Flyers

Future Flyers Report: Alex Lyon helps Phantoms inch closer to playoff berth

Future Flyers Report: Alex Lyon helps Phantoms inch closer to playoff berth

The Flyers' season ended Sunday night, but hockey is still being played. The AHL regular season is wrapping up this coming weekend, while the CHL and SHL playoffs are still ongoing.

So there will be at least one more Future Flyers Report after today. With that said, it's time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

In this week's report, we check in on the Phantoms' playoff push, how Harvard fared in the Frozen Four and see how the Flyers' CHL prospects are doing in the playoffs. Let's dig in.

Alex Lyon, G, 24, 6-1/201, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
For a while there, it appeared as if Lehigh Valley would have no problem clinching a playoff berth, but that hasn't been the case over the last few weeks. The Phantoms' postseason push has been slowed down by inconsistencies and a difficult Atlantic Division. However, the Phantoms' magic number to secure their playoff spot is down to one point with three games left, and a big reason why was Lyon's performance in net in a 4-2 win over Springfield on Saturday night. The 24-year-old netminder turned away 44 Thunderbird offerings and allowed just two goals in an outstanding effort. It was Lyon's second start last week, as he allowed three goals on 29 shots in a 3-2 OT loss to Hershey last Wednesday. 

Merrick Madsen, G, 21, 6-5/190, Harvard (NCAA)
Madsen's junior season came to an end last Thursday when the three-seeded Crimson fell to two-seeded Minnesota-Duluth, 3-2, in heartbreaking fashion during their Frozen Four semifinals matchup. Madsen turned away 36 of 38 shots against the Bulldogs but surrendered the game-winning goal with 26.6 seconds left in regulation -- a tough pill to swallow for Madsen, who made several big saves during the semifinal match. Regardless of the bitter end, Madsen's junior season was a highly successful one. He finished the season with a 28-6-2 record in 37 games played and a 2.10 goals-against average, a .923 save percentage and three shutouts. His .848 winning percentage finished the season second in the nation behind Minnesota-Duluth's Hunter Miska. He's a finalist for the Ken Dryden Goaltender of the Year Award, the top goalie in the ECAC, and an all-Ivy League first teamer.

Samuel Dove-McFalls, C, 19, 6-1/207, Saint John's (QMJHL)
One of just four Flyers prospects remaining in the CHL playoffs, Dove-McFalls scored the game-winning goal at 9:38 in overtime in Saint John's 2-1 victory over Val-d'Or in Game 1 on Friday. He was held pointless with four shots on goal in the Sea Dogs' 4-1 win in Game 2 Saturday night. In six playoff games, Dove-McFalls has just two points with 20 shots and a plus-3 rating. Dove McFalls, a 2015 third-round draft pick, has until June 1 to sign an entry-level contract before Flyers lose his exclusive rights, according to CapFriendly.com.

Philippe Myers, D, 20, 6-5/209, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
Myers continued to produce for the Huskies last week. In Rouyn-Noranda's 5-2 first-round series-clinching win over Halifax last Monday, Myers got the Huskies off to a 1-0 lead with a power-play blast. He later added an assist on the Huskies' fourth goal. Rouyn-Noranda scored Chicoutimi in the second round, and Myers had an assist in the Huskies' 6-2 win Friday in Game 1. The Saguenéens won Game 2 Saturday. The series resumes Tuesday.

Carter Hart, G, 18, 6-1/181, Everett (WHL)
After a 64-save, five-overtime win to send Everett to the second round last Sunday night, Hart and the Silvertips find themselves in a 2-0 hole to the Seattle Thunderbirds after dropping Games 1 and 2 on Friday and Saturday night. Hart yielded seven goals in the two games, allowing three on 33 shots in Game 1 and four on 15 shots in Game 2. The Silvertips will look to get back in the series Tuesday night when the series resumes.

Quick hits
• After an impressive first-round series performance, Carsen Twarynski is pointless in two games against Portland in the second round. Kelowna, however, is up 2-0 in the series.

German Rubtsov's season is over with a broken hand, Chicoutimi announced last week.

Robert Hagg picked up an assist in the Phantoms' 4-2 win over Springfield on Saturday night. He was called up to the Flyers Sunday and made his NHL debut in the season finale.

• Brynäs IF goalie Felix Sandstrom allowed 12 goals, stopping 63 of 75 shots in three games against Frolunda last week in his team's second-round playoff series.

Travis Sanheim had two assists in three games last week for the Phantoms. He has 35 points in 73 games this season, a solid first season playing professionally.

• After being held pointless in Game 1 against Frolunda, Oskar Lindblom had a two-assist game in Brynäs' 6-3 loss in Game 2 last Thursday and added another helper in a 4-3 Game 3 win on Saturday. The series, tied, 2-2, resumes Monday with Game 5.

Anthony Stolarz, who has been up and down between the Flyers and Phantoms, made one start in Lehigh Valley last week, a 3-0 loss to Wilkes/Barre-Scranton on Friday. He made 29 saves on 31 shots faced before being recalled up to the Flyers on Saturday.

David Kase saw his 2016-17 campaign come to an end Sunday when Piráti Chomutov lost its playoff series with HC Bílí Tygři Liberec. Kase finished the regular season in the Extraliga with three goals and nine points and added two markers and five points in 14 postseason games. He also played in eight games in the WSM-Liga, adding seven points.

Another Oskar Lindblom? Marcus Westfalt has footsteps to follow with Flyers

Another Oskar Lindblom? Marcus Westfalt has footsteps to follow with Flyers

Ron Hextall knows how these things can work out.

He remembers plucking Oskar Lindblom in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL draft. Not much was made of the pick, barely even a peep, because, well, the 138th overall selections don't typically draw heaps of praise.

