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[#] Thu Aug 17 2017 07:00:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: HURRY UP, HOCKEY SEASON!

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

*Scott Laughton, man. What in the world do we do with Scott Laughton. [BSH]

*Let's take a look at what the Rangers fans think of how the Metropolitan Division will shake out this season. [Blueshirt Banter]

*RETIRE ERIC LINDROS' NUMBER NOW. *ahem* DGB on which NHL players who deserve to have their numbers retired by their respective teams. [The Hockey News]

*Big news yesterday was the Oilers locking up another one of their ridiculously skilled forwards for many, many years. Jerks. [TSN]

*Does the NHL have a problem with how NCAA players are signed by teams? [The Hockey News]

*And finally, this is a fun mid-August exercise: if the NHL hit the reset button today, who'd be drafted first overall? DISCUSS. [TSN]





[#] Thu Aug 17 2017 10:00:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Top 10 photos of Travis Konecny

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A special Flyers Frese Frame season recap gallery





[#] Thu Aug 17 2017 14:29:04 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers 25 Under 25: German Rubtsov gearing up for first full season in North America

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Rubtsov’s post-draft season didn’t go as many hoped it would, but a strong finish and a new locale bode well for 2017-18.

When the Flyers traded down and selected German Rubtsov in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft, it wasn’t a slam-dunk, no-brainer choice. Established scorers like Kieffer Bellows and Julien Gauthier were on the board at the team’s original selection spot, and while scouts were generally impressed with Rubtsov’s skillset, he came with risks.

To start, the Russian forward had been caught up in his country’s melondium doping scandal, which resulted in the country’s entire U18 team being banned from the World Championships. While it’s important to note that Rubtsov merely used a substance that Russian officials had provided all players, the scandal prevented teams from getting that final look at the player prior to the draft, and may have sent up additional (probably unfair) character red flags as well.

But the bigger issue was simply his contractual status as a player. Rubtsov was coming off a full season in the MHL (Russian junior hockey) and found himself locked into the Vityaz Podolsk organization in the KHL. As a result, the Flyers would have little control over his development in the immediate future, and also lacked a guarantee that Rubtsov would come over to the United States at all.

Considering the research that the Flyers did on the prospect prior to draft day, it’s likely that they had some degree of certainty that Rubtsov’s end goal was the NHL, but the risk remains. For example, top Minnesota prospect Kirill Kaprizov recently signed a three-year extension in the KHL, despite clearly being NHL-ready. Assuming he honors the entirety of that deal, Kaprizov will be 23 before he joins the Wild.

This is why Russian prospects often slip in the draft, for reasons unrelated to xenophobia — there’s just an added element of risk. But after watching his development stall during the first half of his draft+1 season, Rubtsov’s camp stepped in and helped the prospect choose a new route to the NHL, this time through the Canadian junior hockey system.

No. 11: German Rubtsov

Position: C
Age: 19 (6/27/1998)
Acquired Via: 2016 NHL Draft -- Round 1, Pick 22 (Pick acquired from Winnipeg along with Pick No. 36 in 2016 in exchange for Picks No. 18 and 79 in 2016 on June 24, 2016)
2016-17 League/Team/Statistics: Chicoutimi (QMJHL) - 9 G, 13 A in 22 GP
Nationality: Russian
Ranking in BSH Winter 2017 25 Under 25: 12

From October through the start of January, German Rubtsov’s season could only be described as a mess. He played in 30 hockey games in his home country, but 15 of those were spent in the MHL, a league in which he already had excelled during the 2015-16 season. His performance was fine — 15 points in 15 games — but not otherworldly. And in his 15 games spent with his KHL squad, Rubtsov could not manage even a point in very limited usage. He was quickly falling into the strange middle ground of being too good for Russian juniors, but either not ready (or not high enough in his coach’s estimation) for worthwhile minutes in the KHL, the second-best league in the world.

Everything came to a head in the World Junior Championships in late December/early January. Rubtsov did make the team (which was an impressive accomplishment considering his country’s general preference towards selecting older players), but again was not used as a key contributor. In five games, Rubtsov again did not score a point, and exited the tournament early with a broken nose. For fans getting their first glimpse of the team’s most recent first round selection, Rubtsov didn’t exactly stand out in a positive way.

However, that tournament can be viewed as the pivot point for Rubtsov’s entire 2016-17 season, even though the production wasn’t there. That’s because he never would again return to Russia once the WJC concluded.

Rubtsov had been drafted by the Chicoutimi Saguenéens of the QMJHL during the previous summer, when it still appeared possible that he would jump to North America to start the season. Even though he ended up staying in his home country, the Saguenéens retained his rights indefinitely. And in the wake of the tournament, they apparently made a big push to bring him west.

The teams and agents quickly got involved, and by January 9th, it was reported that his KHL contract had been terminated and Rubtsov was free to play in the QMJHL. His first game would come on January 19th, in which Rubtsov would finish with two assists. In many ways, that day was the true start of his Draft+1 season.

The points just kept coming. After six games, Rubtsov had nine points (three goals, six assists), and added another 11 in eight February games. Primarily playing the wing on Chicoutimi’s top line, Rubtsov looked dangerous every night, finally allowing for North American fans to see the talent that had so enticed the Flyers’ front office.

Rubtsov’s short QMJHL debut ended on April 4th, when he suffered a hand injury that forced him to sit out the postseason. Still, a performance of 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 16 games in a new league, in a new country, while adapting to new teammates midseason is undeniably impressive. Small sample size caveat attached, but his point-per-game rate of 1.375 was higher than that of fellow Canadian junior forwards Michael McLeod (1.28 PPG), Julien Gauthier (1.11 PPG) and Max Jones (1.09 PPG), all of whom were also 2016 first-rounders.

That strong finish has the hype train back rolling when it comes to German Rubtsov. Finally given a major role in an age-appropriate league that can be viewed by Flyers fans, Rubtsov more than held his own. That carried over to development camp in Voorhees, which gave fans their first direct look at the prospect. His skating ability and passing prowess were on display throughout the week, and he apparently stood out in the scrimmages as well.

So what comes next for German Rubtsov? He’s almost certainly not NHL-ready, considering his inability to carve out a role for himself last year in the KHL, a lesser league. But unlike most under-20 prospects in Canadian juniors, Rubtsov actually has multiple non-NHL options. Because he was contracted with a KHL team when drafted, he is not subject to the CHL-NHL agreement that prohibits junior players from jumping to the AHL before age-20. As a result, the Flyers could send him back to Chicoutimi, or they could assign him to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms instead, if they believe he is ready for a stiffer challenge. He’s already signed to a NHL entry-level contract (on March 2nd), so placing him in the AHL would require no additional paperwork.

