Flyers

Flyers Notes: Hal Gill to get more looks

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Flyers Notes: Hal Gill to get more looks

Two games won’t be the deciding factor on whether Hal Gill sticks around or not on his tryout deal.

Gill played in Sunday’s 4-3 exhibition loss in London, Ont., to Toronto, and in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center.

Sources say Gill will make the trip to Lake Placid early Thursday where the Flyers will continue their camp through the weekend.

The 38-year-old Gill is fighting thick odds with nine defensemen already here on one-way contracts.

While the 6-foot-7 defenseman is in amazing shape, he looked a little slow in both games in coverage areas.

“In a normal situation, when you have a contract, you worry about progressing and getting better in every game,” Gill said. “In this situation, I wanted to speed up the process. But it was good. It was nice to get out there and be competitive and play. I felt good. Like preseason, you’re learning a new system and timing needs to get there.”

The Flyers are taking between 26-28 players to Lake Placid.

“I can show that I am healthy and ready to go and I have that desire,” Gill said. “I want to be part of the team. I don’t have to show people what I can do. I’ve been doing the same thing a long time.”

He had a defensive overplay with Mark Alt in the loss to the Rangers that allowed for Benoit Pouliot’s easy, point-blank rebound in the third period for the winning goal.

Absent of a major injury or trade, it remains hard to see this 15-year veteran making the roster, but coach Peter Laviolette said Gill will get more looks.

“Hal did a good job,” Laviolette said. “His job is to keep the puck and keep people away from our net and he’s done a pretty good job of that. His best asset is defending.

“Think back to Hal in his career and when he is most noticeable, it’s him taking care of the front of the net. Him being physical on top-end players. We’ll get a better look and better read on Hal as the camp moves on.”

Laviolette did admit his skating might not grab your attention, but that was never his primary asset anyway.

“His strengths are different,” Laviolette said. “He’s big, he defends, he ties up bodies, he clears the net ... plays that type of game.”

How it happened
Derick Brassard scored on a shot in the slot that hit the back of the new, shallower net so quick it popped out before the red light went on. ... Max Talbot tied it later in the period and the same thing happened -- the puck flew out of the net even though it was a soft shot. ... Flyers goalie Steve Mason played the entire game. ... Ray Emery gave up a tying goal in the final 21.7 seconds of regulation on Monday against the Caps. Mason gave up one to ex-Flyer Darroll Powe in the second period to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. ... Sean Couturier, who had two assists against Washington, made it 2-2 in the third period with his first goal.

Inside the lines
Scott Hartnell played on Vinny Lecavalier’s line with Wayne Simmonds.

“We had one practice together on Day 2 and I was kind of excited to play with Vinny," Hartnell said. "I played against him for so many years, watching him score goals. I think the coaches were happy with how we played. We’re all big bodies. We move the puck well, cycle and protect the puck.”

Laviolette wanted to see the chemistry between Lecavalier and Simmonds. It appears the left side is up for grabs.

“That second day [in camp] with Hartnell, they absolutely destroyed it on the three-on-three competition,” Laviolette said. 

New nets
There’s going to be a lot of replays this season on goals with these new nets being so tight and so much shallower. Pucks hit so hard, the ricochet goes right up the slot. This begs the question: Did the NHL not experiment with these nets to see firsthand there is a legit problem with pucks staying inside them?

Flyers need to find needle in haystack on Day 2 of NHL draft

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Jordan Hall | NBC Sports Philadelphia

Flyers need to find needle in haystack on Day 2 of NHL draft

Ron Hextall is determined to find that needle in the haystack.

While the Flyers' general manager has had very good success with his first-round picks throughout his four-year tenure, uncovering that diamond in the rough can be a crapshoot. A hockey organization can languish for many years if they come up with a first-round bust, but it’s the mid-to-late round picks that can elevate a franchise into championship stratosphere. 

Take 2014 in Philadelphia — Hextall’s first draft as Flyers GM. So far, the majority of prospects still haven’t come close to reaching their potential, but the few teams that were able to hit a home run (Tampa Bay, Brayden Point, 79th overall; Nashville, Viktor Arvidsson, 112th overall; Anaheim, Ondrej Kase, 205th overall) have benefitted greatly for their early-career success.

