Flyers

Pending RFA Nick Cousins must earn his keep with Flyers

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Pending RFA Nick Cousins must earn his keep with Flyers

Nick Cousins and Ron Hextall used the exact same word.

It was apparent the two knew the groundwork ahead for the offseason.

Cousins, a pending restricted free agent, likely isn’t going anywhere despite the ultimate unknown.

“There’s been no talks yet, so I sort have no idea what’s going on next,” Cousins said last week at Flyers Skate Zone during his end-of-the-season press conference.

Does he figure into the Flyers’ plans?

“I don’t know if that’s a question for me to answer,” Cousins said. “I think that’s a question for [Hextall]. We’ll see. I guess we’ll see in the next couple of months here.”

Hextall and Cousins echoed one another when discussing the young forward’s status entering the 2016-17 season. The only aspect missing was a definitive yes or no to Cousins’ return, but the future looks clear, not cloudy.

“[Cousins] did a good job for us but he’s not an established NHL player, so he’s got to come back in training camp and earn it,” the Flyers’ general manager said last week. “That’s probably no different than we expected, but in saying that, he showed a lot of good things. He’s extremely competitive, he’s a smart player, a responsible player. He did a good job for us but he’s got to come back in training camp and show us he’s ready to earn a spot.”

Message received.

“You’ve got to earn everything you get,” Cousins said.

Shayne Gostisbehere, a Calder Trophy finalist, is the prime example for the Flyers.

“You saw Ghost earn what he did this year, it’s unbelievable,” Cousins said. “He ran the power play really effectively and I think as a young guy, I think that’s what you’ve got to do coming into the league is make the coach trust you when you’re on the ice. Ghost did that. I think we both did that at certain times this year.”

Cousins will be just 23 years old on July 20 and looks to be a building block to the Flyers’ current construction. Last season, Cousins had a cap hit of $842,500, according to Spotrac

He’s one of the many up-and-coming, inexpensive centers in the Flyers’ system.

After making his NHL debut in 2014-15 and playing 11 games, Cousins received the call back to the Flyers on Feb. 5, playing in 36 regular-season games in which he totaled six goals and five assists with just four penalty minutes for a plus-5 rating.

“I just think coming in here, obviously getting called up in February and getting thrown right into the fire, as a player you sort of love that stuff,” he said. “I think I’ve come a long way from last year. There are still areas in my game that I need to improve and I’m working on that.

“I’m already looking forward to next year, coming to camp and being ready to go.”

The more Cousins played, the more he gained from Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol.

“I can’t thank him enough for the trust he had when I was on the ice,” Cousins said. “It’s all about opportunities.”

It resulted in Cousins' playing all six playoff games.

“The intensity is that much better and the pace is that much quicker,” Cousins said. “It’s huge experience for me and it was definitely fun.”

At 5-foot-10, 188 pounds, Cousins wants to take his speed to new heights.

“I need to improve on my skating a little bit,” he said. “I’m not the biggest guy, but I need to be a little bit faster. That’s where I’m trying to improve in.

“We play a pretty aggressive style and that sort of suits my game. That’s the way I like to play.”

Last Tuesday, Cousins had just walked out of his exit meeting with Hextall and Hakstol.

He left excited for what’s next.

“I just talked to Hexy and Hak and I think they’re on the same page as me,” he said. “It’s going to be a big summer.”

Why Flyers fans should be hopeful about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Why Flyers fans should be hopeful about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Today, we break down why Flyers fans should be hopeful for the post-All-Star break stretch. On Sunday, we’ll look at the reasons for concern.

Through 50 games, the Flyers have done two important things. They’ve played well within the division and have dominated at home. 

Those two trends bode well for after the All-Star break because divisional games become much bigger and confidence at home is paramount as the pressure builds.

The Flyers are 17-4-4 at home and 9-2-3 against Metropolitan foes. The marks are notable given the Flyers fell sorely short in those areas last season, when they finished 19-18-4 at home and 10-16-2 in divisional play.

Another positive is the Flyers are getting healthier after the break. Shayne Gostisbehere (knee) could be back Friday in the Flyers’ first game out of the bye week, while Carter Hart (abdominal strain) is expected to return not long after.

But what might be the Flyers’ most convincing piece of evidence for optimism is how they’ve performed against the NHL’s best teams. The Flyers have shown they can play with any club, which is huge for their own belief moving forward.

The Flyers are 11th in the NHL standings at 27-17-6. They've gone 9-5-3 against the top-10 teams and 5-1-1 vs. the top four.

Head coach Alain Vigneault has a history of taking teams to the playoffs, and doing so in Year 1 on the job. At his previous three stops (Canadiens, Canucks, Rangers), each of his first seasons produced playoff bids and at least one series victory.

Vigneault’s track record will be tested over the Flyers’ final 32 games.

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2020 NHL All-Star Skills: Travis Konecny finishes 7th in fastest skater; Mathew Barzal beats Connor McDavid

2020 NHL All-Star Skills: Travis Konecny finishes 7th in fastest skater; Mathew Barzal beats Connor McDavid

Travis Konecny went toe to toe with familiar faces in the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills Friday night.

Among the eight-player field for the fastest skater event, four players were from the 2015 draft class.

Konecny went 24th overall to the Flyers and Mathew Barzal No. 16 to the Islanders, while Connor McDavid was selected No. 1 by the Oilers followed by Jack Eichel at No. 2 to the Sabres.

The first-time All-Star Konecny couldn't take down McDavid, but the competition's three-time reigning champ was dethroned by Barzal at Enterprise Center in St. Louis.

Konecny had fun in the event and scored during the goalie competition.

Right at the start line, I could see my parents, brother and girlfriend, so that was pretty cool — they were right there," Konecny said Friday, via Flyers senior director of public relations and communications Zack Hill. "I was just having fun with them, they're enjoying it just as much as I was. We had a little moment after I finished my lap and I think I was near the bottom, they're laughing and I was laughing. It was over with and I could enjoy the rest of the night.

Barzal took the crown with a time of 13.175 seconds, just ahead of McDavid.

1. Mathew Barzal, Islanders — 13.175
2. Connor McDavid, Oilers — 13.215
3. Chris Kreider, Rangers — 13.509 
4. Jack Eichel, Sabres — 13.540
5. Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche — 13.895
6. Anthony Duclair, Senators — 14.005
7. Travis Konecny, Flyers — 14.113
8. Quinn Hughes, Canucks — 14.263

Konecny will compete for the Metropolitan Division in the All-Star Game Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, which you can live stream right here.

Here are more sights and scenes from Konecny's All-Star weekend:

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