Flyers

Mikhail Vorobyev’s progression marks a big step in Ron Hextall’s build-from-within approach

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Mikhail Vorobyev’s progression marks a big step in Ron Hextall’s build-from-within approach

LAS VEGAS — Ron Hextall stood in front of the media in his own backyard during the weekend of the 2014 NHL draft and issued a challenge publicly to the entire scouting department within the organization. 

Of course, those same scouts had already heard Hextall’s message previously. But using a baseball metaphor, the GM said, “We need to hit home runs” in regards to those mid- to late-round draft picks that the Flyers had been (to use another metaphor) “striking out” on in years past.

If anything was painfully obvious to Hextall during his tenure with the Los Angeles Kings, it's that the seeds of a Stanley Cup champion are planted through meticulous scouting, pinpoint drafting and prudent player development.     

So when Mikhail Vorobyev and Oskar Lindblom step on the T-Mobile Arena ice together for the first time, Hextall and the Flyers' scouting staff can start feeling like they’re making solid contact for the first time in four years.  

Sure, the Flyers had already scored big by drafting Ivan Provorov and Travis Konency, but there’s a clear level of expectation that comes with drafting players in the first round. Teams only hope they don’t screw those coveted picks up.

Franchises can endure years of mediocrity if they misfire on a first-rounder, but the bricks to a championship team are mined on those selections that never see the stage during draft weekend.   

With 21-year-old Vorobyev, chosen 104th overall in 2015, the Flyers have once again taken another sizable step forward.

“To me, it was pretty evident that he earned a spot,” Hextall said. “He wasn’t given a spot. Sometimes you leave spots open and the best young player takes it. Sometimes that guy didn’t earn it. This was an earned spot.”

Of the 30 players selected in the fourth round of that ’15 draft, only five entered this season with any sort of NHL experience, and only Florida’s Denis Malgin had logged over 10 games.

And the same ratio of players holds true for those prospects chosen in the fifth round of the 2014 draft, the one that produced Lindblom.

Interestingly, if you break down the Flyers' top three lines as they’re formed right now heading into their season opener with the Vegas Golden Knights, six of those nine forwards are first-round draft choices.

The other three are Vorobyev, Lindblom and Wayne Simmonds, a second-round choice of those L.A. Kings. 

Obviously, Vorobyev and Lindblom have accomplished very little in the NHL. However, by making the Flyers' opening-night roster they’ve put themselves in a position that a vast majority of mid-round picks never attain.

Where the careers of each player end up going is up to them, but by all signs, they’ve gone from just long shots to potential tape-measure long shots.  

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Sean Couturier reveals an interesting nickname and clowns Michael Raffl

Sean Couturier reveals an interesting nickname and clowns Michael Raffl

Sean Couturier has been in Philadelphia for nine years and there's a nickname that hasn't become public.

On Saturday night, the NHL tweeted out a video of Couturier to promote the NHL Gaming World Championship. This is where we learned of this interesting nugget.

Paul Bissonnette, the host of the video, alerts Couturier that he had some dirt on the nine-year veteran from Claude Giroux.

It's revealed that his teammates call Couturier "Elton John" because when going in for a breakaway, he sometimes looks like he's carrying a piano on his back.

That's one you can't live down.

Once the spotlight is taken off Couturier, he chose Michael Raffl as the biggest jokester on the team and started modifying some of his skills and attributes in NHL20.

For example, Couturier gives Raffl a high mark for speed, but pokes fun at his lack of physicality. The body checking attribute came down big time.

For the rest of Couturier's answers, watch the video here:

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Catching up on Carter Hart in live stream, teammates troll in the comments

Catching up on Carter Hart in live stream, teammates troll in the comments

With the season on hold, many of the Flyers have gone back to their hometowns for the time being, until they receive word about what the next step will be for the NHL.

That gave Carter Hart the chance to check in with NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes on Friday night during an Instagram live. There, they talked about a wide range of things, including hobbies, an ugly suit trip and Hart even had a few teammates crash the chat room.

There’s a lot of extra time on the players’ hands right now, so what has Hart been up to? Mostly playing guitar and a lot of NBA2K.

He plays both electric and acoustic guitar, but it’s still a work in progress.

“I just wanted to get into something a little different,” Hart said. “I thought guitar would be the easiest thing to try and pick up, but it’s pretty hard.” 

And with the mention of the NBA, of course Weekes had to check in and see who Hart had been rooting for leading up to the season on pause. Obviously, many in Canada cheer for the Raptors but now that he’s playing in Philadelphia? 

“Living in Philly now, I've got to cheer for the Sixers,” Hart said.

Smart answer from the 21-year-old. And he certainly nailed the dynamic of the fans that he loves playing in front of. 

“If we’re sucking, they’re going to let us know,” Hart joked. “But if we’re winning, they’re behind us.”

Then a conversation that originally stemmed from pizza turned into Hart breaking down a roast session about him from his teammates. Apparently, the team had an ugly suit trip when it was off to Columbus — something that we’ll definitely need to do more research on — but Hart has only a handful of suits on the regular rotation. 

“I only have three suits,” Hart said. “I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to wear this,’ and I show up to the plane and everyone was like, ‘That’s the suit you wear all of the time.’

“I was like, ‘Wow, what do you want from me? You guys hate it anyways.’” 

Of course, it’s all in good fun … at least we hope. 

And soon enough, his buddies crashed the chat. About 75 percent through the stream, Nolan Patrick joined the party and started to have some fun in the comment section.  It wasn’t long before the captain Claude Giroux tuned in as well, coaching the young goalie of how to get to his end point when talking in an interview. Always looking out for the kiddo. Former teammate Dale Weise even joined the chat party, so naturally him and Patrick were joking around. 



It’s safe to say these guys certainly miss seeing each other daily. Hopefully we’ll get more live streams in the near future. 

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