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[#] Thu Jul 27 2017 10:00:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Top 10 photos of Claude Giroux from the 2016-2017 season

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A special Flyers Frese Frame season recap gallery

Scroll through Kate Frese’s photos of Claude Giroux from this past season. To see complete game galleries, CLICK HERE.





[#] Fri Jul 28 2017 07:00:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: We want you!

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

*Hey do you live in the Lehigh Valley? Want to write words on this hallowed website? We are looking for Phantoms writers; come on down! [BSH]

*Kate's awesome pictures continue to light the way in these dark days. This time it's the best pictures of Claude Giroux and his ginger beard from this past season. [BSH]

*The Montreal Canadiens have decided not to re-sign Andrei Markov, which is curious because he's pretty good at hockey. And Andrei Markov has decided to return to Russia so he can play in the Olympics as a result. [SB Nation]

*Speaking of the Olympics, add Connor McDavid to this list of players that are bummed out about the NHL's refusal to allow its players to participate in the games. Also on the list? Everyone else. [ProHockeyTalk]

*SB Nation's 25 Under 25 is up to #22, Brandon Saad. [SB Nation]

*Trades in which Hall of Fame players are swapped don't happen every day, but here's five times it did. [The Hockey News]

*And finally, since there is nothing else going on in hockey, let's take a deep dive into identifying playing styles. [Hockey Graphs]





[#] Mon Jul 31 2017 07:00:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Monday Morning Fly By: Almost August, which is one step closer to hockey

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

*Jesus Christ there is nothing happening in the hockey world right now so let's talk about Michal Neuvirth, upon whose shoulders all of our hopes and dreams shall rest this season. Or something. [Sons of Penn]

*One would assume that Travis Sanheim will be making this hockey team before Phil Myers, but maybe not? Phil Myers is my dark horse, folks. I want him on this team. [CSN Philly]

*The SB Nation 25 Under 25 rolls on, even on the weekend, so we are up to #21, a kid with a cool name: Hampus Lindholm. [SB Nation]

*The Dallas Stars will host the NHL entry draft next summer as part of their anniversary festivities. [ProHockeyTalk]

*And finally, seriously, how in the world has no NHL team given Jaromir Jagr a contract?? He's old, sure, but he's still REALLY GOOD. [SB Nation]





[#] Mon Jul 31 2017 11:53:31 EDT from rss

Subject: Flyers to appear on NBC, NBCSN 16 times during 2017-18 season

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Shayne Gostisbehere, out of Union College in New York, and Dave Hakstol, who previously coached at the University of North Dakota, will be introduced that way by Pierre McGuire at least 16 times this year.

It’s that time of year again. NBC Sports has released its 2017-18 broadcast schedule, and that means that fans of NHL teams that have eight fans will complain about how their team is never on national television.

Meanwhile, as fans of a team that lots of people do like, we get to complain about how often our team is on the national feed. It’ll be the second-most in the league for Philadelphia, with 16 of 82 games on NBC or NBCSN this coming season. That’s tied with the Penguins, and it’s one shy of Chicago, who will have 17 games on national TV.

Here’s our schedule:

Three teams — Washington, Detroit and Boston -- will appear on the Networks Of NBC™ a total of 15 times. The expansion Vegas Golden Knights have five games on national television, and I’m a bit surprised it’s that low.

Other highlights:

  • Four of the Flyers’ national games are on the big NBC channel, which is more than any other team in the league can say.
  • The Flyers will be featured on “Wednesday Night Rivalry” a total of four times. Two of those are against actual rivals, Washington and Pittsburgh. The other two are against Chicago and Detroit, which are apparently only rivalries because the Flyers once played those teams in the Finals? I don’t know, man.
  • Philadelphia’s opening night game against the San Jose Sharks will be an NBCSN game.
  • The Nashville Predators, previously one of those teams that were never on national TV, will be featured seven times in the upcoming season.
  • Every American team appears at least once, which I think was true last season for the first time as well.
  • NBC went out of their way to note in the press release that both Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid will be featured on their networks this season, but like was originally true last year, neither of the head-to-head games between Edmonton and Toronto are on the schedule. NBC corrected that mistake on the fly last year, ultimately televising one of those two games on NBCSN.




[#] Mon Jul 31 2017 13:10:07 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2017 25 Under 25: Introduction and honorable mentions

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Our bi-annual look at the young talent in the Flyers’ organization begins with a breakdown of those who just missed the cut.

As we head into August, it is time for one of our favorite offseason pastimes here at Broad Street Hockey: the Flyers 25 Under 25.

An exercise that has become progressively more fun every year since we started doing it in the winter of 2014, the 25 Under 25 is more or less what it sounds like: a ranking of the Flyers’ best players, across all levels, under the age of 25. 25 is sort of a landmark age in the NHL — it’s typically the age at which a player is seven or so years removed from being drafted, and one could argue it’s the age at which a player is really in the prime of his career. Whether the guy in question is a franchise cornerstone, a solid NHL depth guy, or an AHLer, by the time he’s 25 we’ll pretty much know what he is as a player. (Also, it’s a nice, round number that sounds catchy. We’re not doing, like, the Top 29 Under 29. None of that prime number crap.)

So, until a player reaches that mark, guessing how their careers might play out is a fun exercise in speculation. As such, we’ll be spending roughly the next five weeks breaking down the 25 players who made our final ranking, one post at a time. And with the amount of talent that’s been added to the pipeline this summer, it should be the most exciting version yet. (Not to mention, the one that’s the most fun for us to write!)

We last did a brief update to this program in February, as we took a look at how players’ 2016-17 seasons were going and whether their stock was trending up or down. With the rest of the season well behind us and with several new, exciting names added to the ballot, we’ll be doing more in-depth looks at the players on the ranking this time around.

Player No. 25 on our ranking will be revealed on Tuesday. We’ll get to the honorable mentions in a second, but first, some programming notes.

The panel and voting

12 ballots made up our voting panel this time around. 11 of those belong to our various masthead members: me (Kurt), Al, Kelly, Allison, Jay, Charlie, Bill, Steph, Kate, Travis, and Joe. The final ballot was the community ballot, which we’ll get to in just a moment.

All of our voters received a ballot consisting of 49 players under Flyers team control that are under the age of 25 as of October 4, the day the Flyers will begin their season. Their task was to pick the 25 players with the most value to them right now — and how the voter determines “value” is entirely up to him or her — and rank them from 1 (best) to 25 (least-best). Ballots are then scored by reverse points, meaning the player who is ranked No. 1 gets 25 points, the player ranked No. 2 gets 24 points, the guy at No. 25 gets 1 point, etc. The point totals from all ballots are then put together and scored, and the end result is our final 25 Under 25 ranking.

(As a side note: There were two ties in the top 25. You’ll see what they were later on in this process, but if you’re at all curious about how we broke those ties, there’s a note at the bottom of this post, as it’s easier to explain with an actual example but I don’t want to spoil anything just yet.)

The community ballot

As mentioned, the twelfth and final ballot that factored into our scoring was an aggregate of ballot submissions from the community. We sent out a call two weeks ago for your ballots, and boy, did you all respond: even after throwing out a bunch of them that double-counted players or otherwise didn’t totally follow the instructions, we still had 1,034 ballots that made their way to the final tally. For comparison’s sake, when we did this same exercise last winter, we received 290 ballots, and we were thrilled with that level of response. The massive increase here just goes to show how excited this fanbase is with how the future of this team is shaping up, and it’s really great to see.

Some fun facts about the community ballot, while we’re here:

  • Just like last time, no one player made 100 percent of the ballots that were included in the final tally. Yes, one out of the 1,034 ballots we counted did not include Ivan Provorov. Similarly, four did not include Shayne Gostisbehere, six didn’t have Nolan Patrick, seven had no Oskar Lindblom, etc. I did review the ballots that kept those guys (and others) off, and for the most part they looked like legitimate ballots that may have just made an oversight, so they stayed in the final ranking.
  • And again, every single player on the ballot picked up votes somewhere. Here’s to 2017 seventh-rounder Wyatt Kalynuk, who received 21 points across all of our ballots to take last place on the ballot.
  • Ten players received at least one first-place vote, and here they are alphabetically by first name: Carter Hart, Ivan Provorov, Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom, Phil Myers, Samuel Morin, Sean Couturier, Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Konecny, and Travis Sanheim.
  • Finally, as a bonus: this year, on each post in our top 25, we’ll include a breakdown of how the community voted for the player in question.

The ballot

With the 2017 offseason really behind us, we’ve seen some slight changes to the ballot since last winter’s edition. First, we’ll look at the departed:

  • Forward Nick Cousins and goalie prospect Merrick Madsen were dealt to Arizona in a June trade. Cousins was No. 10 on last winter’s edition of these rankings, while Madsen was one of the first players to miss the cut (he was tied for 26th).
  • Forward prospect Samuel Dove-McFalls, a 2015 4th-round pick, was not offered an entry-level contract by the team. He did not make the rankings.
  • Phantoms/Reading Royals defenseman Jesper Pettersson was not retained by the team. He also did not make this edition of the rankings.
  • Finally, Jordan Weal turned 25 back in April. He was tied for 15th in the winter.

So we’ve definitely got at least two names in the rankings to replace. Fortunately, we’ve added eleven new names to the prospect corps since February, and here they are:

  • First and foremost, the Flyers added nine players in the 2017 NHL Draft: center Nolan Patrick, center Morgan Frost, winger Isaac Ratcliffe, goalie Kirill Ustimenko, winger Matthew Strome, winger Maxim Sushko, winger Noah Cates, winger Olle Lycksell, and defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk.
  • The Flyers also added college free agent Mike Vecchione back in March. This might be his only go-around on the ballot, as he turns 25 in February, so it’ll be interesting to see where he lands.
  • Finally, the aforementioned Cousins/Madsen trade brought University of Michigan winger Brendan Warren to the Flyers.