However, I personally believe he would be better served spending a full season in the QMJHL. After bouncing between three leagues last season, a complete year in a major role against age-appropriate competition would be a good way to inject some normality into what has been a very unconventional development process. It would take an absolutely stellar performance in Flyers training camp to convince me that Rubtsov would be best suited for the Phantoms on what projects to be a roster stacked full of useful forwards. Unless he’ll be sliding right into a guaranteed top-six role in the AHL, I believe heavy usage in all situations in the QMJHL is the best move for the 19-year old.

At development camp, Hextall was noncommittal on the “QMJHL or AHL?” question, but he did confirm that the NHL was a serious longshot for Rubtsov in 2017-18. The 2016 first-rounder is almost certainly at least one year away from the big club, but considering his promising play in juniors last year, his stock is certainly trending upwards. It will be up to Rubtsov to continue that trajectory this year, whether it occurs in Canada or Lehigh Valley.

***

Previously on Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2017 25 Under 25:





[#] Fri Aug 18 2017 07:00:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: At least it is Friday.

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

*...but there is still nothing happening in hockey right now. Except for the 25 Under 25! That's still happening! Up next, The Gerrrrrrrmmmmmmm. [BSH]

*Paul Holmgren has some thoughts on the current state of the Flyers. He thinks it's good. Thanks for getting out of the way, Homer! [Inquirer]

*And now, a preview of the Philadelphia Flyers from the perspective of the Washington Capitals media. [CSN Mid-Atlantic]

*Hey remember our old pal Cal Heeter? He's landed himself a job in a fine organization. [Pension Plan Puppets]

*And finally, because August so yes, that's it: Kate's best photos of Travis Konecny from the 2016-17 season. [BSH]





[#] Fri Aug 18 2017 10:30:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers 25 Under 25: Carter Hart bides his time as Flyers

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The two-time reigning WHL goalie of the year will try to replicate that effort in the coming season.

How do you follow up a 2016-17 campaign where you put up a .918 SV% and win CHL Goaltender of the Year honors? Well, you put up a ridiculous .927 SV% and win WHL Goaltender of the Year for the second season in a row. It was the only logical conclusion for Carter Hart, if you think about it.

The newly-turned-19-year-old has taken Canadian juniors by storm after being drafted a season ago. As he approaches the end of his domination of teenagers, Hart will need to simply not regress after last year’s showing and prove once again he can handle a full-season workload as a starter.

No. 10: Carter Hart

Position: G
Age: 19 (8/13/1998)
Acquired Via: 2016 NHL Draft -- Round 2, Pick 48
2016-17 League/Team/Statistics: Everett (WHL) - 0.927 SV%, 1.99 GAA in 54 GP
Nationality: Canadian
Ranking in BSH Winter 2017 25 Under 25: 14

As the first goalie taken in the 2016 NHL Draft, there will always be a relatively high bar set for Hart. However, he’s met those challenges with ease thus far and has garnered national interest from guys like prospect guru Corey Pronman, who ranked him as the 3rd-best goalie prospect in the league back in January and then as the 4th-best earlier this week. This is largely unprecedented for Flyers fans who have had to deal with shattered expectations or some sort of carousel in net since the late 1980’s.

Hart signed his entry-level deal with the Flyers last October and was able to join the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last spring for their playoff run after Anthony Stolarz was sidelined with an injury (after his Everett Silvertips were eliminated in the 2nd round of their own playoffs). While he didn’t play a game, it was certainly interesting to see Hart get the nod after Alex Lyon was injured in Game 2 of the series.

Hart participated in this summer’s Flyers Development Camp. Our own Charlie O’Connor had some nice things to say about Hart:

Carter Hart was paired with Felix Sandstrom, which allowed for easy comparisons to be made between the two goalies considered to be the Flyers’ best chances at a true franchise netminder. To my eyes, Hart was more impressive. Sandstrom flashed a bit more athleticism, but that was because he was occasionally forced to do so as a result of being out of position. Hart, on the other hand, was as steady as they come.

There’s a real economy of movement to Hart’s game, as he’s set and square to the shooter very quickly, and I didn’t see him overpursue the puck once. His anticipation was also notable, as he showed a knack for reading passes immediately and being in ideal position to stop the recipient before he even corralled the puck.

If there was one critique I could make regarding Hart’s performance at camp, it’s that he did occasionally make himself small in net on rushes, giving the shooters lots of space up high to pick the corners. NHL forwards will exploit that. But on the whole, Hart was very impressive.

It’s easy to see why Carter Hart has the highest upside of all of the goalies on this list. He’s been the most dominant goalie in his league the last two seasons and has performed well in International competition. Hart’s athleticism and hockey IQ allow him to keep in position all the while being able to make seamless transitions in the crease. Though, that doesn’t mean he can’t flash a nasty glove-hand:

***

Previously on Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2017 25 Under 25:





[#] Sat Aug 19 2017 11:48:10 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers 25 Under 25: Samuel Morin hoping to grab a spot on the NHL team

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After having a cup of coffee with the Flyers in April, Morin looks to stick in NHL this fall.

Philadelphia fans have been setting sky-high expectations for Sam Morin from the moment they pieced together the young defenseman’s connection to former Flyers great Chris Pronger. But really, other than the fact he’s very big, has a bit of a mean streak, and that every young defenseman is the next Chris Pronger, what connection does Morin share with Pronger?

When the aforementioned Pronger went down in 2011, the Flyers were desperate for a number-one defenseman. After some trades and big efforts in free agency didn’t work out, the team (finally) shifted its strategy on defense towards trying to build a defense through the draft. In some ways, Morin — the team’s first-round pick in 2013 — was the O.G. of the prospect pool’s group of defensemen, as his selection was the one that really got that effort going.

No. 9: Samuel Morin

Position: D
Age: 22 (7/12/1995)
Acquired Via: 2013 NHL Draft -- Round 1, Pick 11
2016-17 League/Team/Statistics: Lehigh Valley (AHL) - 3 G, 13 A in 74 GP
Nationality: Canadian
Ranking in BSH Winter 2017 25 Under 25: 9

With training camp getting underway in about a month, Morin will look to snag one of the two open NHL positions on the Flyers’ blue line. He’ll be competing for a spot there with Robert Hagg, who (like Morin) made his NHL debut last April, and Travis Sanheim, who just completed his first full season in the AHL.

With the Phantoms last season, Morin’s most frequent on-ice partner was Sanheim, with whom he spent around 44 percent of his ice time (via prospect-stats.com), followed by Hagg, who he was with on-ice around 25 percent of the time. Morin and Sanheim’s play styles mesh well, because Morin — more of a stay-at-home defenseman — can sit back while Sanheim, a-puck mover, can take charge of the play.

At 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, Morin is a physical gift. He might as well be a tower compared to the average male height of 5-foot-6. If he was to make the NHL next season he would tied for the third-tallest defenseman in the NHL with Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak. Only Tyler Myers (6’8”) and Zdeno Chára (6’9”) are taller.

