Flyers

Ron Hextall has a reminder about Jordan Weal

Ron Hextall has a reminder about Jordan Weal

Last offseason, Ron Hextall steered clear of the market for free-agent forwards.

A build-from-within fundamentalist liked what he had internally.

"We felt really strongly about Jordan Weal," the Flyers' general manager said in June 2017. "If we didn't sign Jordan Weal, we might've looked for one more forward to try and upgrade our skill level."

This offseason, Hextall hasn't lost belief — in his method or the player. While he went out and reeled in James van Riemsdyk, Hextall has refrained from inking an external option to fill a void at third-line center.

"We're not willing to commit on term for someone that is maybe not an upgrade from the guys that we have in-house," Hextall said July 1.

It sounds like he's ready to put his faith in Weal again. In 2017-18, that faith wasn't rewarded as the forward scored 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 69 games, had a minus-10 rating and became a healthy scratch late in the season. The production was considered a disappointment after the Flyers signed Weal to a two-year extension following an eye-opening 23-game sample in 2016-17.

What's important to note is that Weal started just one game at center last season — Nov. 14 against the Wild. With the Flyers, he has transitioned to the wing out of necessity, away from his natural position. Maybe it's why he's been forgotten as a possible third-line center fit in 2018-19, against the competition such as Scott Laughton, Morgan Frost, Mike Vecchione and Mikhail Vorobyev.

"Jordan Weal, too, is a guy that I've mentioned," Hextall said Wednesday. "Nobody else seems to want to, but he's played center. He's a good centerman. He's good on faceoffs. He's good defensively. He makes plays. I suspect Jordan's going to bounce back. I don't think he had a terrific year last year, so he's certainly a candidate.

"But if we can upgrade in the meantime, we will. We're pretty comfortable, also, with what we have from within. You're always looking to upgrade every position. If we can upgrade, we're going to try and do it. We have internal candidates we feel comfortable with."

Weal, 26, will have to prove he can play both ends as an NHL third-line center, because it's clear he has the playmaking ability to provide the Flyers with secondary scoring. Put his skill and speed between a pair of finishers like Wayne Simmonds and Oskar Lindblom, and you see the potential. During last season's home-opening rout of the Capitals, Weal showed it in a play with Simmonds.

Hextall wants Weal, a well-known rink rat, to play a pressure-free game in 2018-19.

"Jordan cares so much," Hextall said. "Sometimes he can be his worst enemy. He's the last guy on the ice every day. He works his tail off. Sometimes you just want to go, 'Jordan, get off the ice and relax a little bit.' He's so driven to be the best he can be. It's something he can get better at, in terms of the mental part of it where sometimes you've got to let things go. 

"When he gets on a roll, he's a good player. I suspect Jordan's going to come in really ready to play and focused and ready to show us what he showed us two years ago."

Once again, the GM is looking inside and so is Weal.

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Flyers release statement amid Philadelphia protests following George Floyd's death

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AP Images

Flyers release statement amid Philadelphia protests following George Floyd's death

In late March, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher opened a conference call with an acknowledgement and a message of gratitude for those working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I just wanted to mention that before we started talking about the small piece of the world that I work in which is ice hockey," Fletcher said then.

Hockey didn't feel in the realm of importance to the world's current events at the time. Right now, it doesn't come close to the magnitude of the country's current events.

Fletcher and the Flyers respectfully postponed the general manager's scheduled media availability for Monday in light of what has transpired following the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd was killed in police custody after Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the 46-year-old black man's neck.

Starting on Saturday, joining others across the United States, protests focused on racial injustice began in Philadelphia and continued through Monday.

The Flyers released the following statement Tuesday morning via their Twitter account:

We don't have the answers, but this much we know ...

We believe in racial equality without exception, and our hearts are broken.

For Philadelphia and the nation, we join the chorus calling for justice, the elimination of systemic racism, unity and peace.

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Flyers Talk podcast: Head of strength and conditioning Chris Osmond gives insight on team's adjustments

Flyers Talk podcast: Head of strength and conditioning Chris Osmond gives insight on team's adjustments

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall are joined by special guest Chris Osmond, the Flyers' head of strength and conditioning.

From Osmond's insight on the Flyers' fitness to our analysis on prospects/awards, let's dive in:

1:00 — Which defenseman will climb the fastest to the Flyers — Egor Zamula, Wyatte Wylie, Linus Hogberg or Wyatt Kalynuk?

7:05 — Osmond discusses the Flyers' daily questionnaire with players

9:40 — Ivan Provorov has a unique style of working out

11:45 — The big adjustments Osmond has had to make with players in quarantine

15:45 — What will be the toughest challenge for the Flyers leading up to a possible resumption?

• 17:25 — The importance of a good diet for Carter Hart and the team

• 19:00 — "None of us have been through this" 

20:10 — Osmond loves the Flyers' victory song

24:50 — Is Sean Couturier the Selke Trophy winner?

29:20 — Who is Alain Vigneault's biggest competition for the Jack Adams Award?

40:00 — Which former Flyer would we pick to be our favorite teammate?

• 45:15 — A taste of the "Marathon on Ice"

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Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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