Flyers

Morgan Frost showing his hands, Chuck Fletcher praises Egor Zamula, more on Flyers rookie camp

Morgan Frost showing his hands, Chuck Fletcher praises Egor Zamula, more on Flyers rookie camp

VOORHEES, N.J. — The games are about to begin.

Day 4 of Flyers rookie camp wrapped up Tuesday, setting the stage for Wednesday's prospects game at PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, against the Islanders.

Let's get into our latest five observations:

1. Chill in the air

Morgan Frost will be fun to watch Wednesday night and throughout the preseason.

When the 20-year-old center has time and space, he's super dangerous. But even when he's in tight and around the net, his hands are so impressive. He's brisk, instinctual and accurate, and it will be fascinating to see how quickly those strengths translate at the pro level.

In camp, he has centered two of the Flyers' other top prospects Joel Farabee and Isaac Ratcliffe. The trio's chemistry looks natural and don't be surprised to see that line in the rookie game.

"It should be awesome," Farabee said. "Playing with some really elite guys in our group here."

2. Don't ignore Egor

When general manager Chuck Fletcher was asked if any prospect has jumped out at him during camp, he mentioned Egor Zamula.

The 6-foot-3, 172-pound defenseman continues to turn heads with his progress.

The one guy, to me, that just keeps getting better every day is Zamula. He's an impressive young man. He has another year of junior, so he's not a candidate to make our team this year in Philadelphia. But I saw him last year play junior, watched him play in training camp with the Flyers last year and he just continues to get better and better. He has a tremendous package of size, skill and skating, and as he matures and gets stronger, he's going to be a pretty impressive player.

- Fletcher

Zamula (who said there's no Y needed in his first name) was an excellent discovery by Flyers amateur scout Mark Greig (see story). The 19-year-old went undrafted last summer, was invited to 2018 Flyers training camp and earned an entry-level contract.

He is no longer a raw prospect as he skates smoothly, covers ground and possesses great reach. The lefty shot scored 56 points over 61 regular-season games in 2018-19 with the WHL's Calgary Hitmen.

"Coming in here, he looks really comfortable," AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley head coach Scott Gordon said. "Obviously it's a nice find."

3. 'The best way to evaluate players'

A rookie game is a lot different from a preseason game.

However …

"A lot of these kids are coming in, they want to make an impression and games are the best way to evaluate players," Fletcher said.

The Flyers' GM has been pleased with the showing in camp.

"It's been great for Scott to start to work with them on some of the habits and things that we want our players in Lehigh to do this year," Fletcher said.

This is a talented rookie camp considering it features seven players with a shot at winning a season-opening roster spot on the big club.

4. On the Laberge of more?

The Phantoms will be loaded with experienced and young forwards in 2019-20.

One of those forwards to keep an eye on is Pascal Laberge.

The 2016 second-round pick has battled injuries throughout his early career, but in the 15 games he did play last season with Lehigh Valley, he scored five goals.

There's some offensive potential in the 21-year-old's game. 

5. The game

Gordon, who will coach the Flyers in the rookie game, said the team will dress 19 skaters and two goalies.

The Flyers will hold a morning skate from 10-11 a.m. at Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, so we'll know more then about the lineup. 

The game is at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Philadelphia+ (no live stream).

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Flyers vs. Rangers preseason: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Rangers preseason: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Updated: 5:29 p.m.

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers' preseason games are becoming more and more important.

The next one is Saturday night as the Flyers welcome the Rangers for their fourth exhibition contest out of seven.

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia+
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• It will be fun to see Travis Konecny and his usual energy back out there. He will make his preseason debut after missing the first three days of training camp.

The 22-year-old has shaken off some rust and feels caught up following plenty of work from Tuesday to now.

"I'll be ready," Konecny said Tuesday about the Oct. 4 regular season opener (see story). "I didn't miss too much time, I did a lot of work on my own when I wasn't here."

• Saturday night is a big game for roster hopefuls Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Chris Stewart and Carsen Twarynski (see story). The Flyers want to shape their roster as soon as they can in preparation for the opener (see story). The teams flies out to Switzerland on Sept. 27 before its final preseason contest on Sept. 30.

• Keep an eye on Matt Niskanen if he's paired with Ivan Provorov. The 32-year-old blueliner will be crucial to the Flyers' defense this season and he wasn't happy with his first preseason performance, despite scoring the team's lone goal.

"We didn't do too good. Or I didn't at least," Niskanen said Thursday. "But it's part of the process. Get our feet wet together for the first game. I have to get my timing back. But it's good to get in there and you can see his skill. He is a fun guy to play with and we will be better next time."

What didn't Niskanen like about his own game?

"Just too much time in our zone," he said. "I couldn't execute well enough to get on the attack enough."

