The Philadelphia Flyers finished off their last important piece of contract work on Tuesday. Restricted-free agent defenseman Philippe Myers signed a new three-year deal, with a cap hit of $2.55 million per season.
“We’re happy to have Phil signed for the next three years,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said. “He is a big, mobile, right-shot defenseman who progressed into a top four role on our blue line last season. We look forward to his continued growth.”
Started From The Bottom
Now 23, Myers was originally signed as a free agent by the Flyers after impressing at the club’s rookie camp in the fall of 2015. The 18-year-old native of Moncton, New Brunswick had gone undrafted in his first year of eligibility earlier that summer, following his second season with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL.
Myers finished the year with eight points and a minus-14 rating in 60 games, and while he was already listed at 6′ 4.75″ and 196 pounds, NHL Central Scouting ranked him at a humble 157th among North American Skaters in the 2015 draft class.
With only 210 spots available, Myers was passed over by all 30 teams but was invited to the Calgary Flames’ summer development camp shortly after the draft. When he couldn’t parlay that opportunity into a training-camp invite, he knew it was time to get down to work.
He spent the summer on the ice and in the gym, focused on improving his fitness and his skating. When he got in front of the Flyers’ brass in September, he made a good impression.
“The first day we had him in for a tryout, he popped out immediately,” said then-Flyers’ general manager Ron Hextall in 2016. “We all were saying, ‘Wow.’ You try to look for flaws but there weren’t any that jumped out.”
Hextall signed Myers to an entry-level contract after that rookie camp. It was part of his effort to build up the Flyers’ pool of young defensive talent.
That work was already underway when Hextall joined the Flyers’ front office as assistant general manager during the summer of 2013. At the draft a few weeks earlier, Philadelphia had selected Sam Morin with the 11th pick and Robert Hagg at No. 41.
Hextall was in the GM’s chair for the 2014 draft, where he took Travis Sanheim at No. 17. One year later, he grabbed Ivan Provorov with the seventh-overall pick.
Injuries have impeded Morin’s development. He’s now fully recovered after tearing his ACL 13 months ago and will look to compete for a job on the big club when the new season begins. Meanwhile, Provorov, Sanheim, Hagg and Myers have all become blue-line regulars. Eric Desjardins has come in as a new free-agent signing, but that young core group will be relied on even more heavily this year, after Matt Niskanen’s abrupt decision to retire.
It’s been quite the turnover. Shayne Gostisbehere, the perpetual subject of trade rumors, is the only defenseman still on the Flyers roster who was playing for the big club when Myers was signed.
Armed with his new pro contract, Myers took a huge step forward when he returned to his junior club for the 2015-16 season. He exploded for 45 points, and his plus-52 ranking was tops in the QMJHL. The Huskies went on to win the league championship.
That led to an invite to join Canada’s 2017 World Junior squad. Myers won a silver medal, playing on a pairing with Ottawa Senators’ stud Thomas Chabot. He collected three assists in four games before suffering a concussion that knocked him out of the tournament.
Now We’re Here
Myers made the jump to the AHL in the 2017-18 season. He made his NHL debut on Feb. 17, 2019, playing 21 games. But when new coach Alain Vigneault came in, Myers spent the first month in Lehigh Valley before he was recalled.
When the regular season was paused in March, Myers led all Flyers defensemen with a plus-17 rating. He averaged 17:06 of ice time, with 16 points in 50 games.
Philippe Myers' plus-17 was the best plus-minus mark by a Flyers rookie defenseman since 1983-84, when Thomas Eriksson was a plus-29.
(📷 by Flyers PR guru Zack Hill) pic.twitter.com/Fb6gi3qpDn
— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) November 30, 2020
He missed the club’s last regular-season game due to a fractured patella, but was fully recovered by playoff time.
Myers’ ice time jumped to 20:02 in the bubble in Toronto, fourth among the team’s defensemen. In 16 games, he posted three goals and an assist. Most notably, he scored the overtime winner in Game 2 of Philadelphia’s second-round series against the New York Islanders.
— NHL (@NHL) August 26, 2020
In recent weeks, player signings have been few and far between. The action should pick up now that the NHL is aiming for a mid-January start to the new season. The Flyers are in good shape, both roster and cap-wise.
After seeing the strides that his club took last season, Myers is ready to try to go even higher.
“It’s an honor to be a part of the Flyers for the next three years and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “We have a real good team and I am very excited at what we are going to achieve this year and in the years to come.
“I really do believe in this group and my expectations are to go all the way with these guys. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
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