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[#] Sun Sep 18 2016 14:33:26 EDT from Kurt R.

Subject: World Cup Of Hockey, Day 2: Game time, how to watch, and discussion thread

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Four teams opened up the World Cup of Hockey on Saturday, and now the other four will play their first games of the tournament on Sunday.

The World Cup of Hockey officially began yesterday, with the four teams in Group A getting their first action of group play in. Today, it’s the four teams in Group B that will get their chance to make a good first impression and take a step towards the elimination round.


Yesterday’s Results:

  • Team USA opened up the tournament by getting embarrassed 3-0 at the hands of Team Europe. Their only paths to the elimination round now probably require them to either beat Canada or get the benefit of a tiebreaker. And hey Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored a goal!
  • Team Canada easily beat Team Czech Republic in the night game by a count of 6-0. The Czech team actually held its own for much of the first period, but there’s simply too much firepower on that Canadian team for them to hang. Pour one out for Michal Neuvirth, who gave up six goals and still made 44 more saves.


Today’s Games:

Team Sweden vs. Team Russia: 3:00 p.m. ET

Where to watch: ESPN, WatchESPN, Sportsnet, TVAS
Where are the Flyers: None to be found.

Team North America vs. Team Finland: 8:00 p.m. ET

Where to watch: ESPN2, WatchESPN, Sportsnet, TVAS
Where are the Flyers: Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere will be present and destroying fools for Team North America. Team Finland is Flyer-less.


Use this thread to discuss today’s World Cup games. Enjoy!

[#] Sun Sep 18 2016 15:34:26 EDT from Ari Yanover

Subject: Here’s Michael Del Zotto throwing the first pitch at a Phillies game

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He reached home from the mound! That’s good.

As the Philadelphia Flyers’ season starts to get underway - including some players already taking part in the World Cup of Hockey - the Philadelphia Phillies’ season is ending.

With just a couple of weeks left in the regular season, it’s time for the yearly changing of the sports guard. And we kind of got to see some of that, as various Flyers attended batting practice before the Phillies hunkered down to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 15.

Not only that, but Michael Del Zotto threw out the first pitch, too.

And here it is!

Thanks again to the @phillies and @aschecody. #dontskipit #lobcity

A video posted by Michael Del Zotto (@mdzofficial) on

Hardly a strike, but hey - Del Zotto took the mound, and his ball made it to Cody Asche’s glove (who was serving as catcher for Del Zotto), so it’s all good.

[#] Mon Sep 19 2016 06:19:10 EDT from Kelly Hinkle

Subject: Monday Morning Fly By: LOL America.

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Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...

*Well well well hockey things are in full swing up there in Toronto and, in case you didn't realize before, the American team is complete trash from top to bottom and will probably lose every game. [ProHockeyTalk]

*Team Canada is, of course, off to a good start. And stupid Crosby was a huge part of their 6-0 win over the Czechs. [Puck Daddy]

*His team might have lost but Michal Neuvirth did have one pretty greasy moment during the game when he robbed Sid. [BSH]

*Ron Hextall is hoping playing in the World Cup will elevate the game of his guys. Probably will, if they don't die. [Inquirer]

*Speaking of elevating their game, Shayne Gostisbehere is on Team North America's power play unit and he's killing it. [BSH]

*Let's take a look at what we can expect from the Flyers' power play this season. [CSN Philly]

*Phantoms forward Cole Bardreau remains upbeat despite nagging injury problems. [Inquirer]

*Speaking of prospects, the 25 Under 25 has come to Oskar Lindblom. [BSH]

*The Flyers have changed their banners at The Farg. Again. [BSH]

*Rookie camp opens today! Here's a breakdown of the roster. [CSN Philly]

*And finally, in case you had any doubt about the fact that Ivan Provorov has outgrown the WHL... [Sons of Penn]

[#] Mon Sep 19 2016 09:06:55 EDT from Travis Hughes

Subject: Flyers rookies won’t be on the ice today after all, so don’t go to Voorhees

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It’s a last minute change in scheduling.

If you planned on heading to Voorhees today to catch the first day of Philadelphia Flyers rookie camp -- and, you could argue, the first official day of the 2016-17 Flyers season — you might want to rethink.

The Flyers originally scheduled their first on-ice workouts of rookie camp for 3 p.m. today at the Skate Zone, but there’s been a change of plans that the team announced late Sunday evening. That first practice is canceled, and instead the rookies will take the ice for the first time Tuesday at 10 a.m.

We’re not sure of the reason behind the change in schedule, but this does leave them with just one day of on-ice workouts during the camp. On Wednesday, the prospects will travel to Long Island to take on the Islanders rookies in a scrimmage. Full camp begins with veterans reporting for their first on-ice workouts Friday.

All on-ice sessions in Voorhees are free and open to the public.

Here’s the roster:

No. Forwards (12) Pos 2015-16 Team League GP G A Pts PIM
62 Aube-Kubel, Nicolas RW Val d'Or QMJHL 61 38 42 80 81
60 Lyubimov, Roman RW CSKA Moskva KHL 52 7 7 14 25
82 Bunnaman, Connor C Kitchener OHL 68 16 22 38 14
71 Dove-McFalls, Samuel LW Saint John QMJHL 29 5 7 12 41
65 Fazleev, Radel C Calgary WHL 59 19 52 71 46
56 Goulbourne, Tyrell LW Lehigh Valley AHL 73 7 10 17 75
63 Konecny, Travis RW Ottawa OHL 29 7 38 45 6
75 Laberge, Pascal C Victoriaville QMJHL 56 23 45 68 64
72 Swavely, Steven RW Lehigh Valley AHL 15 3 0 3 4
70 Martel, Danick LW Lehigh Valley AHL 67 22 15 37 68
86 Salinitri, Anthony C Sarnia OHL 62 17 13 30 29
81 Twarynski, Carsen LW Calgary WHL 67 20 25 45 42
No. Defensemen (7) Pos 2015-16 Team League GP G A Pts PIM
43 *McFadden, Garrett D Guelph OHL 68 11 29 40 48
46 *Menell, Brennan D Vancouver WHL 69 7 46 53 36
50 Morin, Samuel D Lehigh Valley AHL 76 4 15 19 118
64 Provorov, Ivan D Brandon WHL 62 21 52 73 16
57 Sanheim, Travis D Calgary WHL 52 15 53 68 66
61 Myers, Phillippe D Rouyn-Noranda QMJHL 63 17 28 45 44
68 Willcox, Reece D Cornell ECAC 33 2 11 13 2
No. Goaltenders (2) Pos 2015-16 Team League GP W L OT GAA
49 Lyon, Alex G Yale ECAC 31 19 8 4 1.64
79 Hart, Carter G Everett WHL 63 35 23 4 2.14

[#] Mon Sep 19 2016 10:07:56 EDT from Travis Hughes

Subject: 2016 World Cup of Hockey Monday schedule: North America vs. Russia, Czechs must win

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Team North America can ruin Russia’s semifinal chances with a victory on Monday, while Jake Voracek and the Czech Republic face a must-win against Team Europe.