• Carter Hart is expected to play the first two periods before giving way to Jean-Francois Berube. In Hart's final preseason outing, the 21-year-old will go the distance.

Quotable

I know as media and a fan standpoint, you see three losses and you're like, 'Oh my God, this isn't what we thought it was going to be.' I don't think that's a big deal, but it is a whole new system for a lot of guys in this room — pretty much every guy in the room besides myself basically. In order to get to the best part of your system, you need to get the regular guys who the coaches think are going to be there every night.

- Kevin Hayes on the Flyers' preseason and roster

Projected lineup

Forwards

James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek 
Michael Raffl-Morgan Frost-Joel Farabee 
Carsen Twarynski-Scott Laughton-Chris Stewart 

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim 
Robert Hagg-Matt Niskanen 
Samuel Morin-Mark Friedman 

Goalies

Carter Hart
Jean-Francois Berube

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Kevin Hayes honest about his time with Rangers, 'ecstatic' to be with Flyers

Kevin Hayes honest about his time with Rangers, 'ecstatic' to be with Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Kevin Hayes scored a career-high 25 goals at 25 years old during the 2017-18 season with the Rangers.

As a restricted free agent in the summer that followed, Hayes signed a one-year, $5.175 million deal with New York. He played only 51 more games for the Rangers before being traded to the Jets last season in February.

Seven months later, he has a seven-year, $50 million contract. On Saturday morning, he was wearing an orange sweatshirt with the No. 13 on it and standing in the Flyers' dressing room at Skate Zone.

Times have seriously changed for Hayes following that trade.

"Obviously you get comfortable with where you're at but it's a business. It's something I thought could have happened by signing a one-year deal that year," Hayes said. "I'm very happy with where I'm at and what I have at the moment. Looking back a year ago from today, I was asking for things from New York that they said no to and we went our separate ways in February. 

"I'm ecstatic with where I'm at right now, playing with this group of guys. The players that we have here, the goalies, the Ds and the forwards who I'll be playing with are elite and it's something that I'm excited for — and tonight's just one step toward the regular season. I'm sure there will be mistakes out there but I'm happy with what side I'm on."

Although it's just the preseason, tonight will be the first time Hayes has played against the Rangers since the trade. New York put its rebuild into overdrive this summer by acquiring Jacob Trouba and Artemi Panarin, and drafting Kaapo Kakko.

Is it tough for Hayes not seeing the rebuild through after watching the steps the Rangers made this offseason?

I don't know if they're good steps or bad steps, that's what you guys get to decide, but they're steps I guess. I have no hard feelings toward them. I loved my time there, I'm happy with where I'm at right now. I feel like this year is the best shape and best mentality I've ever been in in my career. I don't know if it has to do with the change or the excitement I have to be here in Philly, but I'm excited to get this going.

Three of the Rangers' top six scorers are gone from last season, including Hayes and Jimmy Vesey, who was traded to the Sabres on July 1.

"They chose to get rid of me and Vese, but that's their decision," Hayes said. "I'm sure it'll come back to them, we'll find out."

Hayes is back with Alain Vigneault, who coached the 27-year-old from 2014-18 in New York. Vigneault was a major selling point for Hayes signing with the Flyers on June 19 after the club acquired his rights earlier in the month.

Hayes was a plus-30 under Vigneault and his minutes climbed each season. The 6-foot-5 center is now one of the better penalty-killers in the league and a two-way guy poised for his biggest offensive role yet.

"I had a great relationship with him in New York for the four years we were together," Hayes said. "He turned me into a 200-foot player and I think that was — if not the biggest reason — one of the biggest reasons why I decided to come here.

"There was some tough love there, for sure. It's the NHL. It's not easy for everyone. … It's growing pains. I thought the way he handled my situation and how I responded was very professional and I think I entered the league as an offensive guy and A.V. kind of turned me into a 200-foot player and an NHL guy. 

"At the time, I don't know if I was super excited about it — fast-forward six years and I couldn't be more happy with where my game is at."

The Flyers play the Rangers four times in 2019-20. The first trip to Madison Square Garden is on March 1. From his rookie year in 2014-15 to now, the New York roster is very different.

"I have friendships there outside of the hockey players — equipment guys, media guys, trainers that basically shaped me as the person I am today," Hayes said. "I think it will be more emotional seeing those guys — I don't even know half the team anymore, to be honest.

"I'm sure going back to MSG will bring back some memories and be a little bit emotional. I'm not even just saying this just because I have to, I couldn't be more excited to be here in Philly, to start a new chapter in my NHL career where I have the security to be somewhere for a long term. In New York, my longest contract was two years, the last three years it was trade bait basically every year. I'm happy with where I'm at it, physically and mentally, and getting excited again to play hockey."

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