The Philadelphia Flyers avoided salary arbitration with fan-favorite forward Zack MacEwen after agreeing to a new one-year, $925,000 contract last Tuesday. After being claimed off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks last October, the 26-year-old winger quickly made a name for himself in the City of Brotherly Love. Known more for his physical game, the once undrafted forward provided the energy and passion that the Flyers’ lineup was missing in years prior. Coming into last season, he fully understood what his role with the organization was as soon as he was claimed.
“My game is hard-working, physical, direct,” MacEwen said. “I like to be predictable in my game but play with energy and just try to play as hard as I can.”
As difficult as last season was for the team, it was nice to have a guy in the lineup that gave it his all regardless of the outcome each night. In a career-high 75 games played, he finished last season with three goals, six assists, and a minus-15 rating. He also collected 12 fighting majors and 159 hits over the course of the season. For those reasons, general manager Chuck Fletcher and the rest of the organization felt his passion for the game was invaluable and that he deserved another shot with the team in 2022-23.
MacEwen’s Role Next Season
Without a doubt, next season is going to be an uphill battle right from the start for the Flyers’ organization. Players like MacEwen are not going to score 20 goals a season, but are valuable to the lineup in more ways than one. For a player that will spend the majority of his time on the fourth line, he is going to be that guy who is difficult to play against every single night. Similar in playing style to newly signed forward, Nic Deslauriers, the Flyers are going to have one of the most physical fourth lines in the NHL next season.
In addition to the physical wingers, the team has plenty of options to slot into the fourth line. Players such as Patrick Brown, Tanner Laczynski, Wade Allison, and Hayden Hodgson are all going to be given an opportunity to battle for time on the fourth line or will spend time in the American Hockey League with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
For next season, MacEwen’s role with the team is not going to change much other than maybe contributing a bit more offensively. If he is able to score close to 10 goals and add another 10-15 assists, the one-year deal will be worth more than anyone expected. Obviously, he will continue to play the game with his physical nature, but a nice little jump in offensive production will be nice as well.
Regardless of how much MacEwen contributes offensively, he is certainly going to be an entertaining player to watch next season. The energy and passion he provides on the ice is a huge reason he quickly became a fan favorite after just one season with the orange and black.
MacEwen’s Relationship with the Fans
Flyers fans can be among the most difficult to deal with across the entire NHL, but that is truly what makes them some of the best. Similar to MacEwen’s energy and passion, the fans of the orange and black have an incredible way of showing their appreciation for the guys they are passionate about. Some nights are more difficult than others, but that does not stop them from supporting their favorite hockey team every single night. He learned to feed off the energy and support the fans gave as soon as he stepped onto the ice as a member of the organization.
“It means a lot,” MacEwen said at his end-of-the-season press conference. “I really felt the love and support from the fans here all season. For me, coming here from Vancouver, not really knowing what to expect and to be welcomed in that manner, that’s something I don’t take lightly. I couldn’t be more appreciative of the fans here.”
“After the first one here in this building, I kind of felt the energy from the crowd and I couldn’t really help myself a couple of times,” he said. “I think it gets some people fired up, it gets me fired up. I love it, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s a great adrenaline rush. I know these fans love a good fight and that kind of stuff. I am more than happy to feed into it and have a good time with the fans because I’m having fun out there.”
Fans have always loved players that put their bodies on the line and MacEwen is no exception to that. He might not be everything the team is searching for in order to fix its offensive problems, but he is certainly going to bring high energy and a physical presence. Regardless of how low the team falls in the standings, at least they will have a guy in the room that’s willing to lay it all on the line every single night.
Bobby Bader Jr. is a freelance journalist born and raised in Philadelphia, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers since the start of the 2020-21 National Hockey League Season. He currently works with the Hershey Cubs Hockey Club (USPHL Premier) as the team’s media coordinator and serves as the Assistant Sports Information Director at Penn State Harrisburg. For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Bobby on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo in articles like this one.