With those changes noted, the 49-man ballot that was sent to our panel is as follows, with players grouped by their primary league in 2016-17:

NHL: Sean Couturier (F) (he’s still on the ballot! for the final time though!), Shayne Gostisbehere (D), Travis Konecny (F), Ivan Provorov (D)
AHL: Nicolas Aube-Kubel (F), Cole Bardreau (F), Radel Fazleev (F), Robert Hagg (D), Scott Laughton (F), Taylor Leier (F), Alex Lyon (G), Danick Martel (F), Samuel Morin (D), Travis Sanheim (D), Anthony Stolarz (G), Reece Willcox (D)
ECHL: Tyrell Goulbourne (F)
OHL: Connor Bunnaman (F), Morgan Frost (F), Isaac Ratcliffe (F), Anthony Salinitri (F), Matthew Strome (F), Maksim Sushko (F)
QMJHL: Pascal Laberge (F), Philippe Myers (D), German Rubtsov (F)
WHL: Carter Hart (G), Nolan Patrick (F), Carsen Twarynski (F)
NCAA: Wade Allison (F), Terrance Amorosa (D), David Drake (D), Mark Friedman (D), Tanner Laczynski (F), Cooper Marody (F), Matej Tomek (G), Mike Vecchione (F), Brendan Warren (F)
USHL: Wyatt Kalynuk (D)
U.S. High School: Noah Cates (F)
SHL (Sweden): David Bernhardt (D), Linus Hogberg (D), Oskar Lindblom (F), Felix Sandstrom (G)
Superelit (Swedish Juniors): Olle Lycksell (F)
KHL (Russia): Mikhail Vorobyov (F)
VHL (Russian Minors): Ivan Fedotov (G)
MHL (Russian Juniors): Kirill Ustimenko (G)
Extraliga (Czech): David Kase (F)

Honorable Mentions

With the intro words out of the way, we’ll begin with the five players who just missed the cut.

No. T-29: Noah Cates — LW, Stillwater (US H.S.)
2016-17 season: 20 G, 45 A in 25 GP
Ranking in Winter 2017 25 Under 25: N/A (was not in system)

The Flyers took a shot on a fairly unknown quantity in the fifth round of this past June’s draft, taking a U.S. high school winger from Minnesota named Noah Cates. So far in his career, the claim to fame for the 6’1’ winger — one of the best high school players in the state of Minnesota this past season — has largely been this goal, which sent his Stillwater Area High School team to the state tournament in his junior year:

Fortunately, Cates’ high school career has involved much more than just that goal, and he posted some astounding stats this past season — 65 points in 25 games. Even with the obvious caveat that the U.S. high school hockey system isn’t quite the level of competition that some of the other guys on this list have faced, Cates’ performance this year was impressive, and it seems like there’s some talent to be tapped into here.

Cates will spend this coming season at the USHL level, where he’ll play with the Omaha Lancers before heading to the University of Minnesota-Duluth in the fall of 2018. Cates has said he’s hoping to add some weight this season, trying to add some strength on to the 165 pounds he’s currently packing. Cates was a high-upside pick late in the draft, and though the Flyers will have up to five years to follow him through the amateur ranks (one year in the USHL plus four at UMD), we may be able to tell quickly if the Flyers really have something in him if this coming season goes well for him.

No. T-29: Carsen Twarynski — LW, Calgary/Kelowna (WHL)
2016-17 season: 17 G, 26 A in 64 GP
Ranking in Winter 2017 25 Under 25: N/A (did not make ranking)

“Adding size on the wing” seems like something the Flyers have been trying to do for years now, and Twarynski — a 2016 third-round pick — represents another attempt at finding a guy like that in the draft. The 6’2”, 198-pound forward saw his scoring totals mostly stay flat in his draft + 1 season, as he tallied 43 points in 64 games out in the Western provinces this past season. His productivity did pick up a bit after a mid-season trade from Calgary to Kelowna, though, as he collected 22 points in 28 games with the Rockets before they made a run to the WHL conference finals.

It’s possible that Twarynski’s ceiling as an NHLer is that of an energy winger, one who can chip in a little bit of scoring but will mostly play in a checking-line role on the team’s bottom-6. That’s fine, and with his combination of size and good skating ability, he’d likely fare well in that kind of a role. Still, eyes will be on him in the WHL this year, as we look to see whether he can add a bit more scoring punch to his game.

No. T-27: Tanner Laczynski — C, Ohio State (NCAA)
2016-17 season: 10 G, 22 A in 34 GP
Ranking in Winter 2017 25 Under 25: N/A (did not make ranking)

Laczynski finds himself just on the top-25 bubble for the second straight time, as he was tied for 26th in the winter version of our rankings. He’s managed to stay around the same spot this time around despite all of the new names in the ranking, which goes to show that he’s still a fairly well-thought-of player in the pipeline who would almost certainly make the cut in a similar ranking for nearly any other team.

Though the 2016 sixth-round pick was a bit older than most college freshmen — he spent his age-18 season in the USHL after going undrafted in 2015, then began play at Ohio State this past fall — Laczynski’s first year with the Buckeyes was an unqualified success. His scoring clip of just under a point per game shows that there’s real offensive potential there. In addition, Laczynski was named to the gold medal-winning Team USA in last winter’s World Juniors, playing in all seven games for the red, white, and blue. (Here’s hoping things go as well for him as they did for the last Flyers prospect to win a World Junior title with Team USA...)

Still, Laczynski has plenty to prove this coming season in Columbus. His gaudy scoring numbers, while objectively impressive, were propped up a bit by strong early performances in Ohio State’s out-of-conference play. He slowed down as the year went on, going without a point in eight out of the Buckeyes’ final 10 games of the season. The goal this coming season for the 6’1”, 191-pound Laczynski will be to show he can sustain his strong performance for an entire college season against strong opponents. If he can? It’ll be really, really tough to keep him outside of the rankings next time around.

No. T-27: Nicolas Aube-Kubel — RW, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
2016-17 season: 9 G, 9 A in 71 GP
Ranking in Winter 2017 25 Under 25: 20

Aube-Kubel’s precipitous drop down and out of these rankings — he was 13th at this time last year — is a sign of just how quickly the Flyers’ system is adding quality players, and of what one single bad year can do for a player’s stock relative to his peers. 2016-17 was Aube-Kubel’s first professional season, and the hope was that the winger who posted two elite scoring seasons in the QMJHL at ages 19 and 20 would carry that over to the pro ranks. That didn’t happen, as Aube-Kubel didn’t reach double-digits in goals or assists despite playing just about a full season’s worth of games.

No one’s suggesting that we give up on a 21-year old winger who, again, had an excellent track record of scoring points in juniors. But the Phantoms’ forward group isn’t getting any less crowded, and it’s not going to get any easier for Aube-Kubel to really make a name for himself. The Alberta native must take a big step forward next season to really keep his status as an intriguing player in this pipeline.

No. 26: Connor Bunnaman — C, Kitchener (OHL)
2016-17 season: 37 G, 15 A in 64 GP
Ranking in Winter 2017 25 Under 25: 25

Bunnaman’s drop out of the rankings from last winter isn’t too surprising — he was just barely in at No. 25, and the Flyers added multiple players this past spring/summer that were locks to make the ranking. But it shouldn’t be read as a rebuke on Bunnaman or the season he had — in fact, the OHL winger may have made a name for himself as one of the system’s best potential goal-scorers.

Bunnaman was 12th in the OHL in total goal-scoring, having lit the lamp 37 times for Kitchener last season. In addition, via prospect-stats.com, Bunnaman was fifth in the league among forwards in total “high-danger” shots. Some of that was likely due to power-play success — Bunnaman’s 17 goals at 5-on-4 were tied for the league lead — but they all count the same on the scoreboard.

The Flyers clearly liked Bunnaman’s season, since they gave him an entry-level contract back in April. He’ll presumably have one more season in the OHL before coming to Lehigh Valley in 2018, and the hope is that he’s able to build on his success from this past season and emerge as an even bigger goal-scoring threat on the wing. Some more 5-on-5 goals from him this season would be an even more encouraging sign of development.

***

A note on tie-breaks:

If two players were tied in the final ranking (i.e. had the same number of points by the scoring system described above), they would both be considered to be tied at the higher ranking. The tiebreaker to determine who gets the higher/later spot in our post order is which player got the highest overall vote across all of our ballots.

For instance, take the above example with Tanner Laczynski and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Both received 20 points across the 12 ballots we received, so they were tied for 27th. However, the highest vote that Laczynski received across all of our ballots was 19th, while the highest vote Aube-Kubel received across all ballots was 17th. Thus, Aube-Kubel is considered “higher”, and thus his description comes later in the post, where the 27th-ranked player’s description would go, while Laczynski’s is in the spot where the 28th-ranked player’s description would go.

***





[#] Tue Aug 01 2017 07:00:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Tuesday Morning Fly By: And here...we...go!

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

*Welcome to August and the start of the Broad Street Hockey 25 Under 25!! We got a TON of votes from you guys, which makes this lots of fun. First up, the honorable mentions. [BSH]

*Speaking of dudes who are under the age of 25, of Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz, who gets the call up first? Seems obvious but you never know! [CSN Philly]

*The NHL national broadcast schedule has been released, and the Flyers are well represented. As usual. Because everyone loves (hates) us. [BSH]

*Let's look at the overall winners and losers in the national broadcast game. [Puck Daddy]

*Summer is for ranking things, so let's take a look at the best jersey combos in the league. [CSN Mid-Atlantic]

*Jack Adams winner John Tortorella has been rewarded with a contract extension through the 2018-2019 season. [ProHockeyTalk]

*On the evils of the bridge deal. [Puck Daddy]

*And finally, Henrik Lundqvist has gotten himself some new pads and they're pretty, pretty, pretty nice. [SB Nation]





[#] Tue Aug 01 2017 11:30:04 EDT from rss

Subject: These prospects are pretty good!

