Flyers

Phil Myers, bulked up and healthy, pledges this Flyers training camp will be different

Phil Myers, bulked up and healthy, pledges this Flyers training camp will be different

VOORHEES, N.J. — Standing at his stall at Flyers Skate Zone during last weekend’s development camp, defenseman Phil Myers towered over everyone else, but there was one noticeable difference.

Myers added about 10 pounds of muscle over the summer, and it shows. On the ice, he looked out of place. He belonged with the orange and black on his sweater. No doubt.

It just didn’t look as if he needed to be on the same sheet with his peers anymore. Perhaps it was the benefits of a full summer of training. Injuries derailed his training last summer.

“I had the same surgery as (Shayne) Gostisbehere,” Myers said. “He had one hip, and Sam Morin, all of those guys got the same thing I did.”

There was a sprained knee suffered at the 2016 Memorial Cup. There was a pubic plate detachment and a torn labrum in his left hip. He underwent hip surgery on June 22, 2016. The recovery wiped out Myers’ summer training. On Sept. 26, 2016, he was medically cleared to return. The next night, he dove into the fray against the New York Islanders.

How did it go? Myers finished as a plus-two with three hits and a blocked shot in 22:39.

“I felt out of shape, obviously, last year,” he said. “The day after I got cleared, I jumped into a preseason game. It jumped up pretty quick. … This summer is going to be different.”

The Flyers insist development camp is not for evaluation. That may be true. Its purpose is to teach prospects how to work and live as a professional hockey player. No matter how much Myers looked like a pro amid his peers, it will not impact his odds come September's training camp when spots are earned in a competitive environment.
 
Myers, 20, is graduating to the professional ranks this season, and where he plays will be up to him. The Flyers have two openings on their blue line, and general manager Ron Hextall is leaving them up for prospects to grab. Robert Hagg and Morin are the front runners.
 
Don’t count Myers out just yet.
 
The Moncton, New Brunswick, native was among the Flyers’ final cuts last October. He stuck around longer than many expected and that was without any summer training.
 
His training this summer has been broken down into phases. The first phase was bulking up and putting on muscle. Mission accomplished. The next phase, according to Myers, is “heavier stuff,” which he said is strength training. His plan is to stay in the Philadelphia area for two weeks after development camp to train and come back 10 days early to skate before the big camp begins in September.
 
“You get stronger and faster,” Myers said. “I’m going to focus on what I can do and what I can control. That’s what I did last year. I just took as much in as possible and tried to get ready as fast as I could because I didn’t really have a lot of time. This year, I have much more time so I’m taking things much more slowly and more controlled.”
 
Last season was another in which Myers trended upward, though it was one mired with injuries; he suffered whiplash in October and a concussion against Team USA at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championships. Myers, the only undrafted player on Team Canada’s roster, was arguably the team’s best defenseman before the concussion. His play at the world juniors led to TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeting Myers “looks NHL ready, or close to it.”
 
The smooth-skating 6-foot-5 blueliner registered double-digit goals (10) and 35 points in 34 regular-season games with Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL in 2016-17. He ended the regular season on a five-game point streak. He added nine points in 13 playoff games. He finished his QMJHL career with 29 goals and 92 points in 203 games. Like Carter Hart, Myers joined the Phantoms once his season ended but didn’t play.
 
“The injury struggles that he, unfortunately, went through there, those are all opportunities to learn and grow,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “You can see the growth in Phil off-ice when you look at his stature. You just want to see him come into camp and come in and compete as hard as he did last year and improve on the results from last year.”
 
Myers may be at a disadvantage come September. Because of last year's injury-ridden season and the fact that he's coming straight from junior, he may be a few legs behind Hagg, Morin and even Travis Sanheim, who was at his fourth development camp last weekend (see story)
 
While every player’s developmental path is different, Myers has to beat out at least two players with professional experience already and two — Hagg and Morin — who looked the part during their NHL debuts in April. It’s a safe bet that Myers begins at Lehigh Valley.
 
