When Phil Myers signs a contract and training camp begins, he will get an opportunity to show if he can play on the first pairing with Ivan Provorov, the Flyers’ top defenseman.
Myers, 23, would welcome the challenge.
“It would be an honor to play with someone like him,” Myers said from his home in Moncton, New Brunswick, on Monday night. “He thinks the game well, he makes good plays, defends well. I mean, you can’t go wrong playing with a guy like that.”
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Provorov a Myers fan
Provorov, 23, likes what the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Myers, who had a quality rookie season in 2019-20, brings to the table.
“He’s a big guy, moves really well and has a great reach,” Provorov said after going through a workout session last week in Voorhees. “He moves the puck and is able to shoot it well, too. If we play together, it shouldn’t take us long to get used to playing together. When the season starts, we’ll see what happens.”
The NHL is working out details for the start of the coronavirus-delayed season. The league and the players’ union must sort out several issues, including whether the games will be played in home arenas or a “bubble” city for each of the four divisions.
The league is hoping to start the season in mid-January, but quarantines may push the date closer to February.
Myers, a restricted free agent who had 16 points and a plus-17 rating in 50 games last season, is still unsigned, but he said his agent, Doug Shepherd, and the Flyers are “getting real close” and that he is open to either a short- or long-term deal.
As for Provorov, he needs a new partner because Matt Niskanen, a veteran with a righthanded shot, unexpectedly retired after last season.
Myers played on the second pairing last season with Travis Sanheim, and they worked extremely well together, though they struggled against the relentless New York Islanders in the playoffs.
Since Myers is righthanded, it seems natural that he would be promoted to fill Niskanen’s spot and become Provorov’s partner. Myers and Provorov were paired together in shifts here and there last season; they were together for just one full game, and leave it to Provorov, a student of the sport, to pinpoint it off the top of his head.
“It was Dec. 21, I believe, and we were playing Ottawa and Nisky was out with the flu,” said Provorov, whose memory was impeccable. “I think Phil was a little under the weather, too.”
“I can’t exactly tell you how it went,” Provorov added with a chuckle, “but nothing bad happened, so that’s a good thing.”
Provorov was plus-1 and had three hits in the 5-4 shootout win over the Senators, while Myers was plus-2 and had an assist and two hits. Myers recalled that he and Niskanen both had the flu and it was 50/50 if they could play.
“Nisky came up to me in warm-ups and said, ‘Are you ready to go? If you are, I’m sitting out,’ " Myers said.
“Hell yeah, I’m good,” Myers said.
In the offseason, Provorov and Myers have been spending their days on the ice and in the weight room.
Provorov had some delays in getting his expired visa renewed, so instead of going back to his home in Russia, he has stayed in the area since the Flyers’ season ended Sept. 5. He has been working out at the team’s Voorhees practice facility for the last two months and is eager to start the season.
Myers has been in the gym almost daily and skating with a university team in New Brunswick three to five times a week. “I’m trying to ramp it up a little bit before the season starts,” he said. “I’m excited to win with these guys this year.”
Provorov, whose team won its first playoff series last season since 2012, echoed those sentiments.
“I want to get out there with the boys again and build off what we had last year,” he said. “Hopefully we can start camp soon and get going.”
When camp does begin, filling Niskanen’s spot will be among the team’s most interesting decisions.
“I’m sure the coaches will want to try a few things in camp and at the start of the season,” Provorov said. “But all the D on this roster are capable. Everyone skates well and moves the puck well. It shouldn’t take a long time to get used to a new partner for me or anyone else.”
“We’re not the ones who decide who plays together,” Myers said. “I’ll be happy to play with whoever. If I’m with Sanny, I’ll be happy, and if I’m with Provy, I’ll be just as happy. It’s a win-win, no matter how you look at it.”
Things to know
Good vibes in negotiations between the NHL and the players’ union.
Alan Bass’ new book details fascinating stories about Philly’s pro hockey history, including a team that conjures Slap Shot memories. My story.
Flyers left winger James van Riemsdyk says players are “ready to roll” if the league honors the CBA.
After stalemate, NHL and NHLPA agree to keep economic framework of new CBA, writes Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
The season of giving
Claude Giroux, Danny Briere, Kimmo Timonen, Scott Hartnell, Chuck Fletcher and Scott Tharp, who is president of the Ed Snider Youth Foundation, are assisting the Snider Hockey Five Days of Giving program, which started Monday and runs through Friday.
The group is donating a combined $20,000 to match all five-day contributions from friends and followers of Snider Hockey. Should Snider Hockey donors meet the challenge of matching the $20,000, their total contributions would be tripled, so the sum could climb to $120,000. With every $20 donation, a person has a chance to win a Flyers-related prize, such as autographed hockey sticks. For more info, go to sniderhockey.org.
Snider Hockey is the brainchild of the late Ed Snider, who co-founded the Flyers. The foundation uses hockey as its hook, but the program emphasizes education and helps guide participants to college scholarships.
From the mailbag
Question: How much NHL action do you think Morgan Frost will see? If (Nolan) Patrick returns full time, it’s hard to imagine Frost gets a shot at a roster spot.
-- Mike Zawisza (@Mike_Zawisza) via Twitter
Answer: Thanks for the question, Mike. I agree that Frost is a long shot to make the roster if Patrick is ready to start the season with the Flyers. There is also a chance the condensed training camp doesn’t include any preseason games (or perhaps just one), so Frost and the other prospects will have a difficult time showing the coaches they belong.
That said, there will be inevitable injuries, so if a center goes down, Frost will probably be promoted at some point in the season.
Send questions by email or on Twitter (@broadstbull), and they could be answered in a future edition.