Also, he can hit. His physical style can lead to a fair number of penalties, and he has indeed compiled a lot of those — 118 and 129 minutes’ worth over his first two AHL seasons. But yes, he can hit.

Morin looks poised to grab one of the open blue line positions on the Flyers this upcoming season. Come October, expect Morin to be on the Flyers opening night roster — if he succeeds in training camp. While he may not be the “next Chris Pronger,” Morin’s ceiling looks to be that of a top-4 defenseman in the NHL. And for a team with defensive depth like the Flyers, that should be good enough.

***

Previously on Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2017 25 Under 25:





[#] Mon Aug 21 2017 07:00:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Monday Morning Fly By: There are Ron Hextall days between us and Flyers hockey

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

*The Flyers have a few pretty dang good goalie prospects but Carter Hart might just be the best of them. Let's see where he checks in on the 25 Under 25. [BSH]

*And right after Hart we've got big boy Sam Morin, who we'll hopefully see a lot of this season. [BSH]

*Jori Lehtera seems to want to prove his old team wrong for trading him; here's hoping that means he'll be a beast for us. [St. Louis Today]

*The Flyers obviously got better during this offseason, but so did most of the division. How do the enemies stack up? [Inquirer]

*Would you like to see the Flyers go after David Pastrnak? [CSN Philly]

*Prospect free agency rules are a little weird, so maybe the league ought to fix that. [Defending Big D]

*The AHL has added a 31st team, so now each NHL franchise will have its own farm on which to grow their large adult sons. [SB Nation]

*And finally, here's an NHL Alternate History that should be relevant to your interests: what if Nashville hadn't matched that Shea Weber offer sheet? [Puck Daddy]





[#] Mon Aug 21 2017 10:30:03 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers 25 Under 25: Philippe Myers primed for big season with Phantoms

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The big undrafted defenseman from the QMJHL has become one of hockey’s best defensive prospects.

I’m sure many still ask ourselves, “how exactly did Philippe Myers go undrafted?”. It’s not everyday you get a 6’5” defenseman that can skate and play like he can go completely ignored in the NHL Draft. But here we are with one of the best defensive prospects in the game (28th-best in the NHL and 8th-best among defensemen, according to ESPN’s Corey Pronman).

For a respected national pundit to rank him ahead of the likes of fellow Flyers defensive prospects Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin, that bodes pretty well for the kid. If that wasn’t enough to get you excited, Bob McKenzie said “he looks NHL ready, or close to it” earlier this year.

No. 8: Philippe Myers

Position: D
Age: 20 (1/25/1997)
Acquired Via: Signed as an undrafted free agent on September 21, 2015
2016-17 League/Team/Statistics: Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL) - 10 G, 25 A in 34 GP
Nationality: Canadian
Ranking in BSH Winter 2017 25 Under 25: 8

Myers’ 2016-17 season go off to a bit of an uneven start. He missed the beginning of Rouyn-Noranda’s season, due to his getting an extended look from the Flyers in training camp/pre-season following offseason hip surgery. From there, he would re-join his squad and put up 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist) in 6 games before suffering whiplash in a game. The injury would keep Myers out for roughly over a week.

This is particularly scary for a young player, because once you start dealing with the neck/head issues there is always the lingering thought that every next big hit might be the one to knock him out even longer. Luckily, Myers would come back strong, scoring 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists) in his next 13 games.

Myers received news shortly thereafter that he had been selected to Team Canada’s World Junior Championship preliminary roster and then predictably won a roster spot. He put up 3 points in 4 games and then suffered this brutal hit from Team USA’s captain, effectively knocking him out of the tournament and a decent chunk of the QMJHL regular season:

Myers returned in mid-February to Rouyn-Noranda and had a fairly successful season given the circumstances, scoring 17 points (2 goals, 15 assists) in his final 15 games. While he did join the Phantoms for their playoff run last spring, he didn’t get to see any action before they were eliminated in the first round.

Myers’ skill-set isn’t one that has any particularly loud tools, but rather he is extremely well-rounded. His skating is smooth (with top-end spend when he gets going), the defensive zone IQ is above-average and his presence on offense has rapidly improved beginning with his breakout season in 2015-16. Kudos to the Flyers organization for picking him up, as many have speculated that Myers would have been a 1st-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

While it wouldn’t be quite out of bounds for him to open the 2017-18 season with the Flyers, Myers will likely be ticketed for the AHL to start. With Hagg and Morin getting NHL minutes last season, he is still likely 3rd or 4th on the defensive prospect depth chart, depending on how you view Travis Sanheim. However, given his injuries this past season and that he is still only 20 years of age, playing against actual men wouldn’t be the worst thing for him.

I’m not sure it can be understated at this point, but the fact that he is a right-handed shot that can skate and play all three zones well is what makes this kid so special. So when the time comes, look for Myers to make a significant impact in the NHL.

***

Previously on Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2017 25 Under 25:





[#] Tue Aug 22 2017 07:00:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Tuesday Morning Fly By: The eclipse was cool, eh?

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

*25 Under 25 gets farther into the top ten with big Phil Myers who is DEFINITELY making the team this year. Bank it. [BSH]

*Shayne Gostisbehere is READY to crush this season and folks maybe we should start getting excited for the hockey season. [Inquirer]

*Jaromir Jagr is, unbelievably, still a free agent. Come back to us, Jaromir. [CSN Philly]

*Summer is for lists, so here's another take on who makes up the best prospects in the Flyers organization at present. [Philly Is Flyer]

*So this is pretty cool, if you ask me: Hockey Graphs, which is easily one of the best collections of hockey analytics minds on the internet, is starting a mentorship program to bring new folks into the world of hockey data. Excellent idea. [Hockey Graphs]

*Take a peak behind the paywall and learn why it is hard to make tactical adjustments in professional hockey. [The Athletic]

*And finally, what if Wayne Gretzky has ended up in Winnipeg? Would've been wild. [Puck Daddy]





[#] Tue Aug 22 2017 11:00:12 EDT from rss

Subject: The Flyers have the best prospects in hockey & and we're bragging

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Oh yeah baby we’re #1

The Flyers may not have won much on the ice this past season, but they finally do have a title they can call their own: ESPN.com's Best Prospect Pipeline. The BSH Radio crew is here to break down that list, from Nolan Patrick to Matthew Strome. The pipeline's dramatic improvement under Ron Hextall is discussed, as is the possibility that (despite the lofty overall ranking) ESPN may even be underrating some of the kids. That leads directly into a defenseman-heavy Top 25 Under 25 conversation, as all of Philippe Myers, Sam Morin, and Robert Hagg made appearances on the BSH list over the past week. The gang weighs ceiling versus certainty of contribution with regards to the blueliners, and takes a deep dive into their respective skillsets. After a brief detour into "will the Bruins trade yet another young star?" territory, the show closes out with a Calder Trophy discussion, and whether Flyers prospects are being overlooked in the 2017-18 race.

