Report: Flyers sign RFA Danick Martel to 1-year contract

Report: Flyers sign RFA Danick Martel to 1-year contract

General manager Ron Hextall is starting to take care of his restricted free agents.

The Flyers re-signed forward Danick Martel to a one-year, two-way contract worth $715,000, according to a report Thursday night by Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports.

Earlier in the day, the Flyers re-signed RFA defenseman Reece Willcox (see story). Last Saturday, the Flyers avoided arbitration with goalie Alex Lyon, who inked a two-year deal (see story)

The Flyers now have four restricted free agents left unsigned: Taylor Leier, Robert Hagg, Anthony Stolarz and Tyrell Goulbourne. Leier filed for arbitration last Thursday (see story).

Martel, who earned $800,000 last season, made his NHL debut in 2017-18 and finished with no points over four games. The Flyers called up the 5-foot-8, 162-pounder in late November looking for a spark during their 10-game losing streak.

He showed some flashes of his dynamic ability and registered six shots in limited ice time.

"He's been a good player the last couple of years, but this year, he's clearly taken a step," Hextall said when the Flyers brought up Martel from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. "He's a dangerous player when he's on the ice. That's a good thing."

The 23-year-old scored a career-high 25 goals last year in 59 regular-season games with the Phantoms, his third full AHL campaign. He also matched his personal best in points with 40 and was a plus-16 for the season.

Martel, an undrafted product, will more than likely open the 2018-19 season with the Phantoms but is a sleeper given his versatility to play either the wing or center. He has a scoring pedigree, having put up 20 or more goals three times in the AHL while amassing 102 points (48 goals, 54 assists) his final junior season in 2014-15.

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Dave Hakstol, Flyers not 'ducking' from blame ... but that's just the start

Dave Hakstol, Flyers not 'ducking' from blame ... but that's just the start

At least the Flyers are honest with themselves.

That's one thing they've got going for them.

There are times when they won't score or they lose by a considerable margin and the postgame refrain is we played a good game or the bounces don't always go your way.

The rhetoric probably drives the fans up a wall.

Hockey is definitely a game of bounces. It's not all that cliché. A team can outplay another without it showing on the scoreboard.

Remember Game 5 of the Flyers' first-round series against the Capitals in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs? Facing elimination, the Flyers were outshot 44-11 and 82-27 in total attempts. At the time, it marked their fewest shots on goal in franchise history, playoffs or regular season. They were outplayed — and thoroughly.

They won, 2-0. The game-winning goal went off the skate of a Capitals defenseman. Barry Trotz talked about hockey gods. Everything was weird.

Eventually, though, over the course of an 82-game season, you have to make your bounces and prevent others. The Flyers are nine outings into the 2018-19 campaign and have yet to win consecutive games. They are 4-5-0 and have allowed the second-most goals in the NHL at 37. The penalty kill has yielded a league-high 10 markers, while the power play is 1 for its last 14.

So far, not so good. It would be hard to say otherwise.

"You see the way we play when we get down, we dominate the game," Nolan Patrick said after Monday's 4-1 loss to the Avalanche at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations). "That's something we need to do for a full 60 minutes, we can't just wait until we're down to start making a push like that. We're capable of so much more."

There are too many mistakes to make excuses.

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol was honest Monday night. He's big on defending his guys and not singling out players. He didn't go out of his way to blast anyone, but he was forthright and specific about the team's breakdowns.

It was fair and refreshing.

The Flyers gave up a power-play goal 3:23 into the action. Sean Couturier, one of the best defensive forwards in the game, a guy the Flyers rely heavily on with their penalty kill, was well out of position (see highlights). As good as Couturier is, nobody is exempt from blame and Hakstol made that clear.

"We made a mistake on the broken play," Hakstol said. "It's the third puck coming to the slot and instead of collapsing to the net, our top PKer stayed out about five to eight feet too high and that's the difference and it goes in the back of our net."

Hakstol originally felt the Flyers should have never been on the penalty kill. Jordan Weal was called for tripping and Hakstol had a lengthy discussion with the officials. The head coach admitted he was wrong. It was a bad penalty by Weal — who has committed four in the last two games — and it resulted in another first-period deficit (see story).

"We're not crisp and we're not sharp with the puck and that puts us back on our heels," Hakstol said. "It's not just with the puck. We took another penalty today — stick penalty in the first two minutes of the game, I barked at the refs initially because I thought it was a soft call. After I look at it, it's a penalty. That's on us."

In eight of the Flyers' nine games, the opponent has scored first.

"It better end pretty quick," Hakstol said of the slow starts. "I'm not ducking it, we've got to be better."

At least they know it. That's a start.

Once again, seeing is believing with the Flyers.

And once again, it's time to wait and see.

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Flyers dominated by Avalanche as they continue to start games in slow motion

Flyers dominated by Avalanche as they continue to start games in slow motion


For those who still cut their own grass, the Flyers have all the signs of that old, cold, cranky mower that never fires up the first time you try to get it going.

They don’t seem to start the second, third or fourth time either.  

Here we are now five games into the home schedule and the Flyers have yet to establish a first-period lead at any point against any opponent. They fell behind by four goals to the Sharks in the home opener on Oct. 9 and they’ve been playing catchup ever since as they’ve been outscored 7-1 in the opening 20 minutes at the Wells Fargo Center.

They appear uninspired and unprepared lacking the necessary urgency to put an opposing team on its heels.

If the Philly Flu was indeed an illness the opposition acquired during the days of the Spectrum, then apparently flu shots are administered from the moment teams arrive in the loading dock of the Wells Fargo Center.

“That’s not how we want to come out,” goaltender Brian Elliott said after the Flyers fell behind by three goals in an eventual 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche (see observations). “It just seems to happen right now. We have to get that turned around. We’re going to be talking about a few things in the coming days and try to get that turned around when we go on the road to Boston.”

Elliott didn’t elaborate on what needed to be said, but quick starts and playing better in Philadelphia have been hammered home more times than the Flyers care to remember. Surrendering that first goal has become its own epidemic.

The Flyers have trailed 1-0 in eight of the nine games they’ve played this season. Monday night against the Avalanche, it took just three minutes and 23 seconds to fall behind again, and zap the energy of the 19,326 fans in attendance.

They’ve followed the recipe for disaster step by step. On Monday, the Flyers committed a pointless tripping penalty two minutes into the game and gave the most lethal line combination a power-play opportunity against the 29th-ranked penalty kill. 

You see where this is heading.

“We’re working our balls off out there and trying as hard as we can,” defenseman Robert Hagg said. “If it’s one guy’s breakdown, then it’s going to be in the back of the net.”

Among the most unlikely culprits was the Flyers’ top two-way forward Sean Couturier, who left the Avalanche with an extra attacker down low. Mikko Rantanen’s slam dunk rebound goal gave Colorado an early lead it would never relinquish.

“We made a mistake on the broken play,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “Instead of collapsing to the net, our top PKer (Couturier) stayed out five to eight feet too high. That’s the difference.” 

The difference between the Flyers and Avalanche right now appears rather obvious. Colorado’s best players are carrying the team while the Flyers’ stars are the ones committing the mistakes. The Avalanche improved to 6-1-2 with one line doing almost all of the heavy lifting. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Rantanen have now scored 12 of Colorado’s last 14 goals.

For the Flyers, Couturier missed an assignment. Claude Giroux’s blocked shot led to a goal. Even leading goal scorer Wayne Simmonds said he’s not doing enough to help out.

It has to start somewhere and the opening drop of the puck is a good place to start.

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