In the weeks that immediately followed the end of the NHL’s 2019-20 season, the Flyers got active right away in retaining the players that helped make the season their most successful in nearly a decade. As the months since the end of the postseason have drug on, there was one order of business that remained unresolved.
Defenseman Phil Myers was still without a contract.
That all ended last week when Myers re-signed for three years with a $2.55 million AAV.
Myers’ deal was always a matter of when and not if, but the gap in activity was still creating more concern as the targeted date for the 2020-21 season rapidly approached.
There is still no clear resolution to when the new NHL season will begin, though hopes are that an agreement is in place this week and training camps can begin in early January. When they do, it will present the first opportunity to see how Myers fits into the Flyers plans for the upcoming season.
The retirement of Matt Niskanen created a hole in the Flyers defense. They will be tasked with finding a way to replace a player who consistently gave them 20 minutes or more a night and produced points at a solid rate. On the surface, Myers could see his role increase and play on the right side of Ivan Provorov on the team’s top pairing.
Myers is a right-handed shot, a natural replacement to Niskanen in that sense. Myers also showed his offensive abilities in the playoffs. Though not a staple of his game, Myers did score three goals and had four points in 16 games. In the regular season, he had four goals and 16 points in 50 games. He also led all defensemen on the team with a plus-17 rating in the regular season.
With his smooth skating ability and responsible defensive tendencies, Myers has the skill set to fill the void. But does he have the experience?
Before anointing Myers as the heir-apparent to Niskanen and his role, you have to remember that at the start of the 2019-20 season, Myers did not make the Flyers roster. Myers finally earned the call-up for good at the start of November.
Additionally, you have to look back on Myers’ postseason to see where he has room for improvement. Myers started off the Flyers time in the bubble with some excellent performances alongside Travis Sanheim. The duo that had started together in Lehigh Valley had carried over their chemistry to the NHL’s biggest stage.
But as the playoffs wore on, Myers and Sanheim both saw their play dip. For a few games, as Sanheim or Myers struggled, the other would pick him up with solid play. As the Flyers made their exit from the playoffs, both struggled in the final few games.
From being off the Flyers opening roster a season ago to the top pairing is quite a leap for the 23-year-old. Perhaps the Flyers were preparing to groom him for the role in the coming season before Niskanen’s surprising retirement announcement.
There may be some experimentation as to who will fill the role as the top-pairing right defenseman when the season does begin, but Myers is for sure a candidate to slot in and take some time on the top pairing.
Myers has already defied the odds in his career, an undrafted free agent that has risen to become part of the young defensive core the Flyers have assembled. An increased role is expected for Myers in the coming season, and it could put him right at the top of the Flyers depth chart.