Prospect's ‘NHL-quality release,' D-man trade option, more in 3 Flyers thoughts


The Flyers' important New York road trip continues Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

At 14-9-3, the Flyers remain a work in progress. The club is 3-5-0 through a 17-game March slate and has allowed three or more goals in all eight of those games.

As the team searches for consistency and its identity, let's get into our latest three Flyers thoughts.

1. 'NHL-quality release'

Wade Allison must've been pretty jacked up for his debut with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. Not only was it his first game at the pro level, but it was also his first game period since March 7, 2020 — his senior night at Western Michigan — as the coronavirus pandemic ended any shot at a playoff run.

Allison also missed the chance to play in the Flyers' January intrasquad game at the end of training camp. Allison's camp was cut short two days before the game because of an ankle injury. Allison started camp but was nagged by the injury and underwent surgery in late-January.

The 23-year-old winger did not waste time showing his strengths in his first taste of the pro ranks. He scored a goal in the Phantoms' 4-1 win Sunday over Hershey. The marker came off his impressive shot. Allison plays a power-forward style and can score around the net. He also has that shot, which makes him a well-rounded winger with intriguing bottom-six potential.

Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr was in Hershey at the Giant Center for the Phantoms' game Sunday.

"He was excited to get going and I thought he played well," Flahr said Monday to NBC Sports Philadelphia. "He scored a goal displaying his NHL-quality release and played a sound game overall. His role, ice time and production will all increase as he gets his legs under him, gets adjusted and finds a general comfort level out there. Overall, it was a positive first step and I know he was excited to get into game action."

Allison has dealt with his share of injuries since being selected by the Flyers in the second round of the 2016 draft. He had to recover from a torn ACL in which he suffered during his sophomore season when he put up 15 goals and 15 assists in 22 games before the injury. When he's healthy and himself on the ice, you notice him.

Prior to training camp, the Flyers believed Allison had a chance to crack their roster at some point this season. He got a later start but now his pro career is underway and he's vying for a shot with the Flyers.

2. Big trade target?

In his latest 31 Thoughts piece Tuesday, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported that the Predators are asking suitors to pay a high price for Mattias Ekholm and he's "not convinced Philadelphia is going to do it — not certain they feel this is the year to pay the cost."

Ekholm is a top-pair type of defenseman with the ability to play big minutes. He's considered one of the prized attractions ahead of the April 12 trade deadline. As Friedman noted, Ekholm won't come cheap. If the Flyers shell out the package to land him, they'd then risk losing him in the July expansion draft (protecting him would come at the expense of a young player) as Ekholm has one more year on his contract.

Chuck Fletcher can still be proactive at the deadline without reeling in the big fish. There's no way the Flyers' general manager won't seek and find ways to improve his club, especially if it's in contention. Last season, he made improvements at the margins to a team that earned the right to have additions without major sacrifices.

It's looking more and more like the Flyers need help on the back end after losing Matt Niskanen to retirement in the offseason. Perhaps a more realistic acquisition could be Jamie Oleksiak.

The Stars have a lot of games in hand but are 9-9-7 in a top-heavy Central Division. Oleksiak is a 28-year-old on the final year of his contract with a reasonable rental cap hit of $2,137,500, per He has goal-prevention ingredients with a 6-foot-7 frame, disruptive reach and physicality. He covers ground because of his length and quality skating stride for a player his size. He also brings toughness and likes to drop the gloves when needed.

In Dallas' run to the Stanley Cup Final last season, Oleksiak had nine points (five goals, four assists), 40 shots, 65 blocked shots, 117 hits and a plus-11 rating over 27 games. Acquiring Oleksiak might cost the Flyers a mid-round draft pick.

Fletcher and Stars general manager Jim Nill linked up for a trade in June 2019 when the Flyers acquired Tyler Pitlick. Maybe they'll do business again.

More: Defensive help? After 9-0 loss, who knows if Flyers will be buyers of any kind

3. There goes that Cam

Flyers prospect Cam York may have played his last game at Michigan.

The Wolverines could earn an at-large bid Sunday when the 16-team NCAA Tournament is revealed. If Michigan doesn't hear its name called, the sophomore York could be set to sign his entry-level contract and turn pro.

"I think if you asked him, he would want to turn pro tomorrow," Flahr said after the Flyers drafted York. "He's going to a good program at Michigan, we'll take it year by year. I don't see him as a four-year guy, let's put it that way."

The 2019 first-round pick accomplished quite a bit this season. As the U.S. captain, York won a gold medal at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship. He then won Big Ten Defenseman of the Year on Tuesday.

Many believed York would be a quick riser. He appears ready for the next step: Allentown.

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