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Flyers sign Ronnie Attard to entry-level deal

One of the Flyers’ top defensive prospects is turning pro.

2022 NCAA Division I Mens Ice Hockey Championship - Northeast Regional Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers’ season might be all but done, but that doesn’t mean we are without reason to watch the handful of games that are left.

Announced by the team on Tuesday morning, the Flyers have signed college defenseman prospect Ronnie Attard to his entry-level contract.

Due to his age, Attard’s entry-level deal is for just two years — as was the same for the deal for Noah Cates — and it will begin this season, meaning he will hit restricted free agency after the 2022-23 season and is available to play in the NHL right away. There is no official report that he will be in the upcoming lineup, but if the team is giving Cates a solid look before the season ends, Attard should be expected to as well.

After the Flyers took Attard in the third round of the 2019 NHL Draft out of the USHL’s Tri-City Storm, the large defenseman committed to Western Michigan University and has been with the Broncos ever since. In his three seasons there he has steadily produced more and more, most recently scoring 13 goals and 36 points in just 39 games this season.

To get a sizable glimpse at what Attard has done so far in his collegiate career, our own Maddie Campbell analyzed his game in a blog earlier this season. Here are some statements that stood out:

Since his draft season and his final year in the USHL, Attard’s offensive game has been the one thing that’s really popped, and the area that was going to need to continue to develop if he was going to find success at the next levels was his play in his own zone, on the defensive side. And the good news here is that he’s made real leaps and bounds in polishing out that defensive game, and that’s a big reason why he’s gotten himself to the level of being a premier defenseman in college hockey.

One area where we see him standing out is in his ability to clear out in front of the net. We saw this suggested in his on-ice numbers from last season, how his team dominated in the share of high danger chances when he was on the ice, but dipping into the tape we see that this was not just him being propped up by team effects, but rather his individual work driving that success.

It’s an ability we would hope to see in a defenseman Attard’s size (6-foot-4, 210 pounds), but we know that this doesn’t always translate as easily as we would like. But Attard’s shown a real strength (no pun intended) in leveraging his size to enhance his defensive game.

Attard loves to play like something of a rover in the offensive zone, and his instincts are strong enough to make him dangerous in both setting up and finishing off scoring chances.

We see him flexing a good bit of skill when he activates in the offensive zone and goes looking for scoring chances, but he also does it without any cheat in his game. ... It’s a bit rare to see a one and done chance for him in the offensive zone, he doesn’t give up on a play.

This team might suck, but at least there are things to watch with intrigue.