Flyers

Patience key for Voracek, Flyers in reaching long-term deal

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Patience key for Voracek, Flyers in reaching long-term deal

For Jakub Voracek, there was no rush in signing an extension with the Flyers.

He knew he wanted to stay in Philadelphia and he understood the team had him in its long-term plans.

"I knew something was going to get done," he said Thursday night in a conference call. "It wasn't about a time, whether it'd be during the season or during the summer.

"It's a good thing we came to a deal this quickly, so now we can focus on everything else — good training, good workouts, good training camp. Obviously, it's good news, but from my standpoint, it didn't change anything (in) how I would prepare for the season. It's a great feeling to be secure like that."

The Flyers on Thursday signed Voracek to an eight-year, $66 million contract extension with an $8.25 million cap hit, which will be tied for the 10th highest in the NHL.

With one year remaining on the right winger's current four-year contract, general manager Ron Hextall had time before having to extend Voracek but had it as the Flyers' top priority.

As for the timing, both Voracek and Hextall are pleased to get it out of the way before training camp. Hextall said "it's really hard to pinpoint definitive timeline" when beginning contract negotiations, but with Voracek, the process reached its tipping point.

"We just got to the point the last few days — we were both tapped out and it was time to make a deal," the second-year GM said. "I think when neither side is necessarily thrilled with the deal, you probably make a fair deal and you look at the market right now, this is a fair deal for us and a fair deal for Jake."

Voracek is coming off an 81-point season in which he finished tied with the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin for fourth in the NHL. He also finished second in the league with 59 assists behind Washington's Nicklas Backstrom. He led the Flyers in points and assists, while finishing third in goals (22), second in power-play points (33) and third in PP assists (22).

The 25-year-old made his first All-Star team this season and was named to the NHL's postseason First All-Star Team, the first Flyer to earn first-team honors since John LeClair in 1997-98. He also won the Golden Stick Award as the top Czech hockey player in the world and the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the Flyers' MVP.

When Voracek's extension kicks in with the 2016-17 season, the Flyers will have two $8 million-plus players under contract, as they inked Claude Giroux to an eight-year, $66.2 million deal two summers ago.

Giroux's contract began last season, so he has seven years left. Overall, Voracek will make $200,000 less than Giroux and his cap hit will be $25,000 less than his linemate.

Last season, Voracek and Giroux combined for 154 points to form one of the best 1-2 punches in hockey and Voracek sees the duo improving.

"We can get better because we've got better every single year we've played together," he said. "I don't see a reason why we can't get better. Most important is to stay at the same level of play for all 82 games and then following, the playoffs. It's really important.

"We had 10 or 15 games last year when we didn't produce or didn't play as good as we did in the beginning of the season and I think it hurt the team a little bit. It's those kinds of games when they need us the most and we got to make sure we stay hot for 82 games because it's really important for the team and it's important for the organization."

Look at Chicago, who has won three Stanley Cups in the last five years. The Blackhawks have Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, both signed to eight-year deals. Anaheim has Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf signed on eight-year deals. Pittsburgh with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on long-term contracts and now the Flyers with Giroux and Voracek.

Was locking up the two something Hextall had in mind?

"They're a tandem that I think when you prepare to play the Philadelphia Flyers the first thing you're looking at is that tandem," Hextall said.

"They've been dynamite together and we expect them to continue on. That was a big part of our emphasis. I think when you're building a team, you look at pairs and I think the pair of Jake and G is very good, certainly one of the top pairs in the league."

Going into this season, Voracek will be playing for his third coach since coming to the Flyers in 2011. The Flyers hired Dave Hakstol out of North Dakota on May 18 to take over for Craig Berube, who was fired in May. Hakstol is still an unknown commodity in terms of how he'll adjust to the NHL level, but Voracek has talked with the new coach.

The Kladno, Czech Republic, native said Hakstol called him a couple times over the summer. In terms of what will be different, the two didn't get too much into detail, Voracek said.

That will come with training camp. Instead, Hakstol wanted to meet face-to-face with Voracek, even though the winger is spending the summer in Czech Republic.

So one day in June, the Flyers' bench boss flew to Czech Republic, an approximate eight-hour flight if he left from Philadelphia. For one day and one dinner.

"It meant a lot," Voracek said. "I told him it was a long trip for one dinner, but it meant a lot to me. It's better to sit down and talk about things than do it over the phone."

Flyers' Oskar Lindblom diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma

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Flyers' Oskar Lindblom diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma

Oskar Lindblom, a 23-year-old forward on the Flyers, is expected to miss the remainder of the 2019-20 season after being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, the team announced Friday afternoon.

Ewing’s sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that occurs in bones or in the soft tissue around the bones.