The World Cup of Hockey continues on Monday with two games.

First at 3 p.m. ET, Team Europe — a collection of Europeans from various countries that didn’t have their national teams qualify for the tournament -- will take on the Czech Republic. Europe handled the United States easily on Saturday afternoon, 3-0, while the Czechs are coming off a Saturday evening demolition at the hands of the Canadians.

It’s a must-win game for the Czechs -- including Jakub Voracek and Michal Neuvirth -- if they want to have any realistic chance at advancing out of the group stage and to the semifinals. Should they lose in regulation, they’ll only be able to max out at four points in group play, and they’d lose a tiebreaker to both Canada and Europe due to their losses against each. As long as you take the safe assumption that Canada will likely win another game in the group stage, the Czechs are done with a regulation loss today.

The Flyers are represented on Team Europe by France’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Switzerland’s Mark Streit.

In the night cap at 8 p.m. ET, the under-23 squad of young guns from the USA and Canada, Team North America, takes on the Russians. North America, which claims both Shayne Gostisbehere and Sean Couturier on its roster, defeated Finland 4-1 Sunday without really breaking a sweat. Russia, meanwhile, had a last-minute goal by Alex Ovechkin waved off in a frustrating 2-1 loss to Sweden on Sunday.

Russia is in the same boat as the Czech Republic, essentially needing a win to keep realistic hopes of the semifinals alive. An overtime or shootout loss would leave them hanging on by a thread, too.

Both games Monday are on ESPN2 in the United States and Sportsnet in Canada. Get a second screen and double up that North America game with the Eagles tonight. A little Ghost to go with your Carson Wentz.

Today’s schedule

Monday, September 19

Group A: Europe at Czech Republic

3 p.m. ET (ESPN2, Sportsnet, TVA)

Group B: Russia at North America

8 p.m. ET (ESPN2, Sportsnet, TVA)

Tournament results so far

Saturday, September 17

Europe 3, United States 0

Canada 6, Czech Republic 0

Sunday, September 18

Sweden 2, Russia 1

North America 4, Finland 1


Group A
  1. Canada: 1-0-0, 2 points (6 goals for, 0 goals against)
  2. Europe: 1-0-0, 2 points (3 GF, 0 GA)
  3. United States: 0-1-0, 0 points (0 GF, 3 GA)
  4. Czech Republic: 0-1-0, 0 points (0 GF, 6 GA)
Group B
  1. North America: 1-0-0, 2 points (4 GF, 1 GA)
  2. Sweden: 1-0-0, 2 points (2 GF, 1 GA)
  3. Russia: 0-1-0, 0 points (1 GF, 2 GA)
  4. Finland: 0-1-0, 0 points (1 GF, 4 GA)

[#] Mon Sep 19 2016 10:23:11 EDT from Kurt R.

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers Top 25 Under 25: Robert Hagg looks to bounce back from tough second year with Phantoms

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The highly-regarded Swedish defenseman struggled through most of his second season in Lehigh Valley. What was the cause of that, and what do we need to see from him this year?

Of the Flyers' group of top defensive prospects -- the "Big Four"-turned-"Big Five" featuring a number of talented defensemen taken between the 2012 and 2015 drafts -- Robert Hagg was the first of the group to get significant experience in a pro league. He spent about half of his draft season and his entire first post-draft season playing in the SHL, before jumping to the AHL not long after he turned 19. As he made that jump, it was fair to wonder if Hagg, a player who was seen as a fringe-first round prospect that the Flyers were able to get in the middle of the second round in the 2013 draft, would have a leg up in the AHL thanks to that experience.

It's been two years since then, and though Hagg is certainly still a quality defensive prospect, it's fair to say the first two years of Hagg's career in North America have been up and down.

Of that aforementioned "Big Five" (consisting of Hagg, Shayne Gostisbehere, Samuel Morin, Travis Sanheim, and Ivan Provorov), Hagg is the first one to show up on our countdown. And while this was also the case last year after a pretty solid first season with the Phantoms, it was an easier call to make this time around, following a second season in Lehigh Valley that didn't go quite as well for the young Swede.

No. 11: Robert Hagg

Position: D
Age: 21 (2/8/1995)
2015-16 League/Team/Statistics: Lehigh Valley (AHL) - 5 G, 6 A in 65 GP
Nationality: Swedish (Uppsala)
Acquired Via: 2013 NHL Draft -- Round 2, Pick 41

So what exactly happened to Hagg this year? He spent the 2014-15 season, by most accounts, holding his own at the AHL level, despite being one of the youngest players in the entire league, so to see his year-over-year point totals almost cut in half and to see him getting healthy scratched multiple times during the 2015-16 season has to be seen as a disappointment.

And it is one, to be sure. Still, it seems as though this year was a bit learning experience for Hagg, and one he and his coaches will hopefully be able to work off of this coming year.

Not long after the Phantoms' season ended, Phantoms reporter and friend of the blog Tony Androckitis pulled together about 3,000 words of analysis of and quotes about Hagg and his season and Phantoms career to date, talking a bit about his struggles in the middle part of the season and how things took a turn for the better towards the end of the year.

There's a lot of good stuff in there, from Tony as well as from Hagg and his coaches, and I'd encourage you to read through it when you have the chance. But for the sake of getting to the point, here's the money quote from Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon on Hagg's struggles:

Basically for four or five months, his idea of transition was getting the puck and going for the home run play at the far blue line, waiting for options to materialize that never materialized. The pressure was coming to him and he was retreating back into the zone and my conversation with him throughout the year - this isn't Europe. When you play in a bigger rink you have the opportunity if you don't like it, to take it back. Because the rink is bigger, the forwards have more room to move around. The seams are bigger, the spacing is different and there's more things you can make happen not just from a possession standpoint but how the pressure comes from the opposition. European hockey is a lot more patience on the fore-check. So what I said to him is that you're playing like you are over in Europe that you have all that time and space. Then what's happening when you don't get your option you have cornered yourself so you can't make a play. And then you're making a last ditch effort, icing the puck and then you're stuck in your zone which in turn means you can't play in the offensive zone. You're playing tired because you needed a change.