Lindblom quietly slipped back to Sweden. Three summers later, Flyers fans couldn't stop talking about him.

"Oskar went away, no one knew who the hell he was, fifth-round pick, over there getting better and better and better and bang," Hextall said last July. "He's the SHL Forward of the Year."

One has to believe Lindblom's name popped in the general manager's head when the Flyers saw Marcus Westfalt still available and the clock ticking on their 2018 seventh-round pick. At 205th overall, Westfalt became the Flyers' final selection, making for eerie similarities to Lindblom, who forced his way to the big club in 2017-18.

Westfalt plays for the same Swedish junior team (Brynäs IF J20) and SHL squad (Brynäs IF) as Lindblom did when he was taken by the Flyers. Both prospects are from Sweden and dropped in their respective drafts. Lindblom, a left winger, stands 6-foot-1, 191 pounds, while Westfalt, a center/left winger, comes in at 6-foot-3, 203 pounds.

Another Lindblom in the works?

"Hopefully, that's my dream, of course," Westfalt said three weeks ago at Flyers development camp. "But he's a really good player, he's got a lot of skill. But, yeah, hopefully."

The 18-year-old was well aware of Lindblom. It was hard to not hear or see his fellow countryman transform from fifth-round pick to ballyhooed Flyers prospect. In 2016-17, when Lindblom really took off with Brynäs IF and won Swedish Hockey League Forward of the Year, Westfalt witnessed the rise.

"I watch him a lot," Westfalt said. "His last year in Brynäs before he got here, I watched him a lot. He's a [role model] because I think he's really good, he's good with his hands, his speed, he uses his body well. I watch him a lot."

In his draft year, Lindblom played only four SHL games compared to 43 for Brynäs IF J20. For Westfalt, it was a bit different. He appeared in 39 SHL games, including playoffs, while playing 26 contests at the junior ranks, where he put up 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) and a plus-19 rating.

Westfalt's goal for 2018-19 is to play the whole season in the SHL. Lindblom did a bit later than Westfalt, but once the jump was made, he impacted games.

"Try to get more ice time," Westfalt said. "Bigger role in the game.

"[Brynäs IF] told me that I have some things I need to work on and if I do that, I can get to play."

Westfalt, who had four points (one goal, three assists) in those 39 SHL games, said he tries to be "a smart, two-way centerman," and feels his "play in the D-zone is better than the offense."

"I'm strong without the puck and with the puck," he said.

While the goal is to stick in the SHL, he's uncertain which level will be best for his on-ice growth at this stage of his development."

"When I play in junior, I get more ice time, I get to play a lot more with the puck, I get to play the power play and stuff like that," he said. "I want to play in the juniors, too, because I want to work on my skills, but my big goal is to do the same thing I do in the juniors in the SHL."

Lindblom eventually did, carving out his path to the Flyers at 21 years old.

"I just think about it by myself, like fifth-rounder, I just felt like I can play and I can be on this level," Lindblom said last summer.

With Westfalt, there is no chip on his shoulder as a seventh-round pick.

"No, for me, I'm just glad that I'm here," he said. "It's a great organization. It's fun to go earlier [in the draft], but I'm just happy to be here."

And eager to climb like Lindblom.

More on the Flyers

Flyers re-sign restricted free agent Anthony Stolarz

Flyers re-sign restricted free agent Anthony Stolarz

General manager Ron Hextall is nearly finished wrapping up contracts for his restricted free agents.

And his goalie picture is now clear for 2018-19.

The Flyers on Wednesday re-signed netminder Anthony Stolarz to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal is worth $761,250, according to a report by hockey writer John Hoven.

With Stolarz back, defenseman Robert Hagg remains the Flyers' lone restricted free agent.

Stolarz, a 2012 second-round pick, underwent a nightmarish 2017-18 season just a year after he made his NHL debut and performed well in seven games with the Flyers. The 24-year-old tore the meniscus in his left knee during early September, the same injury he suffered at the end of 2016-17 with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

He played in just one AHL game and three ECHL contests as a result. In 2016-17, he made his way to the big club and put up a 2.07 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in a small sample. Then the injury occurred with the Phantoms and it's been an uphill battle ever since for the 6-foot-6, 210-pounder.

Stolarz will have his work cut out for him — if he hasn't already — as playing time will be earned at Lehigh Valley with Alex Lyon back in the fold and Carter Hart joining them.

"It's just competition. No one is going to go in there and hand you a job, so you have to earn it,” Stolarz said in June after an on-ice workout at Flyers Skate Zone. "I think the thing for me is to prove I'm healthy. I don't think I've skated since the end of January. I had the one flare up before one of my games and it had nothing to do with my knee injury. It was a separate injury. I think the biggest thing is proving I'm healthy and going out there and working to prove I'm still a high-caliber goalie."

The Flyers' goaltending tandem is set with Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, both of whom are in the final year of their contracts. Things obviously can change this offseason, as Neuvirth and Stolarz seemed like realistic trade candidates.

But as of now, it's Elliott and Neuvirth with the younger trio pushing and competing.

"I'd rather have too many goalies than too few," Hextall said earlier this month. "If something makes sense and we can make something happen, we'd at least look at it. We saw it last year. All of a sudden, a couple goalies go down and you're scrambling for goalies. If we start with five, we start with five. Not a perfect situation, but again, I'd rather start with five than with three."

More on the Flyers' goalies

• Following 'gloomy' time, what's next for Elliott?

• Why Neuvirth's NHL career hinges on this offseason

• Hart says so long to Twitter, hello to pro life

• No arbitration needed for Flyers and Lyon

• Sandstrom hungry to prove he's not the 'other' goalie