You can listen below or just about anywhere thanks to iTunes, Google Play, and Soundcloud.

Follow us on twitter @BSH_Radio so we can yell at each other about prospects.





[#] Tue Aug 22 2017 11:59:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers 25 Under 25: Oskar Lindblom

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The Flyers’ top wing prospect had a monster year in Sweden, and now has his sights set on the NHL.

It’s been a long climb back to the top for Oskar Lindblom.

In the fall of 2013, Lindblom wasn’t merely viewed as a good prospect; most scouts were talking him up as a likely first-round selection in the coming year’s NHL draft. He had excelled in all international tournaments to that point, and brought an obvious size/skill combination to the table. Entering his draft year, Lindblom may not have been a lock for the first round, but his case was looking mighty strong.

In retrospect, it’s not like Lindblom’s draft season was a total disaster. He scored 33 points in 43 games in the under-20 SuperElit league in Sweden, and continued to rack up numbers during international play. But scouts began to question Lindblom’s skating ability, and in tandem with the expectation of even more dominance than he showed that year, he tumbled down draft boards. The Flyers were the team who finally ended his slide, all the way back in the fifth round.

In the wake of the draft, Lindblom slowly rebuilt his stock, even though it went unnoticed by most on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. He had a full-time job in the SHL by age-18 and stood out in two straight U20 World Junior Championships (15 points in 14 games). But it took an eye-opening audition in Lehigh Valley at the end of the 2015-16 season to really get the attention of Flyers fans. Following that seven-points-in-eight-games run with the Phantoms, Lindblom finally turned into a true “prospect to watch” in the SHL last fall.

Not only did Oskar Lindblom not disappoint, he exceeded even the most optimistic projections. Fresh off a season in which he may have been the best overall player in the SHL at age-20, Lindblom is once again viewed as an impact prospect, just in time for a real push towards the NHL.

No. 7: Oskar Lindblom

Position: LW/RW
Age: 21 (8/15/1996)
Acquired Via: 2014 NHL Draft -- Round 5, Pick 138
2016-17 League/Team/Statistics: Brynäs (SHL) - 22 G, 25 A in 52 GP
Nationality: Swedish
Ranking in BSH Winter 2017 25 Under 25: 6

Let’s be clear — it’s not easy for young prospects like Lindblom to dominate the SHL. It’s either the third or fourth-best league in the world (depending upon your view of the AHL), and mostly filled with players in their mid-20s and beyond. They’re the ones who generally populate the League Leaders sheet.

However, Lindblom found a way to rack up 47 points in 52 games, leading his Brynas team in scoring and ranking fourth in the entire SHL. The three players ahead of him ended the 2016-17 season ages 29, 29 and 33, to give one an idea of his competition.

These weren’t empty points, either. Lindblom racked them up in all situations, finished second in the league in goals, and did all of this for a team that eventually made the SHL Final. Journalists in Sweden surely noticed; they voted Lindblom “Forward of the Year” at the conclusion of the season, putting the bow on his monster performance.

It’s not unprecedented for a forward of Lindblom’s age to score at a high-end rate in the SHL, but it is rare. Over the past ten seasons, only six SHL players in their Draft+3 season (the third season after they first gained NHL draft eligibility) have ranked in the top-ten in total points. Out of those six, just Jakob Silfverberg’s point-per-game rate of 1.10 was higher than Lindblom’s 0.90 that he posted last season.

A few key points jump out from this chart. The first is that four of these five (non-Lindblom) players range from borderline star to useful piece in terms of their NHL results so far, and the only exception is Andreas Johnsson, who simply hasn’t gotten a shot yet in a stacked Maple Leafs system. Second, Lindblom was by far the youngest of any SHL Draft+3 forward to finish in the top-10 in league scoring over the past decade. While players like Silfverberg, Johnsson, Jarnkrok and Lindberg all were about to turn 21 when their big SHL season began, Lindblom had just barely turned 20 when his kicked off. That makes his performance all the more impressive in comparison to his peers.

Does this mean that Oskar Lindblom is definitely going to be the next Viktor Arvidsson or Jakob Silfverberg? Of course not. But the fact that he compares favorably from a statistical standpoint to both does bode well, and hints at Lindblom’s best case scenario ceiling. Calle Jarnkrok and Oscar Lindberg function more as Lindblom’s floor, but both are at least useful bottom-six forwards in the best league in the world. That’s far from a terrible outcome, particularly for a player selected in the fifth round.

Of course, Flyers fans are understandably hoping for an Arvidsson or Silfverberg-esque outcome. And while that’s certainly an optimistic way to view Oskar Lindblom, I can’t say it’s implausible. Lindblom’s only major weakness on draft day was skating ability, and after three years of hard work, he’s now solidly NHL average in that regard. He’ll never be a true burner, but Lindblom is now fast enough to get to everywhere on the ice that he needs to be in order to create offense.

That’s a good thing, because it’s Lindblom’s hockey sense that truly is his best quality. He has always had a knack for pouncing on loose pucks and finding the soft spots in defensive coverages. The consistent worry during his development was that Lindblom would see the ice well enough to succeed in the NHL, but simply be too far behind the play to take advantage of that knowledge. Now, it’s no longer a major concern.

Despite his fantastic SHL season and his clear skating improvements, Lindblom should not be viewed as a truly dynamic offensive weapon. That’s not to say he won’t put up points — it just won’t necessarily be in the manner of a Travis Konecny, the last highly-touted young forward to debut for the Flyers. Rather than fly around the offensive zone and attempt to create a highlight reel goal, Lindblom is far more at home around the net or along the boards, either making himself a target for a pass to a high-danger area, or doing the dirty work to allow for such a pass to go to a teammate.

It’s skills like these that will make Lindblom such a intriguing figure at Flyers training camp in September. The team definitely lacked for size up front in 2016-17, and the problem of creating high-danger chances in the offensive zone lingered throughout the year. Combine the fact that Lindblom’s skillset seems tailor-made to help address those problems with the simple truth that he has already dominated in one of the best European professional hockey leagues, and it’s fair to expect that Lindblom will be given a real shot to make the Flyers next month.

That doesn’t mean he’s a lock, of course. Philadelphia already has eleven veteran forwards under NHL contract, and that’s not counting Nolan Patrick, Scott Laughton, Mike Vecchione and Taylor Leier, all of whom will be given legitimate shots to make the opening night roster. The Flyers won’t want Lindblom making the team just to sit in the press box as a thirteenth or fourteenth forward, so for him to break camp in Philadelphia, he’ll need to be one of the 12 best, at least.

Still, that doesn’t seem like an unattainable goal for Lindblom. He already checks the first two boxes of Ron Hextall’s A Prospect’s Guide to Making the Flyers list, leaving only “stand out in camp” and “outplay roster competition” remaining for him. If Oskar Lindblom approaches training camp the same way he did the 2016-17 season in Sweden, it’s tough to imagine him failing to complete the checklist. Then, it will just be up to Lindblom to prove that his SHL dominance can carry over to the best league in the world.

