Flyers

Matt Niskanen giving Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere a 'force' they didn't have last season

Matt Niskanen giving Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere a 'force' they didn't have last season

Ivan Provorov played fewer than 21 minutes only once last season and it was because of 12 penalty minutes accrued in one uncharacteristic game.

On Tuesday night, Provorov played 20:29. He wasn’t at his best with a pair of penalties, three giveaways and a quiet night on the power play.

Shayne Gostisbehere played 19:22 and had a power play assist. But he didn’t break out by any means, finishing with no shots and a minus-1 mark.

Those two playing OK was more than OK for the Flyers.

That’s because Matt Niskanen “was a force out there,” according to head coach Alain Vigneault, to help spearhead a 4-1 win over the Hurricanes, who the Flyers went 0-4-0 against last season (see observations). The 32-year-old veteran ate up 21:26 minutes, tallied two assists, was a plus-2 and played on both special teams units.

“He made some great plays as far as killing opportunities and getting the puck out of our end,” Vigneault said.

Provorov, Gostisbehere and the Flyers’ defense didn’t have a luxury like Niskanen last season. They do now and his impact has been felt everywhere. The blueliner with a Stanley Cup title has two goals and six assists through 14 games. He leads the team’s defensemen in shorthanded ice time and is third in power play minutes.

He is a smart and skilled puck mover with a calmness to his game.

Seldom does he make a poor decision and the Flyers are 5-1-1 when he records a point.

In 2018-19, the Flyers put a lot on the shoulders of Provorov and Gostisbehere. Provorov came into last season at 21 years old and Gostisbehere was 25. There was nobody the caliber of Niskanen to take off some pressure or pick up any slack.

Niskanen was a plus-91 over his previous six seasons and owns 125 career postseason games.

"I've been fortunate to be on real good teams," he said in June when the Flyers acquired him. "I've been around and I know what good hockey looks like, I know what a good culture looks like. I'm not going to be a rah-rah guy, but I think with my résumé, my words hold a little bit of weight, especially with young players.

“I envision myself being a really good partner for one of these young studs. Trying to give them confidence to do the things that they do well, and I'll be right beside them.”

So far, that kind of presence has felt like a force.

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Flyers Talk podcast: Head of strength and conditioning Chris Osmond gives insight on team's adjustments

Flyers Talk podcast: Head of strength and conditioning Chris Osmond gives insight on team's adjustments

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall are joined by special guest Chris Osmond, the Flyers' head of strength and conditioning.

From Osmond's insight on the Flyers' fitness to our analysis on prospects/awards, let's dive in:

1:00 — Which defenseman will climb the fastest to the Flyers — Egor Zamula, Wyatte Wylie, Linus Hogberg or Wyatt Kalynuk?

7:05 — Osmond discusses the Flyers' daily questionnaire with players

9:40 — Ivan Provorov has a unique style of working out

11:45 — The big adjustments Osmond has had to make with players in quarantine

15:45 — What will be the toughest challenge for the Flyers leading up to a possible resumption?

• 17:25 — The importance of a good diet for Carter Hart and the team

• 19:00 — "None of us have been through this" 

20:10 — Osmond loves the Flyers' victory song

24:50 — Is Sean Couturier the Selke Trophy winner?

29:20 — Who is Alain Vigneault's biggest competition for the Jack Adams Award?

40:00 — Which former Flyer would we pick to be our favorite teammate?

• 45:15 — A taste of the "Marathon on Ice"

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Flyers lose rights to prospect David Bernhardt

Flyers lose rights to prospect David Bernhardt

Two days after signing one of their 2016 draft picks to an entry-level contract, the Flyers lost the rights to a prospect from the same class.

The club opted to not sign David Bernhardt before Monday's 5 p.m. deadline. As a result, the 22-year-old Swedish defenseman has become a draft-related unrestricted free agent.

Bernhardt was a 2016 seventh-round draft pick of the Flyers, when Ron Hextall was general manager and Chris Pryor was director of player personnel. Linus Hogberg, another blueliner from Sweden who was taken by the Flyers in the fifth round of the same draft, inked his ELC on Saturday.

The Flyers' decision to let Bernhardt's rights expire is not considered surprising. Below the pro surface, the club is pretty well-stocked at defensemen with prospects Egor Zamula, Wyatte Wylie and Hogberg set to join AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley in 2020-21, while the signing of Wisconsin product Wyatt Kalynuk could be around the corner. Kalynuk is an offensive-minded defenseman who has developed a ton with the Badgers. His rights were set to expire next summer. Now that it appears he will forgo his senior season at Wisconsin, it would be surprising if he's not signed soon by the Flyers. If, for some reason, both sides don't agree to terms, Kalynuk can eventually become a free agent.

Furthermore, the Flyers have unsigned blueliners Cam York, Mason Millman, Adam Ginning, Ronald Attard and John St. Ivany in the system. York, a 2019 first-round pick at Michigan, is the most touted, while Millman, a 2019 fourth-round selection, is coming off a 44-point, plus-31 junior season with the OHL's Saginaw Spirit.

Bernhardt, a 6-foot-3, 203-pound, lefty-shot defenseman, had seven points (one goal, six assists) through 33 games in the Finland pro league Liiga after opening 2019-20 in the SHL.

Here's a look at the Flyers' 10-player 2016 draft class:

First round — German Rubtsov (Flyers/Phantoms)
Second round — Pascal Laberge (Phantoms/Royals) 
Second round — Carter Hart (Flyers)
Second round — Wade Allison (Phantoms) 
Third round — Carsen Twarynski (Flyers/Phantoms)
Fourth round — Connor Bunnaman (Flyers/Phantoms)
Fifth round — Linus Hogberg (Phantoms)
Sixth round — Tanner Laczynski (Phantoms) 
Sixth round — Anthony Salinitri (no longer in organization)
Seventh round — David Bernhardt (no longer in organization)

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