The Philadelphia Flyers could use some positive energy one month ahead of their first preseason game. General manager (GM) Chuck Fletcher and other prominent members of the organization have taken on heavy criticism this summer after a series of head-scratching decisions. It’s no surprise they received the lowest confidence rating of any NHL front office in a poll conducted Dom Luszczyszyn (from The Athletic, NHL front-office confidence rankings: How fans feel about every team, 8/18/22). However, considering a prospect defenseman got a comparison to Kimmo Timonen and local broadcasters sang the team’s praises at a major local event, the Flyers have had worse weeks this offseason.
Ellis Injury Update
The bad news didn’t come unexpectedly. Head coach John Tortorella revealed to Adam Kimelman what everyone already knew. He doesn’t expect Ryan Ellis in the lineup when the Flyers open the regular season against the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 13.
“I’ve had several conversations with Ryan Ellis as far as how he’s doing. That’s been an up-and-down process for him. He’s doing everything he possibly can to get ready for camp, [but] I’m doubtful that’s going to happen,” Tortorella said.
Ellis played just four games last season because of a lingering, “multilayered” injury in the pelvic area. He has five more seasons left on his current contract with a $6.25 million annual cap hit. While the Flyers could utilize long-term injured reserve (LTIR) if the former Nashville Predator experiences a similar situation to his 2021-22 season, the strategy isn’t ideal for long-term salary cap management.
Newcomer Tony DeAngelo will likely play on the right side of the top defensive pairing in the absence of Ellis. He played on the top pair alongside Jaccob Slavin for long portions of the 2021-22 season with the Carolina Hurricanes, but he might have to take on a bigger challenge without one of the top shutdown defensemen in the NHL in 2022-23.
Andrae, World Juniors
Flyers prospects Tyson Foerster and Elliot Desnoyers helped Team Canada earn the gold medal at the World Junior Championship on Saturday night. Anaheim Ducks prospect and team captain Mason McTavish made a legendary play to keep Team Finland from scoring the game-winner in overtime just minutes before Canada responded with the clincher.
Defenseman Emil Andrae, Philadelphia’s second-round pick in 2020, stood out most of the four members of the Flyers organization who played in the tournament. He finished with four goals and four assists in seven games for Team Sweden, the bronze medal winners. Latvian head coach Karlis Zirnis lauded his opponent’s deception and confidence on the blue line in an interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. He even compared Andrae to one of the best defensemen in Flyers franchise history.
“If I have to compare to anybody in the NHL, I would say Kimmo Timonen, also played for the Flyers. That would be my comparison. Good with the hands, can see the ice very well, but not afraid to play the physical game.”
Radio Announcers Talking Up the Flyers
Flyers radio broadcasters Tim Saunders and Steve Coates joined Anthony Gargano on 97.5 The Fanatic on Tuesday for a short segment at the station’s annual golf outing in Mount Laurel, NJ. Regardless of whether fans and listeners agreed or disagreed with their attitude, their positivity refreshingly differed from the pessimistic outlook that has dominated the conversation this summer. Saunders defended Fletcher’s hesitancy to attach a future first-round pick to move James van Riemsdyk to clear salary cap space to acquire Johnny Gaudreau.
“Sometimes the harder move is to not make a move,” Saunders stated proudly.
Coates spoke optimistically about players who missed significant time with injuries in 2021-22 coming back healthy and making a positive impact under an established, successful head coach like Tortorella. He surprisingly talked up offseason additions that most pundits aren’t expecting much from
“(Nicolas) Deslauriers brings toughness, something we haven’t had here. That’s our brand. That’s what we were built on, and we brought it back. So, he, along with (Zack) MacEwen, will probably be on the fourth line,” he told Gargano.
Coates also called DeAngelo a “dynamic player” who will instantly help last season’s league-worst power-play unit. Even if an overwhelming majority of Flyers fans can’t reasonably share the optimism, they should know that some of the organization’s employees are entering the 2022-23 season with a competitive spirit.
Allison, Phantoms Signings
The Flyers have steadily locked up their young restricted free agents throughout the past few weeks, but Wade Allison remains without a contract. Bill Meltzer wrote on Tuesday that the holdup is “simply a matter of term” and that the 24-year-old right winger expects to begin training camp under contract regardless of whether his new deal spans one or two seasons.
Meltzer also provided great insight into four depth moves made mainly to benefit the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the American Hockey League (AHL) level next season. The organization agreed to terms with Jordie Bellerive, a bottom-sixer previously with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Kevin Hayes’ cousin Ryan Fitzgerald, veteran goaltender Pat Nagle, and depth winger Alex Kile. None of the four players are likely to make an impact at the NHL level in 2022-23.
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Colin Newby is a freelance journalist from Delaware County, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers. He is an encyclopedia of useless sports knowledge with an uncanny ability to rattle off Flyers goaltending stats from 2004 and every Stanley Cup winner during his lifetime. The depths of his knowledge stem from spending his entire life following the Flyers and the NHL, from fan favorites like the “Legion of Doom” and Claude Giroux to forgotten journeymen like Andy Delmore and Branko Radivojevič. He joined the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) in 2022.
Colin also covers the Philadelphia Eagles and works for 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.