2017-18 Prospect Review: Philippe Myers
Myers made the jump to professional hockey this season, but just how well did he fare?
When it comes to Philadelphia Flyers’ prospects, nobody on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms roster entered the season with as much hype surrounding them as Philippe Myers. Sure, there was plenty of excitement in and around the city of Philadelphia for Oskar Lindblom, but when there’s a 6’5” right handed defenseman who can skate as well as Phil can? Well, the hype knows no bounds.
It was back in September of 2015 when the Flyers brought an undrafted defenseman to training camp on an amateur try-out contact, and the events that followed may prove to be a huge part of the Flyers’ future. Coming off a season where he had just 2 goals and 6 assists, he was simply viewed as tall defenseman who doesn’t contribute much offensively. Little did we know that he’d put up 80 points in his final 97 regular season games of major junior hockey and become one of the more highly touted prospects out there. Highly enough that he was ranked 43rd among all skaters in Corey Pronman’s midseason Top 50 NHL prospects on The Athletic.
By The Numbers
In just his first professional season, Myers’ usage mirrored that of Ivan Provorov’s in Philadelphia. He played a ton of minutes at even strength, was usually one half of the top defensive pair on the penalty kill, and got power play time on the second unit. From a production standpoint, Myers was bested by only T.J. Brennan among Phantoms’ defensemen in total points, and was third in goals by a Phantoms’ defenseman.
For a player who scored at above a point per game pace during his final year of junior hockey, we may have expected a bit more point production out of Myers. When compared to all rookie defensemen in the AHL who played in at least ten games, Myers ranks 16th in points and 15th in points per game, and his name drops further down the list when looking at even strength production, with just 13 points coming at 5-on-5.
So while he was second on the Phantoms in points by a defenseman, he does fall behind other rookie defensemen around the league, and is even bested by the majority his own team in estimated scoring rates.
5v5 Scoring Rates
|0.16 (7th)||0.24 (9th)||0.64 (3rd)||0.40 (9th)||1.04 (8th)|
At 5-on-5 Myers was estimated to have averaged just under fifteen minutes per game, ranking him fifth on the team in 5-on-5 ice time, and while that may be hard to believe at first, it’s not all that unlikely given the amount of time he saw on both the power play and the penalty kill last season. While less estimated ice time should, and does, help bump up his scoring rates a bit, the lone stat that Myers finds himself in the top half of the team here is the one that is least repeatable: secondary assists. Among Phantoms’ regular blueliners, only Maxim Lamarche scored primary points at a slower rate than Myers.
Would we have liked to have see more offensive production from Myers last season? Of course, but the good news here, as we all know, is that points alone aren’t even close to everything that goes into evaluating a player, and his on-ice shot impacts were extremely noticeable - in a good way.
5v5 On-Ice Stats
|Corsi For||Corsi Against||Corsi For %||Corsi For % Relative||*Scoring Chances For %||Goals For||Goals Against||Goals For %|
The Phantoms performed measurably better when Myers was on the ice compared to when he was off of it, so much so that the only defenseman that had a higher 5-on-5 CF% Rel than Myers was Travis Sanheim, who had an incredible +8.96% in his 18 regular season games with the Phantoms. Mark Friedman and Will O’Neill, along with Sanheim, did end up beating Myers in on-ice scoring chances, but a fourth place finish there is still impressive enough.
It should be made clear that these numbers do lack context, and watching the games leads me to believe that Myers saw a high amount of defensive zone starts and played tougher competition. On the flip side, it felt like both Friedman and O’Neill were a bit sheltered at times, especially while paired together, and used in primarily offensive situations. That’s not a slight against them, their numbers, 55.22% and 52.96% respectively, speak for themselves, rather a tidbit of information that makes Myers’ numbers all the more impressive.
What’s also great is that his goal differential actually exceeds his play driving numbers, giving those who don’t put much weight into shot metrics a reason to view his season as a success from a statistical standpoint as well.
