Flyers

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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Flyers trade Taylor Leier to Sabres for Justin Bailey

Flyers trade Taylor Leier to Sabres for Justin Bailey

General manager Chuck Fletcher isn't exactly blowing fans away with blockbusters.

However, he is starting to make an imprint.

Fletcher on Thursday night made his second trade by sending forward Taylor Leier to the Sabres in exchange for forward Justin Bailey. The move comes less than a week after he dealt forward Jordan Weal to the Coyotes.

Leier, 24, did not play a game for the Flyers this season after playing 39 in 2017-18. The 2012 fourth-round pick surprised many by making the club's opening night roster last season but Leier slowly lost his role as a fourth-line, penalty-kill guy, playing just nine games after the calendar flipped to 2018.

This season, he had 19 points (10 goals, nine assists) in 34 games with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. Before being traded, he was starting to turn himself into a call-up candidate, scoring 10 points (six goals, four assists) in his last 10 games with the Phantoms.

For obvious reasons, though, Fletcher had no ties to Leier, who is set to become a restricted free agent in the offseason and is making just $720,000 in 2018-19.

It's as simple as Fletcher probably liked Bailey's size and prospects more than he did with Leier. Bailey, a 23-year-old right winger, is 6-foot-4, 214 pounds and will also be a restricted free agent in the summer. In 37 games this season with the Sabres' AHL affiliate Rochester, Bailey, a 2013 second-round pick, had nine goals and 11 assists.

Over the previous three seasons, he has put up five goals and three assists in 52 games with the Sabres. He also owns a pair of 20-goal seasons with Rochester and, interestingly, his father Carlton Bailey played 10 seasons in the NFL.

While fans' patience may be growing a bit thin with Fletcher, wanting the GM to make more notable moves, it's important to remember the trade deadline isn't until Feb. 25. There's no real rush, especially when dealing with franchise-changing calls.

Bigger decisions, principally with Wayne Simmonds, will ultimately come. Meanwhile, the Flyers have won three of their last four games and face the Canadiens Saturday before not playing again until Jan. 28 because of the bye week.

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Flyers goalie Anthony Stolarz activated off injured reserve, loaned to Phantoms

Flyers goalie Anthony Stolarz activated off injured reserve, loaned to Phantoms

Updated: 9:54 p.m.

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers activated goaltender Anthony Stolarz off injured reserve Thursday and loaned him to Lehigh Valley for conditioning purposes. Stolarz suffered a lower-body injury in the first period of a 5-1 loss to the Canucks on Dec. 15 in Vancouver when he allowed two goals on four shots.

With injuries to Brian Elliott, Michal Neuvirth and Alex Lyon, Stolarz was pressed into duty in the early part of December, making six starts over a 10-day stretch. With a 3.90 goals-against average and an .880 save percentage, Stolarz actually played better than the numbers he posted.

“In the games that I did watch, I don’t think he was given a lot of help for stretches and he kept the team close, and whether they won or lost the game, I don’t think you could point the finger at him,” Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if the Flyers recall Stolarz, who can stay for 14 days without clearing waivers. Considering how well he played in wins at Pittsburgh and in Buffalo, there may be a team willing to take a chance on Stolarz as an inexpensive backup looking ahead to next season. 

With such limited playing time over the past two seasons in his recovery from meniscus surgery in September 2017, Stolarz is better served as the No. 1 in Lehigh Valley, where he can improve his game and regain his confidence. If Stolarz can build upon his small body of work this season, it will be interesting to see if the Flyers view him as a viable backup option for next season.      

No hearing for Lehtera

Flyers forward Jori Lehtera will not receive supplemental discipline from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety following his reckless hit into the back of Bruins forward Ryan Donato. Lehtera received a five-minute board major and a game misconduct. 

Lehtera likely avoided a suspension because Donato wasn’t injured on that play. The Bruins' winger was bleeding as a result of the hit, but never missed a shift in the third period.

Lehtera spent 17 minutes in the box compared to just 5:40 on the ice. At this point, Gordon has two highly ineffective veterans in Lehtera and Dale Weise, who cleared waivers on Wednesday but will remain on the team’s active roster. 

Will a third trick be a charm?

Sean Couturier’s three goals against the Bruins marked the first time since October 2002 that the Flyers registered hat tricks in consecutive games. Mark Recchi ripped home three goals in a 5-4 win over the Calgary Flames, while John LeClair potted four goals three nights later in a 6-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

It also marked the eighth time in Flyers franchise history that the team had a hat trick in back-to-back games, but that feat has never occurred in three straight games.

So, who could be the likely candidate to put three on the board at the Bell Centre Saturday and make franchise history?

I’m leaning on Claude Giroux, who has 10 goals in 30 career games against the Montreal Canadiens, with a two-goal effort against the Habs in 2011.

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