Tag: Wayne Simmonds

Dave Hakstol

Poll: Are the Flyers better off losing (a lot)?


When you ponder the Philadelphia Flyers’ roster, it doesn’t immediately scream “hopeless.”

That’s especially true if you scroll down starting with the forwards; the one-two punch of Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek is complemented by the unusual power play + power forward work of Wayne Simmonds as well some other nice pieces. Combine that group with redemptive goalie Steve Mason and one can understand the optimism.

The glass gets closer to half-empty as you scan that blueline.

Mark Streit is probably the brightest light in that group, and he’s 37. Things get pretty dicey from there, and GM Ron Hextall’s hands were tied with a clogged cap situation.

Could this roster churn out a wild card berth? One would think it’s a possibility, so we’ll start with that poll:

Feel free to disagree in the comments, yet as plausible as a postseason bid might be, it’s tough to imagine the Flyers contending with that bumbling blueline.

Flyers owner Ed Snider won’t like this, but it could be best to swallow a bitter pill of defeat in 2015-16 and gear up for better days.

You never want to throw away peak years for the likes of Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. That said, they’re young enough (Giroux is 27 and Voracek is 26) that they could still be elite producers when the smoke may start to clear in a year or two.

Between Luke Schenn and Sam Gagner alone, the Flyers will see $6.8 million in cap space dissolve in the summer of 2016 alone. They’ll also be free of R.J. Umberger’s $4.6 million mark after 2016-17.

(Vincent Lecavalier’s $4.5 million cap hit taunts them through 2017-18, though. Hey, you can’t win them all.)

Beyond gaining financial breathing room, Hextall collected nine draft picks in 2015, 2016 and 2017, so the farm system could be impressive down the road. Naturally, that would only be more apparent if the Flyers end up with a premium pick in 2016.

So, long story short: should the Flyers go into tank mode next season?

It’s Philadelphia Flyers Day at PHT

Steve Mason

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)

Flyers felt Timonen’s leadership was sorely missed

Chicago Blackhawks v Philadelphia Flyers

When the Philadelphia Flyers found out that defenseman Kimmo Timonen might not be able to play in 2014-15 because of blood clots, they lost a great defenseman. However, listening to the Flyers reflect on their failed 2014-15 campaign, it sounds like they missed his off-ice presence even more.

“Kimmo was such a big presence in the locker room leadership-wise,” Flyers leading scorer Jakub Voracek said, per CSN Philly. “Since I have been here, every time things didn’t go well, we had a meeting about it.

“He always calmed things down. He was hard on us sometimes. As a team, we need to get better and I think that is what we were missing.”

Timonen’s calming influence was noticed by forward Wayne Simmonds too. Defenseman Mark Streit noted that Timonen didn’t speak a lot, but when he did it had an impact on the team.

“Everybody listened up,” Streit said. “You can’t replace a guy like that.”

Whether it was possible to replace Timonen’s presence or not, they didn’t. Flyers coach Craig Berube admitted that they didn’t have a voice like Timonen’s this season.

“And again, it’s leadership, whether it is one voice or a number of voices,” Berube said. “We need more of it.”

Perhaps the Flyers will seek that sort of veteran presence on the free agent or trade market over the summer. Maybe captain Claude Giroux will grow into that role. Flyers goaltender Steve Mason has an interest in filling the void, although Berube doesn’t think that’s the role of a starting goaltender given how demanding it is to play between the pipe. He’d rather see those extra locker room responsibilities be assumed by a skater.

Of course, Timonen did end up returning, but Philadelphia decided to trade him to Chicago rather than keep him around for its long-shot battle for a playoff spot. He played in 16 regular season contests this season, all with the Blackhawks.


Timonen should be ready for playoffs

Video: Berube defends how he’s deployed Lecavalier

Craig Berube

Craig Berube doesn’t think “it’s an effort thing” with Vincent Lecavalier; the Flyers’ head coach just doesn’t believe the 34-year-old is well-suited to playing center in Philadelphia’s system.

Because playing that role requires a lot of effort, you see.

“In the middle of the ice in our system, it’s a lot of work,” Berube said. “You have to skate and get back and play both ends of the ice.”

Possible translation: Lecavalier’s trying. He just can’t do it like he used to. 

Saturday versus San Jose, Lecavalier will play the right side of a line centered by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, with Chris VandeVelde on the left side.

And after being a healthy scratch for three straight games, all it took for him to get back into the lineup was for Wayne Simmonds to break a leg.


Is Lecavalier offering to retire early to facilitate trade out of Philly?

Much to his relief, Lecavalier will start season at center