Below is a statement from Flyers president of hockey operations and general manager Chuck Fletcher:

Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom has been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma by leading specialists at the University of Pennsylvania. He will undergo further testing and evaluation next week and begin treatment immediately thereafter. He is not expected to return to play for the remainder of the season. The Flyers will do everything possible to support Oskar and assist him in securing the best care available. Out of respect for Oskar and his family, the team will have no further comment at this time and asks that Oskar be afforded a period of privacy so that he may focus his efforts on his treatment and a return to full health.

Lindblom, a native of Sweden, had been one of the Flyers’ top players through 30 games, scoring 11 goals and 18 points.

He was selected by the Flyers in the fifth round of the 2014 draft and has blossomed into a promising player.

Always smiling, positive and humble, Lindblom is beloved by his teammates. His rise from a fifth-round pick to a difference-making player has been a product of hard work.

After scoring 17 goals last season, sixth most among NHL rookies, Lindblom went back to Gävle, Sweden, to train all summer with his old team Brynäs IF.

"It’s like five minutes from my house," Lindblom said during training camp.

“It was nice to be back home for a bit, just relaxed, had some time with friends and family, so it was great.”

It didn't take long for the Flyers' new coaching staff to fall in love with Lindblom's game as the winger raced out of the chute, scoring in the team's season opener and playing a major role ever since.

“I didn’t know much about Oskar before coming here, but what I’ve found is a real smart, two-way player, hard-working young man," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Oct. 26.

In the summer of 2017, Lindblom talked about his climb within the Flyers' system.

"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.

By the age of 23, he has more than made it on the highest level.

Below is the outpouring of support for Lindblom, via social media:

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Shorthanded Flyers can't keep up with Avalanche to begin road trip

Shorthanded Flyers can't keep up with Avalanche to begin road trip

BOX SCORE

From the moment it was announced that Oskar Lindblom would miss Wednesday night's game, the Flyers' chances at Pepsi Center felt bleak.

No Lindblom, no Travis Konecny and facing the NHL's highest-scoring team in its building was not a promising script for the Flyers, who lost to the Avalanche, 3-1.

In stretches this season, the Flyers have struggled to bury goals. And that has been with Lindblom and Konecny — their two leading goal-scorers at 11 apiece — in the lineup.

The Flyers (17-9-5) did some good things but Colorado finished plays behind its world class talent up top.

The Avalanche (20-8-3) are on an eight-game point streak (7-0-1) in which they've scored 4.13 goals per game.

• Without Konecny (concussion) and Lindblom (upper body), the Flyers had difficulty putting the puck in the net. They were going to have to put up some goals against the Avalanche, who entered scoring an NHL-best 3.70 goals per game. For the second time in the last three games, the Flyers scored only one goal.

The lone tally came from Claude Giroux when the Flyers were trailing 3-0 with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.

• Following a first period in which they survived, especially in the back half of it thanks to Carter Hart, the Flyers actually played a solid second period. At one point during the middle stanza, the Flyers were outshooting Colorado 11-0.

But as the Flyers kept pushing to no avail, the Avalanche changed the whole complexion of the period with one play by their two best weapons. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen hooked up for a nasty marker to make it 2-0 with 3:55 left in the period, a deflating goal to allow for the Flyers (see highlights).

Considering Colorado was 14-0-1 when leading after the middle period, the Flyers were in a serious hole, even after a hard-working period.

• Hart, who entered 8-2-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .928 save percentage over his last 12 starts, faced the Avalanche for the first time in his career.

He made a highlight-reel save and gave the Flyers a fighting chance in tough circumstances.

The 21-year-old has been impressive during the first period all season long, allowing the Flyers to find their legs and rhythm. He converted 12 of his 24 saves in the opening stanza against Colorado.

On the Avalanche's first-period goal, Scott Laughton won a defensive zone faceoff but the Flyers failed to clear the puck, resulting in Matt Calvert's tally.

Rantanen added his second goal early in the third period and that was pretty much the game.

Colorado goalie Pavel Francouz, who came in 5-0-1 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .926 save percentage over his last eight games (six starts), finished with 32 stops.

• When Philippe Myers (back spasms, day to day) is ready to return, Robert Hagg should be the odd man out on defense. Shayne Gostisbehere has found some of his offensive mojo and Myers has shown way too much promise to be sitting when healthy.

A stay-at-home guy like Hagg was far too noticeable against the Avalanche. He committed a penalty and was a minus-2 in 15:21 minutes.

• David Kase was summoned to Denver this morning to make his NHL debut and become the ninth rookie to play for the Flyers this season

The 22-year-old winger had a nice scoring chance and two shots in 7:47 minutes. 

• The Flyers head to the old stomping grounds of general manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant general manager Brent Flahr when they visit the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Fletcher was the GM in Minnesota from 2009 to 2018 and Flahr was his AGM from 2010 to 2018.

The Flyers have not lost consecutive games in regulation since Oct. 27-29.

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