Flyers

Joel Farabee climbing, Samuel Morin's complex case, more in Flyers stock watch

Joel Farabee climbing, Samuel Morin's complex case, more in Flyers stock watch

The Flyers are two games into their seven-game exhibition slate.

The competition for jobs will only heat up with three games in the next five days.

"We've got some decisions to make," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said last weekend. "That's what you want in camp. You need surprises, we need some of these young kids to step up and force us into some decisions. That's how your team gets better and we're going to give them an opportunity to do that."

Who's trending up? Who's trending down? Let's take a look at the stock of those players who could impact the staff's decisions:

Stock up

Joel Farabee

From rookie camp to now, the heralded prospect has done everything to fuel his roster case. He's exhibited skill, smarts and, most importantly, his effort. Farabee has put the whole package on display and the 19-year-old winger has been impossible to not notice.

In the preseason opener Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center, Farabee showed impressive burst to create some quality scoring chances during a game that featured a lot of rust from both sides.

"Farabee, I think everyone can see the skill set," Vigneault said afterward. "I didn't think he was as good tonight as what I've seen, but some of that had to do with the opposition. I like that kid. I like his skill level. I like that he can play in tight. I think we've got a good young player there."

Farabee's stock is rising, too, because it appears he'll get a game with the big guns Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, two players he excelled with during the opening days of camp.

German Rubtsov

Rubtsov's steady and cerebral game has impressed the coaching staff and front office. The 21-year-old center's defensive strengths were well-documented entering camp, but he's beginning to grow into his offensive upside.

The 2016 first-round pick scored two goals in the rookie game and was recognizable in both of the preseason games.

If he's not winning a bottom-six job now, he's showing he can be relied upon as one of the first call-up options throughout the season.

Stock down

Samuel Morin

Morin's camp is an interesting case study. It's tough to make out how he's done. He hasn't necessarily hurt himself, but he's a 2013 draft pick and the Flyers' current regime really likes mobile defensemen that skillfully push the puck up ice and jump into the play.

Morin is a 6-foot-6, stay-at-home kind of blueliner. My gut just tells me the Flyers are much higher on guys like Philippe Myers, Egor Zamula and maybe even Mark Friedman.

We'll have to see if the Flyers carry eight defensemen. Right now, Morin is probably their eighth and he would have to clear waivers to go to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Isaac Ratcliffe

Ratcliffe is an exciting prospect with a 6-foot-6 frame that can belie his superb skill.

His strengths were accentuated in junior hockey but they'll take some time to translate at the pro level. He's had difficulty standing out because there's much less time and space with the puck in the NHL.

The 20-year-old goal-scoring winger works hard and will learn how to better utilize his size to produce offensively at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley in 2019-20.

"My main focus is trying to get rid of those junior habits," Ratcliffe said Monday. "Some of those pull and drag moves at the blue line while coming into the zone — a big part of the game, trying to push the pace coming up, you're playing against the best defenders in the world here. Even in some of the practices here, I can still feel it trying to creep back into my game. I'm trying to focus on using my size a little bit more and try to dominate using my reach and strength getting around defensemen rather than try to maneuver the puck around them."

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Matt Niskanen

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Matt Niskanen

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 Matt Niskanen.

Destra

I’m not going to lie — I fell under the category of not fully understanding the trade for Niskanen during the offseason in a one-for-one deal, sending former Flyer Radko Gudas to the Capitals. At the time, the most appealing aspects about the deal were recognizing the level of veteran experience Niskanen was going to bring to the blue line and his extensive résumé when it came to the playoffs. 

Now, with his first regular season as a Flyer officially at an end, it’s safe to say he was an absolute steal. Way to win a trade, Chuck Fletcher. 

Not only did he post 33 points (eight goals, 25 assists), making him the second-best defenseman in points on the team, but he elevated his partner Ivan Provorov to new heights in his career as well. The duo built such powerful chemistry on the ice and Niskanen provided the skill set needed to help Provorov hone in on his talent.  

There couldn’t have been a better fit for the Flyers and Provorov. Whatever Niskanen’s next steps are in the NHL, let’s hope he wants to stay in Philadelphia for a little while longer. 

A+ for Niskanen — not bad for his 13th season in the league. 

Emmer

The Flyers went from averaging the third-most goals against per game (3.41) and a minus-37 goal differential in 2018-19 to then tying for the seventh-fewest goals against in the league and drawing a plus-36 goal differential this season. A major key for that success was Niskanen.

Niskanen had a lasting impact throughout the regular season on special teams. Most notably, the penalty kill, which he helped improve from 78.5 percent in 2018-19 (26th in NHL) to 81.8 percent (11th in NHL). His power play minutes were also impressive as the four goals scored on the man advantage were the highest in his career.

He brought leadership to the blue line and the dressing room and was a steady presence the Flyers and his defensive partner Provorov depended on throughout the regular season.

I give Niskanen an A.

Fordyce 

Niskanen, an experienced Stanley Cup-winning defenseman, came to the Flyers via trade for Gudas from the Capitals last offseason. His addition to the team added a veteran leader to the roster as well as a possible mentor for some of the Flyers' young defensemen. In his first season with the Flyers, he did both admirably.

Niskanen’s presence on that top defense pair with Provorov allowed Provorov to open up his game more and become a better overall player. Niskanen is a smart defenseman who is rarely out of position, and this allows Provorov as his defensive partner to freelance a bit more, which is one of the strengths of his game. Niskanen also has great puck skills from the point, getting pucks toward the net by pass or shot and creating opportunities. 

No-brainer, Niskanen gets an A.

Hall

What an acquisition by Fletcher. In the Gudas-Niskanen swap, the only other hit for the Flyers was salary related — obviously taking on Niskanen's $5.75 million cap hit as well as retaining 30 percent of Gudas' $3.35 million cap hit.

Niskanen made the trade unquestionably worth it for his new club.

Not only did the 33-year-old Stanley Cup champion significantly improve the Flyers at 5-on-5, on the power play and the penalty kill, but he also did wonders for the rebound of Provorov, a 23-year-old who had far too much on his shoulders last season.

Niskanen's winning pedigree has rubbed off on everyone. With eight goals and 25 assists, he also had a chance to crack 40 points for the second time in his well-established career before the regular season was cut short because of the coronavirus outbreak.

A well-deserved A for Niskanen.

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Flyers Talk podcast: Carter Hart's leash, team awards and NHL playoffs analysis

Flyers Talk podcast: Carter Hart's leash, team awards and NHL playoffs analysis

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall discuss Carter Hart's leash, team awards and the return-to-play tournament.

From the 24-team madness to prospects and Oskar Lindblom, let's dive in:

0:55 — Scott Laughton is the most improved Flyer; who were the other candidates?

5:15 — Analyzing the length of Hart's leash in the 24-team tournament

14:30 — Six games a day in the 24-team tournament?!

19:15 — Which Flyers player will love the bubble setting the most?

24:05 What to make of the Wyatt Kalynuk decision

29:20 — Which prospect benefits most from Kalynuk's departure?

33:00 — Why the Flyers won't fret over the loss

36:00 — Lindblom, ring that bell! A special moment

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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