For both fans waiting to see just what the 6-foot-5 defender has in store for us at the NHL level, and for Philippe Myers himself, the wait is over. After appearing in 21 games for the Philadelphia Flyers last year, the time has come for his first full season in the NHL.
The departure of Radko Gudas, combined with the off-season acquisitions of Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun, all but lock Myers into a third pair role to start the season. While this should allow Myers to ease into the league, the situation also gives him a clear path to the top. With both Braun (one year remaining) and Niskanen (two years remaining) being on the wrong side of 30 with soon-to-be expiring contracts, there’s a scenario in which Myers plays well enough throughout the season that we’re penciling him onto the top defensive pairing in as little as one year from now.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, but that’s a pretty damn exciting thought.
No. 6: Philippe Myers
Age: 22 (1/25/1997)
Size: 6’5”, 209
Acquired Via: Signed as an undrafted free agent on September 21, 2015
2018-19 League/Team/Statistics: Lehigh Valley (AHL) - 9 G, 24 A in 53 GP
Ranking in BSH Winter 2019 25 Under 25: 7
The hype surrounding Myers has continued to grow over the last four years, and for good reason. It’s hard to find such a combination of size and skill, and add in that he’s a right-shot defenseman and it’s as if the Flyers won the lottery. However prospects are almost never a sure thing, and there still were a few question marks with Myers heading into last season.
For one, while he had asserted himself as one of the best defensemen in junior hockey, he had also begun to pick up the injury prone tag along the way. There was a knee injury at the Memorial Cup, and he had hip surgery following the conclusion of the season. In his first season with the Phantoms he battled a groin injury through much of the early season, adding to a quickly growing list. However 2018-2019 should help quiet some thoughts about him being unable to stay healthy as he, well, stayed healthy. Other than that, his discipline and consistency were questioned at times during his time in the AHL as well, but strides were made in both departments last year.
Ahead of his NHL debut this past season, Myers appeared in 48 games with the Phantoms, and was one of the league’s top point producing defensemen at even strength. And just as he was in his rookie season a year prior, he was again one of the team’s best play drivers with a +4.04 Corsi For percent relative during 5-on-5 play. Per BSH’s own Maddie Campbell’s Phantoms neutral zone tracking project, Myers exited the defensive zone with control on just over 32% of his attempts, which was well north of the defense’s average of just 22.48% through 20 games. He also entered the offensive zone with possession 58.75% of the time; a solid figure for the defender.
He played big minutes in all situations, produced tangible offense, and had a large impact on Lehigh Valley’s transition game. He was a true high-impact top pair defenseman for the Phantoms prior to his re-call.
He made his Flyers debut on February 17th versus the Detroit Red Wings, and would go on to score his first career goal just seven games later. He made a strong first impression, but wasn’t perfect, and his play did begin to dip as we closed in on the final weeks of the season. Still, at the very least he proved that he can hold his own in the NHL, and flashed the ability to be a true impact defender. Two points in twenty games is underwhelming, but he did have one of the lowest on-ice shooting percentages among all Flyers skaters this season, and had that been closer to average he probably walks away with more than one assist.
Heading into the 2019-2020 season, Myers has experienced one thing that the majority of the Flyers’ roster hasn’t; playing for Alain Vigneault. After Team Canada lost Brandon Montour due to injury at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, Myers was invited to join the team, appearing in seven games and picking up an assist. He might not have played all that much, but the fact that he even got the call after only 21 games in the NHL does say a lot about the player that he’s become.
Barring a surprising change of plans, Myers will start his third professional season in Philadelphia. It’s seems likely that he’ll be eased into things on the third pair, but he might not stay there for long. He and Travis Sanheim were a formidable duo in Lehigh Valley two seasons ago, and it’s not hard to imagine them finding success alongside each other in the NHL one day.
Myers is supremely talented and the sky is truly the limit for him. He still has to prove himself at the NHL level over a larger sample size, but the potential is there for him to become a top-flight defender.
Data courtesy of Corsica.hockey, Phancy Stats, and Elite Prospects.
Previously in Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2019 Top 25 Under 25:
- Intro & Honorable Mentions
- No. 25: Linus Hogberg
- No. 24: Jay O’Brien
- No. 23: Yegor Zamula
- No. 22: Felix Sandstrom
- No. 21: Robert Hagg
- No. 20: Samuel Morin
- No. 19: Mark Friedman
- No. T-17: Tanner Laczynski
- No. T-17: Samuel Ersson
- No. 16: Bobby Brink
- No. 15: Mikhail Vorobyev
- No. 14: Nicolas Aube-Kubel
- No. 13: Wade Allison
- No. 12: Cam York
- No. 11: German Rubtsov
- No. 10: Isaac Ratcliffe
- No. 9: Joel Farabee
- No. 8: Oskar Lindblom
- No. 7: Morgan Frost