‘It's just written all over him' — Flyers love Seeler, could have tough decision


VOORHEES, N.J. — When John Tortorella was hired by the Flyers and preparing for training camp, he didn't know anything about Nick Seeler and didn't hear much about him, either.

But Seeler found a way to seize an everyday job on the Flyers' defense.

He had to work and work and work. He had to win over Tortorella.

The coach sure knows him now.

"I remember the conversations, kind of really wasn't on the map. I just don't remember a lot of conversation," Tortorella said Friday. "And here he is. And improving. That's the really good part of it, that I think he's still improving."

The 29-year-old Seeler, making just $750,000 this season ($775,000 cap hit), is one of the Flyers' truest defenders. He has played in 50 of the Flyers' 53 games, in large part because of his effort-based style along the boards and around the net.

"He's a glue guy," Tortorella said. "He's a guy you root for, he's a great teammate, ultra competitive and will stick up for his teammates. I think he makes other players bigger out there because of just how he will handle himself if he has to.

"Listen, he makes mistakes, sometimes he has problems moving the puck, but he's going to try. The most important part for me — I still see him improve."

Seeler is having the best year of his NHL career in which he has had to constantly fight for playing time. He even stepped away from hockey in 2020-21, when the NHL had a shortened 56-game season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I wasn't sure what my plan was when I took the year off," Seeler said Friday. "I just needed kind of a mental and physical break. A few months went by and started to get that fire and that passion back, that true passion for the game."

In his second season with the Flyers, Seeler has three goals, seven assists and a plus-5 rating. He has 80-plus hits and blocked shots and kills penalties in his 14:20 minutes per game. And he's a team-first guy who will fight to defend a teammate.

"Definitely believe in myself and believe that I can certainly play every night and contribute to this team," Seeler said.

"I think my mindset's always you have to prove yourself no matter what situation you are in. That benefits you in the end."

Seeler has played so well that, as a result, he could be trade candidate come March 3. The Flyers are a team in transition with some prospects on the back end. Contending teams eye players like Seeler at the trade deadline for important, cost-effective depth.

In the first year of a two-year, $1.55 million deal with the Flyers, Seeler wants to stay in Philadelphia. After a confidence-boosting, 2-1 shootout win Thursday over the Oilers, the Flyers are 22-22-9, have made progress and have kept themselves near the playoff picture.

"Honestly, I control what I can," Seeler said about the March 3 trade deadline. "People can talk, whatever it is, I'm going to stay controlling what I can and being a Flyer. That's all you can do. You can't control what happens.

"I love it here. I love where this group is going, kind of that momentum we're building. We had a really good January and we played a heck of a game yesterday. I love it here, I love Philly. It's a great organization."

Last season, the Flyers acquired a third-round draft pick for Justin Braun, a hard-working defenseman of Seeler's ilk. If the Flyers were to move Seeler, they could aim for a similar return, if not maybe better.

But the decision won't be easy. The Flyers want to be careful trading a player that everyone thinks highly of and has helped the team win games.

February will be a pivotal month for the motives of the Flyers' decision-makers.

"He's just got a will about him," Tortorella said of Seeler. "That's what I love about him. It's just written all over him. One of the best conditioned athletes we have. Came in camp in tremendous shape. And is just one willing guy.

"As I kind of allude to, Philly, the city, how we want to play, he fits it. He's there, he has played very well."

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