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There’s no yelling like offseason yelling.

To coincide with Broad Street Hockey starting the annual 25 under 25 series, Bill and Kelly and Steph and Charlie talk through their ranking process, where they had specific players on the list, and what were their biggest takeaways. The conversation turns to Matt Read and his role on the team in the upcoming season, as well as who could lose out on a spot due to camp competition. Finally the goalie situation is discussed, again, because, well, this is Philadelphia and we love to hate goalies.

You can listen below or on your mobile device thanks to iTunes, Google Play, and Soundcloud.

Follow us on twitter @BSH_Radio and then pop on over to iTunes and give us an honest (five-star) review!





[#] Tue Aug 01 2017 12:30:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers Top 25 Under 25: Mark Friedman will have his shot to impress

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Marky Mark, and the Fried bunch!

Do you remember the NHL Network commercial about giving one hundred percent? (If not, here is a refresher.) Well, if you’ve ever watched Mark Friedman at Flyers development camp, you know he gives 100% effort, 100% of the time.

Seriously, watch this guy.

The Flyers selected Friedman in the third round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft with a pick they acquired via the Andrej Meszaros trade. Friedman has spent the last three seasons collegiate hockey for Bowling Green State University in the WCHA, but he forwent his senior season to sign a contract with the Flyers back in March. Now, as an official member of the organization, he’ll finally have his chance to impress in professional hockey games, and not just meaningless camps.

No. 25: Mark Friedman

Position: D
Age: 21 (12/25/1995)
Acquired Via: 2014 NHL Draft -- Round 3, Pick 86 (Pick acquired from Boston in exchange for Andrej Meszaros on March 5, 2014)
2016-17 League/Team/Statistics: Bowling Green (NCAA) - 8 G, 18 A in 40 GP
Nationality: Canadian
Ranking in BSH Winter 2017 25 Under 25: 23

A dark horse in the Flyers defensive prospect pool, Friedman is in a position to make a name for himself. After wrapping up three very solid seasons at Bowling Green, he will make the jump to the professional level with the Phantoms this upcoming season. Friedman got his first taste of pro level hockey at the end of last year, seeing action in one game with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He registered one point (an assist) and was +3 on the game. Playing time should be found on the Phantoms’ defense in 2017-18, as GM Ron Hextall has strongly hinted that two rookies will slide up into the NHL next season.

Friedman does hold one advantage over nearly every other young Flyers defenseman — he is a right handed shot. NHL teams like to balance out their pairings if possible, which helps Friedman since the bulk of Philadelphia’s presumed future defense core naturally play the opposite side. Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere, Samuel Morin and Robert Hagg are all left-handed shots, and the only RHD on the current Flyers roster is Radko Gudas. Philippe Myers is the only other notable righty blueliner in the system.

During the Flyers development camp this summer, I watched one-on-one drills with Charlie O’Connor. Friedman was a standout in them; we were watching the “Mark Friedman show,” or so it seemed. His work ethic is off the charts, and he was a standout at camp.

My guess is that he approaches these camps with a major chip on his shoulder, trying to ward off the “he’s too small!” tag and to make a name for himself in an organization that has at least six defensemen under the age of 25 above him on the depth chart.

Charlie pointed the above out in his observations from Development Camp. As many things that come from Charlie, it’s a fantastic point. Friedman is currently buried by the abundance of young defensive talent that the Flyers possess. He has to find a way to stand out, and he has done a great job thus far.

It is an uphill climb for Friedman, but he is on the right track to make some noise in the Flyers prospect pool. We’ll get a much better look at him this fall with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He will also be attending his first NHL training camp with the Flyers this September.

***

Previously on Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2017 25 Under 25:





[#] Tue Aug 01 2017 13:30:01 EDT from rss

Subject: A look back on the acting career of Eric Lindros

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The ‘90s were a weird time, man.

Eric Lindros was arguably the most recognizable figure in Philadelphia sports during the 1990’s. What comes with a lot of people knowing who you are? Endorsements and badly-acted commercials of course! As the off-season slowly creeps along, let us take a moment to look back upon the storied acting career of Eric Lindros.

Ellio’s Pizza (1992)

A commercial for the famous and not-so-good frozen pizza, Ellio’s features Lindros along with Pelle Eklund, Mark Recchi and Bobby Clarke. The commercial starts off with Lindros slapping the rear end of Recchi asking his team mates “Who wants some pizza?”. The trio cooks the pizza in a toaster oven talking about how great is. Bobby Clarke comes in at the end to take the last piece of pizza thanking the guys for it.

Tomatometer rating: 90%

Showcase Store (1992)

A funky beat plays while Eric is shown trying on various sports apparel from a Sixers jacket to a Toronto Blue Jays jersey. The commercial ends with two customers fighting over a Lindros jersey (with more visible in the background). Eric walks up and takes the jersey saying the line “Hey boys, easy. I’ve waited a long time for this jersey.”

Tomatometer rating: 82%

ESPN Sports Center (1993)

Back when hockey was actually featured on the “The Worldwide Leader In Sports” network ESPN, Lindros filmed this ad singing along to the very catchy Sports Center jingle.

Tomatometer rating: 68%

Modell's Sporting Goods (1995)

Gotta go to Mo’s! Yeah!

If you’ve ever wanted to see Eric Lindros in a full Phillies uniform, or Sixers uniform...well first of all, why? And second of all, look no further then this Modell’s commercial from 1995! At the beginning, Eric seems like he is trying to ask a store worker where to find hockey items, but she keeps telling him “Modell’s is more than hockey”. Which quite frankly is a very rude way to talk to Philadelphia’s biggest hockey player at the time. Anyhoo, Eric soon has an epiphany that Modell’s really is more than just hockey! He tries on various sports outfits from tennis to fishing to golf. The end brings our story full circle with the same store employee asking Eric about hockey, to which he responds “Modell’s is more than just hockey.”

Tomatometer rating: 95%

ESPN (1995)

In a short 15 second ad for a Flyers/Devils game, (which would have been not very good to watch considering it was 1995, mind you) Eric tells the audience (you) that he, John LeClair and Mikael Renberg do not like the nickname “Legion of Doom” and have changed the name to “The artists formally known as the Legion of Doom”. Which in my opinion is not as catchy, and does not roll off the tongue like the original name does. Their new name never seemed to catch on. Maybe they should’ve drawn a symbol?

Tomatometer rating: 42%

Bauer (1996)

Atmospheric violin music with beautiful narration can be heard while shots of a hockey rink are displayed. Eric does not appear until the very end where he walks out of the tunnel, having a staring contest with the camera. This was most defiantly not his best acting gig, but it is something.

Tomatometer rating: 20%

IBM (19??)

Don’t you hate it when you somehow stain a white jersey pink while washing it with other white jerseys? Well this equipment boy somehow did just that. After a game, the equipment boy is going around the Flyers locker room collecting jerseys, when Lindros hands him his jersey telling the boy “This is my lucky jersey, don’t mess it up.” FORESHADOWING.

The washing machine buzzer rings and the boy goes to remove Eric’s jersey. He finds the jersey has turned pink because it was also washed with Eric’s lucky sock.

Not so lucky anymore, are they Eric?

Tomatometer rating: 54%

“Rubbing Elbows with Eric Contest”

Do you know Eric’s favorite (music) video? Well if this was sometime in the mid 90’s you’d be in luck! Bauer and Cooper along with Much Music held a contest for fans to win tickets for themselves and three friends to see a Flyers/Leafs game in Maple Leaf Gardens as well as a pair of Bauer skates. Near the end of the video the words “Really Big Hint” flash on the screen, presumably to tell fans about a hint, that is really big. The intro to Van Halen’s “Right Now” starts to play, which we can only assume is that very big hint. Unfortunately, I was not able to find out who won this contest. But whomever you are, wherever you are, just know that you’re probably awesome.

Tomatometer rating: 66%

Interview on “Late Night with David Letterman” (1997)

David Letterman was one of the biggest names in late night television for decades. So Eric Lindros making an appearance on the Late Show is actually a huge deal. He comes out to Paul Shaffer’s band playing “Fly” by Sugar Ray. The interview features many basic hockey questions, but it does have some memorable moments such as Letterman asking Lindros if he is an enforcer. To which Eric laughed and says “No, that’s not me”. Letterman responds saying “You’re Zorro aren’t you?”

For an odd combination of funny late night television host and hockey player, the seven minute interview is defiantly worth the watch.

Tomatometer rating: 88%

Pond of Dreams (With Gretzky, Howe, Lemieux, Jagr, Kariya and Bure) (2000)

Hockey players are not good actors. This is pretty common knowledge. If you’d like to see sub-par acting from the best hockey players of all time, you’ve got the pond of dreams. Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux, and Wayne Gretzky all walk towards a frozen lake where they meet Eric Lindros, Jaromir Jagr, Paul Kariya, and Pavel Bure. Lindros skates up to the old guys and asks, “You guys bring your gear?”

Triumphant trumpet music plays as the camera pans over all the players. Wayne Gretzky responds with, “No thanks boys, its your turn now.”

The trumpets get sadder as a chorus joins in. Howe, Lemieux, and Gretzky all start to walk away. Jagr calls over the three players on the ice, starting a stick tap as a sign of respect. Violins start to fade in as the camera pans away from the lake. Simply a masterpiece.

Tomatometer rating: 99%





[#] Wed Aug 02 2017 07:00:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Wednesday Morning Fly By: No one is reading this.

