Officially an NHL rookie this season after playing 21 games for the Flyers one season ago, 23-year-old defenseman Philippe Myers is in his third professional season. He started the 2019-20 with a brief stint in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms but was recalled on Oct. 31. He's been in the NHL ever since.
Myers has established himself over the course of the 2019-20 season as a regular starter, initially on the third defense pairing and later on the second pairing. In recent months, he has typically been paired with Travis Sanheim. The two players previously comprised the top bluline pair for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms before their respective callups to the National Hockey League.
Myers is an outstanding natural athlete, combining imposing size (6-foot-5, 210 pounds), excellent muscular and cardiovascular conditioning, exceptional range and mobility as well as an aggressive style of play. There are many things he does well, and others that, with some further improvement, could help propel him to being the total package as a modern-day NHL defenseman.
He's not a finished product even now, but he's significantly refined many of the raw materials he brought into pro hockey. The best is probably still yet to come as he gains experience beyond the 71 NHL games that he's played to date in his young career.
As with virtually every young defenseman, Myers had his share of ups and downs from a consistency standpoint as he navigated the learning curve from junior hockey to the AHL to the NHL. It has taken him some time to work his reads and pick his spots so as not to get himself too far out of position, over-relying on the recovery abilities afforded by his ranginess and long reach. As this season has progressed, however, things seemingly clicked on a more regular basis.
In addition to his burgeoning abilities to impose his will in denying oppoing entries into the Flyers' zone and triggering breakouts, Myers has some still-nascent NHL-level offensive upside. He has a very heavy shot, but still can improve the timing of his release and his ability to get the puck on net rather than getting blocked or missing the net.
Myers suffered a fractured right kneecap on March 7. In his case, the NHL pause due to the Covid-19 pandemic was a blessing in disguise. He is now healed and will be ready to play if and when the 2019-20 season resumes.
After this season, Myers is a restricted free agent. He is not yet eligible for salary arbitration. The decision that lies immediately ahead will be whether to agree upon a bridge deal or to sign a longer-term extension.
FIVE KEY FACTS
1) Myers has posted a traditional plus-minus rating of +17 as a rookie in 2019-20. He has a 51.43 percent on-ice Corsi, 50.87 percent Fenwick, and 50.34 percent expected goals percentage at 5-on-5.
2) After being a periodic healthy scratch during the first half of this season, Myers started each of the 28 games played between Jan. 2 and March 7. On March 7, he sustained a fractured right kneecap and missed the last two games the Flyers played before the NHL enacted the Covid-19 schedule pause.
3) Myers compiled a three-game goal streak (Nov. 7 to 10) and four-game point streak in early November. He bagged his fourth goal of the season in Columbus on Feb. 18.
4) Myers has logged 20 or more minutes of ice time in three games this season. He has played 19 or more minutes in 10 games. Overall, he has averaged 17:06 of ice time as a rookie this season (16:37 at even strength, 21 seconds on the penalty kill).
5) He has averaged 5.61 hits per 60 minutes of ice time (trailing only Robert Hägg among Flyers defensemen who have played in 10 or more games), 3.08 blocked shots per 60 minutes, Owing to his strength, reach and quick stick, Myers' 21 credited takeaways trail only Travis Sanheim (22) among Flyers defensemen in terms of cumulative total, and his 1.47 takeaways per 60 minutes leads the Flyers blueline by a wide margin.
1. Nov. 9 @ TOR (8:08 1st period): Myers opened the scoring with this goal off the rush in the Flyers' 3-2 road victory in Toronto. Taking a pass from James van Riemsdyk, Myers' shot from the deep right slot above the circle found the net inside the left post and quickly came back out of the net. It took a moment to realize that he'd scored a goal in back-to-back games. Philly went on to prevail via shootout.
2. Nov. 10 @ BOS (17:56 3rd period): A wide-open Myers made it three straight games with a goal -- and four straight games with a point -- with this well-measured wrister from the right circle after a cross-ice pass from Travis Konecny. The Flyers went on the beat the host Bruins via shootout, 3-2.
3. Feb. 18 vs. CBJ (12:32 2nd period): In the front end of the Flyers' home-and-home sweep of the Blue Jackets, Myers benefited from some puck luck as his shot bounced in off a defender's skate to build a 3-0 lead for the Flyers. Philadelphia won the game, 5-1.
THEY SAID IT
"Phil is working on his reads and his decisions with the puck. He's a young man and still inexperienced in this league. But there's definitely a lot there, and it's just a matter of him and us getting together and getting the best out of him."
-- Alain Vigneault, Jan. 2, 2020
"I think we've seen this young man's confidence and execution getting better and better. He has the ability to be a pretty good all-around defenseman in this league for a long time. It's an ongoing process but he is seeing good results lately. The ability is there, and the will to work is there, too. The rest is a matter of keeping at it and gaining more experience."
-- Alain Vigneault, Feb. 18, 2020
HE SAID IT
"I think I just started to play within myself, not try to do too much. My confidence is really good right now, and that's a big thing for any player."
-- Phil Myers, March 5, 2020