The whole thing snowballed from what he was doing with the puck. Combine that with shots getting blocked and coming right back at him. He's now playing more in the offensive zone because of his decisions with the puck to make the easier 10-foot pass than to try to go for the 120-foot pass. As a result, there is less turnovers and he's getting up into the play. You pass from the goal line to the far blue line you can't be a part of the attack. Put that all together and that's where he is today.

You always hear about how The Bigger Ice Surface In Europe affects prospects coming over from there to North America, but it's interesting to hear actual, concrete ways in which it affected a key Flyers prospect. And there are positive and negative ways to view what Gordon had to say here about Hagg's struggles for the year.

On the one hand, indecisiveness with the puck isn't a great skill to see at 20 years old, even if you do want to attribute some or all of it to an adjustment to the new ice surface, and the fact that it seemed to have gotten worse in Hagg's second year in North America isn't a good sign. This could suggest that Hagg may have his limitations as a puck-mover at the game's highest levels, and would be best-served with someone who can handle the puck well. (Androckitis notes that Hagg played well alongside Travis Sanheim at the end of the season, and that the team could roll out that pairing again this year.)

But on the other hand, the fact that Hagg seems to have picked up on his own mistakes and bad tendencies during the year (with some help from the coaching staff) is a good sign, and the uptick in his play over the last month or so of the season is something you can point to if you're still optimistic about him being a top-4 NHL defenseman. Knowing your strengths and limitations and playing to them will get you a long way as a developing player, and if Hagg is able to work with and build on that, then 2016-17 should be his best season yet.

Hagg has sadly become a reminder of how quickly prospects can fall out of favor if fans have been able to see a lot of them and if they haven't performed the way said fans have hoped they would. And Hagg's second year in the AHL being a step back is almost the perfect storm on that front, and it's put him in a position where this upcoming season is a crucial one. If his same struggles with the puck continue and he's getting himself healthy-scratched (a possibility given how stacked the Lehigh Valley blue line figures to be this year), he's going to start to fall off the radar. But if he's learned from his mistakes and plays the way that the team knows he can, he should find himself trending upwards again by the time next year is complete.


How we voted for Robert Hagg :

Kelly Travis Charlie Allison Kurt Brent Collin Kevin Al Community
11 11 15 11 14 9 13 19 9 15

How we voted at No. 11 :

Kelly Travis Charlie Allison Kurt Brent Collin Kevin Al Community
Robert Hagg Robert Hagg Oskar Lindblom Robert Hagg Nicolas Aube-Kubel Anthony Stolarz Nicolas Aube-Kubel Felix Sandstrom Mark Friedman Nicolas Aube-Kubel


Previously in Philadelphia Flyers Top 25 Under 25, Summer 2016:

[#] Mon Sep 19 2016 19:01:40 EDT from Ari Yanover

Subject: WATCH: This Jakub Voracek goal

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It’s his first at the World Cup of Hockey!

It’s September, and Jakub Voracek is already on the board.

Well, not as a Flyer, but he’s got his first goal in the World Cup of Hockey for the Czech Republic. Down by one in the second period, Voracek was able to get the puck past Jaroslav Halak with a hell of a shot to tie the game.

The Czechs ultimately lost 3-2 to Team Europe in overtime, and were basically eliminated from the semifinals as a result, with still a game against Team USA to go.

But geez, that Voracek shot. He wasted no time in picking up the puck Michal Jordan was able to chip up into the offensive zone, and even less time settling it down and absolutely rifling it for an awesome goal.

It took Voracek 17 games last season to get his first of just 11 on the year. If he keeps shooting like that, he’ll definitely be scoring much sooner, and much more often.

[#] Mon Sep 19 2016 21:03:40 EDT from Ari Yanover

Subject: It’s Wayne Simmonds’ dog’s birthday, and he got a cake

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And a lot of presents!

Everyone who likes dogs is a good person. It’s just a fact of life. And anyone who loves their dog enough to celebrate their birthdays? Well, they’re an awesome person, hands down.

Therefore, Wayne Simmonds is an awesome person. But we already knew that.

And so does his dog, Jax, celebrating his third birthday.

This isn’t the first time Jax has gotten a doggie cake for his birthday! Although this year’s edition looks a little less creative than what he got for his second birthday - but food is food, so he was probably stoked, regardless.

Plus look at the rest of his haul behind him! That’s a birthday any of us would probably be stoked to have.

[#] Tue Sep 20 2016 06:29:17 EDT from Kelly Hinkle

Subject: Tuesday Morning Fly By: Oh. Canada.

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Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...

*Big game today folks! Canada vs. the US. And uh...if the Americans don't lose by double digits I'm going to call that a win. Babcock stinks and isn't playing Giroux, though. Hockey Canada does not respect our boy. [ProHockeyTalk]

*So rookie camp was SUPPOSED to start yesterday, but the Flyers are a bunch of silly gooses and postponed until this afternoon. The top prospects will take the ice this week and it should be fun to watch, if you can get there. [CSN Philly]

*Eyes will be on guys like Ivan Provorov and Thomas Konecny, who are hoping to make the team sooner rather than later. [Highland Park Hockey]

*Speaking of, it's important to remember that Provy is in no way a lock to make the team, despite looking ready. [Hockeybuzz]

*The 25 Under 25 keeps on moving along with the next victim, defenseman Robert Hagg. [BSH]

*Claude Giroux should be coming into this season with a little chip on his shoulder given his usage in the World Cup, which bodes well for us. Angry Claude is a fun Claude to watch. [Sons of Penn]

*On the continued growth of the hockey analytics movement. [Puck Drunk Love]

*And finally...a human rights complaint over the NHL charging babies for tickets. What a time to be alive. [CBC]

[#] Tue Sep 20 2016 10:48:33 EDT from Travis Hughes

Subject: Time change for Flyers at Capitals game on March 4

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Just a minor change.

It’s a minor change, but you’ll want to adjust your pocket calendars anyway: the Flyers game against the Washington Capitals on March 4, 2017 has a slight time adjustment. Originally scheduled for 7 p.m. ET in the Nation’s Capital, the game will now be a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.

I miss pocket calendars. Those little paper ones you could get at the Wawa or at your neighborhood dive. Do they still make those? Somebody send me some.