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

*It is very, very much August and as such things are quiet in the hockey universe. Thankfully, your friends at Broad Street Hockey use this dark and empty time to share our opinions about the youngest players in this organization. First up, at #25, Mark Friedman. [BSH]

*We've also got a brand new episode of BSH Radio for your listening pleasure. There's a fair bit of yelling for a random Monday in late July, which is pretty fun. [BSH]

*The Phantoms' broadcast team has won a major award, which is awesome. It's nice that the Phantoms have found so much success up there in the Lehigh Valley. [Phantoms]

*No one gets more national TV time than the Chicago Blackhawks so when even their fans are complaining about the NBCSN national broadcast schedule, we know we've got a problem. [Second City Hockey]

*Puck Daddy is coming through with the late summer content with their latest series: NHL Alternate History. First up, what if the Islanders had never hired Mike Milbury? [Puck Daddy]

*And finally, the 90s were a super fun time. And nothing might be funner than poorly-acted commercials starring NHL superstars like Eric Lindros. [BSH]





[#] Wed Aug 02 2017 11:00:02 EDT from rss

Subject: 2016-17 Flyers season review: Claude Giroux failed to bounce back

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After a poor close to the 2015-16 season, the hope was that offseason surgery would have Claude Giroux back to his old self this past year. Unfortunately, that didn’t exactly happen.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the conversation surrounding Claude Giroux was not driven by the question of “is he still a great player?” and instead was focused around measuring just how great of a player he was. Yes, the infamous “best player in the world” comment from head coach Peter Laviolette is over five years old now, and was always hyperbole. But just three summers ago, he was coming off a season in which he was nominated for the Hart Trophy, and two years past, he was resting after delivering a performance that ranked him tied for 10th in the NHL in points.

Those days seem like a lifetime ago now.

Giroux’s play during the 2015-16 season was fine at first glance. But the solid surface numbers masked decline in his underlying statistics, and failed to highlight Giroux’s struggles in the final weeks of the season, which notably carried over into the playoffs. In exit interviews, Giroux swore that injuries had not caused his late-season swoon, but shortly thereafter he went under the knife for hip and sports hernia surgeries. That set fans’ minds at ease briefly; Giroux wasn’t in decline, he was just injured, and would be back to his old self for the following year.

That’s not what happened. Instead, Giroux posted his worst full-season scoring rate since his first complete NHL season, finishing with just 14 goals and 44 assists for a total of 58 points. Giroux eventually admitted that the offseason surgery had bothered him throughout the year, but that admission came with no guarantee that Giroux would ever return to pre-surgery heights. Regardless of the reasons, for those concerned that Claude Giroux’s days as a truly elite hockey player were finished, this year provided strong surface-level evidence.

But is Giroux truly in rapid decline, or did extenuating circumstance cause his disappointing year? Does there remain hope in the numbers that the Flyers’ captain can stabilize, or even bounce back next season?

Giroux remains awesome on the power play

For three straight seasons from ages 23 through 25, Claude Giroux scored at a point-per-game-or-better pace, rightfully earning him “elite” status in the NHL. During that three-year span, Giroux had basically no holes in his statistical resume: he drove play and scored at a 1C level at 5-on-5, produced stellar results on the penalty kill, and was probably the best power play forward in hockey.

That last claim isn’t an exaggeration. From 2011-2014, Claude Giroux led all NHL players in points at 5-on-4 with 87, and was second only to Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom in points per 60 minutes. Of course, Backstrom also was passing to the best goal scorer of the era in Alexander Ovechkin, which served to inflate the center's scoring just a bit. In Philadelphia, Giroux didn’t have a pure sniper, yet he matched Backstrom point for point.

No longer is Giroux the “point-per-game-plus” player that he was during that stretch. But he remains one of the league’s most potent power play quarterbacks.

The raw production at 5v4 is still elite. This season, Giroux finished with 29 points in the situation, tied for second in the NHL (with Nikita Kucherov) among forwards. Only his old pal Backstrom topped him. As for Points/60, Giroux’s 6.09 is slightly less impressive, but is still good for 20th among forwards and remains in high-end territory. In addition, he quarterbacked the best shot-producing power play in hockey last season. In terms of on-ice shots on goal at 5v4, Flyers players ranked first through fourth in the league, all between 68 and 70 SOG/60.

Giroux directly drove much of that volume, via his contributions in the neutral and offensive zones. His 86.0% Controlled Entry Percentage on the power play led all Flyers last year, and his 107 total entries were second only to Jakub Voracek. In addition, his 111 primary shot assists (the final pass preceding a shot) led the team at 5v4, and his Primary Shot Contributions per 60 (primary shot assists + actual unblocked shots taken) rate of 36.73 trailed only that of Shayne Gostisbehere.

If anything, Giroux was a little unlucky on the power play this year, as he only tallied points on 65.9% of the Flyers’ PP goals scored while he was on the ice — a career low. Considering the fact that he remains the driving force behind the Philadelphia top unit and his underlying numbers remain stellar, it’s reasonable to expect that rate to clear 70 percent at least next season, adding a couple more points to Giroux’s totals.

The overall point production may be declining for Claude Giroux, but that’s not because of his performance on the power play. The Flyers’ captain remains a top-tier PP quarterback and one of the best in hockey.

His 5-on-5 numbers are getting ugly

In my 2016 season review of Claude Giroux, I wrote the following regarding his performance, and the concerns that arose from worrying trends in his statistical profile.

The real concern isn't that the Giroux of 2015-16 was a bad player, or even an overpaid one, because neither label is accurate. It's that if Giroux's performance took a decent-sized drop from age 25 to age 27, what happens when he hits 30? What about 32? Is this the start of an irreversible downward trend for a player who has still six more years left on a contract paying him like a franchise center?

The 2015-16 season wasn’t especially poor by itself. But with Giroux’s play-driving metrics at 5v5 dropping to middle-sixer levels, and his even strength point production having done the same in 2014-15 and 2015-16, it was fair to ask whether Giroux’s career was entering the “downward slope” stage.

Giroux did nothing to quell those fears last season. In fact, his results at 5v5 were closer to “actually bad” than “merely concerning” like they were in 2015-16.

Simply put, Claude Giroux barely scored during 5-on-5 situations during the 2016-17 season. He tallied just 18 points in over 1100 minutes of play, good for a painful 0.94 Points/60. That ranked him 12th among Flyers forwards, ahead of only Roman Lyubimov and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Yes, that’s right — even Chris VandeVelde and Dale Weise were more efficient 5v5 scorers last season than Claude Giroux.

His status relative to peers around the league was even more cringe-inducing. Giroux ranked 327th in Points/60 among NHL forwards with at least 400 minutes at 5v5. If we assume that players in the top-90 scored like first liners last year (30 teams, three players on each line), then Giroux fell into the bucket of a fourth line scorer in 2016-17, behind luminaries like Luke Glendening and Cedric Paquette.

Washington Capitals v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As his scoring rates fell off a cliff, Giroux’s play-driving metrics showed no signs of improvement from the mediocre numbers he delivered in 2015-16. His relative Corsi (which measures to what degree the team performs better or worse in shot differential with a single player on the ice versus the bench) was +1.12 percent, a passable result for some but severely disappointing for one who just two seasons prior was sitting at +5.02%. His performance in CF%RelTM (a similar metric which measures whether teammates post better results with a player versus when away from him) was almost identical to his Corsi Rel, checking in at +1.1%. Again, that result would not be terrible for most players, but for a formerly-elite play-driver, it’s underwhelming to say the least.

Weighted metrics are even less forgiving. While Giroux remained positive relative to his teammates by raw shot differential, his performance in Expected Goals (which weighs each shot created and allowed with a player on the ice for location and quality) was actually in the red. Following up a 2015-16 season where he was -1.07% in xG Relative, Giroux basically replicated his results, finishing at -1.54% this time around.

Last year, when I evaluated Giroux’s trend lines in both 5v5 scoring and play-driving, the direction wasn’t necessarily clear cut. He had scored at a slightly more efficient rate in 2015-16 versus 2014-15, and his drop in relative Corsi metrics could have easily been chalked up to a one-year fluke. But when we re-evaluate the charts from last year’s review with 2016-17 data points plotted, the trajectory is far more obvious than before.

Giroux has now been in the second liner range from a play-driving standpoint for two straight seasons, and gets no boost from shot quality either. As for his scoring, the decent 1.72 Points/60 rate from 2015-16 is looking more like an anomaly than the positive sign many hoped it was this time last year, considering his especially-poor rate in 2016-17.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it. Claude Giroux’s performance at even strength last season was poor, and it didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, either. It’s a continuation of a previously noted trend.

Can Giroux’s surgery be blamed?

In last year’s review, I theorized that Giroux’s dropoff in 5v5 play-driving during the final months of the season could be attributed (at least partially) to the captain playing through a rapidly-worsening injury. Over the summer, Giroux underwent hip and sports hernia surgeries, confirming the hypothesis that he was not himself at the end of the year and into the playoffs. The hope was that a newly-healthy Giroux would bounce back statistically and look far more like the player from the first two-thirds of the 2015-16 season.

That clearly didn’t happen. It came as no surprise in March when Giroux admitted that the aftereffects of the surgery had lingered into the 2016-17 season and hampered his overall game.

"When you try to make plays you used to make and can't really make them, it is frustrating and confusing," Giroux said. "When you start getting the confidence back, you know you can make those plays you just go out there and make it happen."

While this provided an explanation for Giroux’s underwhelming season, it wasn’t necessarily good news. Sometimes, a major surgery can sap something from an NHL player, and prevent him from ever again reaching past heights.

Yet there was optimism surrounding Giroux in March and April, moreso than his disappointing year would have one expect. The Flyers’ captain noted that he felt healthier than he had all year long, and by the eye test, he certainly looked a step quicker as the schedule came to a close.

