If there’s one silver lining to this dark cloud of a health crisis, it’s that down time has allowed players around the NHL time to heal from injuries and illness.
The Flyers are no exception.
During Monday’s media conference call, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said a number of players have been able to recover from various injury issues.
Meanwhile, the layoff might benefit Nolan Patrick, the third-year center, who has missed the entire season with a chronic migraine headache condition.
With what could be a multi-month hiatus for the NHL, Patrick hasn’t been feeling any pressure to make an imminent return.
“Nolan has returned home (near Winnipeg), generally speaking he’s feeling well in terms of where he has been over the past few months,’’ Fletcher said. “That (his health status) is hard to say – exactly what it will mean when we do come back to play.
“He’s been trending in the right direction, so I don’t know if it (the stoppage) would have a positive or negative impact. Obviously there’s the benefit of time that he will have to continue to heal.’’
Three players who were on the injury list when the league shut down on March 12 are pretty much back to a hundred percent.
James van Riemsdyk (fractured index finger on right hand), Philippe Myers (fractured patella in right knee) and Nate Thompson (sprained knee) all might have been at least practicing by now if the NHL didn’t have to stop for the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Myers is doing well,’’ Fletcher said. “He’s over three weeks now post-injury. He’s doing very good. I believe he would have been cleared to play prior to the end of the season (April 4 at Buffalo) as it was originally scheduled.
“Thompson’s issues have resolved. He’s cleared to play. JVR’s finger is healing very well. He still needs a little more time before that is fully healed, which is kind of what we expected, given the timeline of four to six weeks. Everybody’s doing well. So that’s all positive.’’
Fletcher also disclosed that Oskar Lindblom, who is battling a rare form of bone cancer (Ewing’s sarcoma), remains in the area partly to receive chemotherapy.
“He’s doing well,’’ Fletcher said.
>Staff communication lines open
Fletcher and his staff, including assistant GMs Brent Flahr (scouting) and Barry Hanrahan (contracts, salary cap, etc.), speak daily and also communicate with others such as senior advisors Bob Clarke, Paul Holmgren and Bill Barber periodically.
“Brent and the scouts are working hard on getting their lists ready for the draft,’’ Fletcher said. “Watching video, reviewing reports, having discussions on players. Doing things they would typically be doing this time of year, with the obvious exception we’re not able to watch games live now.’’
Hanrahan was instrumental in getting two prospects (Tanner Laczynski, Wade Allison) signed to entry level contracts this past week.
>Laczynski, Allison close to NHL-ready?
Fletcher was asked about the timelines for Laczynski and Allison. Do they need a year or two of AHL experience before attempting a jump to the NHL?
“I don’t know if they would need a year or two of seasoning,’’ Fletcher said. “These are players who will be 23 years old next season. They both have put a lot of time in at the collegiate level (Laczynski at Ohio State, Allison at Western Michigan).
“Both have size and strength which typically take 19- and 20-year-olds longer to acquire. They’re men, they’re good hockey players and I expect they will challenge for spots right away. They’re players who are very close to being able to step in and play.’’
Fletcher said he hasn’t had any talks with any of the Flyers’ pending restricted or unrestricted free-agent players. UFAs include Justin Braun, Brian Elliott, Thompson, Tyler Pitlick and Derek Grant. “We haven’t started any negotiations,’’ Fletcher said. “There’s uncertainty as to where the (salary) cap number would be and when things will start up.’’
Potential RFAs include Patrick, Robert Hagg, Myers and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
“We’ve worked hard to prepare the file for negotiations (with them),’’ Fletcher said. “We’re certainly willing to have conversations with some of those younger players that we will need to sign under any circumstance.’’
>Salary cap impacted
Prior to the crisis, it was thought the salary cap might rise as much as four million dollars over this year’s $81.5-million figure.
Now all bets are off.
Lost revenue could actually drop the cap next season.
“We all read what’s going on in the world,’’ Fletcher said. “I think our industry is no different than others. It’s just hard to speculate.’’