Flyers sign veteran goalie Jason LaBarbera to two-way deal


Flyers sign veteran goalie Jason LaBarbera to two-way deal

The Flyers added more goaltending depth on Thursday.

They signed 35-year-old Jason LaBarbera to a one-year, two-way contract.

The 6-foot-3, 234-pound LaBarbera has played just 12 NHL games over the last two seasons — five last year with Anaheim.

He is an 11-year veteran who’s been with the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, Phoenix Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers and Ducks. In 187 career games, LaBarbera has a 62-73-20 record with a 2.85 goals against average and a .907 save percentage.

LaBarbera was originally a third-round selection (66th overall) of the Rangers in the 1998 NHL draft.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall had hoped to re-sign Rob Zepp, but this move would indicate Zepp is out of the picture.

Zepp, who turns 34 in September, waited 17 years to get a shot at the NHL, and became the oldest Flyers goalie to get his first victory in his debut — 4-3 in overtime on Dec. 21 at Winnipeg.

Zepp had three call-ups last season and while his record was impressive, his overall numbers were not. Although he was 5-2-0, he had a 2.88 GAA and poor .888 save percentage.

Jakub Voracek raves about James van Riemsdyk's net-front magic

Jakub Voracek raves about James van Riemsdyk's net-front magic

VOORHEES, N.J. — Jakub Voracek has all types of skill and wizardry to his game.

He'll weave and dazzle through traffic with the best of them, a true threat to make a highlight-reel play whenever the puck touches his stick.

But the bag of tricks James van Riemsdyk carries in front of the net will even make Voracek scratch his head. A magician like himself can appreciate another one's work.

That's why Voracek was brimming with excitement Wednesday at Flyers Skate Zone over the addition of van Riemsdyk's power-play prowess. All signs point to van Riemsdyk making his highly anticipated return Thursday from a lower-body injury that knocked the winger out of action in the first period of the season's second game.

The Flyers' big summer splash joined Voracek on the first-unit power play Wednesday, an area the Flyers hammered away at during practice and for good reason. The man advantage is 3 for 39 since Oct. 13, last in the NHL at 7.7 percent. Overall, it ranks 28th in the league at 13.6 percent.

Here comes van Riemsdyk ready to roam the blue paint.

Talk about a sight for sore eyes. The Flyers' power play will welcome van Riemsdyk with open arms. 

Voracek sure is and here's why:

He's got really, really soft hands and he's got a really good touch. He can make the plays out of nothing, which is really important. He can raise the puck under the bar from impossible angles. He kind of gives the goalies a little bit more respect. Like if I'm standing in front of the net, one foot from the pad, I'm not going to raise it anywhere, but he will.

He's a big body in front of the net, he's a great player that can score goals. Obviously we missed him over the period of time, especially on the power play. He's a really smart player around the net and he's going to help us a lot.

With van Riemsdyk rejoining the picture, the Flyers can now see what they envisioned when they signed JVR for five years, $35 million on July 1. Dave Hakstol and company will roll out a 30-goal scorer on both man-advantage groups. 

Wayne Simmonds, who has made the net-front role his M.O., will try to bolster the second unit. Since the 2011-12 season, his first with the Flyers, Simmonds owns 88 power-play goals, second in the NHL to only Alex Ovechkin's 137.

Here's how the Flyers' man-advantage groups should look Thursday night against the Devils at the Wells Fargo Center:

• Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Shayne Gostisbehere

• Wayne Simmonds, Nolan Patrick, Travis Konecny, Jordan Weal, Ivan Provorov

In 2017-18 with the Maple Leafs, van Riemsdyk buried a career-high 11 power-play markers en route to a 36-goal season.

"He's just going to go and do what he does," Hakstol said.

And the Flyers need it.

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James van Riemsdyk, Flyers make dream come true for Luke Rogers

Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

James van Riemsdyk, Flyers make dream come true for Luke Rogers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Luke Rogers was standing in front of his locker stall wearing a shiny-new Flyers jersey when James van Riemsdyk walked up and handed him a stick.

Rogers smiled and graciously thanked van Riemsdyk. Both had just gotten off the practice ice at Flyers Skate Zone, a time to share their bond of hockey.

It was two Jersey boys living the NHL dream.

For Rogers, a moment with his idol. 

For van Riemsdyk, a day to help a 14-year-old's fight.

(Jordan Hall/NBC Sports Philadelphia)

Rogers is currently receiving treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at Rutgers Cancer Institute. He's a native of Morganville, New Jersey, about a 30-minute drive from Middletown, where van Riemsdyk grew up and eventually turned into the No. 2 overall pick of the 2007 NHL draft.

With his diagnosis, Rogers had the game stripped away from him — temporarily.

"It really ate away at me," he said Wednesday. "Hockey is my life, it's always been my life. So when I got back to playing, it was the joy of my life."

A joy he's now having again at the same rink in which van Riemsdyk played as a youngster. On Wednesday, though, he took to the Flyers' practice facility where he skated alongside van Riemsdyk, took shots on Calvin Pickard and signed a one-day contract with the big club.

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

Rogers will be at the Wells Fargo Center Nov. 27 for Flyers Hockey Fights Cancer Night and to read off the starting lineup in the locker room.

He's a warrior — a perfect fit for the organization's history of toughness.

"I was diagnosed in October 2015 and then I started playing hockey again in January 2017," Rogers said. "So that year, I couldn't walk, couldn't bathe myself, couldn't do anything. Then I got my port out, which we got all of my really intense [chemotherapy] through, and I just started playing full contact and stuff.

"Not nearly where I was before now, but I'll get there. And my treatment is over in February of 2019."

Rogers called meeting van Riemsdyk "pretty surreal."

"Me and my friends, we've followed his whole family because they're from around where I live," Rogers said. "So I've been following him for a long time, played with teams I've played for, organizations.

"My whole life I've wanted to meet him."

It was special for van Riemsdyk, too.

"I think that's one of the nice things for me about playing in a place that's relatively close to home," the Flyers' winger said. "I'm only an hour and a half away from here, so getting stuff like that and realizing the chance you have to share it with people from your area where you grew up is pretty cool.

"A situation like this where you have someone who is out there playing in the same rink I played growing up — you have that extra sense of connection."

One that came together for two Jersey boys, not far from home.

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