Author: Ryan Dadoun

Steve Mason

It’s Philadelphia Flyers Day at PHT


Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Philadelphia Flyers.

In 2013-14, the Philadelphia Flyers endured a terrible 1-7-0 start, but they improved as the campaign went on and still managed to make the playoffs. Last season they once again struggled out of the gate (0-2-2), but this time no comeback of significance was forthcoming.

There were silver linings to be sure. Steve Mason showed that his solid 2013-14 campaign wasn’t a fluke as he posted a 2.25 GAA and .928 save percentage in 51 games. After years of goaltending headaches, the fact that the 27-year-old netminder is secured for another two seasons with a reasonable $4.1 million annual cap hit is a big plus for Philadelphia. However, the Flyers largely squandered his strong play in 2014-15 as he had the NHL’s best GAA in losing efforts (2.67) among goaltenders that were charged with at least 10 defeats.

Philadelphia was credited with just 215 goals for, which left them in 22nd place. That’s despite the fact that Jakub Voracek stepped up in 2014-15 with 22 goals and a career-high 81 points in 82 contests.

Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds were the only other Philadelphia forwards that recorded at least 50 points as Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn weren’t able to make a significant leap offensively, Vincent Lecavalier was used sparingly under coach Craig Berube, and R.J. Umberger struggled in his first season following the Scott Hartnell trade.

That all culminated in Philadelphia ending the season with a 33-31-18 record.

Off-season recap

After missing the playoffs, Flyers GM Ron Hextall fired Berube and replaced him with Dave Hakstol, who previously served as North Dakota’s bench boss. Philadelphia stayed busy in the lead up to the UFA period by inking veteran KHL defenseman Evgeni Medvedev, shipping forward Zac Rinaldo to Boston for a 2017 third-round pick, and trading Nicklas Grossmann along with Chris Pronger’s contract to Arizona in exchange for Sam Gagner.

When it came to the draft, Philadelphia realized it needed a forward, but with Ivan Provorov available for the seventh pick, Hextall couldn’t pass on the opportunity to grab the highly regarded defenseman.

The Flyers were relatively quiet during the free agent period, likely due in large part to their cap situation, but they did ink 27-year-old goaltender Michal Neuvirth to a two-year, $3.25 million deal. A veteran of 168 games, he’ll enter the season as Mason’s understudy.

Philadelphia might not be done yet though as they do have eight defensemen signed to one-way contracts, so the squad might part ways with one via the trade market. There’s also always the possibility that the Flyers will find a suitor for Lecavalier, although the fact that he has three seasons left on his contract with a $4.5 million annual cap hit makes moving him a challenge.

PHT Morning Skate: Patrick Kane’s former junior squad pulls his name from training camp team

Patrick Kane

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The OHL’s London Knights had planned to honor Patrick Kane by naming one of their four training camp groups after him, but GM Basil McRae announced that there will no longer be a Team Kane. The former Knights player is reportedly facing rape allegations. The police confirmed they are investigating an incident that allegedly occurred at Kane’s residence. (London Free Press)

Quebec City has reached the third phase of the NHL expansion process, but this still might not end up going Quebecor’s way. (Sportsnet)

Allan Muir created a hockey version of the Seven Wonders of the World. (Sports Illustrated)

With the start of training camp around the corner, what the Winnipeg Jets should do with Dustin Byfuglien is still up for debate. (Winnipeg Sun)

Wayne Simmonds is optimistic about the Philadelphia Flyers going into the 2015-16 campaign, but he feels they have to “work out our inconsistencies.” (Yahoo)

The University of Alberta’s hockey team will play against the Edmonton Oilers’ rookies, including Connor McDavid, on Sept. 16. (Edmonton Sun)

Devils won’t offer tryouts to Bernier, Gomez

Scott Gomez

Scott Gomez was signed by the New Jersey Devils after participating in training camp on a tryout basis last year and it worked out well with him scoring seven goals and 34 points in 58 contests on a team that struggled offensively. History will not repeat itself.

Devils GM Ray Shero confirmed that Gomez, who remains unsigned, won’t receive a professional tryout offer. Steve Bernier, who tied his career-high with 32 points in 67 games last season, won’t be presented with an opportunity to make the team either.

“That’s not a direction I’m looking to go at this point. I think we made a decision back before the draft to let (Bernier) go to free agency and let him go in a different direction,” Shero told NJ Advance Media. “Obviously they haven’t signed anywhere yet, but I’m sure they are working on some things themselves.

“With Scott, as I’ve said before, it really wasn’t so much about him but more us going in a different direction.”

After finishing in the bottom-five of scoring for three consecutive seasons, Shero wants to focus on giving younger players an opportunity. He’s also moved the team’s rebuild forward by selecting Pavel Zacha with the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Shero hasn’t ruled out the possibility of offering tryouts to other players, but it seems the march forward hasn’t left any room for Gomez or Bernier’s return.

Alfredsson, Lidstrom, Sundin join Sweden’s World Cup advisory board

Sweden v Finland

Nicklas Lidstrom, Daniel Alfredsson, and Mats Sundin played for Sweden in the 1996 and 2004 World Cups. Now that the event is returning for 2016, they will also be back; only this time it won’t be as players.

All three have been selected to join Sweden’s advisory board, per They represent the three highest scoring Swedish-born players in NHL history. They also all served as a team captain in the NHL and led their nation to an Olympic gold in 2006. In the process, Lidstrom became a member of the Triple Gold club as he’s earned a gold medal in the World Championship (1991) and has won the Stanley Cup four times.

In addition to naming those three hockey greats to advisory roles, Rikard Gronborg was also selected as the bench boss. Gronborg was an assistant coach with Sweden during the 2014 Winter Olympics.

“It is with a great deal of pride and humility that I accept this fantastic coaching opportunity within Swedish ice hockey,” Gronborg said. “Since I grew up during the Canada Cup era back in the 70’s and 80’s, when, for the first time in modern history, the greatest players in the world represented their respective nations. Therefore this will be a great honor for me personally to coach Sweden at the World Cup. I am also looking forward to work with some of the best and most respected hockey personalities that Sweden has to offer.”

Johan Garpenlov and Peter Popovic are the team’s assistant coaches for the World Cup.

Vancouver inks journeyman Adam Cracknell

Adam Cracknell

The Vancouver Canucks added some depth up front by inking forward Adam Cracknell to a one-year, two-way contract, according to TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie. The deal is reportedly worth $575,000 annually at the NHL level.

Cracknell, 30, wasn’t selected until the ninth round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and he’s had to claw his way up the ranks from there. The Calgary Flames were the team that originally possessed his rights, but after opting against presenting him with a qualifying offer in 2009, he joined the St. Louis Blues and made his NHL debut on Dec. 15, 2010. Since then he’s bounced between the minors and the NHL.

Going into the 2015-16 campaign, he has six goals and 17 points in 82 career games with St. Louis and Columbus. He had an assist in 17 contests last season.

He also recorded 10 goals and 20 points in 40 AHL games with the Springfield Falcons and Chicago Wolves in 2014-15.