Flyers

Justin Bailey called up by Flyers, expected to enter lineup soon

Justin Bailey called up by Flyers, expected to enter lineup soon

Chuck Fletcher continues to size up the Flyers' prospect pool with an emphasis on size.

A day after adding defenseman Philippe Myers (see story), the club promoted 6-foot-4 winger Justin Bailey from the Phantoms on Sunday.

"He’s played very well and I think Justin is certainly deserving of an opportunity and that’s something we will have to look at here pretty quickly,” Fletcher said Saturday.

Bailey has transitioned his way to the Flyers' organization rather quickly, scoring five goals and adding two assists in 10 games with Lehigh Valley.

Bailey was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres in a trade for Taylor Leier on Jan. 17.

The 2013 second-round pick of the Sabres never quite developed into an NHL regular, playing just 52 games over parts of three seasons.

Bailey admitted his lack of physicality for a player of his size at times has been a reason for his inconsistency.

However, expect interim head coach Scott Gordon to employ the 23-year-old right winger in a fourth-line role to bring a heavy, punishing presence to the Flyers' lineup.

While it’s uncertain when Gordon will utilize Bailey, the forward's presence would be beneficial against a team like the Penguins, who the Flyers play Monday.

The two teams will meet twice over the next two weeks as the Flyers make a playoff push, currently trailing their divisional rival by six points for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Flyers won the only matchup with the Penguins, a 4-2 victory at PPG Paints Arena on Dec. 1, a game that saw Wayne Simmonds drop the gloves with Pens defenseman Jamie Oleksiak 1:54 into the first period (see story).

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Flyers sign Brian Elliott to 1-year contract extension

Flyers sign Brian Elliott to 1-year contract extension

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers have their backup for Carter Hart.

Brian Elliott on Wednesday signed a one-year, $2 million contract extension with the Flyers. The 34-year-old was set to become an unrestricted free agent after two seasons with the Flyers in which he went 34-22-8 with a 2.77 goals-against average and .908 save percentage over 69 games (65 starts). He has battled injuries each year, missing a 40-game stretch last season because of a lower-body injury and significant time in 2017-18 following core muscle surgery he underwent on Feb. 13.

The backup to Hart will be crucial in 2019-20. Not only will Hart be just 21 years old and facing his first full NHL season, but the Flyers also play 17 back-to-back sets, which is four more than they did a year ago. Thirteen of those sets will be a part of stretches in which the Flyers play three games in four nights.

"Brian has played well for us the last two seasons," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a release by the team. "He is a proven, quality goaltender who competes and battles hard every time he has the net. We are excited to have him rejoin our team."

The Flyers had Elliott and Cam Talbot, two soon-to-be unrestricted free agents, as No. 2 options. They also could have gone the trade or free-agent market route. Fletcher, though, had more pressing areas to address like signing Kevin Hayes to bolster the forwards, reshaping the defense and creating as much cap flexibility as possible. Elliott was a veteran, cost-effective, internal option, but was he the best option?

While Elliott doesn't appear as the most reliable backup given his age and recent injury history, he's played in a tandem for most his career, is familiar with the Flyers and has at least been productive when healthy. He'll have to prove he can stay healthy enough to spell Hart from time to time. If he can't, the Flyers could be in trouble — again — and scrambling for somebody that can be trusted.

At his end-of-the season press conference, you could sense Elliott's competitiveness.

"The mentor thing gets kind of caught up. It's a tough word choice," Elliott said. "I think [Hart] needs someone that is going to help him along the way and push him to be better. Hartsy is a great young goalie and is going to be good in this league for a long time. The Philly fans have a lot to look forward to."

The Flyers have around $16 million in cap space if Philippe Myers is on the roster over David Schlemko. Fletcher has to re-sign restricted free agents Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Scott Laughton and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

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Flyers hire Nick Schultz as player development coach

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USA Today Images

Flyers hire Nick Schultz as player development coach

VOORHEES, N.J. — Nick Schultz, a former Flyer who also played for general manager Chuck Fletcher in Minnesota, has been hired by the club as a player development coach.

Schultz, 36, suited up for the Flyers in his final three NHL seasons from 2014-17 and appeared in 743 games with the Wild. The former defenseman was a smart, role-oriented, team-first guy throughout his 15-year career.

"We're happy to have Nick come aboard and help develop the prospects in our system," Fletcher said Wednesday in a release by the team. "Having enjoyed a lengthy career in which he played over 1,000 games as a defenseman in the NHL, Nick brings a wealth of experience and knowledge on what it takes to be a pro."

Jakub Voracek provided a classic quote about Schultz during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was after a 2-0 loss in Game 1 to the Capitals in which Schultz blocked three shots and was putting his body in front of blasts off the stick of Alex Ovechkin.

"It takes some big balls to go into that shooting lane," Voracek said then. "When you look at Schultz blocking shots, it's pretty impressive. That's what you've got to do to win a game."

Schultz has been at Flyers development camp this week.

"It's exciting," Schultz said in the release by the team. "I'm looking forward to working with the guys, helping Kjell Samuelsson with the defensemen, and getting to know the kids and their game a little bit. I'm looking forward to working with them throughout the year, watching them play and helping them make it to the next step, and ultimately one day become a Flyer."

The Flyers did not subtract at all from their staff. Fletcher mentioned the growing importance of player development and all that it requires.

"I know he's coaching his son's hockey team and enjoying life, but at some point, I think he thought he wanted to get back in the game and this gives him an entry point to come in, share his expertise and work with our young defenseman," Fletcher said. "We'll start a little slower and build and just see what he wants to do. My assumption is at some point, I could see him being a great coach in this league."

In addition to the Schultz news, the Flyers have brought on Andy Rannells as an assistant equipment manager and Dan Warnke as an assistant strength and conditioning coach. Both previously worked for AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

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