Flyers

Nolan Patrick selected as No. 1 breakout player for 2018-19 by NHL Network

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Nolan Patrick selected as No. 1 breakout player for 2018-19 by NHL Network

Nolan Patrick's rookie season can be split into two halves, but his performance down the stretch has caught the attention of one national pundit.

NHL Network analyst Mike Johnson, who played 12 years in the league, selected Patrick as his No. 1 breakout player for the 2018-19 season during Friday night's "NHL Tonight."

Johnson scored 375 points in 661 NHL games from 1996-2008 and last played in the league during the 2007-08 campaign with the St. Louis Blues.

Behind Johnson's reasoning for picking Patrick as his No. 1 breakout player was the Flyers' center's two-way instincts, ability to finish, size and a full summer of training ahead of him.

"We know his injury history, his lack of proper training, his lack of ability to hit the gym properly," Johnson said, "and he's still strong on the wall. That's only going to get better as he matures physically."

For what it's worth, Connor McDavid was NHL Network's No. 1 breakout candidate for the 2017-18 season — that was a bit of a softball.

As for Patrick, the center joined "NHL Tonight" on Friday to discuss the honor and also provide an update on how his summer is going.

"Coming off that surgery last year," Patrick said, "I had a slow start. It took a while to get my body back to where I wanted it to be. I missed two summers of training. It's been the first summer for me in a while that I've been back in the gym."

Patrick, the No. 2 overall pick in 2017, finished with 13 goals and 30 points in 73 regular-season games. He missed nine games in October and November because of a concussion and spent most of the first half of the season getting his mobility back after undergoing offseason abdominal surgery. In fact, he's lost his past two summers of training because of surgery.

Prior to his final junior season and his draft year, Patrick underwent sports hernia surgery. Then 10 days before the Flyers drafted him, he went under the knife again.

Now he's fully healthy and has a full summer of training.

"First time I can get after it," Patrick said during the team's exit interviews in April (see story). "It's going to be a big summer for me. I'm not satisfied with how the year was or how my year was, so I'm looking to take big steps here."

Once Patrick began feeling healthier, he started getting a bigger role with the Flyers. He was elevated to the team's second-line center and stuck. He also found a role on the power play.

The 19-year-old posted 17 points in the final 25 games, which translates to a respectable 0.68 points per game clip and 55 points over an 82-game schedule. Not too bad for a rookie who couldn't actually train during his previous two offseasons.

"My coaches pushed me throughout the year. Then they gave me more opportunity," Patrick told the NHL Network. "Jake Voracek was huge for me. He thinks the game so well. The puck protection that guy has, you just got to get open for him.

"I think my body also just felt better as the year went on. I kind of took a while to get my skating legs there, so I think in the second half, I had a little more pep in my step."

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Ready for Flyers' roster? Play the wing? Morgan Frost will have much better chance to provide answers

Ready for Flyers' roster? Play the wing? Morgan Frost will have much better chance to provide answers

The Flyers played eight preseason games last year.

Morgan Frost appeared in just one.

At best, the 2017 first-round pick held an outside chance to win a roster spot. With only one game to work with, in actuality, Frost never had a shot. From the outset, he appeared destined for his fourth and final junior hockey season instead of the Flyers' lineup.

"I mean, I got to play in the one exhibition game," Frost said last month at development camp. "I didn't really get to do as much as I could, but I think I was just getting my feet wet. It would have been nice to play another game or two and kind of really get to show [myself]. It's always tough when you kind of jump into a one-game situation like that. Hopefully this year I'll get some more games to prove myself and take it from there."

This fall, it'll be a whole new ballgame.

Frost should have a more realistic fight for the Flyers.

"I'd like to think so, yeah," Frost said.

"I think your chances when you're this young get better every year because you turn into a better player and you know what to expect when you're in camp."

At development camp, Frost hit on plenty of good points when discussing 2019-20.

