Last Tuesday, the Flyers announced the signing of 20-year-old defenseman Wyatte Wylie to an entry-level contract that will begin in 2020-21.
So why now? Why would the Flyers push to get Wylie signed with the season still far from over, now that it is currently suspended by the NHL?
The reason was that Wylie was going to become an RFA at the end of the year. More importantly Philadelphia has a diamond in the rough.
Although not the biggest player on the blue line, standing at 6' and 190 pounds, Wylie’s offensive skills are clearly there. In 272 career games in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips, he has scored 31 goals and added 111 assists for 142 points. This season, Wylie had set career highs in goals with 14, assists with 50 and points with 64 in 62 games this season with Everett. Not only did his 50 assists lead all defensemen in the league, but his 64 points finished second among all defensemen.
Following the 2018 NHL Draft, where Wylie was selected 127th overall in the fifth round, the Flyers western-based amateur scout Mark Greig had this to say about the American defenseman.
"His makeup is he's a solid, steady guy," Greig said. "He's a pretty good defender with a nice compete level and he has the ability to make the simple play going forward, so there's nothing really flashy but he's a pretty effective guy.”
During the past two development and training camps with Philadelphia, Wylie has improved each year in his skating, defensive awareness, and his scoring ability.
"I knew I had to improve in all aspects of my game," Wylie said at last year's camp. "Coming back from [2018 development] camp, I took as much as I could, the stuff they taught me about stick-handling, everything like that. It really helped me improve my offense because you're ready for that first pass out of the zone because you're not stick-handling, you're ready to send it."
His awareness and stick-handling were certainly there during the preseason as Wylie looked superb on the ice blocking shots, and back-checking against opponents.
As for where Wylie stands on the defensive list for Flyers prospects, he deserves to be high on that list. The top defenseman in the Orange and Black prospect pool includes Cam York, Wylie, Yegor Zamula and Adam Ginning. With the way he has been performing, and now with an entry-level contract signed, Wylie has the potential to make an impact in the NHL as soon as 2021-22. He will spend at least a year in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms before earning a call-up with the Flyers in the NHL.
Whenever Wylie does in fact make it to the NHL, it should not come to a surprise if he makes an immediate impact and quickly become a fan favorite in the City of Brotherly Love.