Flyers

Flyers open camp with what Jakub Voracek calls 'hardest' 1st day of his career

Flyers open camp with what Jakub Voracek calls 'hardest' 1st day of his career

VOORHEES, N.J. — Dave Hakstol wanted to know right away who can hack it and who can’t. 

“It was the hardest day of a first day of camp in my 11 years,” said Jakub Voracek, whose first NHL training camp was with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2008. “A lot of skating, a lot of battles. On the other hand, it can make us better, so why not.”

“We had a little talk with the coaches and they said they want to do some things different,” defenseman Radko Gudas said. “They want to make sure we’re skating, we’re up the ice, we’re always around the puck even as a defenseman in our offensive zone ... supporting the offense even more than we did last year.”

Ivan Provorov needed that first day of training camp as well.  

The Flyers' top defenseman comes into his second NHL season ready to go, but he needed a hard skate to get his legs back from the jet lag of a transatlantic flight from Russia this past Sunday. Provorov found himself falling asleep in the middle of the afternoon recently as his internal clock attempts to recalibrate. He didn’t exactly view this summer as the offseason, but merely a continuation of what was an impressive rookie season.  

“The offseason is always busy for me,” Provorov said. “I try to get into really good shape so I can go all season, playing lots of minutes without having any games off, or feeling not so great until after the games.” 

Provorov said he still felt fresh even after playing all 82 games in his rookie season, which carried over into the World Championships. While the experience of international competition was invaluable, Provorov and the rest of his teammates prefer a season that includes the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which have excluded the Flyers in three of the past five seasons. A week ago, general manager Ron Hextall stated the organization does not view this upcoming season as part of a rebuilding phase.

“I think if we were in a complete rebuild, [Claude Giroux], [Voracek] and I probably aren’t here,” forward Wayne Simmonds said. “We've still got our older guys. I think we’re kind of transitioning, sliding in a couple young guys hoping their skill can help us out here.”

In the week leading up to camp, goalie Brian Elliott had already spent time working out with fellow netminder Michal Neuvirth and Flyers goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh, and already, Elliott likes what he sees.

“People keep asking me, 'Is there any bad apples in the dressing room or someone you know you aren’t going to get along with?' But everybody’s been great,” Elliott said. “Everybody’s been excited. I think the expectations are high internally and that’s what you like to see.”

Friday’s opening day of camp consisted of 10 different forward lines and eight defensive pairings separated into a morning and afternoon group, with an interesting blend of youth mixed together with more established veterans. Hakstol placed a clear emphasis on drills, speed work and conditioning, and less on systems and structure.  

“I think our guys have worked real hard over the summer, I really believe that,” Hakstol said. “From all the feedback we’ve gotten and just from talking to the guys throughout the summertime. I just wanted to make sure that hard work transferred and translated onto the ice.”

Of the 57 players invited to training camp, 34 would qualify as first-year players in the league with a handful of rookies aiming for a spot on the opening night roster.

“It’s a fine balance because they want to be recognized and be noticed, but they’re all good hockey players,” defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. “They have to realize that what got them here is playing the way they have. If they continue to do that and play steady, then it’s going to go a long way for them.”

The Flyers have one more morning/afternoon skate on Saturday before they open the preseason Sunday at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum against the Islanders, and Hakstol is already anticipating a sluggish effort as a result of the first day of camp.

“It was a hard day, there’s no question,” Hakstol said. “Playing a game on Day 3, there’s going to be tired legs. I don’t know what other teams are doing. I don’t care. We’re going to get the work in now. We’re going to have another hard, competitive day Saturday and I know our guys will go out and attack it just like they did today.”

News and notes
• Forward Pascal Laberge left the morning practice early and was being examined by doctors, according to Hextall.

• Defenseman Phil Myers was a full participant for Friday’s practice. Myers suffered a lower-body injury in the rookie game against the Islanders and was held out for precautionary reasons.