But do the raw numbers back up Giroux’s assertion? Did his results actually improve near the end of the season? The evidence is ambiguous.

Let’s start by taking a look at his month-by-month performance at 5v5, using his Corsi Relative, xG Relative, and Points/60 metrics.

Giroux did have a very strong March in terms of Corsi and point production. But even then, his xG Relative was still underwater, implying that much of his strong shot differential was a bit hollow. While his xG did creep up into the black during the five games in April, Giroux didn’t score a 5v5 point in those games.

In fact, his best two all-around months came in 2016. To start the season, Giroux drove play like a high-end second liner and scored like a top liner, mere months after his surgery. Then, he posted his best relative on-ice metrics of his season in December while still producing points at an acceptable rate. There isn’t a clear cut upward trajectory to be found here — it just looks like the usual ups-and-downs that come with a full NHL season.

Stats like Corsi, Expected Goals and Points/60 measure the results of a player, but not the inputs that go into those results. To measure the inputs, we luckily have Corey Sznajder’s microstatistics available. Maybe they show a measurable improvement in Giroux’s contributions to concrete events.

We do have something here. Giroux was clearly more efficient in his play with the puck in both the defensive and neutral zones during the latter stages of the season, when presumably he was “healthier.” However, that improvement did not extend to his shot creation in the offensive zone, as his Primary Shot Contributions/60 rate held stable.

There is some basis to the idea that Giroux “looked” better at the end of the season. But unfortunately, it didn’t manifest itself in dramatically improved results.

Did bad luck cause this issues? Or is it something else?

A recurring theme of these Flyers season reviews for 2016-17 has been the impact of bad luck and mitigating circumstances on the results of the players. Players like Shayne Gostisbehere and Jakub Voracek dealt with the cold realities of random variance, while Ivan Provorov and Wayne Simmonds were likely held back by struggling teammates. Unsurprisingly, Claude Giroux was caught up in the team-wide issues as well.

To start, the minuscule raw production at 5v5 was almost certainly influenced by bad luck. He only tallied a point on 52.9% of the total Flyers goals that occurred with Giroux on the ice, ranking him 333rd among forwards in the league with that rate. And it came despite Giroux finishing fourth on the team in Primary Shot Contributions/60 at 24.30. He clearly was helping to create a significant amount of shots — they just rarely ended up in the net. Had Giroux earned a point on his career average (prior to 2016-17) of 74.9% on-ice goals, that would have bumped him up to a 1.27 Points/60. Still not in line with Giroux’s previous standards, of course, but not nearly as ugly as his actual 0.94.

Then, there’s the fact that the entire team struggled to finish at 5v5. With Giroux on the ice, the Flyers’ on-ice shooting percentage was 5.94%, a career-low for the captain. Part of that was on Giroux, as his personal shooting percentage last season was 5.31%, but his teammates clearly couldn’t put the puck in the net, either.

As for Giroux’s mediocre play-driving metrics, there is one reason for optimism after diving deeper. Giroux’s Neutral Zone Score — which has proven to be the most repeatable component of play-driving metrics — was a strong 52.59% in the 68 games of our current dataset, placing him third on the Flyers. That even topped usual Corsi studs Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl. In the neutral zone at the very least, Giroux was still driving positive outcomes.

However, bad luck simply doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to Claude Giroux. Particularly in the offensive zone, something seems to be broken with the formerly-elite center.

For starters, he’s shooting the puck far less than before at 5v5. Giroux’s 5.89 Shots on Goal/60 and 10.37 Shot Attempts/60 in 2016-17 were both career lows. And just as concerning, the quality of Giroux’s shots is slipping as well.

It’s no secret why Giroux’s goal totals (14) fell off a cliff this past season. He’s taking fewer shots, and when he takes those shots, they’re coming from further out and in less dangerous circumstances. Giroux’s low on-ice and personal shooting percentages can be expected to regress next year in a positive way — he did deal with poor fortune. But Giroux himself is also contributing to the issue by not getting to high-danger areas nearly as much as in the past.

It’s obvious via his high-end power play metrics that Giroux can still distribute the puck at an elite level when given time and space. But at 29, maybe Claude Giroux simply can’t physically do the offensive zone dirty work anymore, in terms of personally generating quality chances on a regular basis.

What comes next for Claude Giroux

Instead of posting the bounce-back season that fans were expecting, Claude Giroux’s downward statistical trend continued in 2016-17. By the raw numbers, he posted his lowest point-per-game rate since his first full NHL season, and the fewest amount of total goals that he has ever delivered in a complete year. In addition, he scored at a fourth line rate at 5v5, and his play-driving metrics were merely in the realm of mediocre. There is no other way to describe Claude Giroux’s 2016-17 season other than dubbing it a major disappointment.

That’s not to say that Giroux didn’t still provide value. He remained one of the league’s best power play threats, drew more penalties than he took (13 drawn, 10 taken), and remained a stellar faceoff weapon in the dot. Even a model such as DTMAboutHeart’s Goals Above Replacement that viewed Giroux as essentially a replacement level player at 5v5 (+0.1 5v5 GAR) this year still had the Flyers’ captain as a nine-GAR contributor on the whole. We’re not talking about a bad hockey player here.

Bad luck did also play a role in Giroux’s season, and that can’t be ignored. Despite directly contributing to the creation of a large number of shots at 5v5, Giroux picked up points on a fairly low percentage of the goals scored while he was on the ice. That was more fluky than anything else. In addition, the Flyers’ captain was caught up in the team shooting percentage issue, which was partially due to random variance, and partially due to the types of shots that most players on the team were creating. There’s a good chance that was a system issue rather than a roster-wide talent problem.

But even after normalizing both of those issues to Giroux’s pre-2016-17 averages, it only provides about a 10-11 point boost, which still leaves him with numbers very similar to the 2015-16 season. That’s a sub-70 point year, with 5v5 rate scoring in the low-end second liner/high-end third liner range. As long as the power play production holds, it’s probably enough to keep Claude Giroux a low-end first line/high-end second line center in terms of overall value added next season, and it’s also a reasonable projection for Giroux in 2017-18. Still, that’s far from superstar level.

Giroux can still push positive outcomes in the middle of the ice, as shown by his strong Neutral Zone Score and a Controlled Entry Rate of 56.30% that was a dramatic improvement over 2015-16’s 49.01 percent. But once in the offensive zone, Giroux simply is not the dangerous weapon he once was. He hasn’t finished with a 5v5 Points/60 rate over 2.0 since 2013-14, and his individual Expected Goal creation has been in steady decline as well.

Could Giroux still get back to his old self? It’s always possible, and the apparent surgery-related issues of 2015-16 and 2016-17 certainly provide a ready-made narrative for the most optimistic of fans. “He just needs to get fully healthy,” they say, “and then the old Giroux will be back!”

Ron Hextall certainly seems to subscribe to that belief, at least publicly. Following the season, the Flyers’ general manager admitted that Giroux didn’t have a great year, but also defended his team’s captain. "He's not on the decline. I know this: I'll be shocked next year if you guys don't ask me in January, 'Well, how has G turned this around?' Hextall said. “He's a very driven athlete, he's very driven. I know he's going to train hard this year. We're going to make some minor tweaks in how he trains. He trains hard."

But it’s a legitimate possibility that Giroux will never be fully healthy again, in the sense that multiple surgeries and 650+ hockey games at the NHL level have taken their toll on his body. No one should doubt that Giroux is taking his offseason training very seriously this summer, but Father Time remains unbeaten. At this point, a return of Hart Trophy contender Claude Giroux should be viewed as an optimistic hope rather than a likelihood.

If this is the new normal for Giroux, the Flyers should accept that the captain is no longer matchup-proof, in the sense that he cannot elevate the play of any linemate to respectability or flourish in the toughest minutes possible without help. In addition, they need to account for the fact that Giroux apparently struggles now to create his own shot in dangerous areas at 5v5, and surround him with forwards who make themselves targets for passes in the slot and in front of the net.

Jordan Weal showcased that ability late last season, and posted strong results with Giroux at 5v5 in their short time together (54.8% Corsi For, 62.5% Goals For). He might work as a new wingman for the captain. Wayne Simmonds, Michael Raffl, or even Oskar Lindblom could be fits as well. Giroux can still distribute at a high level (as he proves on the power play), so put him with players who can get open for those passes in high-danger areas and let him work his magic.

Claude Giroux isn’t finished as a valuable player in the NHL. But his performance over the past two seasons should have fans of the team re-calibrating their expectations for what the captain can realistically deliver moving forward. And if he bounces back entirely next season and proves all the numbers wrong, then it’s a major pleasant surprise for all involved.


All statistics courtesy of NaturalStatTrick, Stats.Hockeyanalysis.com, Corsica.Hockey, or manually-tracked by Corey Sznajder.





[#] Wed Aug 02 2017 12:59:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers 25 Under 25: Matthew Strome brings one key flaw and a lot of talent

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A high-scoring winger with size, Strome looks to be a project prospect for Flyers.

Matthew Strome comes from a strong blood line of hockey talent. Brothers Ryan and Dylan were drafted 5th and 3rd overall in their respective NHL Entry Drafts.

Matthew does not hold the draft pedigree that his brother have, as he was drafted in the fourth round this past June. However, he is not just a write-off and is still a very talented hockey player.

No. 24: Matthew Strome

Position: LW
Age: 18 (1/6/1999)
Acquired Via: 2017 NHL Draft -- Round 4, Pick 106 (Pick acquired from Tampa Bay along with a seventh-round pick in 2017 and Valtteri Filppula in exchange for Mark Streit on March 1, 2017)
2016-17 League/Team/Statistics: Hamilton (OHL) - 34 G, 28 A in 66 GP
Nationality: Canadian
Ranking in BSH Winter 2017 25 Under 25: N/A (was not in system)

Last season, with the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, Strome put up 34 goals and 28 assists in 66 games. He represented Canada in this past year’s under-18 IIHF World Junior Championships, scoring one goal and two assists in five games.

One thing that seemed evident in Ron Hextall’s strategy this past draft was to add size, and Strome certainly fits that bill. He is listed at 6’3” and 203 pounds.

But we’ve all seen the story line that has been pinned to Matthew from the moment the Flyers called his name back in June:

“He can’t skate!”

While he is still a quality player in many other areas, it is true that Strome’s skating abilities are very lacking. His skating is clunky, and he does not have much jump in his step. But he is a project, and he can work on his skating ability for the next couple years. He now has the added benefit of having NHL coaches and trainers to help teach and train him.

A big, skilled winger that plays a complete and consistent game. Battles hard for puck possession and is relentless on both the power play and penalty kill. Plays a hard-nosed game and uses his size to establish his presence around the net. Has good hands, an accurate shot, and zero compromise hockey sense. His skating and overall balance off the rush and in-transition is a work in progress that is continuing to get better by the day. That being said, his vision is excellent and his offensive talent is apparent; he is able to play at a fast pace. Being able to keep up is a big part of that, and, moving forward, he has the potential to develop into a strong two-way winger that is hard to play against and can be relied on in all situations.

This scouting report from Eliteprospects.com’s Curtis Joe praises Strome’s vision and hockey sense. Skating is something that can be taught and improved upon. But being able to read a play, or view the game from the ice, is something that does not come as easily to players. Yes, Strome is a project, but if you can help him improve the areas he is lacking, the payoff will be worth it.

You might remember a player named Ryan Smyth. He scored 842 points in his career in over 1,200 games played. He carved out a very solid career over the span of 18 years in the NHL. He, too, was not a very good skater.

In conclusion, Matthew Strome is a player to watch in the upcoming years. He won’t be cracking the NHL roster any time soon, but down the line his impact might be felt. He’ll continue his junior hockey career next year in the Ontario Hockey League with the Hamilton Bulldogs, and we’ll be able to get another look at him next summer during the Flyers’ developmental camp.

***

Previously on Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2017 25 Under 25:





[#] Thu Aug 03 2017 07:00:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: One more day closer to hockey...

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

*Claude Giroux has been trailing off the last few seasons, once again he failed to bounce back. Charlie goes in-depth about Claude’s season last year in his 2016/17 Flyers season reviews. [BSH]

*Matthew Strome is not a good skater, we know this people! But did you know he is an excellent hockey players in other areas of the ice? In our on-going Top 25 players under 25 Strome is ranked at 24. [BSH]

*Ron Hextall has hinted at bringing two rookie defensemen aboard the ship next year, could Phil Myers or Travis Sanhiem be one of them? [Flyerdelphia]

*The Flyers have not had luck with KHL players of recent, and when they have they're traded away and win Veznia trophies. But have they been burning bridges with KHL teams? [PhillyisFlyer]

*Imagine a world where the Rangers starting goalie was Al Montoya for the last 10 years, and not Henrik Lundqvist. That would be a fantastic world to live in. What if instead of the Dallas Stars selecting Henrik’s brother, Joel, they took the King? [Puck Daddy]





[#] Thu Aug 03 2017 10:00:03 EDT from rss

Subject: Top 10 goal photos from the 2016-2017 season

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A special Flyers Frese Frame season recap gallery





[#] Thu Aug 03 2017 11:59:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers 25 Under 25: Wade Allison continues to develop as a goal-scoring threat

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The big winger had a good first season in college, and could have a huge year ahead of him with more responsibility at Western Michigan.

“But where are the goals going to come from?”

It’s a question we’ve been asking here in Flyerland for a long time. Since the Jeff Carter trade back in 2011, the closest the Flyers have had to a guy who was a real, established threat as a goal-scorer first and foremost is Wayne Simmonds. And even the ol’ Wayne Train doesn’t quite fit the archetype of a true “sniper”, as his successes have mainly come via outstanding net-front work on the power play.

A team that’s successful typically has a number of different archetypes that it fills in its forward ranks. All-around center. Playmaker. Tough-minutes defensive forward. PP/PK specialist. The Flyers have had no trouble finding a lot of those kinds of players in recent years, and as their forward pipeline has accumulated bodies over the past four or five years, it’s not hard to see how guys will fill into many of these kinds of roles.

But do the Flyers have guys who can fill the role of natural goal-scorer? That’s the million dollar question (and, to be fair, one that almost every team struggles with, since great goal-scorers are really hard to find). Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom will likely play this role, at least in part, toward the top of the lineup. But do the Flyers have anyone in the pipeline who can be reliably counted on to chip in goals from, say, a second or third line?

To their credit, the Flyers have tried. They’ve thrown picks at a ton of talented wingers over the past few years, some of whom we’ve already talked about in this series and some of whom are yet to come in the countdown. Last year, they made one of those picks in USHL winger Wade Allison.

No. T-22: Wade Allison

Position: RW
Age: 19 (10/14/1997)
Acquired Via: 2016 NHL Draft — Round 2, Pick 52 (Pick acquired from Chicago along with a second-round pick in 2015 in exchange for Kimmo Timonen on February 27, 2015)
2016-17 League/Team/Statistics: Western Michigan (NCAA) — 12 G, 17 A in 36 GP
Nationality: Canadian
Ranking in BSH Winter 2017 25 Under 25: 21

At this time last year, we were talking about Allison’s rise up the 2016 NHL Entry Draft boards, as he went from a total unknown and likely late-round pick to one of the best players in the USHL. An outstanding late-season surge put him on draft radars, and a ridiculous playoff run got him named MVP of the USHL playoffs. The Flyers — as they have often done over the past few years with big (he’s 6’2” and 205 pounds), talented skaters that really rose up the rankings during their draft year — took the chance that the Western Michigan commit’s late-season run was the start of something special rather than an aberration.

So how was Allison’s freshman year in Kalamazoo? Not unlike the freshmen years of most solid NHL prospects in the NCAA, which is to say up and down but overall fairly encouraging. Across 36 games with the Broncos, Allison was fourth on the team in points with 29.

Perhaps even more encouraging than the strong overall numbers is that there was no real late-season swoon for him, the way there often can be for young college prospects who get out to a hot start only to cool down in conference play (sort of like what happened to Flyers prospect Tanner Laczynski, whose freshman year we briefly discussed on Monday). And Allison was fairly consistent as well — he tallied at least one point in over half of his games, and only had three stretches during the season of multiple consecutive scoreless games.

Another good sign from Allison’s first year in college is that the willingness to shoot the puck a ton that we saw in his draft year carried over reasonably well. Only twice last season was he held without a shot on goal in a game, and in February he even had a 10-shot performance in a game against Arizona State. (His 10th and final shot in that game, by the way, tied the game with under a minute left. He also had six other attempts that either went wide or were blocked. Fun night.)

But if last year was an encouraging start, this coming season could really be Allison’s chance to shine. His Western Michigan team, coached by former NHL bench boss Andy Murray, made some noise in the NCAA last year, even picking up a No. 2 seed in their regional in the NCAA Tournament before bowing out in the first round. But a lot of talent left that program following the season — of the three guys who scored more than Allison, one graduated, while the other two (Chicago’s Matt Iacopelli and Vancouver’s Griffen Molino) both left after their sophomore years to sign entry-level deals.

There’s a good chance that Allison will be the best player on his team next year as a sophomore, and his role and responsibilities should reflect that. If his he takes a step forward not just in role but in performance, we could be looking at one of the better goal-scorers in college hockey. While it’s tough to envision a year that goes so well that he signs with the Flyers following the 2017-18 season, it’s not impossible, and the idea of a contract at some point before he would otherwise graduate college (spring 2019, perhaps?) is realistic if he makes the kind of progress the Flyers are hoping he will.

So how much is riding on Allison’s development? It’s tough to say. The need to find a goal-scorer or two — something we’ve bemoaned at length — should be satiated to an extent as the bigger names, the Patricks and Lindbloms of the pipeline, establish themselves as NHLers. And with guys like Isaac Ratcliffe, Matt Strome, and Connor Bunnaman all still early on in their development, the Flyers still have a number of other, mid-level tickets in the Goal-Scorer Lottery. But of the guys in that second tier, Wade Allison may be the one whose ticket is most likely to pay off.

***

Previously on Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2017 25 Under 25:





[#] Fri Aug 04 2017 07:00:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: There are uh...some number of days until hockey season.

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

*Oh hey, the Flyers have signed a couple of more badass prospects to their ELCs! [Flyers]

*The 25 Under 25 train rolls on with Wade Allison who is TIED for #22. Ties are so exciting. [BSH]

*The Flyers will very likely get more offense this year from their uh...offense, because a)it literally cannot get worse and b)players are healthy again and c)no Chris VandeVelde. We're good. [CSN Philly]

*Most of the teams in the Metro Division have improved in some way, so it should be a real party this season. [All About The Jersey]

*The league-wide 25 Under 25 is also still rolling and the absolutely amazing Mitch Marner comes in at #17. Imagine how good it's going to get at the top of this list. [SB Nation]

*Puck Daddy's Alternate History looks at what might have happened if Jonathan Drouin stuck in Tampa. [Puck Daddy]

*Is it possible that Nino Niederreiter's new deal is the beginning of the end of the no trade clause? [Hockey Wilderness]

*Mike Fisher has decided to hang up his skates. [The Tennessean]

*Since they can't pick from NHL coaches, who might end up coaching Team USA this Olympics? [Puck Daddy]

*And finally, relive the fun of hockey times with Kate's ten best goal photos from the '16-'17 season. [BSH]





[#] Fri Aug 04 2017 10:30:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers 25 Under 25: Pascal Laberge still talented despite setbacks

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After a tough year in which he dealt with concussions, Pascal Laberge hopes to get back on track this coming season.