[#] Tue Sep 20 2016 11:49:32 EDT from Travis Hughes

Subject: World Cup of Hockey Tuesday schedule: USA faces must-win against rival Canada

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It’s an uphill battle for the Americans, to say the least.

It’s a literal must win scenario for the United States of America on Tuesday night as they take on host nation and chief rival Canada in the group stage of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Let’s be honest here: prospects are dim for the USA to defeat Canada. The team looked wholly uninspired in their Saturday debut against Team Europe, losing 3-0. And against a Canadian team that is so stacked they can afford to make Claude Giroux a healthy scratch, there’s not much hope. Not for a team with John Tortorella’s ancient ideas about how to play hockey behind the bench. Not for a team silly enough to leave Phil Kessel off the roster for a best-on-best hockey tournament.

But they’ll require a regulation win if they want to stay alive in this tournament. They’ll have their chance at 8 p.m. ET, live on ESPN in front of the whole nation. A loss means that Thursday’s group stage finale against the Czechs will mean nothing for the Americans. Should Canada win, they’ll lock in a spot in the semifinals.

In the early game Tuesday, Scandinavian rivals Sweden and Finland face off at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN. Finland is coming off a loss to the kids from North America on Sunday and they are in need of a win against a Swedish team that sits atop Group B entering the game. Should Finland win in regulation, the group will become wide open with all four teams sitting at two points through two games. A Swedish win puts them in great shape to make the semifinals.

If you’re a North America fan -- and I mean, why wouldn’t you be? — you’re hoping the Finns are able to pull this one out since it will leave the group wide open for the taking. They’d still need Finland to beat Russia and their own win against Sweden to win the group outright, but a Swedish loss today would make their track to the semifinals much more clear.

Today’s schedule

Tuesday, September 19

Group B: Finland at Sweden

3 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA)

Group A: United States at Canada

8 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA)

Tournament results so far

Saturday, September 17

Europe 3, United States 0

Canada 6, Czech Republic 0

Sunday, September 18

Sweden 2, Russia 1

North America 4, Finland 1

Monday, September 19

Europe 3, Czech Republic 2 (OT)

Russia 4, North America 3


Group A
  1. Europe: 2-0-0, 4 points (6 goals for, 2 goals against)
  2. Canada: 1-0-0, 2 points (6 GF, 0 GA)
  3. Czech Republic: 0-1-1, 1 point (2 GF, 9 GA)
  4. United States: 0-1-0, 0 points (0 GF, 3 GA)
Group B
  1. Sweden: 1-0-0, 2 points (2 GF, 1 GA)
  2. Russia: 1-1-0, 2 points (5 GF, 5 GA)
  3. North America: 1-1-0, 2 points (7 GF, 5 GA)
  4. Finland: 0-1-0, 0 points (1 GF, 4 GA)

[#] Tue Sep 20 2016 12:20:03 EDT from Kurt R.

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers Top 25 Under 25: German Rubtsov hopes to be the next great Flyers center

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The Flyers have had a good history in the draft when it comes to talented two-way centers. How will the newest one work out?

We've seen the Flyers' prospect pool take huge steps forward in the last three to four years, and the gains they've made have come all across the board. After not developing any defensemen for more or less the entire history of the franchise, they've got a group of young blueliners as good as that of any team in the league. And they've assembled a group of quality goaltending prospects that runs six- or seven-deep, something not many franchises can say.

Yet the more some things change, the more others stay the same. For all of the strides we've seen from the Flyers all across the prospect pool, they still believe as much as any team that you build depth down the middle. And that starts with strong play from your centers, in all three zones of the ice -- which brings us to this year's first-round draft pick, German Rubtsov.

No. 10: German Rubtsov

Position: C
Age: 18 (6/27/1998)
2015-16 League/Team/Statistics: Russian U18 (MHL) - 12 G, 14 A in 28 GP
Nationality: Russian (Chekhov)
Acquired Via: 2016 NHL Draft -- Round 1, Pick 22 (Pick acquired via Winnipeg along with Pick No. 36 in 2016 for Pick Nos. 18 and 79 in 2016)

The fact that the Flyers passed over snipers on the wing like Kieffer Bellows and Julien Gauthier to trade down and eventually draft Rubtsov this past June was a source of consternation for a portion of the fanbase, some of which was upset that the Flyers passed on a type of talent that the system lacked and some of which seemed to be annoyed that the Flyers ended up drafting a two-way center the way they seem to quite often.

And one is well within their rights to not like the pick. Still, there are two things to consider here. First, the Flyers have a pretty solid track record in the recent past when it comes to drafting centers in the first round. Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier ... you know the list well. You don't need to blindly trust their decision-making on it, but most would agree that this is an area of the draft where they've had some success.

And second, there still is some long-term uncertainty with the Flyers down the middle. Claude Giroux is still outstanding, but it's fair to ask for how much longer that'll be the case. Sean Couturier's coming off the best year of his career and hopefully that was a sign of things to come, but after that it gets uncertain very quickly. Nick Cousins has two solid months of NHL play to his name, which is a start but not anything the Flyers can bank on. Former centers Brayden Schenn and Scott Laughton are both likely going to be on the wing for the forseeable future. And for how much the Flyers' farm system has improved, they're surprisingly thin at center -- the only centers we've profiled so far in this countdown are Jordan Weal, a likely AHL/NHL tweener, and Pascal Laberge, whose play improved this past season when he moved from center to right wing. (Travis Konecny is also a former center, but seems all but certain to play at the wing in the NHL.)

So it's not hard to see more depth at center as a need for the organization, and Rubtsov is a guy you can pretty reasonably count on to be a solid NHLer. His calling card leading up to the draft was his high-end hockey sense and two-way play, which are of course both good attributes for a center in today's NHL.

His offensive production to date isn't stellar -- he was at just under a point per game in the Russian junior league this past year -- but as someone who was very young for his draft year (he didn't turn 18 until a few days after he was drafted), he's held his own. This upcoming year is a big one for him in terms of showing what he can do offensively.

Unfortunately, so far things have been a bit rocky for Rubtsov. While he is at Russia's highest level in the KHL, Rubtsov's ice time has been fairly low with HC Vityaz, and he's even been scratched multiple times already. There are obvious downsides to this; namely, that Rubtsov needs playing time against good players in order to get better, and that right now his options appear to be to either get minimal ice time at the KHL or to play in Russia's minor leagues against lesser players.

