In the past couple years, it looked like forward Taylor Leier might figure into the Flyers’ future plans.
That speculation ended late Thursday when the Flyers traded him to Buffalo in exchange for Justin Bailey.
Bailey, 23, has appeared in 37 games this season for Buffalo’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Rochester Americans. He has nine goals and 11 assists for 20 points.
A 6-foot-4, 214-pound native of Buffalo, Bailey has split time between Rochester and Buffalo in each of the last three seasons. He played in 12 games for the Sabres last year, recording three goals and an assist for four points. In 52 career NHL games, all with Buffalo, Bailey has five goals and three assists for eight points.
Bailey was a 20-goal scorer in each of his first two AHL seasons, posting 20 goals and 25 assists for 45 points in 75 games in 2015-16 and then picking up 23 goals and 13 assists for 46 points in 53 games a year later. He turned pro after playing three years in the Ontario Hockey League with Kitchener and Sault Ste. Marie, where he totaled 75 goals and 73 assists for 148 points in 168 career games. He was selected by the Sabres in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Leier, 24, never really caught on with the Flyers.
He had 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points in 34 games for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this season. He made the Flyers out of training camp last year and appeared in 39 games, picking up a goal and four assists while averaging 10:29 of ice time per game.
In all, he appeared in 55 games for the Flyers over three seasons, scoring two goals and adding five assists for seven points.
Leier was selected by the Flyers in the fourth round (117th overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Hart continues to impress
Carter Hart keeps making a case to stay with the Flyers for the rest of the season, even when veterans such as Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth return from injury.
Hart turned in one of the best efforts of his brief NHL career on Wednesday night when he came up with 39 saves in a 4-3 win over Boston.
If the decision were up to coach Scott Gordon, Hart might be on the NHL roster for quite some time.
What has impressed Gordon is the way the 20-year-old goaltender stood his ground after both Minnesota (Monday) and Boston jumped off to 2-0 leads.
The Flyers wound up winning both games.
“It’s a lot easier to play with the lead,’’ Gordon offered on Thursday after the Flyers decided not to practice. “It’s hard to play the game thinking that the next mistake is going to put your team in a bigger hole.
“It might not even be your mistake, it might be someone else’s mistake. That shows a lot about his mental ability to get through that – and to be able to go out and perform, allow the team to stay close until you get the opportunity to get some goals.’’
Hart has evened his record at 5-5-1, with a respectable 2.72 goals-against average and better than respectable .915 save percentage.
Critical month ahead
Gordon was asked if the next month or so will be a critical one for the Flyers, who are expected at some point to start testing some young players, particularly if they are active at the Feb. 25 trade deadline.
“Certainly it’s an opportunity to see some players,’’ Gordon said. “See how they step forward or step back. Hopefully they’re stepping forward.
“Having not been through this type of situation where the team had high expectations going into the year, the way it’s played out, it’s not where everyone wants to be.
“It’s probably some different thoughts as to what the next month will be but right now, for me, we just have to worry about the game in front of us, which is the game in Montreal on Saturday.’’
Stolarz in the wings
Anthony Stolarz was activated on Thursday after missing a month due to injury. He will get at least a few conditioning games with the Phantoms before any decisions are made on where he’s going to play next.
Stolarz missed almost all of last season due to a pair of knee surgeries but had bounced back nicely before the latest trouble.
“You wouldn’t think that a guy off that long could be able to step in and play in the NHL,’’ Gordon said. “You’re looking at almost a year and a half. The games I did watch, I don’t think he got a lot of help for stretches.
“He kept the team close. Whether they won or lost, I don’t think you could point the finger at him. He performed well under what, at times, were trying circumstances.’’
Gordon said he doesn’t expect any supplemental discipline for Jori Lehtera, who received a five-minute major boarding penalty and game misconduct for driving the head of Boston’s Ryan Donato into the boards on Wednesday night.