Flyers

Future Flyers Report: Could prospect Connor Bunnaman be headed back to NHL soon?

Future Flyers Report: Could prospect Connor Bunnaman be headed back to NHL soon?

It’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

• The Flyers' depth at forward is being seriously tested.

The team is without Travis Konecny (concussion, out indefinitely), Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger, out approximately four weeks) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder, out indefinitely).

Going into their three-game road trip, the Flyers have only 12 healthy forwards. In his fifth stint with the big club since the beginning of 2018-19, Mikhail Vorobyev is centering the Flyers' fourth line. The 22-year-old is in audition mode yet again with the Flyers and will have to be noticeable in limited minutes to stick.

How Vorobyev performs moving forward and the Flyers' depth concerns could open the door for Connor Bunnaman. The 21-year-old forward made the Flyers' season-opening roster. He's healthy again with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley after missing nearly a full month because of a lower-body injury.

Bunnaman brings size and positional versatility as the 6-foot-3, 214-pounder can player either center or winger. This past week, Bunnaman scored a goal and had eight shots in three games.

The Flyers may want to have him play more games with the Phantoms before calling him up. However, they may need him soon. Bunnaman has Raffl-like potential and ability.

On Sept. 26, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher spoke highly of the 2016 fourth-round pick who scored 19 goals in 62 games with Lehigh Valley last season and two goals this preseason.

He’s been the best player in training camp. He was outstanding in the practices. ... By best player, I mean in terms of expectations. He’s come in and blown them away.

He honestly seems twice as fast this year to last year. I know we make a habit of saying players are quicker and faster but this guy is legitimately much faster than last year and he scored 19 goals last year, had a heck of a year in the American League.

There’s no reason to doubt that he can play some games for us this year.

The Phantoms play Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Flyers play Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Keep an eye on Bunnaman and the big club's bottom-six depth.

Quick hits

• Noah Cates is continuing to turn heads.

As a sophomore, the 2017 fifth-round pick leads defending national champion Minnesota Duluth with nine goals and is a point-per-game player (16 points in 16 contests).

The 20-year-old winger is coming off a four-point weekend (three goals, one assist) in the Bulldogs' two-game sweep of Omaha.

The Flyers couldn't stop bragging about Cates this summer and are probably bragging some more to each other this week.

"I just need to play the way I can play, especially these next couple years with my development," Cates said in June. "They're on board with that, they're happy with where I'm at, but I've got to keep making strides."

He's doing just that.

• Cam York, the Flyers' 2019 first-round pick, recorded a goal and an assist in Michigan's 4-1 win over Penn State last Friday.

The mobile and skilled puck-moving defenseman owns nine points (four goals, five assists) in 14 games as a freshman.

• Egor Zamula enjoyed a three-point weekend for the Calgary Hitmen.

The 19-year-old is third among WHL defensemen with 28 points (seven goals, 21 assists) in 28 games and has a plus-19 rating.

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Flyers Talk podcast: Good news for Flyers as NHL's 24-team plan continues to take shape

Flyers Talk podcast: Good news for Flyers as NHL's 24-team plan continues to take shape

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall analyze some good developments for the orange and black.

From breaking down the 24-team tournament and discussing the NHL's timeline, let's dive in:

1:00 — The latest on the NHL's 24-team format

3:30 — Why the Flyers are in a promising spot

9:40 — A breakdown of the timeline for a potential resumption

15:00 — What should we make of Max Kellerman's hot take?

18:30 — Claude Giroux sends powerful and important message

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Claude Giroux puts ESPN's Max Kellerman in his place for bad hot take on hockey

Claude Giroux puts ESPN's Max Kellerman in his place for bad hot take on hockey

Claude Giroux delivered an important message Wednesday night.

On Friday morning, he delivered a knockout.

Max Kellerman had a piping hot take about hockey Wednesday on ESPN's "First Take."

Anybody surprised? No? OK, so here it was:

Listen, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but in the United States of America, no one really cares about hockey. You know, the old joke is every town has 20,000 hockey fans, they all have season tickets, so the arenas are always sold out but the TV ratings don’t do anything. So it’s not one of the four major team sports.

Giroux, the Flyers' captain and one of the NHL's stars over the last decade, had an appropriate response.

Perfectly done. Giroux subtly put Kellerman in his place and clearly laughed it off, as should all hockey fans. Hockey fans are rabid and protective of their game, so Kellerman knew he could get a rise out of them. Nobody should let him accomplish that.

Why was Kellerman's take asinine? Our friend Joe Haggerty from NBC Sports Boston outlined that right here.

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