But while the Flyers are certainly hoping that Rubtsov's age-18 season takes a turn for the better before long, the situation could still work out for them. Rubtsov is currently under contract with Vityaz for two seasons, but if things continue to play out like this for him, he could look to get out of that contract at the end of this season and head to North America next year, similar to how Stars first-rounder Denis Guryanov did last year after a similar first post-draft season in the KHL. That'd give them a chance to monitor his development much more closely, if it's something Rubtsov and his agent were able to pull.

Wherever Rubtsov plays and whenever he ends up playing, there's a lot at stake for the Flyers when it comes to his development. The Flyers' tendency to build down the middle depends on them hitting on draft picks like German Rubtsov, and him hitting his ceiling would go a long way towards fortifying that center depth long-term.


How we voted for German Rubtsov :

Kelly Travis Charlie Allison Kurt Brent Collin Kevin Al Community
n/a 14 8 12 7 12 12 8 10 10

How we voted at No. 10 :

Kelly Travis Charlie Allison Kurt Brent Collin Kevin Al Community
Mark Alt Taylor Leier Samuel Morin Samuel Morin Nick Cousins Philippe Myers Nick Cousins Anthony Stolarz German Rubtsov German Rubtsov


Previously in Philadelphia Flyers Top 25 Under 25, Summer 2016:

[#] Tue Sep 20 2016 12:50:32 EDT from Travis Hughes

Subject: The Flyers (and all NHL teams) are redesigning their website and here’s what it’ll look like

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It’s modeled after the new

MLB Advanced Media took over digital operations at the NHL back in January, which you may have seen in multiple places. was redesigned, NHL GameCenter Live was rebranded and revamped -- if perhaps not improved -- as, and new mobile apps were launched for the league.

That transformation will carry through to the 2016-17 season, as the league’s 30 teams launch new websites that follow the form and function of the redesign from earlier in the year.

Several teams, including the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes, have already launched their new sites publicly. Others like the Flyers have not, but the change can be seen right now anyway by heading to

Here’s what it looks like:

Personally, I’m not a fan. The new sites are responsive, meaning that they can function just the same on a small phone screen as they can on a large desktop screen. But it’s been roughly nine months since the NHL launched, and while I thought it would grow on me over time, I find it less useful and harder to navigate even after months of use. Frankly, I use it less often than I used the old

That might be anecdotal, and just the experience of one person. Perhaps’s traffic is up and most fans love the new site. I don’t know. But I’m not all that thrilled that all 30 — soon to be 31 — teams are switching to similarly designed sites. These might not feel like a step backward, but they don’t feel like a step forward either.

[#] Wed Sep 21 2016 06:08:53 EDT from Kelly Hinkle

Subject: Wednesday Morning Fly By: In case you weren't already rooting for Team North America...

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Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...

*In case you missed it, Shayne Gostisbehere had himself a hell of a game in Team North America's loss to the Russians Monday night. [Sons of Penn]

*Speaking of Ghost, his family is just as lovable as he is. []

*Meltzer brings us some updates on the prospects as rookie camp rolls on. [Hockeybuzz]

*Up next on our 25 Under 25 is German Rubtsov, who is in fact Russian. [BSH]

*Let's full-scale preview the upcoming season. For funsies. [The Hockey Writers]

*Folks we are going to hear about the will-he or won't-he of Ivan Provorov right up until he's on a flight back to Brandon. [Courier-Post]

*Speaking of...let's consider what the Flyers defense will look like this year. [Evening The Score]

*Former NHL players spoke in front of congress this week about the dangers of concussions. [The Huffington Post]

*Team USA is total trash but that doesn't mean you can't read about these 8 people who are under the spotlight during the World Cup of Hockey. [Sportsnet]

*About the World big international tournaments even matter anymore? [Rolling Stone]

*So the Las Vegas have completely sold out of season tickets for their inaugural season. [The Hockey News]

*And finally, NHL teams will have new-look websites this season, and here's a preview of what the Flyers' site will look like. [BSH]

[#] Wed Sep 21 2016 11:24:02 EDT from Charlie O'Connor

Subject: 25 Under 25, No. 9: Anthony Stolarz took a step forward but still has work to do

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Anthony Stolarz broke out to a fantastic start last season that sent his stock soaring. But a just-okay second half reminded fans that Stolarz still has work to do.

Two stellar seasons with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League and Anthony Stolarz proved that the Flyers were justified in taking a raw goaltender with no real experience versus high-end competition with their second round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. Unfortunately, the first professional season for Stolarz was less impressive, as the New Jersey-born goalie posted a 0.905 save percentage in 31 games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL in 2014-15.

Apparently, Stolarz had no interest in repeating those struggles.

He immediately outplayed veteran goalie Jason LaBarbera, storming out of the gate in October and November and posting a save percentage of 0.930. Suddenly, a prospect on the verge of being overshadowed by the mass infusion of talent at the goaltender position that Philadelphia added in the 2015 NHL Draft was back to being a player to watch for prospect-hound Flyers fans.

No. 9: Anthony Stolarz

Position: G
Age: 22 (1/20/1994)
2015-16 League/Team/Statistics: Lehigh Valley (AHL) - .916 SV%, 2.60 GAA in 47 GP
Nationality: American (Edison, NJ)
Acquired Via: 2012 NHL Draft -- Round 2, Pick 45 (Pick acquired via Columbus along with Pick No. 117 in 2012 and a fourth-round pick in 2013 for Sergei Bobrovsky)

Stolarz's fantastic play continued through the remainder of the calendar year, as he posted a 0.925 save percentage in December to close out 2015 with a 0.928 average in 22 games. His start to the season even had some wondering when the soon-to-be-22 year old would get his first taste of NHL action.

The second half of Stolarz's sophomore professional year was a bit bumpier, but that can't be entirely blamed on the young goalie. After all, he did receive extended time with the big club in February, March and April -- more than total three weeks, in fact. Unfortunately for Stolarz, however, during those stays with the Flyers he did not have the opportunity to play in a single regular season game, instead sitting on the bench as Steve Mason received all the starts in the absence of Michal Neuvirth.

Stolarz may not be a teenager anymore, but Flyers general manager Ron Hextall would almost certainly agree that the young goalie would have been better off honing his craft in the AHL rather than sitting on the bench for weeks at a time with Philadelphia. But the Flyers wanted the best possible option as a backup in case of disaster, and Stolarz fit the bill. The unfortunate result was that he missed valuable playing time in the interim.

