Taylor Leier

Sorting out the Flyers' forward logjam

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Sorting out the Flyers' forward logjam

NEW YORK — Madison Square Garden brands itself as the world’s most famous arena.

For a handful of Flyers, the corner of 33rd and 8th Avenue in Manhattan will be one last audition on arguably the league’s biggest stage with the coaching staff and management prepared to make their biggest round of cuts Thursday.

It has been the most competitive camp at the forward position since Dave Hakstol took over as head coach in 2015. My projected group had 16 forwards to choose from, but the head coach believes it’s even deeper.

“My list is a little bit longer than that,” Hakstol said Wednesday. “The job of putting that list together has been made tough with some good performances through camp. Some are veterans battling for those jobs have played well and there’s young guys that are pushing that deserve another look.”

Here’s how it shakes out at the midway point of camp. 

No-brainers (10)
Claude Giroux
Sean Couturier
Jake Voracek
Nolan Patrick
James van Riemsdyk
Wayne Simmonds
Travis Konecny
Jordan Weal
Scott Laughton
Michael Raffl

Raffl hasn’t exactly wowed, but he’s been steady having played just one preseason game. I don’t believe Raffl is in jeopardy of being sent down either as another team would claim him in all likelihood. In the final year of a contract, I also wouldn’t be shocked if the Flyers trade Raffl for a future draft pick as I don’t see a contract extension coming. 

Looking real good (1)
Oskar Lindblom

Lindblom has had a very strong camp starting with the prospects game, and if he hasn’t solidified his job he can do so with a strong effort against the Rangers Wednesday night. However, I’m not quite ready to say Lindblom is a shoe-in with other veterans still pushing hard for a roster spot.  

Making a strong case (3)
Mikhail Vorobyev
Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Taylor Leier

Right now, I actually prefer Vorobyev as my third-line center over Weal, who would be my fourth-line center or call it 3-A and 3-B. Vorobyev has a higher offensive ceiling and has shown a commitment to playing responsibly in the defensive end of the ice. Aube-Kubel brings a fourth-line energy and a physical presence coupled with a blistering shot where he could contribute some much-needed offense in a bottom-six role. Leier had a very strong effort in the 5-1 win against the Islanders on Tuesday. 

Veterans on the bubble (2)
Dale Weise
Jori Lehtera

I think we know what both players are at this stage of their careers. If one of these two were to make the team, I’d lean toward Lehtera since he has a knack of knowing where to be on the ice and can kill penalties, it’s just a matter of getting there. I can’t imagine there’s a trade market for either guy, but it’s not unimaginable that both players are placed on waivers for the purpose of being sent down to Lehigh Valley to start the season since the Flyers have plenty of salary cap flexibility. 

Impressive, but Lehigh bound (3)
Carsen Twarynski
German Rubtsov
Danick Martel

Twarynski and Rubtsov have really impressed during this training camp and shown how much difference a year makes from age 19 to 20, which provides promise that we’ll see that improvement with Morgan Frost and Isaac Ratcliffe this time next year. Twarynski and Rubtsov need to show they can carry their strong preseason into their first year at the AHL level, where hopefully the upward trend continues.   

Simply haven't shown enough (3)
Cole Bardreau
Mike Vecchione
Tyrell Goulbourne

I expected a stronger push from Bardreau and Vecchione, who played 10 minutes in his only preseason game Monday at the Wells Fargo Center. Bardreau had an outside shot of making the big club but a poor effort in the preseason opener set the tone.

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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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Flyers restricted free agents Taylor Leier, Alex Lyon file for salary arbitration

Flyers restricted free agents Taylor Leier, Alex Lyon file for salary arbitration

Taylor Leier and Alex Lyon were two of 44 NHL players to file for salary arbitration Thursday night, per a release by the NHLPA.

Leier and Lyon are two of the Flyers' seven restricted free agents this offseason. The others are Robert Hagg, Anthony Stolarz, Danick Martel, Tyrell Goulbourne and Reece Willcox.

The deadline for player-elected arbitration was 5 p.m. Eastern Time Thursday. The deadline for club-elected arbitration is 5 p.m. Eastern Time Friday.

By electing for arbitration, both players and the Flyers are set for hearings with an independent arbitrator to settle on a salary. General manager Ron Hextall and the representation for Leier and Lyon can continue to negotiate and possibly strike a deal before a hearing is had. Arbitration hearings are held from July 20 to Aug. 4 in Toronto.

The last Flyer to elect for arbitration was Brayden Schenn in the summer of 2016. The two parties avoided it by agreeing to a four-year deal the morning of the hearing. The Flyers also avoided a hearing with Michael Del Zotto in 2015.

Leier, a 24-year-old winger, played in 21 of the Flyers' first 23 games last season and seemed to have found his niche on the fourth line while compiling the team's fifth-most minutes on the penalty kill. However, he played just 18 games the rest of the season and finished with one goal, four assists and a minus-7 rating. The last game he appeared in was March 4 as he lost his role and was a healthy scratch all playoffs.

Last summer, Leier, a 2012 fourth-round pick, re-signed on a one-year deal and made $806,558 in 2017-18.

Lyon, a 25-year-old goalie, impressed when he was called upon by the Flyers for 11 games last season in which he went 4-2-1 with a 2.75 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. He was excellent during the AHL playoffs, putting up a 1.98 goals-against average and .944 save percentage over 11 games for the Phantoms, including a remarkable 94-save performance in a five-overtime victory.

The Yale product was signed by the Flyers as a college free agent in April 2016. Last summer, he also signed a one-year deal while making $874,125 in 2017-18.

Lyon will fight for a roster spot in a busy crowd of goalies, featuring Brian Elliott, Michal Neuvirth, Carter Hart and Stolarz. Earlier this week, Hextall said by AHL rules the Flyers can keep three netminders with Lehigh Valley, where things may be overly crowded with Lyon, Hart and Stolarz.

Neuvirth, on the final year of his deal, and Stolarz could be trade candidates the rest of this summer.

"I'd rather have too many goalies than too few," Hextall said Monday. "If something makes sense and we can make something happen, we'd at least look at it. We saw it last year. All of a sudden, a couple goalies go down and you're scrambling for goalies. If we start with five, we start with five. Not a perfect situation, but again, I’d rather start with five than with three."

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