Flyers

Flyers waive Matt Read to reach final roster number

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Flyers waive Matt Read to reach final roster number

The mystery behind the Flyers' final cut before Wednesday's season opener in San Jose has been revealed.

And it's a surprise.

Matt Read, a six-year veteran who has spent his entire NHL career with the Flyers, was placed on waivers Monday. If he clears, he could be assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley.

That would trim the Flyers' final roster from 24 players to the mandated 23 players.

According to NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Boruk, Read was not in attendance at a mandatory Flyers corporate event Monday morning. Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg, Nolan Patrick and Taylor Leier were.

Those five rookies will be making the trip to San Jose.

Considering general manager Ron Hextall's penchant for trusting veterans rather than rushing younger players to the NHL before they could be ready, this move was on the unexpected side.

The 31-year-old Read, who signed with the Flyers as a college free agent out of Bemidji State prior to the 2011-12 season, has scored 86 goals and added 100 assists for 186 points in 418 games in an orange and black sweater. He also has four goals and four assists in 24 career playoff games.

He burst onto the scene and was a key component of Flyers teams from 2011-14, when he scored 57 goals during that stretch. His best season was his rookie year when he posted career highs in goals (24), assists (23) and points (47), all while playing substantial roles on both the Flyers' power-play and penalty-kill units.

Things started to go downhill in 2014-15 for Read. Known at the time for his speed, he suffered a high-ankle sprain at the start of the season and never truly rediscovered his burst. In the last three seasons, starting with 2014-15, Read has scored just 29 goals and found himself as a healthy scratch on more than one occasion.

Long story short, Read became expendable.

The 30 other NHL teams now have a chance to claim Read and take on his cap hit of $3.625 million for the rest of this season. His contract ends after this year.

If he goes unclaimed, Read could be assigned to Lehigh Valley, where he would provide the Flyers $1.025 million in cap relief. If that's the case, he still would count for $2.6 million on the Flyers' cap. It would be similar to the situation with Andrew MacDonald two seasons ago. MacDonald was eventually called up later in the season, and Read certainly could be this season.

If Read were to be stashed with the Phantoms, the Flyers would have approximately $2.424 million in cap space at this very moment, according to CapFriendly.com.

As for who remains on the team right now, this move likely means the 23-year-old Leier and 23-year-old Scott Laughton will take over the roles Read fit into with the chance to advance up the lineup.

Flyers weekly observations: A serious concern, a roster decision, more

Flyers weekly observations: A serious concern, a roster decision, more

The Flyers are .500 entering next week after a 2-1-0 week.

Let's look at some observations from the week that was, which saw some goaltending issues, a defensive pair breaking up and a rookie potentially on the brink of demotion.

• Ron Hextall might be forced to do something about his goaltending situation — I know, obviously. But Brian Elliott has allowed too many soft goals, been too unreliable. The team defense has been porous, yes, but you need the goalie to make some saves. The Devils' second goal Saturday was just not a good one to give up. The four goals he yielded Tuesday weren't great, either.

Cal Pickard is a fringe NHL backup and Michal Neuvirth can't stay healthy. I don't think it's time to rush Carter Hart up, but the Phantoms have three goalies with Alex Lyon healthy. I think we'll see Lyon with the Flyers at some point. I think he would be here now if he hadn't suffered an injury himself. But the Flyers simply need better goaltending. Elliott was better Saturday, but the goaltending simply has to improve.

-Dougherty

• You have to wonder if the Flyers are contemplating a decision with Mikhail Vorobyev.

The decision being on whether to send him to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

With Nolan Patrick's return and Jordan Weal's showing, Vorobyev has become the odd man out down the middle. Weal is producing alongside Travis Konecny while showing the blend of skill and all-around effort at center.

The Flyers won't move Jori Lehtera out of his fourth-line center role and playing Vorobyev on the wing doesn't make a ton of sense for his development. With 28-year-old Corban Knight here to be an extra center, having a 21-year-old rookie sit doesn't jive with the Flyers' ways.

Lineups can change after one or two games. Vorobyev was the preseason darling and started fast before a quiet four-game stretch put him out. He'll need some help to get back in the lineup. If not, playing with the Phantoms could be the course of action. 