But it wasn't just the repeated call-ups that threw a wrench into Stolarz's breakout season. Following that stellar three-month stretch to kick off the season, he did see his numbers regress in January, as Stolarz could only manage a 0.874 save percentage in nine games, dropping his season rate down from 0.928 to 0.915.

And while the intermittent call-ups in the ensuing months may have helped to break his rhythm, it's fair to note that Stolarz never could push his metrics back up to early-season levels. From his February 13th start through the end of the season, Stolarz posted a 0.917 save percentage -- still fine, but a far cry from the 0.928 that caught everyone's attention early on.

So this season becomes a proving ground for Anthony Stolarz. If he can recapture the magic of the first three months of 2015-16 (or at least a reasonable approximation), there's no reason why a netminder of his size and skill level shouldn't be viewed as one of the top goalie prospects in hockey, even if he'll turn 23 in January.

He should have a strong team in front of him. The Flyers placed a focus upon adding established AHL talent in the offseason like T.J. Brennan and Andy Miele, and that's in addition to talented young players like Travis Sanheim and Nicolas Aube-Kubel making the leap to the pros as well. The Phantoms could be legitimate contenders this year.

As for Stolarz's playing time, he should at least match his 47 games from 2015-16, and will likely top that workload. College free agent signing Alex Lyon will probably push him for starts, but considering Stolarz's success in 2015-16 combined with his status as a second round pick of the franchise, it's fair to assume that Stolarz will be the 1A in Lehigh Valley this season.

This season is especially important to Stolarz's NHL future, for a number of reasons. First, the contracts of Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth both conclude at the end of the 2016-17 season, and the two netminders are expected to go head-to-head all season long in a battle not just for the starting job this season, but for convince the coaching staff and front office of which one is more deserving of an extension and the No. 1 role moving forward. It's unlikely that the Flyers will be able to retain both goalies, which would leave the backup spot in 2017-18 open. If Stolarz continues his progression, it's not unthinkable that the Flyers could earmark that spot for him.

Second, Stolarz will also be in need of a new contract at the end of next season. He'll be a restricted free agent, but even if a big-money contract is almost certainly not in the cards, he'll still want to ensure that he remains in the organization's plans by delivering a satisfactory season.

Finally, as a player who will be concluding his third year as a professional, Stolarz will be eligible to be "poached" by the Las Vegas expansion team next summer if he is not protected by his team. Since the most likely scenario is that the Flyers will sign one of Mason or Neuvirth and then protect the one they choose, the team is in something of an awkward spot when it comes to Stolarz. They obviously want him to excel in the AHL this year so that he makes a strong case to move into the NHL backup role in 2017-18. But if he makes too strong of a case, there's always the possibility that Las Vegas snatches him up as their "goalie of the future."

But to even get to that scenario, Anthony Stolarz must deliver on the promise he showed last season and post a standout season with the Phantoms. In a few short weeks, we'll see if he can do so.


How we voted for Anthony Stolarz :

Kelly Travis Charlie Allison Kurt Brent Collin Kevin Al Community
14 12 12 8 13 11 7 10 15 9

How we voted at No. 9 :

Kelly Travis Charlie Allison Kurt Brent Collin Kevin Al Community
Samuel Morin Oskar Lindblom Philippe Myers Taylor Leier Philippe Myers Robert Hagg Oskar Lindblom Pascal Laberge Robert Hagg Anthony Stolarz


Previously in Philadelphia Flyers Top 25 Under 25, Summer 2016:

[#] Wed Sep 21 2016 15:22:58 EDT from Travis Hughes

Subject: Here’s the Flyers vs. Islanders rookie game roster

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The Flyers take on the Islanders in New York at 6 p.m.

A group of Flyers prospects will complete rookie camp this evening on Long Island when they travel to the Northwell Health Ice Center for a 6 p.m. puck drop against the New York Islanders rookies.

There’s no television or online streaming coverage of the game, which is kind of baffling in 2016 but then again Long Island might not have the Internet yet, so we’ll give them a pass.

The Isles have yet to announce their lineup for the game, but the Flyers have. You can see it below. First game of the season!


58 Taylor Leier

62 Nicolas Aube-Kubel

60 Roman Lyubimov

82 Connor Bunnaman

71 Samuel Dove-McFalls

65 Radel Fazleev

56 Tyrell Goulbourne

63 Travis Konecny

72 Steven Swavely

70 Danick Martel

86 Anthony Salinitri

81 Carsen Twarynski


43 Garrett McFadden

46 Brennan Menell

50 Samuel Morin

64 Ivan Provorov

57 Travis Sanheim

68 Reece Willcox


49 Alex Lyon

79 Carter Hart

[#] Thu Sep 22 2016 06:17:57 EDT from Kelly Hinkle

Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: Take a second today to thank your gods for Ghost.

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Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes...

*OOOOOH the Leafs fans want to get into some stuff. They could've done better, probably. Pretty easy to hate this wonderful team and its crazy fans. [Pension Plan Puppets]

*Rookie camp is in full swing and guys like Philippe Myers are keeping their eyes on the prize. [CSN Philly]

*Travis Konecny thinks camp feels different this year. [Inquirer]

*Ivan Provorov is super confident heading into camp, with good reason. [CSN Philly]

*All eyes maye be on Provy but what about another Russian, Roman Lyubimov, who the Flyers signed out of the KHL this summer? [Inquirer]

*Next up on the prospect list is goalie Anthony Stolarz, who slides into the top ten in our 25 Under 25. [BSH]

*Sam Morin is totally cool with the fact that it is taking him a long time to crack into the NHL. [Courier-Post]

*Let's check in with the Phantoms, shall we? [Highland Park Hockey]

*The lineup for the rookie game against the Islanders has been set. [Inquirer]

*Team USA failed utterly at the World Cup this year. And they did it to themselves. [SB Nation]

*Hopefully, this terrible showing leads to a top-to-bottom cleansing at USA Hockey. [Puck Daddy]

*At least one good thing came out of this: Phil Kessel absolutely dunking on those fools. [SB Nation]

*Meanwhile, you know why Canada wins? Because they take good players. [ProHockeyTalk]

*DGB brings five teams who avenged early losses at World Cups past. [The Hockey News]

*And finally, Auston Matthews: next Eric Lindros? [Sportsnet]

[#] Thu Sep 22 2016 11:33:07 EDT from Travis Hughes

Subject: Getting to know all 37 forwards in Philadelphia Flyers training camp

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There are 37 forwards in Flyers camp, all with varying concerns and motives for being here. Let’s get to know them all and see what they’re fighting for.

