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Flyers prospect Philippe Myers heating up
ALLENTOWN, Pa. - It's been 13 months since Philippe Myers felt this good about his game.
It's been that long since he took a nasty hit from Luke Kunin behind the net in Canada's quarterfinal matchup against the United States at the 2017 World Junior Championships.
It was also at that tournament where TSN analyst Bob McKenzie tweeted Myers looked "NHL ready, former NHL executive and current analyst
, or close to it." Not long afterward
Craig Button listed Myers as a top 10 prospect currently not playing in the NHL.
Incredibly high praise for the 6-foot-5 defenseman who wasn't drafted as an 18-year-old while playing with Rouyn-Noranda in the QJMHL and eventually signed as a free agent with
the Flyers in September 2015.
His first professional season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms hasn't exactly been smooth sailing, Myers has been dealing with a nagging groin injury
, though. Like Samuel Morin
that has forced him to miss 17 AHL games so far.
"The first half of the season wasn't the half that I wanted, my groin's been
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," Myers said. "I was hurt for the first couple of games. I missed about half of them. Lately
strengthening up and I feel a lot stronger and more stable on the ice.
"I feel like I can move a lot better, getting to the stuff that I was doing last year and
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, and that's huge. Skating is a big part of hockey. I've just been feeling myself
regaining those good habits. I felt like myself on the ice a couple weeks ago for the first time this year. I felt comfortable moving. I wasn't feeling any pain at all."
Myers' feeling of immobility prevented him from being a complete all-around player,
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, so his attention was squarely focused on positional play in the defensive zone and winning
one-on-one battles that are essential to developing into an NHL-caliber defenseman.
In 28 games with the Phantoms this season, Myers has contributed three goals and nine assists. This after a three-year junior career that saw him score 29 goals and record 63
assists for 92 points.
"I've been trying to chip in offensively when I can,
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," Myers said. "Good offense starts with good defense. You got to take
, but obviously we have a defensive-first mindset here
care of your own end before you can join in on the rush.
"You just got to seize the opportunity, you don't go. Not trying to force things - that's something
, and when the opportunity is there you just gotta go. And if it's not there
I've had to work on throughout the year and I think I've done a pretty good job at it, and now I just got to keep at it and keep the little details going."
Organizationally, and as their respective games
, the Flyers' philosophy with their defensemen is comparable to rings around a tree. The outside arc is solidifying the basics
adapt to the speed of the AHL, that circle shrinks and they can start working on the finer details. Impressively, Myers is considered to be on the same
, despite his injuries
track as Travis Sanheim was a year ago when his game started to take off with the Phantoms.
"There's a process where you take care of the big things first and with all of our D," Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon said. "It's about not
, it's about the ice surface first
complicating your life on the breakout and making that first early pass when it's there. Now it's about the positional play, the
, it's about the defending part of it
abrasiveness at the net front. Good stick, the positioning of the stick. The little details come over time. You can't have everything all at once. It's just information
"When you consider the last three to four weeks, Philippe has played some of his best hockey. But he's done it in half the time because he's missed half the amount of games and
half the amount of practices. You wonder where he'd be right now if he didn't have the nagging injuries."
With Morin out for an extended amount of time,
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,who was assigned to the Phantoms this week after playing 35
, Myers now comprises the Phantoms' top pairing along with Sanheim
games and scoring one goal,
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, with the Flyers. When you evaluate Morin,
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, but Myers appears to be more of a hybrid
, Myers and Sanheim, they're three players with unique skill sets
of the other two. Sanheim has the offensive flair while Morin's specialty is physicality.
"[Myers'] ability is to get up and down the ice and make plays,
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, hard player." Gordon said. "He's got a little bit of Sam in him at
, and use his shot and defend. He's a sneaky
times when players have to pay a price when they go near him. It's maybe not as dramatic as Sam, but he does play with an edge and he has that offensive upside."
In between playing three games over four days paired with Sanheim together and logging 22 to 25 minutes, Myers also enjoyed his 21st birthday this past week. Nothing too
celebratory despite the significance. He simply looks back at this past year and realizes how much he's endured and matured.
"I just think I grew as a person, and as a player, and I'm going to keep
, I feel like my confidence is coming back," Myers said. "I'm happy with the way things are going now
building on that."
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