Flyers

Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — At first, Mark Friedman thought he was in the doghouse.

He met with Phantoms head coach Kerry Huffman on Friday.

"Called me into the coach's office and was acting all pissed off at me," Friedman said. "Then he was like, 'No, I'm just kidding, you got called up. Go enjoy.'"

And show general manager Chuck Fletcher what you're all about.

Game 82 has arrived Saturday night for the 2018-19 Flyers and it will be Game 1 of Friedman's NHL career. The Flyers are rewarding the 23-year-old defenseman for his season-long progress with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley by giving him a look at the NHL before 2019 training camp rolls around in September.

It's also an opportunity for the Flyers to see Friedman, a 5-foot-11, 185-pounder who is quick on his feet and plays with purpose. The Flyers, limping to the finish line, could use a guy with something to play for against the Hurricanes (7 p.m./NBCSP).

"I've met Chuck a couple times down in Lehigh," Friedman said Saturday after an optional morning skate. "It's just rewarding for me to come here and finish the year with the Flyers and see where I end up next year."

Friedman was a 2014 third-round pick of a previous regime — Ron Hextall and Chris Pryor, the former GM and assistant GM, respectively, who were relieved of their duties in November. In his second season with the Phantoms, Friedman has made noticeable strides over 71 games.

"He's made a ton of progress since Year 1," Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said.

 

Gordon coached Friedman last season and parts of this season as the head coach of Lehigh Valley.

"His foot speed, quickness, for his size, he can play very physical," Gordon said of Friedman's strengths. "He has a tendency to get under the opponents' skin. He always seems to be drawing penalties. He does have the ability to get up into the play. When he's using his feet, that's when he's playing at his best.

"He's a guy that can play with a lot of pace, he plays physical and he has to — obviously, he's not a big guy like some of our defensemen. For him to take up space, he's got to do it with his feet and his head. That's what we need to see him do here."

In 2019-20, the Flyers will have a crowded defense, a group growing in youthfulness. With Philippe Myers and Samuel Morin in the picture, that's eight defensemen and six spots in the lineup.

Things can change between now and 2019 camp, but Friedman's game has been recognized.

"I'm not necessarily a force offensively, but I like to consider myself as a good two-way defenseman and I feel like I've definitely contributed in both areas," he said.

"I'm not the biggest guy, but I definitely consider myself pretty strong. If a hit's there, I'd like to blow a guy up but obviously not hurt him."

Ever since he was drafted, Friedman always stood out in development camps because of his max-effort style.

"I'm a guy that puts 110 percent into everything I do, especially on the ice," he said. "I just like to compete in everything, whether it's off the ice, on the ice, no matter what it is. Hard work paid off."

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