“If he comes in and he’s the best guy or we feel he’s the best guy,” Hextall said of Myers, “he’s going to play. The other guys, whenever you played in the American League, you have a leg up. You expect those guys to come in and be a little more NHL ready than a kid coming right out of junior, but the players are going to dictate who’s on our team.”

Will Flyers re-sign Justin Braun, Derek Grant when NHL free agency rolls around?

Will Flyers re-sign Justin Braun, Derek Grant when NHL free agency rolls around?

July 1 came and went rather quietly in the hockey world. Annually, the day is filled with players signing new contracts and joining new teams as the free agency period officially opens.

This year, that was obviously not the case. As the NHL and NHLPA continue to work toward a resumption and eventual conclusion of the 2019-20 season, the entry draft and free agency must wait.

According to a report by TSN's Bob McKenzie, both sides are looking at Nov. 1 being the new July 1.

The offseason will be different and challenging considering the times. The salary cap floor, which typically climbs each year, is expected to remain flat at $81.5 million. In an excellent article published Wednesday, TSN's Frank Seravalli highlighted the key questions and challenges facing free agency, while outlining his top 50 pending unrestricted free agents.

On Seravalli's list were two current Flyers: Justin Braun at No. 19 and Derek Grant at No. 41. Will the Flyers re-sign them? With the league's return-to-play 24-team tournament still to be held, a lot can change from now until Nov. 1, but let's break down the Flyers' outlook for both of these players.

Braun

The case for Braun is interesting and the chances of the Flyers re-signing the experienced defenseman feel like 50-50. Braun, a stay-at-home blueliner who specializes in killing plays, helped stabilize the Flyers on the back end and improved their goal-prevention efforts (which were a major problem last season).

However, the Flyers will be cognizant of his age. Braun is 33 years old and made $3.8 million this season. At the current stage of his career, what will Braun be eyeing for his next deal? One would think he'd have to look for a cheaper price if he wants more years on his new contract, something that can be attractive to a veteran player eyeing job security.

The Flyers, though, have solid youth and depth at his position, along with a nice stable of blue-line prospects in the system. Understandably, for those reasons the Flyers might be wary of dedicating years to an older defenseman.

If Braun is willing to be pretty flexible in his terms, the Flyers shouldn't be opposed to bringing him back. He has made them better in 2019-20. But if push comes to shove a bit, especially in a tighter offseason, the Flyers may have to say thank you and move forward with their youngsters or another option.

Grant

The initial impression of the Grant trade deadline acquisition was good rental for cheap.

What made Grant such a cost-effective move by general manager Chuck Fletcher? Grant, 29 years old at the time, could help the playoff-hungry Flyers down the stretch with only a $700,000 cap hit and no years left on his contract.

Grant made such a positive impact in his seven-game regular-season audition with the Flyers that they'll absolutely consider re-signing him. The 6-foot-3, 206-pound center also delivered a timely career year of 15 goals and 25 points between his time with the Ducks and Flyers, setting himself up for a nice pay increase.

Grant should be appealing to bring back for the Flyers because he can play down the middle and on the wing; his ability to move around makes him less likely to block a Flyers prospect at a specific position. If Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder) is healthy in 2020-21 and the Flyers are deeper at center, Grant can help on the wing. If Patrick's situation remains uncertain and the Flyers lack depth, Grant can bolster things by playing his natural position.

The 24-team tournament could really factor into the Grant equation. If the 30-year-old has an influential tourney and the Flyers go on a run, he could win over the club. He's a quality bottom-six guy who won't require a hefty contract that severely handcuffs the Flyers next season or down the line.

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Flyers Talk podcast: NHL hub cities, free agency, more

Flyers Talk podcast: NHL hub cities, free agency, more

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall analyze the team's decisions for free agency and the playoffs.

From roster talk to the latest on the 24-team tournament, let's dive in:

0:45 — The latest on where the Flyers might play

4:15 — July is much different this time around

7:00 — Will the Flyers re-sign Derek Grant and Justin Braun?

21:20 — Keep an eye on Morgan Frost

26:00 — What to expect from Nate Thompson

30:15 — Appreciating Sean Couturier's faceoff excellence

36:35 — Katie's birthday is Monday, July 6!

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers