Flyers Call-Up Myers, Rubtsov, Twarynski; Vorobyev, Morin Demoted
Say what you want about the Flyers play on the ice through the first month of the 2019-20 season. But at the very least, no matter what happens going forward, they're taking steps to fixing their flaws. After consecutive blowout losses lacking energy, the Flyers have made a bevy of changes to shake things up.
Five players are changing homes this Halloween. Two find themselves back in the City of Brotherly Love for the second time this calendar year. The most notable of this group is defenseman Phil Myers. In September, Myers was almost a lock to make the Flyers. Despite going undrafted, Myers signed a contract with the Flyers and immediately broke out in the WHL. After a season and a half of stellar play in the AHL, Myers earned a 21-game stint in Philadelphia last year, playing admirably.
However, a rough training camp combined with his waiver exempt status saw Myers begin this year in the AHL. To his credit, Myers handled his demotion well, scoring 4 assists in 6 games and posting a stellar 59.89% Corsi, an impressive +10.89% Relative to Teammates. Myers has much more upside than Robert Hagg or Sam Morin, thanks to his great skating, vision, and puck skills. If he can build off his solid start at the NHL from last spring, and Allentown will be in Myers' rearview mirror for good.
Also returning to the show is Carsen Twarynski. I have to say, I was a bit surprised with Twarynski's initial demotion. He looked physically ready for the NHL and had scored a goal in his first six games. But he was struggling a little bit with the pace, and the analytics (42.57% Corsi, 46.90% xG) aren't pretty. His two games at the AHL weren't amazing by counting or advanced stats either, but that's a pretty small sample size to read into. Hopefully, Twarynski is better suited to avoid the pitifalls of the NHL and learns from his previous mistakes to become a better player. He'll need to if he's going to stick.
German Rubtsov is a very intriguing call-up. He's had a very up-and-down career. He was a part of the Russian doping scandal in his draft year, falling to 22nd where the Flyers drafted him. Rubtsov lit up the QMJHL in the second half of the 2016-17 season after leaving the KHL. However, a disappointing draft plus two season left Rubtsov's ceiling in doubt. He came into Allentown last year rather quietly, but his pro career began phenomenally with 10 points in 13 games. However, Rubtsov suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in game 14, ending his promising start.
Rubtsov is probably never going to be an impact scorer in the NHL, but he's still a very good prospect. He’s a very intelligent player that can be trusted in the defensive zone and could one day become an intrugal part of the Flyers PK one day. He’s also possesses good vision with the puck and has an underrated shot. It will be interesting to see if Rubtsov begins as the 3rd or 4th line center, and how his role changes as he starts to gain experience. This will be a huge test to see where Rubtsov is in his development. If he succeeds, he’s ahead of schedule, and the Flyers can pencil him into the bottom-six (maybe even higher up someday) for the next half decade.
On the other hand, two players are going down to the Phantoms to replace them. Mikhail Vorobyev’s demotion is pretty straightforward. Vorobyev’s third NHL stint didn’t go much better than the first two - after recording an assist in his first game against Vegas, Vorobyev has been held off the scoresheet. His advanced stats are also poor and he’s hardly stood out to my eyes during games. At this point, what future Vorobyev has in the NHL has to be called into question. Not many players fail to stick in their first three trials in the NHL and magically figure things out the fourth time, if they even get another chance. Misha is still young enough that it’s not impossible to turn his career around, but patience from the Flyers brass must be running thin.
Samuel Morin’s demotion requires more explaining, and is also a lot sadder. First of all, Morin has not been fully sent to the Phantoms. Instead, the Flyers have put Morin on a conditioning assignment, which means he will play with the Phantoms for the next 14 days. This move does not require Morin to go through waivers, but he must return to the Flyers at the end of his stint (or the team must put him through waivers to keep him in Lehigh Valley).
Morin actually had to agree to this move - the Flyers couldn’t do it without his consent. But it works best for both parties. After missing most of the last two seasons (including nearly all of last year) with a series of injuries, most notably a torn ACL in the 2018 AHL playoffs. The best thing for Morin is to play, to get used to game speed again and regain confidence in his game. Doing so in the NHL is basically baptism by fire, so basically starting his season in the AHL is probably what’s best.
The reason Morin’s demotion is so tragic because of how far his stock has fallen since he was drafted 13th overall in 2013. It’s not even his fault - Morin couldn’t predict the game moving away from bigger, physical defenseman like himself in favor of slick skaters and quick puck-movers. The plague of injuries he suffered are just plain rotten luck. Unfortunately, Morin is dangerously close to becoming a bust, and even if he does reach his ceiling (which is 3rd pair defenseman), it seems like he won’t do so in Philly. There just isn’t a spot in the Flyers d-core, especially with Myers coming back up. He’s 8th on the depth chart right now, and it doesn’t seem likely he’ll climb higher any time soon.
Finally, a cap note. Scott Laughton has been placed on long-term injured reserve, giving the Flyers an extra $2.3 million of cap space to play with. Laughton must remain there for the next 24 days (or 10 games), which lines up nearly exactly with his injury timeline. In the NHL, you actually accumulate cap space on a daily basis as the season goes on. If you’re $100,000 under the cap when the season begins, you continue to “bank” that same amount of money for cap space, unless of course that number changes due to the transactions. With Laughton on LTIR, that process halts for the Flyers. Chuck Fletcher said he doesn’t like using LTIR at the beginning of the season, but felt comfortable with it in this scenario because of the certainty of Laughton’s injury. Without doing so, this exact transaction spree wouldn’t have been possible.