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2018-19 Player Review: Phil Varone gets another shot

Being the reigning AHL MVP has to count for something, right?

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Another day, another Phantoms recall to give a season review. After a pretty stellar start to the season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, which saw him record 28 points in his first 22 games, Phil Varone earned himself a call-up to the Flyers. *Movie trailer voiceover voice* It was a big opportunity given to a player who hadn’t seen an NHL game since the 2016-17 season. Would the reigning AHL MVP—okay enough of that. Let’s just see how he did this season.


By The Numbers

Basic Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
47 3 4 7 8 34 8.82

So, there’s not a whole lot going on here, is there? Varone didn’t total very many points, but he was also shooting at just about league average. So, it’s not as though he was just getting supremely unlucky, he just wasn’t generating a whole lot in the way of offense, period. He was averaging under a shot a game during his time with the team. That isn’t exactly a recipe for replicating the scoring success that he found down with the Phantoms.

5v5 Individual Stats

Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
1.14 0.99 8.83 0.46

5v5 On-Ice Stats

Score-Adjusted Corsi For% SA Corsi Relative Corsi For % RelTM SA Expected Goals Relative Goals For % PDO
Score-Adjusted Corsi For% SA Corsi Relative Corsi For % RelTM SA Expected Goals Relative Goals For % PDO
43.92 -2.38 -2.36 -5.95 -4.72 100.21

The counting stats a little underwhelming, and they’re pretty much reflective of the underlying process, as we alluded to in the section above. In short, Varone wasn’t really generating much in the way of individual chances, and this contributed to the fact that the Flyers were pretty consistently out-shot and out-chanced when he was on the ice. He wasn’t driving play particularly well, so it’s not too much of a surprise that he only notched those seven points this season, even against other fourth line competition. You don’t always expect a ton of offense from your fourth line, but the Flyers weren’t really getting any at all when Varone was on the ice, based on these figures.


Three Burning Questions

Did this player live up to our expectations for this season?

No? Yes? Sort of? It depends on what your expectations where. If you looked at him and said “wow, he’s the top scorer on the Phantoms and hanging out towards the top of the scoring rankings in the whole AHL, I hope he can come in and score some with the Flyers. I bet that’ll translate well enough,” well, you’ll likely have been disappointed. But if your feeling was “he’s been pretty much a career AHLer, I can’t imagine he moves the needle much at the NHL level,” then you will have avoided disappointed. And probably the latter was the more fair expectation for Varone. He came in and didn’t get torched. That’s just about what we could have realistically hoped for from him.

What do we expect from this player next season?

It’s tough to say. He’s a pending UFA, so it’s a strong possibility that we’ve seen Varone play his last game as a Flyer. Maybe another team takes a chance on him, and he moves elsewhere. Maybe the Flyers re-sign him with the plan that he spends next season with the Phantoms. The latter would be nice, if you ask me, as he’s been a really effective piece with the Phantoms. But either way, the expectation is he’ll be out there somewhere, doing his thing as Not A Flyer. Oh well.

What would we like to see this player improve on?

*shrug* He’s 28 and sort of a bubble NHL-er. If he gets a shot with another NHL team, it would be nice to see him figure tap into some of the scoring that he so excelled at at the AHL level. That’s kind of the big thing.

All stats via Corsica.Hockey, HockeyDB, and Natural Stat Trick