Tortorella glad to have Seeler back in lineup

Nick Seeler

      PHILADELPHIA – If there was any question about defenseman Nick Seeler’s value to the Flyers, they were answered on March 6.

      That was the day Seeler, a 30-year-old player who had bounced around the NHL for a number of years before arriving in Philadelphia, was signed to a four-year, $10.8-million contract extension.

      It was without a doubt the first time Seeler has ever enjoyed financial security and a lot of that reward was generated by his play this season.

      After missing 11 games with a lower-body injury suffered in a game against St. Louis back on March 4, Seeler was scheduled to return to the lineup Saturday night vs. the Chicago Blackhawks.

      Seeler entered the game with a team-best plus-minus rating of plus-15. Also, he led the NHL for a time in blocked shots. He has blocked 184 shots in just 63 games. Also, he owns career highs in assists, penalty minutes and shorthanded points.

      For much of the season he paired with Sean Walker (before he was sent to Colorado just prior to the NHL trade deadline) to form one of the Flyers’ most consistent backline units.

      Coach John Tortorella is certainly glad to have Seeler back. He adds a lot more than just numbers, with his checking, his willingness to fight, etc.

      “A lot of people don’t give him credit, he plays fast,” Tortorella said during Saturday’s pre-game skate at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J. “Sometimes it’s all over the place, you never know what’s going to happen but the puck’s up the ice fast.

      “Shot-blocking, we’ve missed him terribly. You can see our penalty killing has had some struggles. We’ve changed our back end a little bit. He’s a huge addition for us. And just being that presence in the room, too. I always say, I didn’t know who he was, no one talked about him when I was first hired.”

      The coach clearly likes the way Seeler has fit in and improved his game.

      “No one had him on the depth chart,” Tortorella recalled of that first interaction in September, 2022. “He was an eight or nine defenseman. You can never give up on your ‘D.’ You just never know what happens. He’s living proof, he’s a really important guy for us.”

      >Conversing with Fedotov

      Tortorella had a chance to speak with Russian goaltender Ivan Fedotov, who joined the Flyers on Friday.

      “I spoke with him yesterday and I don’t know anything about him,” Tortorella said. “I don’t know anything about goaltending, I don’t want to hear about goaltending. I want him to stop the puck. That’s all a coach wants.”

      The coach said that’s why he has what he considers one of the best goaltending coaches in the NHL, that being Kim Dillabaugh.

      “I don’t have information on him at all, I know he’s tall (6-foot-7),” Tortorella said. “I’m so concerned about what we’re trying to do here tonight. That’s what we’re locked into.”

      >Praise for Foerster

      Tyson Foerster has is about to reach the 20-goal mark and that’s always a good standard for a rookie.

      Tortorella also appreciates his all-around game.

      “To me it started right away,” the coach said. “It’s certainly more than we expected. As I’ve said all along, that’s one of the biggest parts of our jobs as a coaching staff is to teach that part of the game to young players, the play away from the puck.

      “Positioning, all the things that come with it. He showed us that right away, that he had the mindset, the thinking to be able to handle it and he’s got a really strong stick. I was breaking down the tape yesterday, the Montreal game and there’s one play late in the game which no one sees, on a power play and he’s fighting for a puck. He just has such a heavy hand on his stick to win battles. I think it’s been a huge part of his game this year.”

      The coach said he can’t remember a player that was equipped so quickly.

      And reaching the 20-goal mark will be a pretty big deal, too. By the end of the season, Foerster should be among the top five in Calder Trophy/rookie of the year voting.

      “It (20) is a round number and a lot of people talk about that for young guys,” Tortorella said. “For them, I hope he scores 25. If he doesn’t score 25, he’s still going to do things that help us. That’s why he’s played the minutes and that’s why he’s played most of the games this year.”

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About Wayne Fish 2426 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.