Flyers

What Rangers' trade to land Jacob Trouba means for Flyers

What Rangers' trade to land Jacob Trouba means for Flyers

Chuck Fletcher likes the Flyers' defense.

"In saying our defense corps is young, I do believe it's the strength of our team going forward," the Flyers' general manager said last Saturday.

With the addition of Matt Niskanen and the door opening for another prospect, it looks strong on paper.

But can it be better and do the Flyers have a legitimate No. 1 defenseman/first pair?

"If we can find a guy that can play in our top four that we have the ability to acquire, we'll certainly look at it," Fletcher said.

"You're always looking to upgrade if you can, but it will certainly depend on whether we can acquire that player and whether even that player is available."

One of the most notable blueliners on the trade market is now unavailable. The Jets sent Jacob Trouba to the Rangers Monday night in exchange for Neal Pionk and the 20th overall pick in this weekend's NHL draft. 

So one of the Flyers' division rivals will add Trouba and highly likely consensus No. 2 overall pick Kaapo Kakko in the same week. Not bad.

It's unknown if the Flyers were interested in or pursuing Trouba. The 25-year-old is arguably a No. 1 defenseman and wants to be paid like one. He is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason and should eventually get a nice raise from his $5.5 million salary in 2018-19.

For the Flyers, landing Trouba would have come in no small deal. Seeing what the Jets acquired (which looks like it should have been more), you'd think the Flyers would have had to give up the 11th overall pick and a promising young player — and then there's paying Trouba.

The Flyers' defense is already young and much more formidable now with the acquisition of Niskanen. Fletcher and company should absolutely like what they already have in place and the offseason has hardly begun. Don't expect Fletcher to sit back. He's been aggressive and there's still plenty of time and other avenues to improve the defense.

A name to keep an eye on via the trade market is Jared Spurgeon, who we wrote about earlier this month. The price to acquire the 29-year-old wouldn't be as steep compared to acquiring Trouba. The righty-shot Spurgeon is a career plus-51 and got his NHL start in Minnesota because of Fletcher, who signed him in 2010. He's under contract through 2019-20, so the Flyers wouldn't be committed long term unless they want to be after the season.

"He has the ability to play in every situation: up a goal, down a goal, both specialty teams," Fletcher said in 2015, via the Associated Press. "He just does everything right. Just a great system player."

Fletcher liked the look of his defense last weekend and that hasn't changed.

What has changed is the Flyers will have to see Trouba more than twice a season. How their defense stacks up against the Rangers and the rest, time will tell.

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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 your this young get better every year because you turn into a better player and you know what to expect when your 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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