Morning group lines, pairings and goalies
Oskar Lindblom-Claude Giroux-Travis Konecny (more on that here)
Jori Lehtera-Valtteri Filppula-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Taylor Leier-Mikhail Vorobyev-Colin McDonald    
Ivan Kosorenkov-German Rubtsov-Pascal Laberge/Anthony Salinitri

Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim    
Sam Morin-Andrew MacDonald    
Will O’Neill-Mark Alt
Maxim Lamarche-Mark Friedman    

Brian Elliott    
Alex Lyon    
John Muse

Afternoon group lines, pairings and goalies
Dale Weise-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Scott Laughton-Matt Read
Connor Bunnaman-Phil Varone-Mike Vecchione
Carsen Twarynski/Tyrell Goulbourne-Radel Fazleev-Danick Martel

Robert Hagg-Shayne Gostisbehere
T.J. Brennan-Radko Gudas
Brandon Manning-Phil Myers
Frank Hora-Reece Wilcox/James de Haas

Michal Neuvirth
Carter Hart
Leland Irving

5 thoughts on Flyers' 2018 NHL draft

5 thoughts on Flyers' 2018 NHL draft

Ron Hextall entered his fifth draft as Flyers general manager with nine selections and left Dallas making eight of them — a pretty typical draft weekend under the Hextall regime.

With Hextall as GM, the Flyers have averaged 8.4 draft picks and their eight selections this year are the second least with him steering the ship. He made six picks in his first draft in 2014.

As the offseason now shifts onto development camp and free agency, let’s break down the weekend that was for the Flyers at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

1. The overall draft class

Hextall emphasized during last week the need to restock the Flyers’ defensive pipeline and that, right-handed defensemen were a “big fill” in the organization. On Day 2, he followed through.

The Flyers used their first three picks Saturday on defensemen: Adam Ginning (50th overall), John St. Ivany (112th overall) and Wyatte Wylie (127th overall). St. Ivany and Wylie are righties.

Overall, the Flyers’ draft class from Rounds 2-7 didn’t seem to blow anyone away, but with a prospect pool as deep as the Flyers, this draft wasn’t about refilling the cupboard.

What mattered most about this draft was the two first-rounders and while Jay O’Brien is a bit of a wild card, Joel Farabee was as perfect as an option the Flyers had available at No. 14 overall.

Drafts can’t be judged until three or five years down the line, so we won’t know how this overall crop will pan out. But if one of Farabee or O’Brien hit, that’s all that matters.

Farabee, especially, fits an organizational need as a quick, shoot-first natural winger.

If all goes according to plan, this draft class should be judged on the first-round picks. It’s important to find diamonds in the rough and perhaps they have. Time will tell.

But based on the Flyers’ current timetable to compete, they need at least one of these two first-rounders to turn into an impact NHL player. My money is on Farabee being just that.

2. A quiet weekend

Part of the allure of draft weekend is the constant trade speculation leading up to Round 1 and throughout the first round. Friday was a fairly quiet night in the NHL player transaction ledger.

Saturday some saw significant player movement with Ilya Kovalchuk and signing with the Kings and the Flames trading Dougie Hamilton to Minnesota for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindblom.

But none from the Flyers. The draft is when Hextall comes out of his cage and yells, “I am Ron, hear me roar.” For Hextall, the draft is where he does his best, and loudest, work.

Technically, this is the first draft the Flyers didn’t make any moves of note, but that is misleading. When Philly hosted the draft in 2014, Hextall’s first, the Flyers reportedly were hot in pursuit of trading up from No. 17 overall to the top pick to draft Aaron Ekblad.

In the end, Hextall couldn’t strike his magic. Every year since he has … since now. It was a weird feeling not seeing the Flyers subject of trade rumors this weekend.

The Flyers didn’t leave Dallas without making one trade, though. Hextall reached into his bag of tricks and traded the 190th overall to the Canadiens for a seventh-rounder in 2019.


3. The growth of USA hockey on full display

For the first time in franchise history, the Flyers did not draft a Canadian-born player. Their breakdown goes as followed: Five Americans and three Swedes.

Hextall continued to add college-bound prospects Saturday with the selections of St. Ivany and Gavin Hain (sixth round, 174th overall). St. Ivany is headed to Yale and Hain, North Dakota.

