Flyers News & Rumors: Hodgson, Allison, Injuries, Training Camp

The Philadelphia Flyers locked up the last of their restricted free agents (RFAs) in the past week by signing Wade Allison, Linus Högberg, and Hayden Hodgson. However, their biggest step toward the future came through an attempt to address the rampant injury concerns the organization has faced in prospect development and at the NHL level in recent seasons. Plus, preseason is right around the corner in a Friday edition of Flyers New & Rumors.

Allison, Högberg, Hodgson

General manager Chuck Fletcher spoke on July 13 about the attempt to stabilize in 2022-23 after a disastrous stretch of two seasons in 2020-21 and 2021-22. He put an emphasis on the development of younger players at the NHL level.

“Up front, we have a lot of young players. We have to see if they can play. We have a lot of young players that require waivers at some point, players like Morgan Frost and Owen Tippet, and Allison, (Tanner) Laczynski, Hodgson, and (Isaac) Ratcliffe. These kids need a chance to play. They need a chance to earn a spot. As an organization, we need to see where they’re at, so you know what we have going forward.”

Wade Allison Philadelphia Flyers
Wade Allison, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Flyers backed his statement by signing all six of the respective RFAs, culminating in the past week. Allison, the highest-rated prospect of the final three signings, agreed to a two-year, two-way/one-way deal worth an average annual value (AAV) of $785,000. He made a strong showing with four goals and three assists in 14 NHL games in 2020-21. His energy became a bright spot down the stretch for a sluggish team waning away from playoff contention.

His aggressive style has unfortunately lent itself to injuries during his development with the big club and at the NCAA and American Hockey League (AHL) levels. He missed significant stretches of 2021-22 with a high-ankle sprain suffered during a rookie game last September and a sprained MCL suffered in his only NHL game last season. He played 28 games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Högberg signed a one-year, two-way contract worth $750,000. The Swedish defenseman played 26 AHL games with the Phantoms last season. He will turn 24 on Sunday, and he should expect to contribute as a depth piece within the organization with only five career NHL games under his belt.

Hodgson is a sleeper to earn playing time with the Flyers in 2022-23 if he makes a strong impression in camp. The 26-year-old has battled his way through the ranks during stints with six ECHL teams and two AHL teams. Charlie O’Connor spoke on the Broad Street Hockey podcast about how the emergence of Tanner Jeannot with the Nashville Predators last season could factor into Philadelphia’s willingness to take a chance on Hodgson.

Jeannot scored 24 goals in 81 games in 2021-22, and his physical presence and his willingness to drop the gloves turned some heads for the playoff-bound Predators. Hodgson’s last shot to carve out a role in the NHL will come within an organization placing a heavy emphasis on becoming “harder to play against” and returning to its successful roots after a hard fall from grace over the past decade.

McKeown Hired in Newly-Created Position

The Flyers announced the hiring of Ian McKeown in their newly-created Vice President of Athlete’s Performance and Wellness position. According to the team’s official press release, McKeown will implement and oversee training, sports medicine, rehabilitation, sports psychology, sports science, nutrition, and more.

Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher
Philadelphia Flyers General Manager Chuck Fletcher (Jose F. Morena/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Fletcher spoke during his exit interview after the season about the need to address practices within the organization that could’ve potentially contributed to the barrage of injuries suffered last season.

“I am going to sit down with our doctors, strength staff, and strength and conditioning coach in the next couple weeks. Just a lot of questions: what we do well, not doing well, is there something we need to do more of, and things we can do from an injury prevention standpoint. We are going to look at our entire structure in terms of our medical side, analytics, amateur scouting, pro scouting. We are certainly going to look into ways we can invest and improve that entire area. Questions have already been asked. We will get together and dig down. See what is preventable, what is bad luck, and where do we need to add.”

Related: Flyers Already Face Injury Obstacles in Hopes for New Era

The Flyers finished third in the NHL in man games lost in 2021-22. They were third from the bottom of the league in Cap Hit Injured Players (CHIP), which measures the impact of injuries by measuring the net difference in total AAV of players injured or out of the lineup because of illness between the two opponents in each NHL game.

Since the offseason began, Joe Farabee and prospect Bobby Brink have both suffered injuries that will postpone their debuts in 2022-23. Bad news on the injury front has also come down about defenseman Ryan Ellis. Flyers governor Dave Scott called injuries “the number one challenge” the organization faced as they slipped out of the Eastern Conference playoff race last season.

Training Camp Dates

The dead of summer is nearing its end. Veterans Scott Laughton and Cam Atkinson have already hit the ice in Vorhees, and Farabee has begun rehab activities at the team facilities. Bill Meltzer broke down the presumed structure of training camp and preseason leading up to the regular-season opener against the New Jersey Devils at the Well Fargo Center on Oct. 13. Rookies will report to the Flyers Training Center on Sept. 14 with two rookie games against the New York Rangers rookies at the PPL Center in Lehigh Valley set for Sept. 16 and 17.

John Tortorella
John Tortorella (James Guillory-US PRESSWIRE)

The official reporting date for NHL camp is Sept. 21, and the first of six preseason games will take place against the Boston Bruins at the Well Fargo Center on Saturday, Sept. 24. Fans eagerly await the start of the John Tortorella era with a long climb ahead towards Stanley Cup contention.

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