American Hockey League

Myers looking to capitalize on opportunity

VOORHEES, N.J. — Philippe Myers understands the opportunity is there to have a significant role with the Philadelphia Flyers this season.

The 22-year-old defenseman played 21 games for the Flyers late last season and started the process to play all 82 this season at rookie camp Saturday.

“Obviously I got a little bit of it last year,” Myers said. “It made me want to work that much harder this summer. I just want to be up here this year. I want to be part of the team, I want to help the team win. I’m going to work hard at [training] camp and I’m going to earn it. I’m excited to get things going.”

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When the Flyers traded defenseman Radko Gudas to the Washington Capitals on June 14 for defenseman Matt Niskanen, general manager Chuck Fletcher said it was done in part to open a spot for Myers (6-foot-5, 210 pounds), who has the right-handed shot and strength to replace what Gudas brought to the third defense pair.

Myers said he was aware of Fletcher’s comments but that he isn’t taking anything for granted as he prepares for training camp, which opens Sept. 13.

“I’m aware I have an opportunity here to make this team,” Myers said. “Obviously it’s nice to hear but it really doesn’t mean anything. I still have to come in here and earn it. I’m just going to try as hard as I can to make this happen.”

Myers, who made his NHL debut Feb. 17, had two points (one goal, one assist) and averaged 15:22 of ice time per game.

Scott Gordon, who coached Myers early last season with Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League and then with the Flyers after he replaced Dave Hakstol on Dec. 17, said what made Myers effective was how he simplified his game when he got to Philadelphia.

“When he came up he played strong for us defensively, but at the same time, from an offensive standpoint, he did what he needed to do and didn’t try to force the issue to go overboard and try to impress people,” said Gordon, who is overseeing rookie camp and is again coach of Lehigh Valley.

Video: WSH@PHI: Myers snaps home wrister for first NHL goal

Myers had 33 points (nine goals, 24 assists) in 53 AHL games last season but said he knew there were things he did in the AHL that he wouldn’t be able to do in the NHL.

“I didn’t want to try to do everything myself or anything like that,” he said. “Just wanted to get the puck to the forwards and jump in the rush. … It’s always good to keep your game simple. Just limit the risks out there. I’m just trying to be solid defensively and the offense will come.”

Myers impressed enough to earn an invitation to play for Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Championship after Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour sustained an injury. He had one assist in seven games, and after starting as the seventh defenseman he played 14:09 in the 3-1 loss to Finland in the championship game.

The World Championship also allowed Myers to be around Canada coach Alain Vigneault, who had been hired by the Flyers on April 15.

“I’m a really big fan of what I saw in Europe and he seems like a really laid-back, nice guy, easy to talk to,” Myers said. “Fun to get to know him a little bit. Got our relationship started on the right foot.”

Myers said the only change he made to his offseason training program was upping the intensity of his workouts and getting on the ice a bit earlier than in the past because of his excitement for the season.

Some of that motivation came from his exit meetings with Gordon and Fletcher at the end of last season.

“They told me that I should be champing at the bit for this training camp,” Myers said. “I want to be a top-four guy and have a big role on the team, help the team win. That’s what they told me my goal should be. That’s my goal for this year, I want to help the team win.”

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