Dave Hakstol’s second training camp as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers gets underway on Friday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, and joining the team on the ice will be 37 forwards.

Let’s get to know them all, shall we?

As we do each year, let’s first mention the guys we already know — those who are locks to make this team out of training camp. This camp and preseason is just re-acclimation to hockey season for these guys. They don’t really have anything to lose, aside from their health.

9 players who are locks to make the team

In ABC order: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Michael Raffl, Matt Read, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and Dale Weise. That’s nine guys. That leaves 28 more.

On the NHL bubble

Several of those 29 have a real chance at cracking the NHL roster, but we wouldn’t be comfortable calling them locks.

Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Scott Laughton is again on the bubble.

We’ll start with Scott Laughton. Sure, he played 71 games with the Flyers in 2015-16 but considering that he’s still waiver exempt, he might be the first casualty in the event that one of the other guys on the list below forces Hextall into giving them an NHL roster spot in camp. Laughton’s certainly not a lock and will need to compete to earn a job in Philadelphia this fall.

Nick Cousins split the season between the Phantoms and Flyers a year ago, and he re-signed with the team on a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent. Cousins potted 10 points in his 36 NHL games last season and more importantly was a regular figure on the team’s postseason roster, leading us to believe he’s on the inside track to a roster spot out of camp.

But competition for the final forward slots on the roster is extremely competitive this season. Boyd Gordon was signed as a free agent in July after spending 65 games with the Arizona Coyotes a year ago. He’s strong on face offs and the Flyers hope that he can be a penalty kill specialist.

Those specialties could very well earn Gordon a roster spot, bumping out a guy like Chris VandeVelde. CVV has been a consistent fourth-liner for two seasons and the Dave Hakstol connection from North Dakota seems to work in his favor, but there are only so many spots for guys at the center ice position. This camp is going to be interesting on that front.

Roman Lyubimov will play his first North American season this year after joining the Flyers organization as a free agent this summer. The Russian forward says he plays a two-way style, and he’s played plenty of pro hockey — 52 games in the KHL last season. We don’t really know much about his game at this point, however, so it will be interesting to see how he adapts. The one-year contract really makes things interesting, as does the fact that he’s played high level hockey in Europe, but it’d be a stretch to assume he breaks camp with the Flyers. (Then again, think of guys like Raffl and Bellemare coming over from Europe previously and making the team from camp.)

Then there’s Travis Konecny, who is probably the biggest wild card at the forward position entering camp. Last year in the OHL, the 2015 first round pick was traded from the Ottawa 67’s to the Sarnia Sting in a blockbuster trade that went down in large part because of an expectation that it would be his final season in junior hockey.

Ron Hextall has, of course, been extremely stingy with allowing his young prospects into the NHL -- and we’ll remind you that it took an injury for Shayne Gostisbehere to even get his chance last season. But lots of people are expecting Konecny to make the jump, and that’s not something to be ignored. He’s basically done everything he’s capable of doing in juniors (he has 239 points in 183 OHL games), and he’s not AHL eligible, so ... Philadelphia? We’ll see in the next few weeks.

Jordan Weal, Taylor Leier and Colin McDonald are the only other forwards in camp who played for the Flyers at some point during the 2015-16.

We imagine the Flyers will probably try to sneak Weal through waivers at some point during camp when there’s a lot of roster movement, and thus allowing him to hit the ice on a Phantoms team that should be quite strong in the AHL this season. Weal, a former AHL playoff MVP with Manchester, would be quite the addition for Lehigh Valley.

Leier will likely start his season in the AHL, but after a solid season there a year ago, more progress will put him on the fast track to a call up spot with the Flyers. And once he’s there, Leier definitely has a two-way skill set that could allow him to stick.

McDonald is another guy who performed admirably as a bottom-six guy with the Flyers when needed last year, but he’s still nothing more than a call up option in case of injury for this team.

Prospects bound for the AHL

Nicolas Aube-Kubel will enter his first pro season this fall, and it will certainly be with the Phantoms. But the 2014 draft pick, who ranked No. 13 on our Top 25 Under 25 this summer, is looking to start his pro career with a bang after a few very impressive seasons in the QMJHL, where he was among the league leaders in scoring. A quick integration to the AHL game this fall could send the hype machine into overdrive for NA-K.

2014 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Nicolas Aube-Kubel will be in Lehigh Valley to start the season.

Radel Fazleev is in the same boat. He might not have as much potential as Aube-Kubel, but his 71 points a year ago with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen definitely opened some eyes. In the last three seasons, he’s jumped from 25 points, to 51 points, to those 71, so there’s excitement about what he can bring to the table in the pros.

Petr Straka was signed by the organization in 2013 as a free agent, and he had a phenomenal start to the year with the Phantoms in 2015-16 before injuries derailed it. This is going to be his fourth AHL season coming up, though, so it’s getting to make or break time for him. He either vaults himself into the NHL bubble conversation this season or he doesn’t.

Danick Martel was 17th on our Top 25 Under 25 last season ... and he finished off the list at No. 26 this season. Martel will have a lot more talent around him this season in Lehigh Valley, but he’ll need a season better than the 22 goal, 15 assist campaign he put in a year ago to move his stock price within the organization.

Cole Bardreau enters his second pro season after a career at Cornell. He scored 13 goals and 17 assists with the Phantoms last season and might not have a top-6 role like Martel. With so much extra AHL talent being signed this summer in an effort to make the Phantoms competitive, you worry that Bardreau could get buried under it. On the flip side, if he’s able to take a step forward in the midst of those extra bodies around him ... well, that’s a good place for him to be. And it does seem like the organization likes him quite a bit as a potential NHL option down the line, so there might be some upside to look out for as this season progresses.

This site has been hard on Tyrell Goulbourne since the minute he was drafted, but it’s still hard to see him as much more than an AHL lifer at this point. He had 75 penalty minutes in 73 games with the Phantoms last season, and with a bunch of extra veteran AHL talent on the team this season, Goulbourne’s opportunity is likely to shrink. The 2013 draft choice says he’s “working to prove us wrong” but he’s not really close to the NHL right now. The 22 year old needs to prove he’s more than a grit player, and 17 points in 73 AHL games isn’t really that.

The 2016 draft class

It feels a little weird to throw the entire 2016 draft class together. For example, second round pick Pascal Laberge — who easily could have been a first round pick, by the way -- clearly has an NHL ceiling higher than, say, sixth round pick Anthony Salinitri.