***

Previously on Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2017 25 Under 25:





[#] Tue Aug 22 2017 15:22:48 EDT from rss

Subject: The Flyers rookie game is coming back to the Wells Fargo Center in 2017

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Tickets are up for grabs today, August 22.

The Flyers have the best prospect group in the NHL, which means that the annual rookie camp that takes place just prior to the full NHL training camp this fall will be particularly lit.

And as has been the case in eight of the last 10 years, rookie camp will close this fall with a real game against rookies from another NHL squad. This year, it’ll be the Flyers hosting the New York Islanders’ rookies on Wed., Sept. 13 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Tickets and parking will both be free, but you must reserve a ticket via the Flyers website beginning at 3 p.m. today, August 22.

It’ll be a rematch of the game from a year ago, when the Flyers defeated the Islanders rookies, 4-0, in a game at the Isles’ practice facility on Long Island. The Flyers last hosted a rookie game in 2014, when they defeated the Washington Capitals rookies in Voorhees by a score of 3-0. The game has been held at the Wells Fargo Center just once, back in 2011.

No word just yet on if the game will be streamed, but since it’s in Philadelphia we’d imagine that the Flyers’ website will show it at the very least.

For a sense of what the roster might look like, here’s a peek at the Flyers lineup from last year’s game.





[#] Wed Aug 23 2017 07:00:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Wednesday Morning Fly By: LOL, Penguins fans

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

*So yesterday was finally Flyers Day over at the league's website, and they had some good stuff for us. First up, something we've been hearing about a lot lately: just how good our prospects are. [NHL.com]

*Speaking of awesome prospects, next up on our 25 Under 25 is Oska Lindblom. [BSH]

*In fact the Flyers are going to need to lean hard on the young guys if we're going to have a successful season this year. [NHL.com]

*Three questions facing the team as we head towards September. [NHL.com]

*And now, a look at the Flyers' best underlying numbers. [NHL.com]

*And if you're into fantasy hockey, here are a few Flyers to set your sights on ahead of your draft. [NHL.com]

*If you're itching for some real life Flyers hockey, you might be interested in the rookie game. [BSH]

*We've got a new episode of BSH Radio for you that focuses on, you guessed it, the prospects. Which are, in fact, the best. [BSH]

*And finally, while everyone else was having a lot of fun with Puck Daddy's NHL Alternate History series, the Penguins fans decided to use the opportunity to try to shit on the Flyers. Because of course. It's a pretty hilarious level of obsession if you think about it. [Puck Daddy]





[#] Wed Aug 23 2017 10:30:02 EDT from HL?

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers 25 Under 25: Is Travis Sanheim already done with the AHL?

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Can Sanheim, coming off of a great first professional season, sneak up on one of the older prospect defensemen and grab a spot in the NHL right now?

Heading into the night of Ron Hextall’s first draft as general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers, it seemed like something big was in the air. The Flyers might trade up to the top pick! They’re hosting the draft! It’s Ron freaking Hextall! They’re the freaking Flyers! They’ve got to do something crazy, right?

The Flyers faithful in the crowd waited through the late afternoon and up to the draft roll call with bated breath, unsure if the team’s new guy in charge would be the one to shake up the draft right at home. But they’d keep waiting as the draft got going. And ultimately, their wait would end at the 17th pick in said draft, when Hextall didn’t do anything crazy.

Instead, he calmly went up to the podium and announced the pick of Travis Sanheim, a 6’3”, 181-pound defenseman from the tiny village of Elkhorn, Manitoba. A blueliner who had just completed his first year with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, Sanheim was an unknown to a lot of the fans in attendance (and in the fanbase at large). At the time, for those who may not have been experts on prospects, how you as a Flyers fan felt about the pick probably depended on just how much you trusted Ron Hextall, who at the time was also still a relatively unknown quantity as a general manager and a drafter.

It’s been three years since that pick — Hextall’s first pick as GM of the Flyers — and in some ways, the Sanheim selection is a microcosm of how the franchise’s young talent has trended as a whole in that time. In three years and four drafts under Hextall, the Flyers have gone from having a bottom-rung prospect corps to having arguably the deepest group of prospects in the entire NHL. And of all of their talented young defensemen that have yet to make an impact at the NHL level, Sanheim — who, in his post-draft season, immediately made Hextall’s selection on that June night in Philadelphia look smart — may well be the most exciting of all of them.

No. 6: Travis Sanheim

Position: D
Age: 21 (3/29/1996)
Acquired Via: 2014 NHL Draft -- Round 1, Pick 17
2016-17 League/Team/Statistics: Lehigh Valley (AHL) - 10 G, 27 A in 76 GP
Nationality: Canadian
Ranking in BSH Winter 2017 25 Under 25: 5

At the time of his selection, Sanheim had two major claims to fame. The first was his ascendance up the draft boards during his first WHL season; after occasionally being a healthy scratch early on in his first year with Calgary, he rocketed up their depth chart (and, in turn, up the draft rankings) as his season went on. Beyond that, Sanheim was primarily known for his work with the under-18 Canadian World Junior team in 2014; there, he led Team Canada as well as all defensemen at the tournament in scoring, as he and the Canadian team picked up bronze medals.

Additionally, watching him play, it was obvious how a team could fall in love with him as a prospect. His size and speed combination is something that’s really tough to find, one that’s just so valuable in the modern NHL. Still, to that point, the sample size of success for Sanheim was small. The pick was a gamble by Hextall, and his development in the WHL over the next two years would prove to be crucial. Fortunately, Sanheim made it pretty clear that he had the makings of a great defenseman in him before long.

As Calgary’s No. 1 defenseman in 2014-15, Sanheim more than doubled his scoring pace from the previous season, ending up just under a point-a-game (15 goals, 50 assists in 67 games) while easily leading all WHL defensemen in 5-on-5 points (via prospect-stats). He was one of the last cuts on Team Canada’s under-20 World Junior team in that same season, but as an 18-year old, his being in the conversation to make that team was impressive enough in and of itself. Sanheim had more than justified the Flyers’ early selection of him in the draft.

To some Flyers fans who were still basking in the glow of both the team’s selection of Ivan Provorov in the 2015 draft and Shayne Gostisbehere’s electrifying rookie year in the NHL, Sanheim almost flew under the radar in 2015-16. But take another step forward he did, as he bested his point total from the previous season despite playing in 15 fewer games — games that he missed in large part due to an invite to that same WJC team he had just missed out on the year prior. Sanheim didn’t play a key role on that WJC team and never quite earned Canada head coach Dave Lowry’s trust, but again, his simply being on the team was a sign the Flyers had something special on their hands as Sanheim prepared to go pro the following year.