After debuting at No. 18 on these rankings last go-around (and slipping to 19 at the midterm), Pascal Laberge was primed for a big 2016-17 season after being drafted 36th overall in the 2016 NHL Draft. If there are constants in hockey (and life), is that there are just folks who just want to watch the world burn. In this case, deliver a dirty, homicidal hit to an unsuspecting player. It’s a play that shouldn’t be taught nor rewarded anywhere and unfortunately Pascal Laberge’s 16-17 season dealt with more lows than highs because of it.

No. T-22: Pascal Laberge

Position: C
Age: 19 (4/9/1998)
Acquired Via: 2016 NHL Draft -- Round 1, Pick 36 (Pick acquired from Winnipeg along with Pick No. 22 in 2016 in exchange for Picks No. 18 and 79 in 2016 on June 24, 2016)
2016-17 League/Team/Statistics: Victoriaville (QMJHL) - 12 G, 20 A in 46 GP
Nationality: Canadian
Ranking in BSH Winter 2017 25 Under 25: 19

Pascal Laberge shot up draft boards following his 68 point (23 goal, 45 assist) 2015-16 campaign with the Victoriaville Tigres. He also fought with many personal battles recently to add fuel to his fire. You couldn’t help but route for the kid.

Seven games into the 16-17 season, Laberge was deemed out indefinitely with a concussion. Hockey fans know very well how much a concussion can be debilitating to not only return to the ice, but just leading a normal, healthy life. Tales of Eric Lindros, Keith Primeau and Chris Pronger are still all fresh in the minds of the Flyers faithful. Laberge talked about his struggles with concussions this offseason, saying that “the first month I couldn’t wake up. I had to sleep all day.” You never want to see someone, let alone a teenager, deal with something so potentially life-altering.

Thankfully after the concussion symptoms subsided, Laberge was able to make it back, only missing 16 games. In his 38 games after returning he was able to notch 10 goals and 18 assists. However, this was a far cry from the pace in which he set in his draft-season, and his production had some fans worried that Laberge’s standing as a prospect had taken a serious hit.

The outlook for Laberge is still quite positive. The instincts he possessed that positioned him as a very good two-way player are likely still there. Part of what made Laberge’s game so exciting was the energy and physicality he brought to the game. He’s a player that wasn’t afraid to go into the corners and fight for a puck.

I believe Laberge’s calling will be that of a playmaker in the NHL than a goal scorer, but the kid does have some mitts if called upon. It will be important for Laberge to come into the 2017-18 season with a mission in mind, to prove that he is once again healthy and that his trials last year were merely bumps in the road.

***

Previously on Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2017 25 Under 25:





[#] Sat Aug 05 2017 10:59:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers 25 Under 25: Mikhail Vorobyev ready to turn heads in North America

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A stellar World Juniors performance finally has Vorobyev on Flyers fans’ radar screens, and a strong freshman season with the Phantoms could get the hype train truly rolling.

It’s easy for NHL prospects playing in European leagues to slide a bit under the radar, particularly when they come without a high-round draft pedigree. Sure, everyone follows the status of a German Rubtsov very closely, but a mid-round pick putting up statistics that don’t jump off the page but are perfectly fine after accounting for age and league difficulty can slip through the cracks.

That’s what happened to Oskar Lindblom, before the 2016-17 season, at least. In his Draft+1 season, he played 37 games in the SHL, Sweden’s top professional hockey league, and scored 15 points. He followed that up with 25 points in 48 games the following season, all the while standing out in every age-appropriate tournament in which he appeared.

But the numbers weren’t eye-popping like they would likely have been had he played in Canadian juniors or even the US college hockey system, so he wasn’t widely discussed as a top-tier prospect. That was, until he finally caught up with his older peers last season, won forward of the year in the SHL, and now is banging on the door for a spot with the Flyers.

If anything else, Lindblom’s rapid rise should inspire fans to give a second look to under-the-radar prospects who play in professional overseas leagues at very young ages and carve out roles there, while shining every time they face their actual peers in international tournaments. In other words, maybe fans should pay a bit more attention to a guy like Mikhail Vorobyev.

No. 21: Mikhail Vorobyev

Position: C
Age: 20 (1/5/1997)
Acquired Via: 2015 NHL Draft -- Round 4, Pick 104 (Pick acquired from Los Angeles along with a sixth-round pick in 2016 in exchange for Pick No. 99 in 2015 on June 27, 2015)
2016-17 League/Team/Statistics: Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL) - 3 G, 8 A in 44 GP
Nationality: Russian
Ranking in BSH Winter 2017 25 Under 25: 22

When the Flyers selected Vorobyev in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, he was an unknown to most Philadelphia fans, but certainly not to members of the organization. In fact, in the days following the draft, Flyers crossover QMJHL scout Todd Hearty crowed about the pick as one of their biggest steals.

For Hearty the real prize in the middle rounds was Russian center [Mikhail] Vorobyov, considered a solid second-round prospect by the team.

"We had Vorobyov really high," said Hearty. "We had quite a distance with no picks from 24 to 70...we had to take a goalie in the third (two actually) ...and Vorobyov just kept falling for whatever reason. We got to the 90's, and we got a deal where we could move back to 98 and get another pick, so we took (Samuel) Dove-McFalls, just because we thought the Russian factor might still come into effect, and (Vorobyov) was still there when we picked (at 104)."

A 6-2 center from Ufa, Vorobyov was effective in U-18 competitions for Russia this season, earning accolades for his heady defensive play.

"He needs half a step, which is just strength," said Hearty. "He's a two-way center with size. He's big and he's skilled. I look at him, and I don't see a huge, huge difference between him and (Joel Eriksson) Ek.

Eriksson Ek, of course, was a Minnesota first round selection in that draft and is currently viewed as one of the better forward prospects in hockey, which should hint at just how high the Flyers’ organization was on Vorobyev at the time. The slot in which he was selected was not an accurate barometer of their actual opinion of the Russian center.

In his Draft+1 season, Vorobyev took a clear step forward, even though it went unnoticed by most. After scoring 20 points in 39 games in the MHL (Russian juniors) during his draft year, Vorobyev jumped to over a point-per-game pace (23 points in 21 games) and spent the majority of his time in the KHL. The point production was minimal — three points in 28 games — but just to get to the KHL before even turning 19 was an accomplishment by itself. The hope from those paying attention to Vorobyev last summer was that his experience against men in 2015-16 would lead to a breakout season as a prospect the following year.

Quietly, that’s kind of what happened. Sure, Vorobyev did not go full Lindblom on the KHL and dominate every game. But he stuck with his KHL club all year long, playing in 44 games, and upped his production as well, this time tallying three goals and eight assists for 11 points. And as a reminder — Vorobyev was 19 years of age for the bulk of the season, playing against grown men in the second-best league in the world.

Due to his KHL experience, and the fact that he luckily didn’t turn 20 until January (after the tournament), Vorobyev was an obvious choice to be selected by Russia for the U20 World Junior Championship. This was where the Flyers’ prospect really shined. Finally facing his age-appropriate peers in his first international tournament since the under-18s in 2015, Vorobyev excelled, scoring ten points in seven games and leading all players in assists.

Skating on Russia’s first line alongside Kirill Kaprizov, Vorobyev was called by some “a beneficiary” of the Minnesota prospect’s stellar work. And while Kaprizov was truly transcendent in the tournament, Vorobyev’s contributions to the line’s success should not be brushed aside. It’s far more accurate to describe him as the unsung hero of the line rather than a passive observer. Vorobyev often kick-started transition rushes due to heady plays in the defensive zone, and once Russia was on the attack, he would set up shop behind the net, drawing in defenders before expertly dishing the puck to a teammate for a scoring chance. That impressive assist total wasn’t a fluke — Vorobyev legitimately was one of the better playmakers at the WJC.

Apparently satisfied with what he saw from Vorobyev in the KHL and at the World Juniors, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall diligently worked to bring the prospect over to North America once the Russian season had concluded. Finally, in late April, it was announced that Vorobyev did indeed sign his entry-level contract and would be coming west for the 2017-18 season.

This year, Vorobyev will likely spend the entire year with the Phantoms, where local fans will have their first extended look at him. But if the scouting reports and viewings of Vorobyev at the WJC can be trusted, the Flyers are bringing over a true center prospect, one who should have no trouble sticking at the position due to his defensive awareness and high-end vision with the puck.

Vorobyev doesn’t appear to be much of a goal scorer, and he almost certainly will not end up a top-line pivot even in the most optimistic of scenarios. But it’s not unreasonable to hope that he can develop into an above-average middle-six center at the NHL level, capable of driving play at even strength and setting up teammates for scoring chances. His aptitude for playing behind his opponent’s net is also a skillset in short supply right now in Philadelphia, and since current research finds that passes from that area can dramatically improve shot quality, the Flyers could certainly use a center adept in that region of the offensive zone.

A best-case scenario for Vorobyev’s ceiling would probably be something like Artem Anisimov, another big Russian center who has turned into a perfectly capable 2C on playoff teams. But even if Vorobyev simply becomes a bottom-sixer who can take some of the tough minutes load off Sean Couturier as he moves into his late-twenties, he will have been a fantastic use of a fourth round pick. This season, we’ll get to see firsthand just how close Mikhail Vorobyev is to the NHL and to reaching his eventual ceiling.

***

Previously on Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2017 25 Under 25:





[#] Mon Aug 07 2017 07:00:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Monday Morning Fly By: Summer links, make me feel fine...