The ups and downs of Myers’ play driving metrics
After starting the season strong, Myers’ numbers began to dip around the middle of November, and perhaps this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given that this was around the same time that his injury troubles began. After missing two games in late October, Myers would return to game action for just three before missing another four. This would happen yet again following his second return to the lineup on November 15th, when he managed to stay in the lineup for only five games before missing almost an entire month. Later it would come out that he had been battling a groin injury, and it was clear that he wasn’t playing at 100% during this time - something his shot metrics reflect.
His rolling average began to climb once he was able to stay healthy and in the lineup for an extended period of time, reaching as high as 63.90% in early March. Some of this surge certainly had to do with the fact that Myers was paired with Sanheim through the entirety of February and the first few games of March, but his own play deserves just as much credit. I don’t have the ability to figure out with or without you numbers just yet, but given that the two played almost exclusively together during Sanheim’s stint in the AHL, we can figure out a rough estimate of their numbers as a pair.
From January 24th through March 4th, Myers played in 17 games and had a 5-on-5 CF% of 54.35. Following Sanheim’s recall to Philadelphia, Myers would go on to post a 54.84% CF, suggesting that he was able to continue to play at that level without Travis by his side. That’s not perfect of course, as the quality of their opponents differed over the course of the two stretches of games, but it’s a great sign nevertheless. March wasn’t all positives for Myers though, as an injury would make him miss the final eight games of the regular season. Thankfully his absence wasn’t felt in the playoffs as he was able to make his return to the lineup in game one and go on to play in every game of the Phantoms’ three playoff rounds.
Speaking of the playoffs, Phil shined throughout with seven points in thirteen games, but one incredible performance stood out in particular. In the Phantoms’ history making quintuple overtime win versus the Charlotte Checkers, Myers played just over 66 minutes that night while posting a +15.88% CF Rel, along with a +17.14% SCF Rel. While Alex Lyon and Alex Krushelnyski had the headlines, rightfully so, Myers’ impact throughout both regulation and the five overtime periods shouldn’t be overlooked. His performance and effort in that game was incredible to watch.
Three Burning Questions
1. Did Myers live up to our expectations for this season?
Definitely. I’d say he probably exceeded a lot of our expectations. Just take this quote from Phantoms’ head coach Scott Gordon back in late January via The Morning Call:
“When you look at Travis last year and probably around January is when Travis started to hit his stride where he just wasn’t a body out there,” Gordon said. “He started making contributions offensively and defensively. Now with Phil, when you consider that the last three or four weeks he’s played some of his best hockey but he’s done it in half the amount of time because he’s missed half the games and he’s missed half the practices. You wonder where he’d be right now if didn’t have the nagging injuries.”
Yeah, he showed a similar amount of progression by the end of January that Travis Sanheim did during his rookie season, except Phil did it with way less playing time. If you expected more than that, your expectations were way too high to begin with.
2. What do we expect from Myers next season?
We should expect to see Myers in a Philadelphia Flyers jersey this season. Whether that happens at the start of the season or in the middle of the season as an injury call-up will depend on how he plays in camp, preseason, and whether or not Hextall adds another veteran defenseman via a trade. Whichever the case may be, I have a hard time envisioning a scenario that doesn’t include Myers making his NHL debut during the 2018-19 season.
3. What would we like to see Myers improve on?
Discipline. During the regular season Myers had a penalty differential of -21, by far the worst on the team. His twenty-seven minor penalties put him in a tie with Nicolas Aube-Kubel for the most minors taken by a Phantom. Sure, a couple of these were unavoidable and “good” penalties to take, but too many of them were unnecessary and at times retaliatory. While it’d be beneficial to him and the team if he stayed out of the box more, the good news is that this isn’t something that holds a player back from hitting their full potential at the NHL level. Just last season Dustin Byfuglien (-28) and Dougie Hamilton (-26), both top pairing defensemen, had the two worst penalty differentials in the entire NHL.
Data via Prospect-Stats and Phancy Stats