He's a year older, which always helps. That fact also means he's now ready for pro hockey, whether it's the Flyers or AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

Another important note: Frost will be playing in front of a new coaching staff and general manager this time around. Having to win over a new regime can be seen as a challenge, but it's also an opportunity.

I don't think it changes the way that I approach things or how I play or carry myself, but it's a new staff — they're going to have open eyes and a fresh look. Just continue to do me and I'm not going to try to change anything.

- Frost

In 2018-19, Frost experienced another dominant year. The dizzying playmaker torched the OHL again by scoring 109 points (37 goals, 72 assists) with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Over his final two OHL seasons, the 20-year-old center put up 221 points (79 goals, 142 assists) and a plus-103 rating in 125 regular-season games. On top of that, he dazzled through the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship with four goals and four assists in five games for Team Canada, which lost in the quarterfinals.

"What they always said is that when you're playing in a medal round or a gold-medal game, it's almost like an AHL playoff game — that's the pace that it's in," Frost said. "It's definitely a lot quicker than the OHL and you're playing against all elite players that are around my age. That was probably the best experience I've ever had playing hockey. It was a lot of fun, it was too bad we didn't do better."

The experience should help Frost's transition to the pro level. Once again, he'll head into training camp with added weight; he's around 187 pounds and his goal is 190. 

"You can see the way he thinks the game and sees the ice — he can make plays," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said. "Whether he's ready physically to handle the rigors of the NHL, training camp will dictate that."

He'll also head into camp with a third-line job up for grabs. That vacancy appears to be on the wing, not at Frost's natural position. However, Frost said he played winger in world juniors and at times during the OHL season alongside 2018 fifth overall pick Barrett Hayton.

"I've played wing before," Frost said. "It's definitely not my strong suit right now, but I can definitely adjust to that."

This year, the Flyers have seven preseason games. What will Frost try to prove?

"Just that I belong," he said. "You have to do stuff to stick out but at the same time, you want to blend in with the better players. Just try to do everything I can to make an impression."

Frost should expect more than one game — and he'll know to make them count.

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Scott Laughton, Flyers agree to 2-year, $4.6 million contract

Scott Laughton, Flyers agree to 2-year, $4.6 million contract

No arbitration for Scott Laughton and the Flyers. Not even close.

Laughton and the Flyers on Friday agreed to a two-year contract extension with an average annual value of $2.3 million.

The restricted free agent and the club had an arbitration hearing scheduled for July 30. It's not surpring they never got to it.

This is a good deal for Laughton — and deserved. It's an honest contract for a player that has paid his dues. The 25-year-old's previous contract was a two-year, $1.925 million deal with an average annual value of $962,500.

The 2012 first-round pick has found his niche in the NHL, becoming one of the Flyers' more vital depth pieces. During 2018-19, Laughton delivered career highs in goals (12), assists (20), games (82) and ice time per game (14:51). Just as importantly, Laughton has turned into a valuable penalty-killer as he was second on the team last season in shorthanded ice time (183:52), behind only Sean Couturier (184:51).

The Flyers' 2018-19 campaign was ravaged by inconsistency, but Laughton always played hard and stood out with his effort on the PK. He is slotted to be the Flyers' fourth-line center in 2019-20, between Michael Raffl and possibly Tyler Pitlick.

"When you look at Laughts and Raf, they play some heavy minutes, they can grind it out in the offensive zone and make it hard for the opposition and change momentum," former Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said in March. "So the next line that comes out there can have an easier time because the previous line from the opponent couldn't get onto the ice.

"Those guys are invaluable and they are just as important as guys that are putting up the big points."

Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny, both not arbitration eligible, are the Flyers' remaining RFAs. Provorov's new contract could take time as both sides appear to be at somewhat of a standstill, while Konecny could be in for a bridge deal (see story).

"I expect as the summer goes on, we'll continue to chip away at this," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Friday via a conference call. "The market will continue to flesh out as we go and we'll get there; we'll get there by the end."

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