Taking the next step

After two straight years of thoroughly dominating the junior levels, 2016-17 posed a new test for Sanheim, who was sent to the Phantoms late in Flyers training camp. How would he look on a more level playing field, against professionals that he wasn’t always bigger and faster than?

Offensively, Sanheim’s game translated to the pros quite smoothly. Sanheim’s 37 points in 76 games represent a solid enough mark for any offensive defenseman, a mark that would put him in the top 30 in the AHL among defensemen — but considering his age, those numbers are all the more impressive. Here’s how Sanheim’s scoring totals stacked up to those of AHL defensemen as a whole, as well as how they stacked up to all defensemen under-22 and under-21.

(All numbers in this table via prospect-stats.com; “primary points” are goals and first assists.)

You can see Sanheim’s standing relative to the rest of the AHL is solid enough, but what’s really encouraging is that his performance only looks even more impressive when you focus in on 5-on-5 numbers. That’s a great sign for a Flyers team that has been hurting for 5-on-5 offense for a while. Additionally, on the scale of young defensemen in the league, Sanheim clearly grades out toward the top.

The questions surrounding Sanheim, as his point totals have skyrocketed, have always had to do with his defensive abilities. Is he strong enough in his own third of the ice to be more than just an offensive specialist? Sanheim’s “strength” defensively will likely always be his game in transition — watch him any time he gets the puck in the defensive zone, and you can tell that his mindset is “how can I get the puck out of here and into the other team’s zone?” — but his play off the puck remains a bit of a work in progress.

Still, even if he’s never great in terms of coverage and assignments in his team’s zone, Sanheim has the tools to at least be capable. A strong, athletic, 6’4” and 200-pound defenseman should be able to cover for himself at times. Additionally, there are reasons to believe he’s made some strides here during his first pro season, as our own Charlie O’Connor pointed out during development camp:

What will decide when [Sanheim] makes his NHL debut is his defensive play without the puck, and I’m happy to report that this was the best he’s looked in that area at a development camp. In D-zone coverage drills on Sunday, Sanheim showed solid positional awareness, and was using his frame far more effectively than he has in past years to directly challenge opposing forwards. That’s not to say he was perfect — he made mistakes, including one rep where he lost his man in front of the net, which prompted Sanheim to slam his stick against the boards in frustration. But while in past years his “good-to-bad rep” ratio in coverage drills was around 50/50, this time it was closer to 75/25. He’s clearly making progress.

And Hextall himself had some things to say about the various lessons Sanheim learned this year, as he adjusted to the AHL game and realized he couldn’t quite pull off all of the same things he could in juniors:

"He did a really good job last year from start to finish — got a lot better," [Hextall] said. "The adjustment on the first month, month and a half, where he was going too much up ice, a little bit irresponsible and all of a sudden, a month, month and a half in, figured that part out. That was a huge step for him. He got better, he got better throughout the year and he needs to continue on that."

If Sanheim can even get to “adequate” in terms of defensive zone coverage, that in and of itself should be enough for him to be a heck of a defenseman in the NHL. Not to mention, if things work out elsewhere in the system, the Flyers should have some more defensive-minded personnel that they can pair with him: Samuel Morin (Sanheim’s primary defensive partner in Lehigh Valley this year), Robert Hagg, and even Ivan Provorov are all fairly capable defensive defensemen, and any of them could work well on a pairing with Sanheim.

NHL-bound already?

With the progress he’s made so far, the only question remaining is when Sanheim will stick with the NHL team. The prevailing wisdom seems to be that, of the four young defensemen fighting for two spots on the NHL team, Morin and Hagg are the clubhouse leaders as of right now. And it’s true that with two and three AHL seasons to their respective names, one could just think it’s “their time” to get a promotion to the game’s highest level.

But there’s a reasonable case that Sanheim’s first year with the Phantoms was more impressive than any year Hagg or Morin have had with the Phantoms. It’s certainly the case offensively — neither of the Flyers’ two 2013 early-round defensemen have ever topped 20 points in an AHL season, a mark barely more than half of Sanheim’s first-year total. And while the other two are probably both a bit more refined on the defensive side of the game, neither of them is as good on the puck as Sanheim no matter what zone they’re in. The all-around package that Sanheim brings to the table may just be too much for the other two to beat out come September, and Hextall has always been adamant that the best players will play no matter who has tenure.

To that end, Sanheim has made it clear he expects to be on the NHL team this fall, since he said as much at development camp. It’ll take a great camp for him to wrest away a spot from one of Morin or Hagg (or perhaps an already-established NHL player), and we can’t know how things will work out. But even if he doesn’t make the team right out of camp, it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see him get a call-up at some point this year if he improves upon where he was in the AHL last year. Ron Hextall’s first-ever draft pick looks like he’s almost ready for the big show, and Sanheim might just turn out to be everything Hextall was hoping for when he made that pick after all.

***

Previously on Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2017 25 Under 25:





[#] Wed Aug 23 2017 12:37:58 EDT from rss

Subject: CSN Philly will officially become

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I guess “Xfinity Sports Philadelphia” rolls off the tongue poorly

In news that we’ve been discussing for at least six (!) years, CSN Philly will officially be rebranded as “NBC Sports Philadelphia” before the upcoming hockey season. The move, which will apply to the television channel, the website and also The Comcast Network, will take effect on October 2.

The 2017-18 Flyers season begins October 4.

TCN will be renamed “NBC Sports Philadelphia+” and will still carry a number of Flyers and 76ers games throughout the year. The NBC Sports rebranding is happening across the country with CSN networks. CSN Mid-Atlantic will be renamed as NBC Sports Washington, CSN New England will become NBC Sports Boston, and the same changes will happen with CSN Chicago and CSN Northwest. CSN already rebranded its two California stations last year.

In terms of the content, nothing is really expected to change. CSN Philly has already been tightly connected with NBC 10 here in the city, with the two networks sharing resources and reporting when applicable. That will continue. Programming isn’t expected to change -- at least not in the short-term. We still expect that the national NBC Sports Network will continue to pick up local NBC Sports Philadelphia broadcasts when possible as well.

It’s certainly been a year of change at CSN Philly / NBC Sports Philadelphia. Long-time Flyers reporter Tim Panaccio was let go by the network in June, in addition to various other changes in terms of their on-air talent: Sixers reporter Dei Lynam, Phillies reporter Leslie Gudel and anchor Neil Hartman have all been let go this year. This is happening in other markets as well -- just this week, Capitals reporter Jill Sorenson was let go by CSN Mid-Atlantic, for example.

As we wrote back in June:

This is happening all over sports media, particularly with companies that have a ton of overhead with expensive broadcast rights and a shifting television market driving their business. ESPN laid off their entire damn hockey department earlier this year (plus lots of others), and just this week, Fox Sports decided to cut their entire digital writing team in favor of propping up clowns like Skip Bayless and Jason Whitlock on FoxSports.com.

