Taylor Leier had seemingly been in the Flyers system for an eternity. And to be fair, he kind of has been. Leier was drafted in 2012 as a fourth round pick and made occasional appearances with the Flyers, but was mostly an AHL regular. This year, the speedy winger finally made the opening night roster on the fourth line. Leier, along with teammates Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl, formed one of the best fourth lines the Flyers have iced since the Mike Richards/Jeff Carter days.
The “Honey Bees” line was an absolute menace on the ice. They didn’t score a whole lot, but the aggression and speed the line played with was a joy to watch. They drove play and provided exactly what a fourth line in today’s NHL should be. However, once Jori Lehtera became Dave Hakstol’s new favorite toy, the line was essentially broken up for the rest of the season.
At the very least, Leier’s rookie season in the NHL gave us this gem of a clip, where he calls his mom to inform her he’s made the Flyers. One of the best feel good moments of the season.
No. 21: Taylor Leier
Age: 24 (2/15/1994)
Size: 5’11”, 180 (via)
Acquired Via: 2012 NHL Draft — Round 4, Pick 117 (Pick acquired from Columbus along with Pick No. 45 in 2012 and a fourth-round pick in 2013 in exchange for Sergei Bobrovsky on June 22, 2012)
2017-18 League/Team/Statistics: Philadelphia (NHL) - 1 G, 4 A in 39 GP
Ranking in BSH Winter 2018 25 Under 25: 16
Taylor Leier was a regular in the lineup for much of the beginning of the season, but once the new year came around he had essentially been “Hak’d”. Leier played his last game as a consistent starter on the 28th of December which at the time was his 30th game of the season. He played his last game of the season on March 4th, a loss vs. Florida.
Leier impressed in most metrics and from the eye test. He was relentless on the forecheck and created much of his offense with his aggressiveness. Despite his smaller stature, he was physical and forced the puck carrier to make decisions quickly which tend to set up his linemates for extended offensive zone time. He wasn’t the most creative player on the ice but he did the little things well and brought some much needed speed to the fourth line, something fans have been begging for.
The biggest issue for the young winger all season long was his inability to put up points. Although no one was asking him to be a 20 point man, Leier was certainly leaving a bit to be desired on the scoresheet. We’ve never really gotten true conformation of this, but it seems like Hakstol really values goal-based metrics. This makes all the sense for Leier, who was on the ice for nine goals for and 15 against. His possession metrics were impressive, and his expected goals numbers were just a tick below.
Speaking of those metrics, Leier posted a 52.72 adjusted CF%, and a 2.03 CF rel. While one could make the argument that he could have been a byproduct of the play of Laughton and Raffl, Leier did record a 2.39 relT CF. We never really got to evaluate his play away from the honey bees line, as the next forward who played the most with Leier was Jordan Weal at just 57:30 of 5-on-5 TOI.
His expected goals numbers were decent, breaking even without adjusting for score and fading just a bit to 48.86 after adjusting. His PDO was, as expected, very low, coming in at just 95.11, furthering the argument that Leier may have just had a really unlucky 39 games. He always seemed to be a guy that just needed a few bounces to break his way and he’d start contributing relatively consistently.
With Leier already being a seasoned AHL vet, there really didn’t seem to be much purpose in sending him down as it became evident he’d only return to the lineup via injury. He was a staple in the press box this season and his 39 games were all we got to see. So naturally, with the addition of James van Riemsdyk and more and more prospects about to make the jump, where does this leave Taylor Leier?
With Morgan Frost, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, and Mikhail Vorobyev all with legitimate chances to make the Flyers in September, Leier appears to be an odd man out. Unless we see a complete change in Hakstol and he shies away from Lehtera, I imagine it’s going to be difficult for Leier to crack the roster as a starter. What will most likely end up happening is a repeat of the second half of the 2017-18 season. Leier will be a 13th or 14th forward or serve as added firepower for an already loaded AHL roster. It would be nice to see Leier get another shot full-time in the NHL — and more importantly reunite the Honey Bees — but it seems more like wishful thinking at this point. The only way I see Leier making the team as a regular in the lineup, is if they decide to go with Laughton at the 3C, and don’t add a Frost/NAK/Vorobyev to the team.
All stats courtesy of Corsica.hockey and Natural Stat Trick
How We Voted For Taylor Leier
How We Voted At No. 21
|Samuel Morin||Mark Friedman||Nicolas Aube-Kubel||Noah Cates||Matthew Strome||Connor Bunnaman||Tanner Laczynski||Joel Farabee||Tanner Laczynski||Taylor Leier||Olle Lycksell||Matthew Strome||Jay O'Brien||German Rubtsov||Matthew Strome|
How The Community Voted At No. 21
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Previously in Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2018 Top 25 Under 25: