Philadelphia Flyers Training Camp Primer


I know, I know…everybody is jacked up about the possibility of Sam Bradford packaging Chip Kelly’s lightning in a bottle and marching the Philadelphia Eagles back to the playoffs. But before you know it, the weather will cool off, leaves will fall and another upstart coaching mind will get his shot to prove his worth at the game’s highest level.

That’s right, I’m talking about Flyers rookie bench boss, Dave Hakstol.

The organization is set to open up its first training camp under the acclaimed head coach from North Dakota on September 17 — and there’s reason to be intrigued by what another college mind can bring to the table.


Youth should work for the 11-year collegiate coaching veteran — he’s used to shuffling through a new roster of mostly 19-25-year-olds on a yearly basis.  Hakstol found success to the tune of a 289-141-43 record during his time in Grand Forks.

In Philadelphia, Hakstol takes over a talented, yet top-heavy crop of young forwards.  In fact, the oldest Flyers forward to graze the team’s top seven in scoring was 29-year-old Matt Read.  Youth shouldn’t be a problem up front.  This team is set up to have the same core set of forwards for many years to come.

Locked up to long-term contracts are Jake Voracek, Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier.  Barring trades, they’ll all be Flyers through the 2018-19 season. Brayden Schenn could also be added to that list with a large extension, but GM Ron Hextall has gone on the record saying that the team hasn’t been in contract talks with Schenn.

Hakstol also inherits a few reclamation projects — namely Sam Gagner, Vincent Lecavalier and R.J. Umberger.  Gagner possesses what many considered just years ago as all-world talent.  Gagner was selected sixth overall back in 2007 and has produced 336 points (and some nasty shootout moves) during his NHL career, but questions surrounding his defensive awareness have outworn his welcome at his previous two clubs (Edmonton and Arizona).

Hakstol will try to get more out of Gagner than his previous coaches have, I’m not sure where he plans to insert the winger, but something tells me that he’d have no problem putting up 50 points alongside Voracek and Giroux.  Whether he fits there is the ultimate question staring down the Flyers coaching staff.


The defensive end is another story.  This time last season, fans pondered the health status of veteran blueliner Kimmo Timonen, the potential of UFA signing Michael Del Zotto and the overall depth of a unit that prominently featured Braydon Coburn,Nicklas Grossmann, Luke Schenn and journeyman Nick Schultz.

With several of those names out of the picture this time around, Hakstol has the opportunity to build up his blueline unit with a young and talented core. Del Zotto showed that he’s a capable, offensive-minded defenseman in 2014-15 and at just age 25, he could be a piece to build around.  Other young guns to watch for in camp and preseason are 2015 first round pick Ivan Provorov, 2014 first rounder Travis Sanheim, as well as potential future contributors Sam Morin, Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg.

With those names littered across scouting reports, the future looks bright on defense.

Add in KHL signing Yevgeny Medvedev and the Flyers could have an improved mix of talent on the back end. Hextall is hoping that Medvedev will prove to be a little more like Jaromir Jagr and a lot less like Nikolay Zherdev as far as KHL signings go.


Between the pipes, the Flyers have their best goaltending tandem in recent memory. Steve Mason has more than exceeded expectations since coming over at the 2013 trade deadline for Michael Leighton and a 2015 third round pick (Martins Dzierkals).

Since joining the team, Mason has compiled a .923 save percentage — good enough to earn him the nickname “Stevie Franchise” (well, at least I call him that).

Apr 5, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason (35) makes a save against Pittsburgh Penguins center Brandon Sutter (16) during the first period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Hextall committed long-term to Mason in January, inking the 27-year-old to a three-year extension.

To compliment Mason, Hextall brought in Michal Neuvirth, who served as a serviceable backup for the New York Islanders a year ago. Neuvirth could get his chance to see extended playing time in Philadelphia — given the fact that Mason has battled injuries during his time as the Flyers netminder.

It’s only fitting to toss in a reference to the potential goalie of the future, Anthony Stolarz. The Jackson, New Jersey native spent last season in Lehigh Valley.  Despite a high-ish 3.28 GAA, Stolarz stopped 90.5% of the shots fired his way.  Not terrible for the 21-year-old’s professional debut.

Put it all together and there is reason for optimism for the Flyers.  They already went outside of the organization’s much-maligned box to select a candidate like Hakstol.  The question of whether the results will differ under the new head coach will start to come into focus when the Flyers start their season on October 8th against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Next: Eagles Armchair: Once Again, The Secondary Is An Issue

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