Depleted Flyers to use defenseman Seeler at forward position

Nick Seeler

Sometimes coaches decide to dress a seventh defenseman if one of their top six has a health issue.

For Flyers interim head coach Mike Yeo, this isn’t one of those occasions.

Actually, for Monday night’s home game against the Dallas Stars, Yeo is going to suit up defenseman Nick Seeler and use him as a left wing on his fourth line.

Reason? Because of so many injuries and schedule quirks, there just aren’t enough forwards available.

When Yeo was asked during a media Zoom call if Seeler has ever had any experience at the forward position, the coach grinned.

“It’s something he’s done in college,’’ Yeo said. Seeler played two years for the University of Nebraska-Omaha and one year for the University of Minnesota. “He gives us flexibility in case we want to play seven defensemen at some point in the game. He should bring some life into our lineup.’’

   Seeler confirmed he played some left wing in his collegiate years but said he was more focused on just his overall play against the Stars.
  “I remember playing a few games back in college,” Seeler said. “I think it was my freshman year. I think at this point any experience is good experience. Honestly I’m just going to focus on bringing some energy, some physicality and do anything to help the Flyers win tonight. The coaches have done a good job getting me prepared as I can. I think that’s more a factor than playing a couple games in college.”

The Flyers did call up forwards Connor Bunnaman and Linus Sandin from the Phantoms to their taxi squad on Monday morning but because Lehigh Valley is coming off back-to-back games over the weekend, they aren’t available for this game. They might be a possibility for Tuesday night’s game at Long Island.

“It (11 forwards, seven defensemen) I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of,’’ said Yeo, whose team is trying to break an 11-game (0-9-2) winless streak, one short of the franchise record. “Obviously there are circumstances and situations where it might be the right thing to do.”

Regardless, it’s probably not ideal to have players competing out of position.

“I definitely think there’s a little bit of a better flow when you do have your full four lines and your six ‘D’ get their rotation,’’ Yeo said. “But normalcy is not something that we have at hand right now with our group. We have to make sure we’re putting healthy people in, fresh bodies. We’ve played a lot of games in this last little stretch.’’

Seeler, who signed as a free agent with the Flyers last summer, has been a valuable substitute this season, especially with the long-term injury to Ryan Ellis.

“Nick has done everything that he can for us this year in terms of willingness to compete,’’ Yeo said. “Willingness to battle, willingness to show up and play the right way night after night. So he deserves this opportunity.’’

Seeler did participate as a forward in Sunday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center.

“He’s revved up,’’ Yeo said. “Should bring some physicality, energy into the game.”

With Ellis, Sean Couturier, Derick Brassard, Kevin Hayes and Joel Farabee on the shelf, the Flyers need all the help they can get.

Yeo said he planned to use Seeler on the team’s fourth line with center Jackson Cates and Zack MacEwen.

In 22 games with the Flyers this season, Seeler has played a conservative game with no points and a minus-two. The 28-year-old Minnesota native has been durable and steady on the defensive side of the puck.

>Yandle set to tie record

Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle will make some history on Monday night when he is set to tie Doug Jarvis’ NHL record of playing in 964 straight games dating back to March 26, 2009.

Yandle can break the record in Tuesday night’s game at the New York Islanders.

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About Wayne Fish 1782 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.