Flyers rookie camp

Scott Gordon on Philippe Myers: 'He's an NHL player to me'

Scott Gordon on Philippe Myers: 'He's an NHL player to me'

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — When the public address announcer at PPL Center bellowed out Philippe Myers' name during the starting lineup introductions, the 22-year-old defenseman received a hearty applause from the fans.

Last season, he became a popular guy in Lehigh Valley as one of the Phantoms' better players before graduating to the Flyers for a 21-game taste of the NHL.

He returned to the home of the Flyers' AHL affiliate Wednesday night for the club's rookie game against the Islanders' prospects.

And everyone probably knows he won't be back anytime soon.

Myers didn't take long to make his mark Wednesday night as he bounced around a defender on the perimeter and beautifully fed German Rubtsov for the game's opening goal. The play was not representative of a rookie game.

It was big-league stuff.

"He's an NHL player to me. He played like it," Lehigh Valley head coach Scott Gordon said following the Flyers' 5-4 shootout loss (see observations). "There's no panic, he's done a great job of preparing himself the last two years to be an NHL player. He just has to have a good camp and everything else should fall into place for him."

The 6-foot-5, 218-pound Myers transformed himself from an undrafted player into a top-50 NHL prospect. The Flyers appear ready for his full-time impact within their group of defensemen. While Myers possesses intriguing offensive qualities like we saw Wednesday night, he has improved in all other areas. He moves the puck up ice, retreats well and stays within himself.

When general manager Chuck Fletcher called up Myers during February of last season, the Flyers were the NHL's hottest team and gaining steam in the playoff race. Fletcher did not have a problem trusting Myers to play important games.

The experience was extremely beneficial.

"I think the biggest thing that I learned is just try to stay calm and composed under pressure," Myers said last weekend at rookie camp. "Try not to panic out there. I got a little bit more comfortable as the games went on. I'm happy I got those first steps out of the way and that I got my feet wet in the NHL. I sort of know what to expect this year."

Gordon was summoned by the Flyers in December to serve as interim head coach. He remembers catching up with Myers back in Lehigh Valley when the blueliner was starting to get comfortable and catching the attention of others.

"I had gone down to Allentown to pick up some things and I stopped by the locker room and he was there," Gordon said last weekend. "We were just talking about his probably two-week period that I had been gone and he had said to me at that time, he goes, 'I'm getting it now. It's starting to come together where I don't feel like I have to win the game every single shift and just let the game come to me.' That's just maturity."

A maturity that has Gordon realizing he might not see Myers back in Allentown.

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Philippe Myers wows on 1 play, German Rubtsov scores twice, more in Flyers rookie game observations

Philippe Myers wows on 1 play, German Rubtsov scores twice, more in Flyers rookie game observations

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A rookie game is far from a preseason game.

However, there's always eyes on a game.

"A lot of these kids are coming in, they want to make an impression and games are the best way to evaluate players," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Tuesday.

"It's a great opportunity to make a first impression, particularly with our coaching staff."

Plenty of Flyers prospects did positive things Wednesday night at PPL Center, home of the AHL affiliate Phantoms, in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Islanders' prospects.

The Flyers received goals from German Rubtsov (two), David Kase and Sean Comrie. Morgan Frost, Joel Farabee and Rubtsov were denied in the skills competition.

Let's get into some observations:

• During the summer, Fletcher said the team was "bullish" on Philippe Myers' upside and why wouldn't they be?

When you see Myers up close, he looks like an adult, not a 22-year-old prospect. The defenseman is built like an NHLer now at 6-foot-5, 218 pounds, and moves like one, too.

In the first period, he completely deked a defender, took advantage of space and found Rubtsov for a one-timer.

Right after Rubtsov buried the shot, he pointed at Myers as if to say that was you

It would be surprising if he's not in the Oct. 4 season-opening lineup for the Flyers (see story), who reworked their defense this offseason in large part because of Myers (see story). Everything is improved and then he does what he did Wednesday, which is an added bonus.

• One way to describe Rubtsov is steady. He might not jump off the page in a specific area but he does so many things well, which is why he could slide into a bottom-six role and fit in.

He scored a goal at even strength and on the power play. His offense is an underrated part of his game and a focus of his entering training camp (see story).

• Farabee was excellent. Not only is he offensively dynamic, but coaches have raved about his motor and it was evident Wednesday.

His puck pursuit stands out and that's where his wiriness benefits him because he skates hard and stays low to outrace the opposition. He worked his butt off in overtime and nearly won the game but nailed iron on a shot.

It's understandable why his current size (6-1/175 pounds) might be a concern at the NHL level over an 82-game season. There are times when he gets pushed off the puck around the boards, then there are moments when he outsmarts a defender with his quickness to avoid a hit or turnover (see story).

The Flyers definitely have options for their third-line vacancy (see story).

