Flyers

Elements will play factor for both Flyers, Penguins in outdoor game

Elements will play factor for both Flyers, Penguins in outdoor game

PITTSBURGH -- The ice on Friday afternoon at Heinz Field was watery and slushy.
 
That’s because the city set a historic record at 78 degrees for Feb. 24.
 
So what were the ice conditions?
 
“They were pretty good,” Sidney Crosby said. “It was pretty bright there. Started off the practice and the sun was beating down pretty good.
 
“I’ve played in a few of these and the ice was pretty good considering how warm it was. It’s supposed to cool down and I’m sure it will get better.”
 
The Penguins will host the Flyers on Saturday night in a Stadium Series outdoor game.
 
Pittsburgh took the ice Friday at 4 p.m. The Flyers got on the ice a little more than an hour later and things started to cool down.
 
“We had a pretty good practice given the circumstances,” Jakub Voracek said. “This is a little better setup than Philly. The fans are closer.”
 
It was much hotter when Pittsburgh took the ice, but the temperature was still warm after the sun went down.
 
Shayne Gostisbehere said, “It was hot for sure. … It was fun, but it was pretty hot.”
 
Defenseman Radko Gudas said the ice surface was, “playable, but a little rough.”
 
On Saturday, rain is expected, with temperatures falling to 42 degrees by 5 p.m.
 
During the game, which begins at 8 p.m., the temperature is projected to continue to drop and there will be wind gusts up to 31 mph. By the end of the night, the forecast says temps will be in the 20s. 

Players are more concerned about the wind than the ice at this point. Crosby, who has played in three previous NHL outdoor games, said wind is a huge factor. It happened to the Penguins at the 2014 Stadium Series game in Chicago.
 
“It can definitely be a factor,” Crosby said. “I want to say in Chicago that was something we kind of had to look at. We felt it a little more there compared to the other two [outdoor games]. If it's going to get windy like that, it’s something to be aware of.”
 
It remains to be seen how the NHL will handle which team goes into the wind first.
 
“Yeah, the wind,” Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet said of what element will be a big factor. “I hope you don’t have to backcheck. Who gets the advantage? They change in the third period. But who picks what end? There is a wind factor.”
 
Tocchet rated the ice Friday as “a little slushy.”
 
“It was good early and then it got tough because it was hot outside,” Tocchet said. “But we got a half-decent practice out of it.
 
“The one thing, the puck didn’t bounce, which was good. Players can adapt a lot better when the puck doesn’t bounce. When things bounce, it’s a tough night.”

Colin McDonald staying in Flyers' system, re-signs with Phantoms

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Colin McDonald staying in Flyers' system, re-signs with Phantoms

Every team wants an insurance policy with NHL experience at the AHL level.

The Flyers will have that again in Colin McDonald.

Lehigh Valley signed the right winger to an AHL contract Tuesday afternoon, bringing back the captain for a fourth season with the Phantoms. The team also signed defenseman David Drake, 23, who played seven games for Lehigh Valley last season.

McDonald, who turns 34 years old in September, never reached the Flyers in 2017-18, but played eight games for the big club over the prior two seasons, scoring a pair of goals. He actually appeared in three playoff games during 2015-16 because of injuries to Sean Couturier and Scott Laughton, and a suspension for Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.

In total, McDonald, known for making an impact with his size (6-2/219) and physicality, has 148 games of NHL experience to go with 11 postseason contests.

Last season with the Phantoms, McDonald posted 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 56 regular-season games, before helping Lehigh Valley advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, where it was swept by the Toronto Marlies.

In 2016-17, McDonald had 25 goals and 44 points in 72 regular-season games.

Not only is McDonald a solid safety net for the Flyers, but he also provides a good example for the organization's prospects developing with the Phantoms. He's a likeable, mature pro and has played 628 AHL games over his career, so the franchise's youngsters will be able to rely on him for another season in 2018-19.

More on the Flyers

2018 NHL draft profile: Oliver Wahlstrom, a lethal goal-scorer Flyers should trade up for

2018 NHL draft profile: Oliver Wahlstrom, a lethal goal-scorer Flyers should trade up for

Over the weeks leading up to the 2018 NHL draft, we're providing prospect profiles and how they would fit with the Flyers, who have two first-round picks — Nos. 14 and 19.

The NHL draft takes place June 22-23 at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Flyers have nine picks with two in the first, fifth and seventh rounds and one in the second, fourth and sixth. They do not own a third-rounder as it went to the Detroit Red Wings for Petr Mrazek. The 14th pick conveyed from the Brayden Schenn trade. The final details were Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for Jori Lehtera, a 2017 first-round pick (Morgan Frost) and the 14th pick.

Our prospect profiles will touch mostly on prospects projected to go in the 10-20 range but some may require the Flyers having to trade up to select. We’ll identify those prospects.

Oliver Wahlstrom

Position: Right winger
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 208
Shoots: Right
Team: USA U-18 (NTDP)

Scouting report
You might recall Wahlstrom from this viral video eight years ago when he was 9 years old. Yes, Wahlstrom has been on the map for some time now and the right winger is expected to be a high first-round draft pick. Wahlstrom starred in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, registering 48 goals and 94 points in 62 games while adding 22 goals and 45 points in 26 games in the USHL in 2017-18. He averaged a goal per game for Team USA during the 2018 IIHF World U18 Championship, where the U.S. took silver. He was part of the 2017 gold-medal winning team during the U-18 world juniors when he had four goals and seven points in five games. Owns a lethal shot, as evidenced below against Russia in the Five Nations Tournament, video courtesy of USA Hockey.

Wahlstrom is a scoring threat every time he touches the puck and does some wizard-like stuff with it. He’s a big body and doesn’t shy away from the dirty areas, either. At the combine, he measured in bigger than what the NTDP listed him. He’s committed to play at the University of Harvard, though he told The Boston Globe his plan is to play just one year before turning pro.

Fit with Flyers
Wahlstrom qualifies as a trade-up option for the Flyers as it would be a minor miracle if he falls to No. 14. If he is available at 14, then there might be question marks that we can’t see on the surface. He won’t be there at 14, though, so if the Flyers want him, they’d have to move up.

With two first-round picks, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall certainly has the ammo to do so; it just depends on how far he’d have to jump to select Wahlstrom. Some believe he should go in the top five, ahead of Brady Tkachuk, and others see him going between Nos. 8-12.

Either way, Wahlstrom is a prospect that the Flyers could greatly benefit from drafting. He’s a pure sniper and we’ve heard that lately that the Flyers need one of them. He would certainly please the few fans who scream "SHOOT" all the time at the Wells Fargo Center. Fit wise, Wahlstrom would be as close to ideal as you can get. It’s just a matter of if the Flyers fall in love with him and can move up high enough in order to draft him.

More on the 2018 NHL draft

Profile: Jack McBain

Profile: Rasmus Sandin

• Profile: Ryan Merkley

• Profile: Dominik Bokk

• Profile: Noah Dobson

• Profile: Rasmus Kupari

• Profile: Martin Kaut

• Profile: Grigori Denisenko

• Profile: Jesperi Kotkaniemi

• Profile: Serron Noel

• Profile: Joel Farabee

• Profile: Barrett Hayton

• Profile: Isac Lundestrom

• Profile: Joseph Veleno

• Profile: Vitali Kravtso