CSN isn’t a national broadcaster, but they still pay for broadcast rights in local markets (like Philly) across the country. It’s a similar trend. They’re losing subscribers, and thus money, and they can’t offset those losses with their digital product.

In most cases, it’s also because that digital product isn’t very good. The level of analysis of the game -- particularly hockey, which is poorly covered in even the “good” American markets -- you’ll get from a CSN or a traditional newspaper these days pales in comparison to what you can get elsewhere online. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Rebranding to NBC Sports might not mean much in reality, but it’s certainly another signal that things are in flux with the channel that broadcasts Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games.

NBC SPORTS REGIONAL NETWORKS TO ALIGN CSN & TCN PROPERTIES UNDER ‘NBC SPORTS’ BRAND

Seven Networks to Join NBC Sports Bay Area & NBC Sports California to Complete Brand Evolution on October 2

STAMFORD, Conn. – August 23, 2017 – NBC Sports Regional Networks will align the remainder of its five CSN-branded networks, as well as two TCNs, on October 2. The new names will incorporate “NBC Sports” with each of the networks’ regional designations. The announcement was made today by David Preschlack, President, NBC Sports Regional Networks and NBC Sports Group Platform and Content Strategy.

“We’re excited to complete the brand evolution of our remaining RSNs, which will now include the iconic NBC Sports name on all of our networks,” said Preschlack. “This development is a reaffirmation of our continued commitment to provide the best, most compelling local sports coverage to our fans across the country.”

The brand evolution will not impact the scheduled games, pre- and post-game shows, and other programming currently available on these networks.

CSN Chicago, CSN Northwest and CSN Philadelphia will combine “NBC Sports” with their current regional designations: NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Northwest and NBC Sports Philadelphia. TCN will transition toNBC Sports Philadelphia +, and continue to house separate material produced by NBC Sports Philadelphia.

CSN Mid-Atlantic, TCN Mid-Atlantic and CSN New England will also adopt the city names used by their primary team partners, becoming NBC Sports Washington, NBC Sports Washington + and NBC Sports Boston, respectively.

The brand progression of the NBC Sports Regional Networks, which began in April with NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California, will be complete in advance of the 2017-18 NHL and NBA regular seasons. New York-based SNY will retain its name.

In addition to new names, the NBC Sports Regional Networks will feature enhanced logos and graphics. They will continue to feature the NBC Peacock, which was first integrated into the networks’ logos in 2012, the year after the formation of NBC Sports Group.

Many NBC Sports production, programming elements and on-air talent have been incorporated on the RSNs since the Comcast-NBCUniversal acquisition in 2011, much like NBCSN and Golf Channel. In addition to the integration of the NBC Peacock in 2012, “Comcast SportsNet” changed to “CSN” in 2016. Similarly, several NBC Sports Regional Networks collaborate with NBC Owned Television Stations in their respective markets on content and other initiatives.





[#] Wed Aug 23 2017 14:20:23 EDT from rss

Subject: Broad Street Hockey's Charlie O'Connor hired by The Athletic

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We say goodbye to a dear friend, and more importantly, look forward to bigger and better things for him.

Today, the inevitable happened. After tirelessly covering the Flyers for Broad Street Hockey, Charlie O'Connor will be making the jump to The Athletic, where he will be covering our beloved team full-time.

Charlie himself announced the news earlier this morning on Twitter:

Those of you who have read my work in recent years know I tend to stick to more satirical and goofy stuff. I can say with absolute certainty that this is directly due to Charlie's work. I quickly learned that he was so good at writing about hockey that anything I could attempt would pale in comparison. So it was dick and fart jokes for me, and actual work for Charles.

Charlie joined BSH a few years ago shortly after I began writing for the site. After a few short posts, it was clear that he was destined for greater things. His ability to make dry statistical analysis interesting while not losing sight of the more nuanced aspects of the game was simply unmatched. Analytics has recently become more accepted in the hockey community, and I really think Charlie's ability to make them exciting and applicable to a broader audience played a not-insignificant role in that.

Not to keep laying it on, but Charlie truly embodies what I think the ideal of this website is — reasoned, engaging, and intelligent content from the fan's perspective. Simply no one does it better.

From his columns on BSH to his analysis and commentary on BSH Radio, Charlie has given his absolute all when covering the Flyers. I don't know how many times I can recall him staying up late or working all weekend just to make sure his work was the best it could possibly be.

And while his absence will leave an unfillable void at Broad Street Hockey, none of us could be any happier with this result. In a world where so many people seem to stumble into success, it is an absolute pleasure to see someone so talented and hard working get what they want.

I hope you'll all join me in following Charlie's future work. As he mentioned on Twitter, all of his work on this website was done while maintaining a full-time job. Now that he will be able to focus all of his time on covering the Flyers, his work will undoubtedly be even better, which is both exciting and hard to imagine given the high bar he set while writing here.

Charlie is hands down the best Flyers writer, and one of the best sports writers in general out there. Further, he is an incredibly nice and engaging guy, and a great friend.

So let's raise a glass and celebrate the success of the guy who has helped us all understand the game a little better. You deserve this, buddy, and we're all looking forward to what will undoubtedly be a long and successful career in hockey media.

To Charlie!





[#] Thu Aug 24 2017 07:00:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Thursday Morning Fly By: The end of an era

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

*In case you guys missed the big news yesterday, our own Charlie O'Connor is going to be heading up the Flyers portion of the brand new Philadelphia outpost of The Athletic. We are super sad to lose him but super super happy that he's going to be covering our favorite team full-time. Give The Athletic your money it's going to be well worth it. [BSH]

*Anyhoo, yesterday was Flyers day over at ProHockeyTalk! Poor Claude Giroux is getting dragged over there, too. [ProHockeyTalk]

*They always take a look at a player they think is on the cusp of making the NHL, and for us they chose Travis Sanheim, who really could end up a permanent fixture this season. [ProHockeyTalk]

*And just by chance, Travis Sanheim is the latest kiddo to get our 25 Under 25 treatment. [BSH]

*It's the end of another era too, as CSN Philly will become "NBC Sports Philadelphia" ahead of the hockey season. [BSH]

*And finally, this is a really fun exercise if you'd like to kill some time today: DGB constructs the best possible NHL lineup using guys who've all worn the same jersey number. [Sportsnet]





[#] Thu Aug 24 2017 10:00:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Top 10 save photos from 2016-17

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A special Flyers Frese Frame season recap gallery





[#] Thu Aug 24 2017 11:30:02 EDT from rss

Subject: Philadelphia Flyers 25 Under 25: Travis Konecny looks to build on solid rookie season

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The speedy winger made the team, caught fire early on, then slowed down as the year progressed. What did he learn in his rookie season?