-Hall

• Dave Hakstol's decision to break up Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere Saturday afternoon was an underrated excellent coaching decision. Provorov has had a worrisome start to the season and while I like the potential of a Provorov-Ghost pair, I just don't think it's a good fit. Provorov had his best game yet Saturday but still had two concerning turnovers (see story). While I have full confidence that he'll get back to the player we've come to expect, it is concerning to see him make the uncharacteristic mistakes he's made.

I think he'll perform better away from Gostisbehere. It also spreads out the defense, which with this group, they need. It was too top-heavy with Provorov-Gostisbehere.

-Dougherty

• Radko Gudas typically gets blown up for his mistakes but he's been quietly good.

He doesn't try to do too much, he just plays his game and understands his role.

When he's not being realized, that's a good thing. And he hasn't been the Flyers' problem on defense thus far. He's a team-best plus-4, he's blocking shots and he's not committing penalties.

Good stuff from Gudas so far as a bottom-pair defenseman.

- Hall

• Your Robert Hagg observation: Yes, the Flyers' second-year defenseman has more goals and points than Steven Stamkos. It won't last for long, so we'll savor it for now.

Jokes aside, Hagg has looked so much better this season with the puck, showing that offensive flash he had as a prospect in Sweden. He still needs to improve his 1-on-1 coverage and Thursday in Columbus, we saw some blips. Hagg's exit-zone passes still need improvement and he certainly can tighten up his defensive coverage this season, but overall, Hagg is evolving a bit.

-Dougherty

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Don't worry about Ivan Provorov, he can go from 'good to great'

Don't worry about Ivan Provorov, he can go from 'good to great'

Ivan Provorov always stays at one level.

When he speaks after a game, it's hard to tell if the Flyers won or lost.

The 21-year-old is that calm and together.

His game is very much the same. Everyone has become so accustomed to Provorov's robotic consistency that when his play wavers ever so faintly, a panic almost sets in.

Wait, was that Provy? He messes up?

"It's part of hockey, you can't be perfect," Provorov said Saturday. "Nobody is perfect."

The funny thing is Provorov was saying this after evaluating what was arguably his best game of the season. There were some areas he didn't like. He came in with one point and a minus-5 rating through seven games. 

In Saturday's 5-2 victory over the Devils (see observations), Provorov notched two assists, blocked four shots, played a team-high 23:24 and was a plus-2. 

He collected the primary assist on the game-winning goal, a play in which he sent a pass along the wall from the back boards in the defensive zone, springing Jakub Voracek for a breakaway attempt to give the Flyers a 3-2 lead with 3:10 left in the third period.

Provorov's recollection of the play was impressive. He wasn't just trying to fling the puck out of the D-zone to briefly relieve pressure.

"I think it was a D-to-D pass from Travis [Sanheim], I looked one way and I thought I was going to rim it the other way," he said. "But I saw I had two guys beat if I go on my backhand up the wall and that's what I did, and luckily it went by the D and Jakey went on the breakaway and scored."

Following a better output, there was no switch to Provorov's postgame demeanor — that's not who he is or what he's about.

But while the tone of his voice didn't change, his message spoke volumes.

"I don't think I've played bad this year," Provorov said. "I think it's a few bad bounces, a little bad luck. But overall, I think I started good and I'm going to continue to get better and go from good to great."

If Provorov's performance didn't ease concerns, the "good to great" statement should. The 2015 No. 7 overall pick is not the player to worry about on this Flyers team. When he's human, he's still effective. He's also coming off a Grade 3 AC separation suffered in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It wasn't expected to impact his offseason or the start of this season, but who knows.

Nonetheless, Provorov's rookie year should be a good reminder of how fast he's able to adjust after a mistake or rough night. Many remember his embarrassing stumble and turnover during a 7-4 loss to the Blackhawks, his third NHL game. He finished the defeat as a minus-5 and was a minus-9 through his first 11 contests.

A 19-year-old could have crumbled.

Instead, Provorov ended up setting a franchise rookie record with his 21:58 ice time per game and earned the Barry Ashbee Award as the Flyers' top defenseman.

He hasn't been a question mark since and shouldn't be now.

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