With the Flyers going from finishing second in the Metropolitan Division a year ago (and then finishing first in the seeding games) to missing the playoffs this year, some wondered if head coach Alain Vigneault’s job may be in jeopardy. GM Chuck Fletcher put an end to that speculation, telling Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic (subscription link) that the veteran bench boss and his staff will be back behind the bench for Philadelphia next season. One element that Vigneault and his coaches will have to clean up is their defense as they went from being in the top ten in goals allowed a year ago to dead last this season as no team allowed more goals than the Flyers which, coupled with a mid-tier attack, made for a tough year on the ice.
When Nolan Patrick was drafted second overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2017, a lot was expected of the former WHL phenom. Patrick got off to a solid, if unspectacular start to his pro career, logging 61 points in 145 games through his first two seasons. However, Patrick missed the entire 2019-20 season due to migraines suffered as a result of multiple concussions. Patrick returned to action this season and was fortunately able to play in 52 of the Flyers’ 56 games, but his production fell off immensely to just nine points and he posted a team-worst -30 rating. Entering another off-season in which he will be a restricted free agent, there is some uncertainty about Patrick’s future.
Unsurprisingly, Patrick is looking to make a change. Before that can happen on the ice, it will come with his representation. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports that Patrick has switched agencies. His third agent in three years is now Rich Evans of Point West, who will be tasked with trying to earn Patrick a raise on his current underwhelming deal. The top pick initially signed an entry-level deal worth up to $3.575MM in bonuses, but after missing last season he was forced to settle for a one-year, $874K pact as an RFA last summer. Even though his performance this season was far below expectations, Patrick hopes that his ability to stay on the ice will lead to some sort of bump in pay.
Perhaps more of a surprise is that Seravalli also reports that Patrick and his new agent will also re-evaluate his fit in Philadelphia. Seravalli believes that Patrick’s camp may be looking for a fresh start elsewhere. His stock has fallen so far since the Flyers’ used their highest pick since James van Riemsdyk a decade earlier that Patrick may be looking to escape that negative spotlight for a team who would appreciate his arrival.
Of course, the Flyers have only ever stated that they continue to support Patrick and can still see his immense future potential. Seravalli believes that the team would like to see how Patrick fares next season with a fully healthy off-season and a fresh start at training camp. However, if contract negotiations go south or Patrick asks for a trade, the Flyers may have no choice but to move on. The NHL Expansion Draft could also play a role, as Patrick needs to be protected from the Seattle Kraken, but in Philadelphia’s deep forward corps that involves exposing another valuable player. If Patrick isn’t part of their future, the Flyers could go in another direction at the draft. There is still a lot to be determined this summer about the next steps for Patrick and his team, a storyline that could be intriguing in a unique and fast-paced off-season.
May 7: York has been elevated from the taxi squad to the active roster as expected. He will wear No. 45 and make his NHL debut this evening.
May 6: The Philadelphia Flyers may not have much to play for over the last few days, but don’t tell Cam York that. The 20-year-old defenseman has been recalled to the taxi squad and is expected to make his NHL debut on Friday against the Washington Capitals. The team recalled goaltender Felix Sandstrom to the taxi squad as well, meaning another NHL debut could be in the works.
York was the 14th overall pick in 2019 and is coming off an outstanding season with the University of Michigan, where he tallied 20 points in 24 games. There was no slowing him down in the AHL, where he immediately found success with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, scoring five points in six games and earning the call-up. There is a lot to be excited about when it comes to York, who will quarterback the second powerplay unit on Friday as well.
An offensive threat every time he touches the puck, York will still need some time before he becomes a top option for the Flyers. Still, he’ll get a chance to dip his toe into the NHL waters here with an eye on cracking the roster out of 2021-22 training camp. With Shayne Gostisbehere suspended for his hit the other night, there is lots of opportunity for York to show what he can do over the last few games.
Sandstrom meanwhile is an interesting prospect in his own right, selected 70th overall in 2015. The Swedish goaltender played in the SHL through the 2018-19 season and spent last year in the ECHL acclimating to the North American game. This year, in nine appearances for Lehigh Valley, he has an .897 save percentage and 3.45 goals-against average. Now 24, Sandstrom is a restricted free agent this summer.
The Department of Player Safety has issued a two-game suspension to Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere for his boarding of Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Mark Friedman at the end of last night’s game. As the accompanying video explains:
It is important to note that this is not a defensive play in which Gostisbehere is attempting to reach the puck carrier to prevent the goal from being scored. It is only after the empty net goal was apparent that Gostisbehere adjusts his skating path, takes a hard stride to reach Friedman and begins to initiate this contact. It is significantly after the puck enters the net, well past the time where Friedman should reasonably expect and prepare for contact that the shove is delivered.
The league notes the shove was at a dangerous distance from the boards and though acknowledged that Gostisbehere has not been fined or suspended in his 380-game career, decided to issue the two-game ban.
Gostisbehere will now miss two of the remaining three games in the season. The Flyers will not be making the playoffs after a disappointing year and will now need to find another body to insert into the lineup down the stretch.
The Philadelphia Flyers have inked a pair of prospects, signing Elliot Desnoyers and Olle Lycksell to entry-level contracts. Both deals will start in the 2021-22 season, though Desnoyers’ contract could slide depending on where he spends next season. Flyers AGM Brent Flahr released statements on both players:
Elliot Desnoyers had a productive year in Halifax and played a strong, two-way game with lots of passion. As he matures physically and gets stronger, his game should continue to grow.
Olle Lycksell has continued to grow his overall game since being drafted in 2017. It’s taken some time for him to mature physically but he’s worked hard on his body and overall game. He had a strong second half for Farjestad and we look for him to continue to grow his game.
