Sam Gagner: 'It'd be very exciting' to play for Flyers


Sam Gagner: 'It'd be very exciting' to play for Flyers

Sam Gagner began quite frankly.

"It's a very storied franchise, if I had a chance to play there, it'd be very exciting," Gagner said Sunday on a conference call.

The Flyers on Saturday acquired the 25-year-old from the Arizona Coyotes for defenseman Nicklas Grossmann and Chris Pronger's contract (see story).

General manager Ron Hextall's intentions were clear, as the move saves the Flyers a shade over $5 million in salary, even with Gagner's $3.2 million salary.

After the move, the Flyers have $6.4 million in cap space. (Next year's salary cap is $71.4 million.) Yet, Gagner's status with the Flyers remains unknown.

Hextall was noncommittal Saturday if he's planning on keeping Gagner, who can be bought out until June 30 at 5 p.m.

"We're going to look at all of our options over the next few days and we'll make the decisions we have to make," Hextall said. "We've got to get our numbers in order, our cap is still not totally cleaned up, but we're a lot closer now."

Buying out Gagner would save the Flyers additional money. Since Gagner is under 26, they'd only have to pay one-third of his salary.

Have the Flyers given the 5-foot-11, 201-pound forward a timetable of when a decision might be made?

"When I talked to Ron, he said that he's going to try to get it done as quickly as he can," Gagner said.

From his discussions, what are the odds Gagner wears the orange and black next year?

"I honestly couldn't even give you a ballpark," Gagner said. "From the conversations I've had, it's just trying to figure out where I fit amongst the cap.

"They said they like me as a player and they're going to try to make it work, but obviously with today's league and the cap situation, it's hard for me to say."

Gagner was a buyout candidate in Arizona, too. In addition, after the Coyotes traded him, general manager Don Maloney had some harsh words about the former No. 6 overall pick.

Maloney said he didn't believe Gagner can play center in the NHL, and that it was time to move on. However, Gagner is pleased with how he played last season.

"I thought that I actually last year, regardless of what's been said, once I got settled in," he said, "I felt like I played some pretty good hockey down the stretch, played some two-way hockey and was able to produce a little bit in a pretty tough situation."

Still, it hasn't been the smoothest couple of weeks for Gagner, whose wife, Rachel, is pregnant with their first child.

"It's not the easiest of times," the London, Ontario, native said. "But at the end of the day, it's going to make me stronger. I think that Philly likes me, but it's just a matter of finding the dollars that work and sometimes that doesn't happen.

"In the cap market today, it's just the nature of the business. For me, it doesn't change things. Coming into camp, wherever it is — hopefully it's Philly and if it's not, I'm going to be ready to go and prepared to have a really good season and be a big part of a winning team."

Last season was Gagner's first in the desert. He began his career with the Oilers, who drafted him in 2007, before being sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2014 NHL draft and then being sent from Tampa to Arizona that same night. He played 81 games last season, scoring 15 goals with 41 points and a minus-28 rating.

The Coyotes finished last in the Western Conference and 29th in the NHL, and Gagner led all Coyotes forwards with 41 points and finished tied for second behind defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson for the team lead.

"I'm as motivated as you can get," Gagner, who turns 26 on Aug. 10, said. "I was motivated coming into the season regardless.

"I still have a lot to prove and now obviously, it's a little more heightened. I think that I have a lot of people to prove wrong, and I'm set on doing that. For myself, I always want to be the best that I can be. It hasn't happened yet. I still feel very confident in my abilities that I can be a very successful player in this league."

If Hextall opts to keep Gagner, where does he fit in? The Flyers have holes at the wing, and while Gagner is a natural center, he's played all three positions throughout his career. He also excels in the shootout, an area the Flyers have struggled with since its inception in 2005. Gagner is 19 for 62 all-time in the skills competition.

"I've played wing in the past, including this year," he said. "I was pretty much switching situations the entire year. I played a couple games at center, a couple games at wing. I can adjust to whatever kind of role the team needs me to play."

The Flyers have needs at left wing, as well as right wing. Gagner hasn't lived up to his pre-draft hype, but is a skilled forward. His openness to play any position is a positive.

If he stays and the Flyers want him to play wing, does it matter to him which side of the ice he'll play?