• The linemates of Farabee — Frost and Isaac Ratcliffe — were also impressive.

Both tallied assists on Comrie's first period goal.

Frost is a treat to watch with the puck on his stick and will make his case for the Flyers during the exhibition games (see story). Ratcliffe, Frost and Farabee created chances and showed what they can do with space on the power play.

Ratcliffe also has a nasty side to him, which should endear him to Flyers fans.

If all three start the 2019-20 season in the AHL, traveling to Allentown for Phantoms games will be worth the trip.

• The Flyers' decision to play Mikhail Vorobyev on the penalty kill but not the first-unit power play was notable.

The front office and coaching staff likely want to see his effort in that type of setting. Vorobyev was the preseason darling last year and won the Flyers' third-line center job out of camp. He then quickly lost it just 11 games into the regular season.

The vision and size (6-2/215) are there, but can he consistently play the hard minutes? Bottom-six players need to make an impact when they're not scoring and the Flyers will evaluate that with Vorobyev (and many other roster hopefuls) throughout the preseason.

• Felix Sandstrom and Kirill Ustimenko split the goaltending duties, with Sandstrom playing a little more than half the game.

He performed well with 24 saves and one goal allowed.

The 2015 third-round pick will see playing time behind Alex Lyon with the Phantoms. If the Flyers endure health issues in net, Sandstrom could see a ton of playing time during his first AHL season.

Ustimenko, a 2017 third-round pick turning pro this season, had a rough outing.

• Carsen Twarynski and Connor Bunnaman, two Phantoms to not overlook, did not play as the Flyers wanted to offer some of the non-pro prospects an opportunity. 

• A quick note on a defenseman: Keep tabs on Mason Millman this season. The 2019 fourth-round pick should make big strides with the OHL's Saginaw Spirit and both Fletcher and assistant general manager Brent Flahr have spoken highly about the 18-year-old.

• Gritty was in attendance and got away with a penalty ... because of course he did.

• The Flyers hold media day Thursday and Day 1 of training camp Friday (see details).

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How Joel Farabee separates himself and can 'take somebody's job away' with Flyers

How Joel Farabee separates himself and can 'take somebody's job away' with Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Joel Farabee is as offensively talented as any prospect in the Flyers' farm system.

The 2018 first-round pick can score in a variety of ways, whether it's making a play in open ice or deceiving a goalie in close. His all-around game of speed and skill has him nearing the Flyers at just 19 years old.

That offensive ability is what many are giddy about. It's his ticket to the NHL … right?

Well, Farabee is pretty smart. The winger knows his quickest climb to the Flyers would be snatching a bottom-six role and taking on some not-so-glamorous responsibilities.

He's aware of the Flyers' job opening and its qualifications.

"Honestly, I think by the end of my career, I'll be more of a PK guy rather than a power play guy," Farabee said Tuesday at Flyers rookie camp. "I think the game really well, so I think that helps on the PK. If I can play power play, too, that would be awesome. My strengths are when I can outthink guys, so if you can use me that way, I think that's when I play my best."

It's not all too common to hear a first-round forward gush about his PK prowess. Farabee, though, truly embraces his versatility. He battles along the boards, works hard on the forecheck and thrives on beating opponents to the puck.

With training camp set to begin Friday, the Flyers have a vacancy on their third line. They have plenty of guys that can fill the power play. Their top six is crowded. But a bottom-six role and some potential penalty kill minutes are up for grabs.

Farabee clearly knows.

"I think the game really well, so I kind of know where guys are behind me and what plays they're trying to make, so I think that helps me on my forecheck and where I can break up plays," he said. "I take a lot pride in that part my game.

"I think one of my strengths as a player is being able to play all different kinds of roles. I think I can play top six and I think I can also play bottom six. I think that really helps me out trying to get to the next level when spots are open."

Among the country's freshmen last season, the one-and-done Boston University product finished tied for second in goals with 17 — three of which were shorthanded.

AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley head coach Scott Gordon liked Farabee's mindset.

"If I'm a player and you go through college and junior, you can be the best power play guy — at the end of the day, you join an organization as a rookie, you have to take somebody's job away," Gordon said. "They're not going to hand it to you. You have to really show something that separates yourself from the other guys that are on the power play.

"I look at the options that the Flyers have, good on him to be able to say, 'You know what, the reality is, I might not be able to play on the power play, so how can I get my minutes?' 

"Any player that starts his career in the minors, I think — whether he's an offensive player or not — he should have the mindset to want to be a good bottom-six guy in the American League. It doesn't mean that you don't play offense, but do all the things that a bottom-six guy in the NHL does, whether it's being good defensively, maybe it's a matchup, maybe it's killing penalties, whatever it might be — to give yourself an opportunity to keep you in the lineup because of your versatility."

Like it is with any job, the more you can do, the better.

And Farabee gets that.

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