Future Flyers Report: Taylor Leier, Jordan Weal earn AHL All-Star honors

Future Flyers Report: Taylor Leier, Jordan Weal earn AHL All-Star honors

Before this week begins, 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 edition, we move on from the world juniors and check-in on some Phantoms, collegiate prospects and another check-up on a 20-year-old force in Sweden.

Taylor Leier, LW, 5-10/176, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
After spending most of December with the big club, Leier was returned to Lehigh Valley last Sunday when the Flyers activated Matt Read from injured reserve. Shortly upon his return, Leier received news he will be one of three Phantoms to participate in the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic, which will be hosted in Lehigh Valley. Leier has a goal in three games since his return to the AHL, registering nine shots and finishing the week as a plus-1. He has 21 points in 25 games this season, scoring at a 0.84 point-per-game pace and sits third among Phantoms in plus/minus at plus-eight.

Jordan Weal, C, 5-10/179, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Joining Leier in Allentown for the All-Star Classic on Jan. 30 is Weal, whom the Flyers acquired last season from Los Angeles in the Vinny Lecavalier trade. The 24-year-old is tied for fifth in the league lead in points with 33 — 11 goals, 22 assists. His 33 points are three points ahead of the Phantoms’ second-leading scorer, defenseman T.J. Brennan, who is the third Phantom to make the All-Star team this year. Last week, Weal had a goal and an assist, and going back before the holiday break, the centerman has three points in his last five games and nine points in his last 10 games.

Oskar Lindblom, LW, 6-1/192, Brynäs IF (SHL)
While his goaltender, Felix Sandstrom, was away at the world juniors earning Goalie of the Tournament recognition, Lindblom continued to show that he is not mismatched as a 20-year-old playing in the third-best professional league in the world. In Brynäs’ 1-0 win over Färjestad BK on Thursday, Lindblom unleashed a quick wrist shot as he entered the slot via the left faceoff circle to beat Färjestad goalie Stefan Steen for the game’s only goal. Lindblom was credited with just two shots on goal, but the winger created several quality scoring chances for both himself and his linemates. On Saturday, Lindblom was held pointless in 16:45 in a 4-1 loss to Växjö. His goal Thursday briefly gave him the SHL scoring lead at 29 points, but he now trails Broc Little (32 points) in the point race.

Merrick Madsen, G, 6-5/190, Harvard (NCAA)
Much has been written in this space about the Flyers’ future in net, specifically highlighting Carter Hart, Alex Lyon, Anthony Stolarz and Sandstrom, and rightfully so. General manager Ron Hextall made it a priority to make organizational goaltending depth atop his agenda, and we can add Madsen, a junior, to the list of intriguing prospects. The Acton, New Jersey, native is a major reason Harvard sits No. 4 in the country at 11-2-1. Madsen led the Crimson to two more victories last week, with an impressive 34-save showing in a 5-2 Harvard win over No. 15 Quinnipiac on Friday night. QU forward Thomas Aldworth beat Madsen at 10:31 of the first period, on a mini-break, but then Madsen held the fort down until late in the third period. He withheld a 13-save second period, and stopped 12 of 13 shots in the final stanza en route to his 11th win. Both Quinnipiac goals came on the power play, with the second coming with Madsen screened. Madsen’s 2.14 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in 14 games ranks second in the ECAC behind St. Lawrence’s Kyle Hayton.

Quick hits
• Ron Hextall provided the latest on the German Rubtsov contract situation Saturday, saying he doesn’t know if Rubtsov’s KHL contract has been terminated.

• Clarkson defenseman Terrance Amorosa sparked a 6-1 Golden Knights victory over Rensselaer on Saturday with a power-play one-timer for his second marker of the year.

Mark Friedman added another goal and an assist in a weekend split against No. 17 Bemidji State. The junior is now third on Bowling Green with 17 points in 24 games.

• The Flyers returned Stolarz to the Phantoms last Tuesday, and he made his first AHL start since Nov. 12 on Friday, a 2-1 loss to Hartford in which he stopped 21 of 23 shots.

• Lyon continues to be a workhorse for the Phantoms, starting both of Lehigh Valley’s weekend games. He pitched a 31-save shutout Saturday against Albany, and followed that up with a terrific performance against Utica on Sunday night, stopping 22 of 23 shots in a 4-1 win, his AHL-leading 16th win.

• Rouyn-Noranda defenseman Philippe Myers will reportedly miss one to two more weeks because of a concussion he suffered during the world juniors.