While Flyers fans have now spent the better part of this decade dreaming up what their team’s blue line may look like come 2020, as the team added five strong defensive prospects between the 2012 and 2015 drafts, it took the franchise under Ron Hextall (and Paul Holmgren before him) a bit longer to really get a similarly strong group of forward prospects in place. A few years later, while the forward corps this team has waiting in the wings may not be quite as intimidating as the one it has on defense, there are plenty of potential future playmakers, snipers, netmouth guys, and grinders that the Flyers will be watching closely over the next couple of years.

Yet with due respect to Oskar Lindblom, who was drafted a year earlier, one could easily point to around 9:45 p.m. ET on the night of the 2015 NHL Draft as the time that the Flyers really got things going in their effort to bring in more quality young forwards. That’s when they traded up five spots to No. 24 and grabbed Travis Konecny, a center/winger from the OHL.

Arguably a lottery-level talent in the deepest draft of this decade (we had Konecny at No. 14 on our community board that year, and we later learned that the Flyers themselves had him at No. 11 on their board), Konecny immediately became the Flyers’ top forward prospect. And after a draft + 1 year that saw him take the kind of step forward that many observers were hoping to see in his draft year, almost the entire fanbase was asking the same question: can he make the Flyers in 2016?

Since you’re here, of course, you already know what happened next: he did. And Konecny’s rookie year had its ups and downs. The question now is this: just how good can the Ontario native be?

No. 5: Travis Konecny

Position: LW
Age: 20 (3/11/1997)
Acquired Via: 2015 NHL Draft -- Round 1, Pick 24 (Pick acquired from Tampa Bay along with a third-round pick in 2015 and Radko Gudas in exchange for Braydon Coburn on March 2, 2015)
2016-17 League/Team/Statistics: Philadelphia (NHL) - 11 G, 17 A in 70 GP
Nationality: Canadian
Ranking in BSH Winter 2017 25 Under 25: 4

Back in May, Charlie broke down Konecny’s rookie season in depth, talking us through the ebbs and flows that came with his first year in Philadelphia. Rather than spend a ton of time going through what went well and didn’t go well in Konecny’s 2016-17, I’d encourage you to take a minute and read that piece if you haven’t already (or if you have! It’s a good piece!). In the meantime, though, here are the cliffnotes from said article:

  • Relative to other 19/20-year-olds a year removed from their draft in recent years, Konecny had a solid rookie season.
  • By almost any measure — points, shots, offensive zone contribution — Konecny was one of the best players on the Flyers at 5-on-5. He was, however, pretty poor defensively, and this was the key reason why the Flyers sat him out of a few games last year.
  • Up through his injury in early February, Konecny’s performance on the season reflected that of a second-line winger. However, his performance dropped off significantly upon returning from that injury, to the point where he played like a 4th-liner in the season’s final month.
  • All in all, Konecny has shown that he’s at least a respectable middle-six forward in today’s NHL. The Flyers’ task from here is turning him into more than that.

Despite the rough finish to his rookie year, Konecny should be pretty comfortably locked into a top-9 spot this coming season. Even with his defensive struggles — ones that the team is aware of and clearly was trying to coach him out of late in the year — the Flyers recognize the offensive talent that they have in the 5’10” winger. His ability to play at either wing is also invaluable.

And the opportunities should be there for Konecny to grow offensively as well. While the obvious caveat should be stated here that rookies sometimes need some time to really get going (just ask Travis Konecny!), the potential additions of Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick to the lineup this season should add some more firepower to the team at 5-on-5, which hopefully means more players who can finish off Konecny’s impressive passes in the offensive zone. And with a bit of luck and new talent (again, Patrick comes to mind here), the second power play unit — where Konecny will likely stay, as a left-handed shot seems like the most likely option to fill Brayden Schenn’s vacated position on the top unit — will be a bit better this year as well, which could add a few more points to Konecny’s bottom-line totals.

If Konecny can stay healthy (still a fair concern, as he’s had minor injury problems throughout juniors before missing a month at the NHL level due to them), a slight step forward shouldn’t just be a hope for the Flyers; rather, it should be the expectation. It seems like he learned a lot during his rookie year, and the situation on the ice for the Flyers this year (better forward depth, more talented defensemen) should be one that’s conducive for him to have a strong sophomore season.

But at this point, just how good Konecny may be is anyone’s guess. His play in his own third of the ice remains very much a work in progress, due to a combination of below-average coverage, poor on-puck decisions in the defensive zone, and size disadvantages. The third thing there is probably never going to change, so it may just be up to the Flyers to continue to work with him to develop in his decision-making and defensive zone actions.

Without growing defensively, Konecny’s ceiling is probably that of a sheltered second-line winger — and while that’s not in the slightest a bad player to have around, you get the feeling that many around the team are hoping that he’ll develop into a true “top-6” guy, one who maybe gets second-line minutes but who you could occasionally slot into your top line without blinking.

If that development doesn’t happen, could the Flyers maybe cover Konecny’s shortcomings with some of their other personnel? Many of Konecny’s finest moments last year came alongside Sean Couturier, the most defensively responsible forward (player?) on the Flyers. That could be a duo that the team gives another crack at this year.

Or they could go all the way in the other direction, pair Konecny with one or two other young guys — if you really want to daydream, how does a Konecny - Patrick - Lindblom line sound? — and give them relatively easy minutes and see how things go. I’d think that they’d rather spread some of the youth in the lineup out and give those guys a bit more veteran cover, but it’s an option.

Whatever their plan for him is, Travis Konecny showed the Flyers and the NHL that he’s got a pretty bright future ahead of him this year. It’ll still be on him to work on the parts of his game that need refining, but the upside here is clearly still pretty high. It’s almost easy to lose track of Konecny as the other rookies and young guns filter into the lineup, but with another step forward this year, the guy that started the Flyers’ youth movement up front will once again be one of the most exciting players on the team.

***

Previously on Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2017 25 Under 25:





[#] Fri Aug 25 2017 07:00:01 EDT from rss

Subject: Friday Morning Fly By: 23 more days.

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

*This summer has flown by eh? Know what else has flown by? Our 25 Under 25 series! We're already into the top five! And coming in at that #5 spot is Travis Konecny. [BSH]

*Flyers assistant general manager Chris Pryor has some thoughts on the newest Flyers additions, as well as various and sundry other things. [CSN Philly]

*We missed the last entry on Flyers Day over at ProHockeyTalk, and it focuses on Ron Hextall's rebuild of this hockey team. [ProHockeyTalk]

*Let's take another look at how our Metro Division rivals fared this offseason. [Metro Philly]

*Should Scott Laughton finally find a permanent place on the Flyers roster? [Philly Is Flyer]

*So it turns out that hockey fans are the most satisfied fans of any major sports league in North America. Except in Philadelphia. [Puck Daddy]

*Hockey logos and jerseys and things of this nature from the '90s are amazing. [SB Nation]

*And finally, head into the weekend with the best save photos from our pal Kate Frese. [BSH]





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