Desnoyers, 19, broke out offensively this season for the Halifax Mooseheads, scoring 21 goals and 49 points in just 37 games. The 2020 fifth-round pick hadn’t broken the 35-point mark in either of his first two QMJHL seasons, both spent with the Moncton Wildcats. After that strong development, it makes sense that the Flyers would sign him to an entry-level deal, especially given the fact that the deal could still slide forward. Should Desnoyers play in the QMJHL again next season (he will not be eligible to start the year in the AHL), his contract won’t kick in until 2022-23.
Lyckell meanwhile is a much different prospect, who will turn 22 over the summer and has already completed parts of four professional seasons in the SHL. He scored 21 points in 46 games this season for Farjestads BK and could be a fast mover up the Philadelphia depth chart. Selected in the sixth round in 2017 before he had ever played a game at the SHL level, his draft rights would have expired on June 1 had the Flyers not signed him.
The Department of Player Safety took a lot of heat for their decision to not suspend Tom Wilson yesterday, but that won’t stop them from moving forward with other supplementary discipline. The league has announced that Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere will have a hearing today for his hit on Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Mark Friedman last night.
The incident occurred with a few minutes left in the game just as Friedman slid home an empty-net goal. The Penguins player turned away from the net, and Gostisbehere delivered a cross-check that sent Friedman sliding into the boards at a high speed. A scrum ensued, and it looks like Gostisbehere will earn more than just the two-minute minor he was assessed on the play.
Obviously, any decision the DoPS makes today will be scrutinized even more than normal, but the two incidents don’t have anything to do with each other. In the eyes of the league, this was a dangerous play by Gostisbehere that is deserving of a harsh penalty. The Flyers have three games remaining on the schedule.
The Flyers have come to an agreement with one of their prospects as CapFriendly reports (Twitter link) that they have signed forward Olle Lycksell to a two-year, entry-level deal. The contract begins next season and carries an AAV (including performance bonuses) of $875K.
The 21-year-old was a sixth-round pick (168th overall) of the Flyers back in 2017 which meant that the clock was ticking on getting him signed as Philadelphia would have lost his rights had he not signed by June 1st. Lycksell spent last season with Farjestad of the SHL after playing in Linkoping’s system from their junior team all the way to their SHL squad. The change of scenery didn’t result in a significant uptick in production as he put up 21 points for the second straight season although he was able to do it in five fewer games this season (46 games compared to 51 in 2019-20) while his playing time actually dipped slightly from 13:52 per game down to 13:10.
It’s worth noting that Lycksell has another year left on his deal with Farjestad. As some other teams have done with their international prospects lately, Philadelphia could loan him back there for next season to give him more time developing at home. At this stage of his development, Lycksell is likely a few years away from being NHL-ready but clearly, he has shown enough so far for the Flyers to want to keep him as part of their organization for a little while longer.
- Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere is expected to return to practice on Friday and could be available to return as soon as Saturday, notes Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. He has missed two straight games (including tonight’s contest) with a sprained knee. After a rough first half of the season, he quietly has 11 points in his last 21 games.
The Philadelphia Flyers have just seven games left, but Carter Hart won’t be playing in any of them. The team announced today that Hart has been ruled out for the rest of the regular season with an MCL sprain in his left knee.
It’s a fitting end for an extremely disappointing season, in which Hart saw his numbers plummet across the board. The 22-year-old netminder posted a 9-11-5 record in 27 appearances, registering just an .877 save percentage and 3.67 goals-against average. Those numbers aren’t good enough for an NHL backup, let alone one of the most exciting up-and-coming goaltenders in the league that was supposed to challenge for the Vezina Trophy in short order.
The young netminder will have to find a way to put this season behind him and get his career back on track, but this injury certainly won’t help. There was a good chance that even with his struggles he could have been on Team Canada at the upcoming IIHF World Championship. Canada’s goaltending for the 2022 Olympics (assuming NHL players attend) is far from set, with names like Carey Price and Jordan Binnington dealing with their own struggles.
Perhaps more importantly, this poor season could have an effect on Hart’s contract negotiations this summer. The young goaltender is a restricted free agent for the first time and will not have arbitration rights. It was assumed that he would be locked up long-term at the first chance Philadelphia had, but most players wouldn’t want to ink a multi-year deal coming off such a poor season. It will be interesting to see if the two sides go for a bridge contract instead, allowing Hart to get his game back on track while also leaving enough cap space to bring in (or back) a proven veteran.
Currently, the Flyers have just a single goaltender—22-year-old Kirill Ustimenko who underwent major hip surgery in December—under contract for the 2021-22 season.
After four seasons dominating the competition at Ohio State University, Tanner Laczynski has certainly had an interesting first year of professional hockey. The 23-year-old forward scored ten points in 14 games for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and earned himself a chance in the Philadelphia Flyers lineup. In five NHL games he failed to record a point though and he’ll have to wait a long time for his next opportunity. The Flyers announced today that Laczynski has undergone successful surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip and will be out for the next 16 weeks.
Laczynski was a sixth-round pick in 2016, so even just making it to the NHL wasn’t guaranteed. But after a point-per-game career at Ohio State, he signed his entry-level deal with the Flyers last spring and quickly shot up the depth chart. With the Flyers now nine points out of a playoff spot there figured to be even. more playing time for young forwards trying to make their mark, but Laczynski will now face a long difficult rehab instead.
The first season of his entry-level contract will come to an end without a single point and given his age, the deal was limited to just two seasons. That means the 2021-22 season is imperative for Laczynski if he wants to go into salary arbitration with any leverage. With a four-month recovery timeline, he is expected to be ready to compete at training camp.