• Another productive week for Pascal Laberge, who added three more assists to his season total. Laberge now has 10 points in his last 11 games for Victoriaville.

• Two goals and an assist for Samuel Dove-McFalls last week. The Saint John’s centerman has 15 points in his last 12 games for the Sea Dogs.

• Kitchener center Connor Bunnaman has four goals in four games last week, with goals in back-to-back games for the Rangers.

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

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Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery died Sunday morning. First responders pulled his body out of Hamilton Harbour, where he had been swimming with friends. An investigation into the cause of death is still ongoing. 

Emery was 35.

According to local authorities, Emery was checking out a friend’s boat docked at Royal Hamilton Yacht Club when the group he was with decided to jump in the water around 6:30 a.m. Emery’s body never surfaced and was eventually recovered around 2:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Hamilton police say Emery’s body was recovered in close proximity to where he was last seen.

Emery was last seen publicly with a handful of his former teammates Saturday night as the goaltender participated in Zac Rinaldo’s charity hockey game in Hamilton. Emery can be seen standing during the playing of “O Canada.”

"The Philadelphia Flyers are stunned and extremely saddened to hear of the tragic passing of former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery," president Paul Holmgren said in a statement from the team. "Ray was an outstanding teammate and an extremely gifted goaltender. He had exceptional athleticism, was a fierce competitor and battled in every game he played with the Flyers.

"His performances through the 2009-10 season were a very big part of the team's success in making the playoffs and reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Ray's talent, work ethic and determination helped him enjoy a successful 11-year NHL career. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

Several of Emery’s former teammates over the years offered their condolences via Twitter after learning of the tragedy.

Former Flyer Daniel Carcillo shared the he was crushed by the news (NSFW).

Jakub Voracek also shared his condolences (NSFW).

Emery joined the Flyers in June 2009 on a one-year contract, shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 in his Flyers debut. The goaltender’s first stint in Philadelphia was cut short when he suffered a muscle tear in his abdomen in December missing the remainder of the season. Emery was later diagnosed with avascular necrosis — a degenerative condition to the bone tissue in his hip.

After undergoing successful surgery, Emery eventually joined the Ducks before winning a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013. Impressively, Emery finished the regular season with a 17-1-0 record. He re-signed with the Flyers that summer as a backup to Steve Mason.

Emery’s most infamous moment in Philadelphia came during an ugly 7-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on November 1, 2013, as the Flyers netminder pummeled Caps goalie Braden Holtby during a line brawl in the early stages of the third period.

Emery faced criminal charges over a handful of off-the-ice incidents and altercations. Most recently, he was arrested for assault with a weapon in 2017 against former fiancé Keshia Chanté. 

Emery played a total of 287 NHL games, 88 with the Flyers. 

Flyers' Danick Martel accepts qualifying offer; team re-signs Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne

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Flyers' Danick Martel accepts qualifying offer; team re-signs Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne

Updated: 9:44 p.m.

Three young forwards will all be staying in the Flyers organization, at least for one more year.

Sunday, the team announced that Danick Martel accepted his qualifying offer on a one-year contract, and that restricted free agents Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne signed one-year deals.

Restricted free agent goalie Anthony Stolarz has also accepted his qualifying offer of $761,250, according to a report from John Hoven. Stolarz, 24, played in just one game for the Phantoms in the 2017-18 season after undergoing surgery on a meniscus tear last summer. A second-round pick by the Flyers in the 2012 draft, Stolarz went 18-9 and posted a 2.92 goals against average with Lehigh Valley in 2016-17.

Though the team didn't include any salary details, Martel's deal is reportedly a two-way contract worth $715,000.

The 23-year-old Martel made his NHL debut last season, finishing with no points and six shots over four games. He scored a career-best 25 goals for Lehigh Valley.

With Leier, the Flyers avoided a possible arbitration hearing. According to CapFriendly, Leier's contract is a one-way deal for $720,000. Leier's hearing was scheduled for Aug. 3. The team also earlier avoided a hearing with Alex Lyon, their other player who filed for arbitration, signing the goalie to a two-year deal.

A fourth-round selection in 2012, Leier had one goal and four assists in 39 regular-season games with the Flyers as a rookie.

Goulbourne, who made his NHL debut on Jan. 6, appeared in nine regular-season contests, with 15 hits.

If Stolarz is indeed back in the fold, Robert Hagg would be the team's only remaining restricted free agent. 

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