The Philadelphia Flyers’ regular season doesn’t begin until Friday. They open with a four-game homestand, starting against the Vancouver Canucks.
Last Friday, the club closed out preseason with a 5-3 road loss to the Washington Capitals. Now, with a week between games, they’re taking advantage of the time that’s available to them.
That means ‘maintenance’ days off from practice for Rasmus Ristolainen, Ryan Ellis, and Carter Hart. All three are expected to play big roles this season. And when coach Alain Vigneault gave the entire group took Monday off, Jordan Hall of NBC Sports Philadelphia reporting that a trip to Atlantic City for golf and dinner was on the agenda. That’s the type of team-bonding outing that was sorely missed last season, when Covid-19 protocols were at their tightest.
While the players were re-charging their batteries, general manager Chuck Fletcher was making his last few moves in a busy offseason. On Monday, Fletcher finalized his roster and ensured that it’s salary-cap compliant, ahead of Tuesday’s opening of the 2021-22 season.
In the end, the list ended up being 21 players long. That’s one above the league minimum (20) and two below the maximum (23). Depth forward Patrick Brown was claimed on waivers from the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday.
🔶 The boys are back. 🔶
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 11, 2021
Hello, Patrick Brown
Brown, 29, is a Michigan native with good size, listed at 6’1″ and 210 pounds. Undrafted, he was signed by the Carolina Hurricanes as a college free agent in 2014. He then spent the better part of the next four seasons in the Charlotte Checkers organization.
He served as captain for three years and helped lead the Checkers to a Calder Cup win in the 2018-19 season.
After becoming an unrestricted free agent 2019, Brown signed a two-year contract with Vegas during the summer of 2019. According to CapFriendly, that deal included a significant bump in AHL pay compared to what he’d been earning in Charlotte. He made $400,000 in year one and a full $700,000 in year two, the same as if he’d been in the NHL.
Over the last two years, Brown played just five regular-season games with Vegas. But you may have spotted him in last season’s playoffs. He had two goals in 12 postseason games for the Golden Knights.
Interestingly, Brown has 22 NHL playoff games on his resume, to go along with just 33 regular-season contests.
Hitting free agency again this summer, Brown was re-upped by Vegas for another two years. This time, he got a full one-way deal at $750,000 a year. In the preseason, Brown picked up one goal in three games. He was placed on waivers on Sunday.
Once again, the Kevin Hayes connection is at play. The new acquisition played all four years with Hayes at Boston College between 2010 and 2014. They won the NCAA Championship in 2012 and Brown served as captain in his senior year. In his freshman year, junior Cam Atkinson was also a teammate.
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Seeler Waived, 3 Others Reassigned
After Morgan Frost and Connor Bunnaman were re-assigned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last week, it looked like the battle for the last forward spot was down to Jackson Cates or Garrett Wilson, a Phantoms alumnus who was at Flyers camp on a professional tryout (PTO) contract. With Brown’s arrival, both players have been re-assigned to the Phantoms.
Cates is waiver exempt, as is defenseman Cam York, the first-round pick from 2019 who got a three-game audition with the Flyers last season. After Keith Yandle was acquired during the offseason to fill the role of an offensive-minded defenseman and power-play quarterback, it was all-but-assured that York would start his first full pro season in the AHL.
York appeared in just two preseason games, logging one assist.
With Sam Morin still on injured reserve as he rehabs from his latest knee procedure, the journeyman free-agent signing Seeler had a solid training camp, appearing in three preseason games. He was placed on waivers Sunday, and cleared. He’ll likely be the first recall if there’s an injury or when the Flyers are away from home. After their first four games, they’ll head to Western Canada in late October, for their first road trip of the year.
The Walking Wounded
After undergoing a second abdominal surgery just before training camp opened, Kevin Hayes has returned to the ice. He’s skating with the Flyers’ other injured players but is expected to still be several weeks away from getting into game action.
Hayes *is* listed on the Flyers’ 21-man main roster. CapFriendly shows the team’s current cap charge at $81,456,813, which is just over $45,000 below this year’s $81.5 million salary-cap ceiling. It’s advantageous for teams to get as close as possible to that cap ceiling number on opening day in order to maximize the available benefits if they do have to dip into long-term injured reserve at some point.
If the Flyers put Hayes on LTIR, he’d be required to miss 10 games or 28 days before he would be eligible to return.
Even without Hayes on the list, the Flyers start the season with seven players either on injured reserve or injured non-roster:
- Forwards: Ryan Fitzgerald, Wade Allison, Tanner Laczynski, Zayde Wisdom
- Defense: Egor Zamula, Sam Morin, Cooper Zech
Phantoms’ Preparations Continue
New coach Ian Laperriere is already hard at work in Allentown, preparing the Phantoms for their AHL season. Lehigh Valley is 2-1 so far in preseason play and will close out its exhibition schedule on Wednesday, hosting the Hershey Bears.
The Phantoms’ regular-season schedule will kick off on the road next Saturday, against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. They’ll host their home opener on Oct. 23, taking on the Hartford Wolf Pack.