2016 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images
Pascal Laberge embarks on his first camp.

But it’s the first camp for all of these guys, and they aren’t going to be in Voorhees for more than a cup of coffee before being sent back to their junior teams.

For Laberge, Salinitri, third round pick Carsen Twarynski and fourth round pick Connor Bunnaman, this camp is all about getting a first taste of professional and NHL hockey. No pressure, no expectations.

(Of course, 2016 first round pick German Rubtsov is in Russia under contract in the KHL and will not be in camp. Maybe next year?)

We’ll throw 2015 fourth round pick Samuel Dove-McFalls into that group as well. He’s not going to be an NHL player this year, and he still has junior eligibility left in Saint John, so this camp is not very pressure packed for him.

All that AHL help

As mentioned, the Flyers signed a lot of guys to contracts this summer in an attempt to make the AHL team more competitive. They haven’t made the Calder Cup Playoffs since their final year in the Spectrum in 2009, and it’s evident that they want to change that fact.

Dallas Stars v Phoenix Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Andy Miele wants back in an NHL uniform, but that will be tough.

Enter, the following:

  • Andy Miele, a 28-year-old former Hobey Baker winner who finished sixth in the AHL in scoring last season while in Grand Rapids.
  • Chris McCarthy, a Collegeville native signed quietly late in the offseason after spending 54 games last year with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. McCarthy isn’t much of an AHL scorer and could find himself in the ECHL given the depth here, but he’ll have a chance.
  • Mark Zengerle, a third-year pro at age 27 who scored 47 points in 72 games with Grand Rapids last year. He provides some scoring depth for the Phantoms.
  • Corban Knight, a 26-year-old with 29 NHL games under his belt. He played for Dave Hakstol at the University of North Dakota and bounced around between the Flames and Panthers organizations before signing here this offseason as a free agent. Again, he’s likely more AHL depth, but he’s not going to light the score sheet up either.
  • Kevin Sundher, signed to an AHL deal this summer after 19 games in the organzation last season with Reading and Lehigh Valley. Depth, depth, depth.
  • Steven Swavely, a Reading native who captained the University of Maine before graduating last year. He might wind up being an ECHL player but ... again, depth is the name of the game here.

Those signings will join vets Chris Conner and Greg Carey, who were signed in a similar situation last summer to help the Phantoms and will return again in 2016-17. Not all of these players will make the Lehigh Valley roster, and basically none of them — aside from perhaps Miele if he lights the world on fire at some point this year -- have a shot at playing in Philadelphia. But together they represent the Flyers’ commitment to adding depth across the organization and, hopefully, making the Phantoms relevant in an AHL playoff race again.

[#] Thu Sep 22 2016 13:04:37 EDT from Travis Hughes

Subject: World Cup of Hockey: A look at Shayne Gostisbehere’s performance vs. Sweden

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Shayne Gostisbehere had a hell of a game on Wednesday for Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey, earning three assists and second star honors in the team’s 4-3 overtime win over Sweden. See above how of those beautiful assists came to be.

[#] Thu Sep 22 2016 14:05:38 EDT from Travis Hughes

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers Top 25 Under 25: Nick Cousins out to keep proving himself at NHL leve

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Nick Cousins jumps eight spots in our countdown after a strong stretch run with the Flyers eliminated doubts about his NHL potential. Now, on a team that's so much deeper than last year, will he be able to keep up?

At the beginning of 2016, when we last compiled our Top 25 Under 25 countdown, then-Phantoms forward Nick Cousins was ranked No. 16 on our list. How things have changed.

Since then, Cousins has taken a big step forward -- from the Phantoms top forward, semi-frequent Flyers call up and AHL All-Star to, potentially, full-time NHLer? And as such, he's jumped a full eight spots in our countdown to No. 8.

No. 8: Nick Cousins

Position: C
Age: 23 (7/20/1993)
2015-16 League/Team/Statistics: Philadelphia (NHL) - 6 G, 4 A in 36 GP
Nationality: Canadian (Belleville, ON)
Acquired Via: 2011 NHL Draft -- Round 3, Pick 68 (Pick acquired via Columbus along with Pick No. 8 in 2011 and Jakub Voracek for Jeff Carter)

Cousins earned his call permanent call up just shortly after we put together that list in January. His first game back with the Flyers was on February 6, and Cousins quickly became a regular, playing in 32 more games down the stretch and all six in the Washington series during the playoffs. He didn't light the scoresheet on fire or anything, only scoring six goals and adding five assists in that stretch.

But he became a valuable third line center, often playing with Matt Read, Sam Gagner and/or Scott Laughton. No matter his line combo, Cousins helped to push play in the right direction, finishing the season with possession numbers in the black. Cousins leans on his speed and stick skills, and he has certainly proven that he is skilled enough to think and play the game at the NHL level. I mean, look at his first NHL goal:

The real question isn't necessarily whether or not he can be an effective player at the NHL level, because he seemed to prove that down the stretch last season. The question entering the 2016-17 season is if he can remain at the NHL level purely by beating out other guys around him. That's the challenge of playing for a team that added so much depth to its organization over the offseason.

Think about the guys who could play in the Flyers' bottom-six out of training camp: Cousins, Laughton, Read, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Chris VandeVelde, Dale Weise, Boyd Gordon, Jordan Weal, Colin McDonald, Taylor Leier, Roman Lyubimov. Hell, maybe even Travis Konecny.

That's a lot of people fighting for six jobs, and while Cousins is not waiver exempt, he is on a two-way contract. That could put him behind the eight-ball a bit, and a job on the Flyers roster when the team breaks camp is far from guaranteed -- even if he did play in all six playoff games for the team last spring.

Should Cousins make the team, it will be fun to see if he can continue to build up into an offensive contributor at the NHL level. He's not really much of one now, but he certainly has the puck skills to be a solid scorer as he continues to grow into an NHL player. The only problem is that he has a lot of work ahead of himself to earn that opportunity again this fall.


How we voted for Nick Cousins :

Kelly Travis Charlie Allison Kurt Brent Collin Kevin Al Community
6 6 7 n/a 10 8 10 7 8 7

How we voted at No. 8 :

Kelly Travis Charlie Allison Kurt Brent Collin Kevin Al Community
Travis Sanheim Samuel Morin German Rubtsov Anthony Stolarz Samuel Morin Nick Cousins Samuel Morin German Rubtsov Nick Cousins Samuel Morin


Previously in Philadelphia Flyers Top 25 Under 25, Summer 2016:

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