Good morning, folks. If you watched Boston’s thrilling 4-3 overtime win Monday over Washington in an opening-round game, you probably felt cheated that the Flyers’ season is over.

There is nothing, of course, like playoff hockey. Every shift is magnified. Every inch of ice has to be earned. Open ice is rare.

As for intensity, it’s a regular-season game times 10. Or perhaps 100. As for suspense, it’s at the Mare of Easttown level.

For the Flyers, they hope to make several off-season changes and get back to the playoffs next season. Their sorry season is a little more digestible when you look at the prospects that the Lehigh Valley Phantoms are producing in the AHL.

The Phantoms, the Flyers’ top farm team, are directed by Scott Gordon, who has done a great job developing young players over the years — and this season was no exception.

On Tuesday, Gordon and the Flyers mutually agreed to part ways. That leaves a big void in Lehigh Valley.

You’re signed up to get this newsletter in your inbox twice a week during the Flyers season and once week in the offseason. If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email (scarchidi@inquirer.com) or on Twitter (@broadstbull). Thank you for reading.

— Sam Carchidi (flyers@inquirer.com)

Phantoms end solid season

The AHL isn’t awarding the Calder Cup this year, which is a shame because the Phantoms would have been a contender.

The Phantoms finished their season with an 18-7-6 record.

“It was a crazy year as far as the shutdowns and the quarantines and all that stuff, but our veteran guys did a good job of helping out the younger guys,” said Brent Flahr, a Flyers assistant general manager. “We put a lot of young guys in this year, and a lot of them made big strides.”

The Phantoms developed several prospects who look like they can help the Flyers down the road. One of them was 24-year-old goalie Felix Sandstrom.

Sandstrom’s season totals — a 3.19 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage — don’t look overly impressive, but the Sweden native wasn’t playing much because of injuries and schedule interruptions earlier in the year. He began playing more frequently late in the season, however, and went 3-1-1 with a 1.85 GAA and .950 save percentage in a five-game stretch.

Sandstrom, a pending restricted free agent who is eligible for arbitration, needs more AHL seasoning, but he realistically could be a candidate to help the Flyers in 2022-23. Or perhaps at some point in the second half of next season.

Five Phantoms made their NHL debuts with the Flyers this season: Maksim Sushko, Tanner Laczynski, Wade Allison, Egor Zamula, and Cam York.

Of that group, Allison, 23, a rugged right winger, made the best impression. Allison had seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) in 14 games with the Flyers and supplied energy and physicality. Before being recalled by the Flyers, he had nine points, including four goals, and a plus-8 rating in 10 games with Lehigh Valley.

With a strong offseason, Allison will put himself in a good spot to be in the NHL at the start of the 2021-22 season. He was the third-rated Flyers prospect in The Inquirer’s rankings in January, behind only Morgan Frost and York.

York, a puck-moving defenseman with good speed and smarts, is also a candidate to start next season with the Flyers, depending on the moves GM Chuck Fletcher makes this summer.

After the Phantoms’ final game, Gordon told reporters that Zamula, right winger Tyson Foerster, and defenseman Linus Hogberg were his most improved players from the start of the season. Hogberg, 22, drafted by the Flyers in the fifth round in 2016, played in North America for the first time after a long stint in Sweden.

“It’s a big jump coming from a big rink and a game that didn’t have a lot of contact,” Gordon said, adding that Hogberg was “probably our most reliable guy” on defense.

Foerster, 19, the Flyers’ first-round pick last year, displayed a cannon of a shot before his season ended because of a separated collarbone in the season’s final week. Right winger Zayde Wisdom, 18, a fourth-round selection last October, and 19-year-old defenseman Mason Millman (a fourth-rounder in 2019) were also impressive teenagers.

All were underage players who normally would not have been eligible for the AHL yet, but they were permitted to play because the Ontario Hockey League was shut down by COVID-19. All were scheduled to play in the OHL.

Wisdom finished third on the Phantoms with 18 points (7 goals, 11 assists), one point more than Foerster (10, 7).

“COVID really hit him, but in his last few games, he was really good,” Flahr said of the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Wisdom. “He’s a rugged guy who can really shoot it. He’s got enough skill where he can generate offense, and he also has some jam and physicality to his game.”

In a testament to Gordon’s ability to develop prospects, 14 players (excluding injury-related rehabs) on the Flyers’ end-of-season roster have played for the Phantoms: Allison, Nic Aube-Kubel, Joel Farabee, Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Carter Hart, Laczynski, Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom, Alex Lyon, Samuel Morin, Phil Myers, Travis Sanheim, and York.

Things to know

Kevin Hayes update

Now we know why second-line center Kevin Hayes didn’t look as speedy and struggled in the second half of the season.

On Monday, general manager Chuck Fletcher said Hayes will soon have core-muscle surgery. If all goes well, he should be ready for training camp in September.

Hayes managed just 12 goals and 31 points in the shortened season, and suffered through a drought in which he produced only two goals in a 27-game span late in the year.

During his season-ending interview with reporters, he downplayed his injury, but he clearly wasn’t himself over the last couple of months.

Important dates

May 21-June 6: IIHF World Championships (Latvia)

July 17: Deadline for clubs to submit protection lists for expansion draft, 5 p.m.

July 21: Seattle expansion draft

July 23: NHL draft, Round 1

July 24: NHL draft, Rounds 2-7

July 28: Free-agent signings permitted, noon

From the mailbag

Question: Given that the Flyers could not sell 3,100 seats this season, what will they do to get fans back in the building next season? — Paul Dziomba (@PaulDziomba) via Twitter

Answer: Thanks for the question, Paul, and it’s a good one. In my 13 years on the beat, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Flyers fans so angry and frustrated by this organization. Part of it is because every time they take a step forward one season, they seem to take a step back the next year. There is no growth, and the fans, understandably, have grown impatient.

If I’m reading the tea leaves correctly, the fans’ complaints — and social media is full of them — have forced the club’s Big Cigars into a state of urgency. I truly believe you are going to see major moves this offseason.

If not, there will be a lot more empty seats in the Wells Fargo Center when the season rolls around.

Send questions by email or on Twitter (@broadstbull), and they could be answered in a future edition.