"It doesn't matter to me," he said. "There's some differences in terms of taking pucks off the wall in your own end, there's differences in the attack, but I've been able to adjust to both sides. It's really not a problem for me to adjust."

Flyers brought back to earth by Coyotes, suffer a first since Oct. 19

Flyers brought back to earth by Coyotes, suffer a first since Oct. 19


Despite putting up 21 goals over their five-game winning streak, the Flyers had a propensity to score them in bunches when an opponent started derailing.

On Thursday night, the Flyers never got going and were pulled back to earth in a 3-1 loss to the Coyotes at the Wells Fargo Center.

Arizona goalie Darcy Kuemper was the biggest difference. The 6-foot-5 netminder who brought an NHL-best 1.97 goals-against average and .936 save percentage to Philly stopped 28 shots.

With 4:43 left, Matt Niskanen scored the Flyers' lone goal and it ricocheted off a Coyote. Arizona iced the game with an empty-netter.

The Flyers (16-8-5) suffered just their second regulation loss at home (9-2-4). The last time they failed to pick up a point at home was Oct. 19 when they lost to the Stars, 4-1.

Thursday night's defeat halted the Flyers' winning streak at five games and their point streak at seven. The Flyers had earned at least a point in 18 of their previous 22 games.

The Coyotes (17-9-4), who were allowing the NHL's second-fewest goals per game at 2.31, improved to 10-3-3 on the road.

• The Flyers went on two power plays in the final six minutes of the second period but could not solve Kuemper.

During those two man advantage opportunities, the Flyers put five shots on Kuemper and also misfired three times.

James van Riemsdyk found Morgan Frost with a slick backhanded pass from behind the net but the 20-year-old missed wide.

• Speaking of Frost, he had a tough game. The rookie had a turnover and some difficulty making plays.

He has gone scoreless over his last seven games following his loud start in which he scored three points in his first two games.

Maybe head coach Alain Vigneault takes him off the first line to relieve some pressure.

• Vigneault opted to play seven defensemen instead of slotting call-up Mikhail Vorobyev in at fourth-line center.

It's not a bad approach when you have seven healthy blueliners playing well. It also could mean the Flyers aren't ready to trust Vorobyev on the fourth line again.

The Senators game on Saturday looks like a better matchup for Vorobyev, who is in his fifth stint with the club since the start of last season.

• Brian Elliott hadn't lost in regulation since Oct. 29. The Flyers' backup goalie finished with 15 saves.

He allowed a first-period power play goal to Phil Kessel after Claude Giroux was whistled for a ticky-tacky slashing penalty. He then yielded a backbreaking third-period goal to Conor Garland with 7:03 left in the game.

The goalie was not the problem, though.

Sean Couturier was not a problem, either.

• The Flyers wrap up their three-game homestand Saturday when they welcome the Senators (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Next week, the team opens a three-game road trip, which features matchups with the Avalanche on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN), the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and the Jets on Sunday (5 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

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'Tis the season for ... Jawnaments? Jawnaments!

'Tis the season for ... Jawnaments? Jawnaments!

If you live in Philadelphia or the surrounding area, it's safe to say there's at least one ornament on your tree representing the city — whether it be a memento from a previous championship Philly has seen, famous landmarks or even the skyline, you're repping one way or another.

Throw everything you thought you knew about Philly ornaments out the window and make way for Jawnaments ... yes, you read that correctly.

Jawnaments. I swear, there is no place like Philadelphia.

Jawnaments is an Etsy shop that has been around since 2017 but they recently released a ton of non-traditional Philadelphia-inspired ornaments. And they're a thing of beauty.

Can you only function throughout the week because of the daily coffee you grab at Wawa and want to highlight that on your tree this year? They've got you covered.

Haven't received a parking ticket in the city in a while and just miss the stress and anxiety they bring with them? Yup, they've got that covered too.

The Tastykake Krimpet and Kandy Kake ornaments look good enough to eat ... even a classic soft pretzel with yellow mustard is an option.

And since Gritty is just about everywhere in the world ... it he. On an ornament. Oh sorry, *Jawnament.

Trust me, there are a ton of other options but you're just going to have to check out the full shop to see the beauty of it all.

You might even have to get a mini tree that's dedicated to the city you know and love. Heck, keep it up all year!

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.

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