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

*You'll never guess which Flyers prospect TIED for #22 on our summer ranking of hockey players under the age of 25: [BSH]

*And if you think that's crazy, wait until you see who we ranked at #21!!! [BSH]

*You won't BELIEVE which two players with zero NHL experience were signed to contracts by the Flyers last week: [Courier-Post]

*Which Flyers broadcast personality is walking back his comments about Philly's Hottest Draft Pick Nolan Patrick playing at wing?? The answer may SHOCK you: [CSN Philly]

*Which hockey team is having fun imagining an alternate universe in which THIS rooster-baring forward is a part of their organization? Click to find out!!! [Puck Daddy]

*Looks like Team USA will be joining their friends to the North in assembling a Who's Who of hockey alumni at this year's Olympics. Or will they??? [CBS Sports]

*Don't be like the Minnesota Wild, who missed out on the love of their life by not locking down the most ELECTRIC hockey mind on earth so many years ago: [Puck Daddy]





[#] Mon Aug 07 2017 10:30:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers 25 Under 25: Isaac Ratcliffe is a big project with big-time potential

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The Flyers moved up to grab Ratcliffe in June’s draft. Is a step forward in 2017-18 in the cards for the 6-foot-6 winger?

The tallest forward on the Flyers’ roster, at this moment, is Sean Couturier, who stands at 6’3” per the Flyers’ official website. Nolan Patrick measured in at 6’2” at the combine and, as someone who turns 19 in September, probably has a little bit more growth in him, but the point remains that this team isn’t exactly full of giants. In fact, courtesy of James Mirtle, the Flyers entered last season as the shortest team in the NHL.

Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The two-time reigning Stanley Cup Champions, whoever the hell those are, were one of the league’s smaller teams in both 2015-16 and 2016-17. And this decade’s best team, the Chicago Blackhawks, have regularly been successful despite not towering over their opponents — they were the second-shortest team in the year of their most recent title. But before we run around suggesting the Flyers ice a team full of 5’11” dudes, let’s not forget that the year prior, one of the league’s biggest teams — the L.A. Kings — took home the Stanley Cup.

The point is that successful hockey teams come in all shapes and sizes. Each and every year the league is getting faster, younger, and more talented, moreso than it is bigger or smaller. Find the best players whose skills fit the system you want to play and go win some dang hockey games.

Of course, that’s not to say big, skilled players aren’t rightly coveted by teams around the league. Other talents more or less equal, any team would take a guy at 6’3” over a guy at 5’11”. The player with size and skill remains one of the most appealing players in hockey, the kind that usually gets taken at the top of the draft and that you build a team around. And while the Flyers have added plenty of big, talented defensemen over the past few years (Travis Sanheim, Phil Myers, and Samuel Morin range from 6’4” to 6’7”), their forward ranks haven’t quite seen the same kind of infusion of size.

This past June, the Flyers took a big swing on a forward in the second round of the draft that they think can be a guy like that. And if what they paid to get Isaac Ratcliffe was any indication, they clearly believe he’s got the potential to be something special.

No. 20: Isaac Ratcliffe

Position: LW
Age: 18 (2/15/1999)
Acquired Via: 2017 NHL Draft -- Round 2, Pick 35 (Pick acquired from Arizona in exchange for Picks No. 44, 75, and 108 in the 2017 NHL Draft on June 24, 2017)
2016-17 League/Team/Statistics: Guelph (OHL) - 28 G, 26 A in 67 GP
Nationality: Canadian
Ranking in BSH Winter 2017 25 Under 25: N/A (was not in system)

Day 2 of the 2017 NHL Draft wasn’t more than a few minutes old when Ron Hextall reached into his arsenal of 2017 draft picks (he entered the day with 10 of them), picked out a third- and fourth-round pick, and sent them to the Arizona Coyotes for the right to move up from No. 44 to No. 35 in the second round and select Ratcliffe, a winger from the Guelph Storm. Clearly wary of the possibility that Ratcliffe wouldn’t make it to his original pick, Hextall was forced to put his cards on the table for a guy he really liked — so much so that he made the deal to get Ratcliffe even after Coyotes GM John Chayka told him he thought Hextall was overpaying:

Chayka thought about staying at No. 35, where the Flyers eventually chose Guelph Storm winger Isaac Ratcliffe, but he also saw opportunity.

“We had Ratcliffe at the same spot pretty much, so I just put it out there to Hexy that this is an overpayment but if you want the guy, we’ll do it,” Chayka said. “He agreed to it.”

Surprising bluntness aside, Chayka’s point may have been a legitimate one. The exact value of the three picks Hextall gave up probably depends on who you’re asking, but as our own Charlie O’Connor pointed out back in June following the pick, one model suggests that the overall value of the picks Hextall gave up was equivalent to that of the 14th overall pick, which at first glance is a staggering cost for a pick in the 30s.

Now, that’s not a one-size-fits-all belief, and other models will disagree — heck, the draft value chart that our old friend Eric Tulsky posted on this very site a few years ago suggests that the Flyers may have actually gotten the better of the deal from a value perspective. But whatever your actual valuation of the specific package Hextall gave up is, the point remains. Ron Hextall, in his time as Flyers GM, has prioritized picking up — and succeeding on — Day 2 picks. To use three of them on one player tells us that he and the team’s scouts are pretty high on that player.

And to their credit, Ratcliffe, by all accounts, was not expected to be on the board at No. 35. Via Elite Prospects, here’s a round-up of his pre-draft rankings:

- 2017 NHL Entry Draft: Ranked #13 by Hockeyprospect.com
- 2017 NHL Entry Draft: Ranked #22 by ISS Hockey
- 2017 NHL Entry Draft: Ranked #23 by Future Considerations
- 2017 NHL Entry Draft: Ranked #18 by McKeen's Hockey
- 2017 NHL Entry Draft: Ranked #15 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
- 2017 NHL Entry Draft: Ranked #27 by TSN/McKenzie

We’ll likely never know exactly where Ratcliffe was on their final board, but given what the Flyers gave up for him, it seems obvious that they, too, saw him as a first-round talent that had fallen a bit further than he should have for whatever reason. Given a chance to snag what he saw as three first-round talents in one draft, Hextall thought that chance to be worth an extra third- and fourth-round pick.

So, with the context finally out of the way, let’s actually talk about Isaac Ratcliffe, the prospect. The first thing you notice about Ratcliffe is the thing that’s impossible to miss: his size. He measured in at an even 6-foot-6 at the pre-draft combine, which would make him one of the tallest players right now not just in the OHL but in the NHL.

That size advantage is evident every time he’s on the ice in an OHL game. Ratcliffe’s office of sorts tends to be within about five feet of the net, as he can frequently be found collecting rebounds and depositing tap-in goals in close for Guelph. His hands and puck control in close to the net are enticing, not too unlike the kind of thing we’ve grown used to seeing from Wayne Simmonds this decade.

But the area near the crease isn’t the only place he can succeed. Ratcliffe’s a solid skater, and a very good one when you consider his stature. And he’s not just roofing rebounds in close, because he’s also got a very nice wrister that he shows off from around the circles as well. You can see where most of his success came last year in this highlight video; for a big guy, there are a lot of 2-on-1s in here that end with him beating the goalie clean.

So what’s not to like about a big player who seems to be able to score goals in a number of different ways? Perhaps the fact that he isn’t quite scoring enough just yet. Ratcliffe posted 28 goals and 26 points in 67 games last year with Guelph, good for points-per-game and goals-per-game marks that were just 12th and 8th (respectively) among draft-eligible OHL forwards (via prospect-stats.com).

If it seems like the talent is there, you’d think that Ratcliffe would be lighting up the scoreboard given the size advantage he holds every time he steps on OHL ice. The fact that he isn’t doing so is probably the biggest question surrounding him, and it could well be why he fell out of the first round. It’s how you can see him getting tagged with the “high-risk, high-reward” label — you can plainly see how he could end up being a really good player, but it’s far from a sure thing that he ever gets close to realizing that potential.

Now, with all of that said, there are some qualifiers here regarding his relatively meager point totals. First, Ratcliffe’s Guelph team this past year was not good, finishing with the second-fewest standings points in the 20-team OHL. With the exception of defenseman Ryan Merkley, a potential lottery pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, there weren’t many good skaters to help Ratcliffe out, and it’s possible that with a better supporting cast around him to get pucks near the net he’d have collected a few more goals.

Additionally, we should point out that Ratcliffe took a big step forward from his first OHL season (in 2015-16) to this past season. Ratcliffe jumped to 0.81 points per game and 0.42 goals per game in his draft year after posting marks of 0.28 PPG and 0.11 GPG in the year prior. The Flyers have taken a liking to guys who have taken big steps forward in short periods of time in recent years (Morin and Sanheim both come to mind here), and they could look at Ratcliffe the same way if they see a big step forward coming for him in 2017-18.

The potential is obvious with Ratcliffe, who by the way signed an entry-level contract with the team last week. Big, good skater, nice hands — you rarely hear about forwards with that combination of descriptors that make it out of the lottery, let alone to the second round. Once he adds some strength to the 200 pounds he measured in at back in June, he’ll not only be physically ready for the NHL, he’ll be one of its biggest forwards.

But while he’s adding muscle in the weight room, the task in front of Isaac Ratcliffe on the ice remains the same: absolutely dominate the OHL for the next two years. We know he has talent. Now we need to see him consistently showing off that talent in a league where, if he develops well, he could legitimately be one of its best players in a come 2019 or so.

Charlie mentioned in his Development Camp observations that Ratcliffe was losing board battles to much smaller Flyers defensemen, and while we don’t want to glean too much about a player from one camp weekend in July, it does sort of underscore where Ratcliffe is now vs. where the Flyers hope he’ll get to, because if he pans out, he shouldn’t be losing many more board battles. We know that Ratcliffe’s a big player, and that alone may get him into the NHL someday. But the Flyers are hoping that he becomes a big, talented player, because those guys are, still, the most valuable player any team can find.

***

Previously on Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2017 25 Under 25:





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