Philippe Myers has been waiting a long time for this moment and it couldn’t come in a more opportunistic situation.
The Flyers made it clear that the towering defenseman is ready to join their roster when they traded backliner Christian Folin to Montreal on Saturday, opening a spot on the defense corps.
Myers, an undrafted player who signed as a free agent back in 2015, has patiently worked at his craft with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms while enduring some significant injuries over the past few seasons.
Now he skates into a perfect scenario. The Flyers are in the midst of a 10-game streak of at least a point (9-0-1), so there shouldn’t be any pressure on the 22-year-old.
Meanwhile, there could be a similar chance for forward Justin Bailey, who was acquired in last month’s trade with Buffalo for Taylor Leier.
Bailey was called up from the Phantoms on Sunday basically to replace Jori Lehtera, who cleared waivers the other day and was assigned to the Phantoms.
Adding Myers and the 23-year-old Bailey to replace the 28-year-old Folin and 30-year-old Lehtera gives the Flyers a younger and perhaps more skilled lineup in depth positions.
“For me to finally get the opportunity, to be in the room with the guys, it’s just been awesome,’’ Myers said after Sunday’s optional practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J.
“I called my parents right after (the promotion). . .some good emotions. That being said, I’m trying my best to not get too high or low. Just maintain my emotions on a level. I’m happy to get the opportunity.’’
Short of an injury, it would appear the Flyers are not going to crack their top six just to get Myers (who will wear number 61) some playing time.
Yet, it would make sense to have Myers play at least here and there, if nothing more than to get his feet wet. You don’t want a 22-year-old just sitting around – it does little to help his development, other than to get a feel for the pro game in practice and off-ice.
Bailey, a second-round pick (52nd overall) of the Sabres in 2013, has played a total of 52 games with Buffalo and has registered five goals and eight points.
He’s still young enough to have people say he hasn’t necessarily reached his peak yet.
“I was surprised and happy (for the promotion),’’ Bailey said. “I’m really looking forward to it.’’
In 10 games with the Phantoms, Bailey compiled five goals and seven points.
He seems to have fit in well under Lehigh Valley coach Kerry Huffman’s system.
“I think from top to bottom, from the coaching staff all the way down to the trainers, my teammates in Lehigh have been awesome for me,’’ said Bailey. “The coaching staff has helped me adjust to the new system. The atmosphere down there is really good. I think everyone is happy to be at the rink.’’
Is he ready to be an NHL regular?
“I think I’ve been up and down a bunch in my career,’’ said Bailey, who has split the past five years between the Sabres and their AHL affiliate in Rochester. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been up there (the NHL – he played 12 games for the Sabres in the 2017-18 season).
“For me, I’ve been dreaming about it. Hopefully I come up here and it’s the last time I go down.’’
Bailey has been a respectable minus-2 on some bad Buffalo teams, so he appears to be a responsible two-way player.
“I have to make sure I do the things that I know will keep me here,’’ Bailey said. “Whatever my role is, making sure that I’m doing that role to the best of my ability. I’ve been scoring down there and I want to bring some scoring up here.
“At the same time, I know there’s a level of physicality I have to bring here (possibly to fill some of that role which was vacated when Dale Weise was sent down and then became part of the Montreal trade).’’
The Myers and Bailey additions also give coach Scott Gordon some short-term flexibility. The Flyers play a back-to-back, hosting Pittsburgh on Monday night, then flying halfway across the country to play at Minnesota on Tuesday night.
“Having the extra bodies here, especially guys who haven’t been here yet, it’s important (for them) to see how we do things,’’ Gordon said. “Video sessions – the morning skate we usually touch on something systems-wise. Get them used to the pace of play so if they’re needed, they’re ready to go.’’
>Penguins game a potential four-point swing
With Pittsburgh losing on Saturday night, the Flyers closed to within six points of a playoff spot again and could cut that to possibly four by taking down the Penguins on Monday.
Gordon will use red-hot rookie goalie Carter Hart against the Pens and then Anthony Stolarz against the Wild.
The game plan against Pittsburgh?
“If we give them some time and space early on their breakouts, that’s when they’re at their best, attacking out of their zone,’’ Gordon said. “We have to establish a good forecheck, in their zone or the neutral zone.”