“We always look for one really good NHL quality,” Hextall said. “When you’re talking about third or fourth round, first of all, don’t minimize it. I’m saying like us, for our staff. We need to still try and pick a hockey player, it’s important. Pulling guys out of late rounds is important. When you look at the cycle of a hockey team and depth and everything that we need, it’s important.”

While the attention has centered around the Flyers' two first-round selections, Hextall considers the team’s two fifth-round selections and two more in the seventh round to be equally vital to the Flyers' success.

“We have two seventh-round picks, they’re friggin important,” Hextall said. “We need to do our best to try to get the best guy and try and hit on a guy. Whether we will or not, I don’t know what the odds say, I think it’s 2.3 percent, whatever it is. They’re low odds, we know that, but we’re going to try to do the best we can to try and hit on those guys because eventually, you’re going to hit on some of those guys.”

To further Hextall’s point, 29 of the 30 first-round picks in 2014 have NHL experience. Of the next 180 players to go off the board in Rounds 2-7, you’ll find roughly that same number who have played more than just one NHL game. Oskar Lindblom (138th overall) could eventually pan out to be the late-round gem Hextall has tried to uncover.

After sorting out his first four drafts, where might Hextall search to find that next promising prospect?

The Flyers GM has selected at least one player from the USHL in each of his first four drafts with Phantoms defenseman Mark Friedman as the highest drafted USHL prospect, 86th overall in 2014.

Who might Hextall draft

Jack Drury, C, Waterloo, USHL
A slightly undersized center listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Drury is the nephew of former NHLer Chris Drury and has acquired some of the same attributes. Drury has been complemented with a tremendous work ethic and plays the game much like his uncle with a grit and determination of contributing in the clutch. Set a new USHL record with a 23-game point streak and has committed to play at Harvard University next season.    

Under Hextall, the Flyers have also tapped into Sweden’s top junior league over the past four seasons drafting Lindblom, goaltender Felix Sandstrom and defenseman Linus Hogberg to name a few, and 2018 appears to be a good depth draft for the young Swedes especially among defense.

Nils Lundkvist, D, Lulea, Sweden Jrs.
While I really admire the size and reliability of Filip Johansson, there may be some value with Lundkvist who’s not quite as highly rated as Johnasson. Lundkvist is more of a defensive defenseman who plays bigger than his 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame. Both defensemen are right handed and if the Flyers can’t land a righty blueliner in the first round, they may have to wait until Round 2 or trade back into the third round after surrendering that pick to Detroit as part of the Petr Mrazek trade.

There’s a general overall belief Hextall prefers to select a center capable of converting into a winger, and while he’s admitted that many centers have that versatility, it hasn’t defined Hextall who has drafted just as many pure wingers as centers, including five in last year’s entry draft.

Niklas Nordgren, RW, Finnish Jrs.
Nordgren is small (5-9), tremendously skilled and is willing to get his nose dirty. He was one of the most impressionable players at the U-18 world juniors with a tournament-leading eight goals for Team Finland. Preferably you would like a player of Nordgren’s size to be a lightning-quick skater, but it has improved.

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It looks like the Flyers are headed to Vegas to open 2018-19 season

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It looks like the Flyers are headed to Vegas to open 2018-19 season

In typical NHL fashion, the 2018-19 schedule release is a two-day event.

That means we won't know the entire schedule until around 5 p.m. Thursday, but we know enough today to put together some of the pieces.

It looks like the Flyers will open up their season out West for the third straight season.

The Flyers will play the Golden Knights in Vegas' home opener Oct. 4 at T-Mobile Arena. Their own home opener is Oct. 9 against the San Jose Sharks at the Wells Fargo Center.

After looking at other teams’ home openers, it appears the season starts Oct. 3 with Capitals hosting the Bruins, the Maple Leafs entertaining the Canadiens and the Canucks facing the Flames at home. Last season began Oct. 4, 2017.

While the Golden Knights made it to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season, the Flyers won their first game in Vegas with a 4-1 win Feb. 11.

The 2018-19 season will be the fourth straight year the Flyers begin on the road. Last season, they opened up with a 5-3 win over the Sharks in San Jose.

The last time they opened at home was 2013-14, a 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. They’ve won their last two season openers. They’re 5-4-1 in their last 10 season openers.

They won their home opener last year, crushing the Capitals, 8-2.

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