Hain is also the second player the Flyers drafted from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program and was Farabee’s teammate. That’s of note because they haven’t drafted a player from the USNTDP since James van Riemsdyk (No. 2 overall) in 2007. 

If the Flyers drafting no Canadiens means anything, it should be viewed as the growth of USA Hockey. It was a pretty good year for the NTDP, which had 12 players drafted.

4. Too early to compare

Of the Flyers’ Day 2 picks, Marcus Westfalt may be the most intriguing.

Westfalt was the Flyers’ final selection, taken with the 205th pick. He’s a big winger described as a two-way player. His skill level doesn’t appear to be high-end, but he has potential.

It’s easy to make comparisons to Oskar Lindblom, who fell to the fifth in 2015, but it’s far too early to make that connection. Lindblom’s issue was his skating — it needed major work.

After years of working on it, Lindblom elevated his skating up a few notches. He’s by no means a great skater now, but he improves enough to make the jump to the NHL.

At the very least, Westfalt can be chalked up as an intriguing prospect to watch overseas.

5. The name game

It would be a hockey draft without an ode to great hockey names.

The Flyers got a gem of their own: Wyatte Wylie in the fifth round.

I feel like the Coyotes should have drafted him. Wylie the Coyote.

I’ll see myself out.

More on the 2018 NHL draft

• If Morin doesn't pan out, is this pick the replacement?  

• With O'Brien, Hextall shows he's 'never' one to be safe

• With Philly ties, Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

• 4 thoughts from Day 1 of 2018 NHL draft

• Samuelsson continues family's NHL tradition

If Samuel Morin doesn't pan out, is Adam Ginning the guy to replace him?

ap_nbcsp_samuel_morin_adam_ginning.jpg
AP Images/NBC Sports Philadelphia

If Samuel Morin doesn't pan out, is Adam Ginning the guy to replace him?

DALLAS — A day after Ron Hextall announced a new three-year extension for Samuel Morin (see story), the Flyers went out and grabbed a guy who could be the Swedish version of Morin, choosing Adam Ginning with the 50th overall selection in the second round of Saturday's NHL draft (see story).

A stay-at-home defenseman, the 6-foot-4 Ginning possesses a lot of the same attributes as the 6-foot-7 Morin — grittiness, toughness, with an ability to protect the net. In fact, Ginning may be more NHL ready than Morin was when he was drafted as an 18-year-old back in 2013; Ginning started his pro hockey career in Sweden at the age of 16. 

In some ways, Hextall wasn’t expecting Ginning to be available as he described the second round as a “crapshoot” with teams going completely off the board with picks that weren’t projected to be in the top 60.

“We like his size. We like his upside,” Hextall said of Ginning. “He’s a big guy and he moves pretty well for a big guy. He’s got solid puck skills and he has the range we need for a solid defensive defenseman.”

With Morin looking at a lengthy six-to-nine month recovery from a torn ACL, the organization needed to add a little more muscle within the farm system now that Robert Hagg has joined the Flyers full-time.

“It fell on our list,” Hextall said. “We had two guys, two defensemen, and it fell on our list, so it was good the way it worked out for us.”     

Unlike first-round pick center Jay O’Brien, who wasn’t projected to be taken in the first round, many draft experts believed Ginning had first-round potential before slipping to the Flyers midway through Round 2.

NHL Central Scouting had Ginning listed as the third-rated international defenseman behind only fellow Swedes Rasmus Dahlin, who went No. 1 to the Buffalo Sabres, and Adam Boqvist, taken eighth overall by the Blackhawks.

Ginning has a year remaining on his contract with Linköping HC of the Swedish Hockey League before he can come to North America, which may be to his benefit since his game has been more suited to the smaller NHL-sized rink.  

“I’ll take it as it comes,” Ginning said. “It depends how I play in Sweden now in the upcoming years. We’ll see what happens.”

More on the 2018 NHL draft

• Hextall surprised by Flyers' quiet draft weekend  

• With O'Brien, Hextall shows he's 'never' one to be safe

• With Philly ties, Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

• 4 thoughts from Day 1 of 2018 NHL draft

• Samuelsson continues family's NHL tradition