerald, David Drake, David Kase, Pascal Laberge, Isaac Ratcliffe, Matthew Strome, Rob Michel and Josh Couturier were assigned to Lehigh Valley.

None of the cuts are surprising. Sushko performed well in camp and is entering his first season with the Phantoms. Ratcliffe had an outside shot at winning a roster spot with the Flyers but it became clear throughout camp and the preseason that the 6-foot-6 winger needed development in the AHL. Felix Sandstrom is a promising goalie prospect. David Kase and Pascal Laberge will be forwards to watch, as well.

O'Reilly, 32, was a point-per-game player last season in the AHL and will be one of Lehigh Valley's best players, along with Greg Carey.

The competition for the Flyers' bottom six and defensive pairings heats up Saturday with the team's fourth preseason game out of seven. Nobody has knocked the door down (see story).

The Flyers' roster is at 36 players.

Forwards

Andy Andreoff
Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Connor Bunnaman
Sean Couturier
Joel Farabee
Morgan Frost
Kurtis Gabriel (injured)
Claude Giroux
Kevin Hayes
Travis Konecny
Scott Laughton
Oskar Lindblom
Nolan Patrick (injured)
Tyler Pitlick (injured)
Michael Raffl
German Rubtsov
Chris Stewart
Carsen Twarynski
James van Riemsdyk
Jakub Voracek
Mikhail Vorobyev

Defense

Chris Bigras
Justin Braun
Mark Friedman
Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg
Samuel Morin
Philippe Myers
Matt Niskanen
Ivan Provorov
Travis Sanheim
Andy Welinski (injured)

Goalies

Jean-Francois Berube
Brian Elliott
Carter Hart
Alex Lyon

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Change in plan shows Alain Vigneault isn't messing around with Flyers

Change in plan shows Alain Vigneault isn't messing around with Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Alain Vigneault knows how to massage a message. He coached in Montreal, Vancouver and New York; this is not his first rodeo.

When he spoke Friday about suddenly changing the Flyers' preseason plan to ramp up the preparation and concepts for the veteran players, he chose his words wisely.

But make no mistake: Vigneault can't be thrilled with the progress.

"It has nothing to do with the outcomes, it has everything to do with the process," the Flyers' head coach said. "For me, the process needs to accelerate at this time — and that's what I intend to do."

The Flyers were ready to play a mixed group of NHLers — about nine players that would likely make the team — and prospects to compete in Saturday's exhibition game against the Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center. Instead, following a lackluster 3-1 preseason loss to the Bruins' B-squad Thursday, Vigneault met with general manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant general manager Brent Flahr Friday morning about adjusting the approach. With four exhibition games remaining, the Flyers will expedite cuts to focus on whittling down the roster and increasing the reps for the main players ahead of the season opener.

"Between the 25 and the 30 players that I feel right now have the best chance of maybe making this team," Vigneault said. "Instead of waiting until Monday, Tuesday's practice, we're going to be at that number [Saturday]."

Is it a startling change? If anything, it's proactive. The Flyers have missed the playoffs in four of the last seven seasons and haven't won a series since 2012. They've notoriously started slow in recent history. Last season, the team was in last place of the Metropolitan Division at Thanksgiving for the second straight year.

It cost people jobs and, ultimately, it's why Vigneault is in place.

After looking at the last couple of days, I feel that this is a different situation than I've been used to in the past. I've been used to coming to camp in the past and my teams have been in the playoffs. Usually I give the veteran players three of the six or seven games that we play. I feel at this time, our veteran players need more games that I originally planned. I'm going from the three that I planned to four and some might even get five out of the seven. 

I'm going on the amount of teaching that we're doing, there's a lot there, there's a lot to be assimilated by the players. I'm going by what I'm seeing about the players' performance, how they're executing, and I just feel at this time we need to make a change and that's what we're doing.

- Vigneault

In 16 NHL seasons as a head coach, Vigneault has 11 playoff berths. Eight of those teams advanced past the first round, three won the Presidents' Trophy and two went to the Stanley Cup Final. He has impressive results in Year 1 on the job (see story).

"When you're in the playoffs and you go for a round, two rounds, three rounds, four rounds, that's intense hockey, that's a longer season," Vigneault said. "This group has been off for a while and, in my mind, it just needs a little bit more preparation. There's nothing better than game situation, where games are on the line.

"With a new staff coming in and everything that we need to touch on, I need to get these guys into more games. So what we've decided to do is just accelerate the process."

Does Vigneault's track record allow him to make this change and have it stick with the players?

"They don't have a choice," Vigneault said. "That's just the way it is."

Oct. 4 is nearing and a new system from a new staff is expected to spearhead a jump back into contention for the Flyers.

"Once you get down to one group, the internal competition gets a little bit better also," Vigneault said. "That's what we need to do here, we need to get down to one group to have everybody in the same room, at the same time, and make sure that they're grasping the concepts that we're trying to apply. 

"I'm very confident that this will be better for the group."

How the Flyers start the season will provide the true answer.

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