Is it time to be worried about the Flyers?

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Is it time to be worried about the Flyers?

Maybe it wasn’t their worst effort of the season. It was their worst loss.

There have been some ugly results for the Flyers this year. They fell to Florida in a shootout at home. They dropped a game early to Tampa on the road. They got upended by Toronto -- twice. All of those were bad. But this? As beatings go, this beat them all.

The Flyers were up three goals. They were at home. They were facing their cross-state rival midway through a truncated season. It was a game the coach and the players all agreed they needed to win.

They didn’t win. Penguins 5, Flyers 4 (see game recap).

So, was it the worst loss of the year?

“Yeah,” Claude Giroux allowed. “I mean, when you’re up 4-1, you have to find a way to close a game up. We know they’re a good team offensively. If we give them power plays, they’re going to put it back in our net and that’s what happened.”

The Flyers needed a win on Thursday. They knew it and you knew it. There is no denying the importance or the leftover disappointment after a game like that. Because they had it. It was there for them. Then they gave it away.

There were five goals in the first period alone. The Flyers scored four of them. Jake Voracek registered two by himself, at least one of which was a gross victimization of Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. It was an embarrassing start for Fleury, who looked like he wanted to slink out the side door and bury his head in all the snow that never came this week. In what can only be described as a mercy move by Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma, Fleury was yanked to start the second period -- probably so he could lick his wounds and stitch together what was left of his pride.

It was a great first period. But, as Peter Laviolette later lamented, “the second period was, really, the opposite of the first period.”

The Penguins scored. Then they scored again. Then they tied the game. The Flyers looked like someone had come along and sucker punched them in the gut. Except it wasn’t a sucker punch. They saw it coming and they still couldn’t stop it.

“Before you know it, it’s 4-4,” Scott Hartnell said. “We just can’t do that. It’s embarrassing to the fans, it’s embarrassing to one another, and we let two points slip away.”

By the third period, Ilya Bryzgalov was out and Brian Boucher was in. It didn’t matter. Penguins winger Chris Kunitz scored 18 seconds into the final frame and that was that. Another game. Another upside-down result for the flailing Flyers.

Boucher said they took their “foot off the gas just a little bit,” but it was more like they stomped on the brakes while going full speed and then everyone went flying through the windshield. It was a grotesque crash.

“It was a big letdown,” Scott Hartnell said. Then he added, “If we play like that, it will be a long summer.”

Hartnell was hinting at what you already know: The season just began -- and yet it’s almost over. They are running out of time.

The Flyers (11-13-1) only have 23 games remaining. They are currently on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, their smudged noses pressed against the glass looking in at all the other teams ahead of them. Beating Pittsburgh could have acted as a catalyst to propel them through the rest of the year. Instead, you wonder if it will slow their progress.

As only Bryzgalov could put it, over the first half of the season, the Flyers were “not good” (see video). Win one. Lose win. Suffer an injury. Repeat. As treading water goes, the Flyers managed to keep their heads right around surface level despite the skates and pads and heavy expectations weighing them down. They can’t keep that up forever. Either they find a way to buoy themselves or they will be dragged under before long.

That’s where the Flyers are at the moment. Despite the harsh reality, Zac Rinaldo tried to play it cool in the locker room after the game.

“We’re not worried,” Zac Rinaldo insisted.

Then he said it again.

“We’re not worried,” Rinaldo repeated.

Given the circumstances, that is hard to believe. If they aren’t worried, they ought to be.

NHL Notes: Predators acquire P.K. Subban from Canadiens for Shea Weber

NHL Notes: Predators acquire P.K. Subban from Canadiens for Shea Weber

The Nashville Predators pulled off a blockbuster before the start of free agency Wednesday by acquiring P.K. Subban from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Shea Weber, a swap of All-Star defensemen.

Subban won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman in 2013 and had six goals and 45 assists last season before suffering an injury. The offensive-minded, dynamic 27-year-old has 63 goals and 215 assists in 434 career games, all with the Canadiens.

Weber, who turns 31 on Aug. 14, had been with Nashville since the start of his NHL career in 2005. He signed a $110 million, 14-year offer sheet with Philadelphia as a restricted free agent in 2012, but Nashville matched it to keep him. The three-time Norris Trophy finalist was a team captain and had 20 goals and 31 assists last season.

Devils: Adam Larsson traded to Oilers for former No. 1 pick Taylor Hall 
NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils have acquired former No. 1 overall draft pick Taylor Hall from the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Adam Larsson.

The teams announced the trade Wednesday, two days before the start of free agency.

The trade gives the goal-starved Devils an exciting young left wing who was the No. 1 pick overall in 2014. The Oilers get a solid defenseman who was the No. 4 overall selection in 2011.

The 24-year-old Hall spent his entire six-year career with the Oilers, collecting 132 goals and 196 assists in 381 NHL games. He has led Edmonton in scoring for three of the last four seasons, and has finished in the top three on the squad in each of his six seasons. This past year, he had 26 goals and 39 assists. He represented the Oilers at the 2016 NHL All-Star Game.

Larsson had 3 goals and 15 assists, playing in all 82 games on the Devils' top defensive pairing.

Blue Jackets: Seth Jones signs 6-year deal worth $32.4 million
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed defenseman Seth Jones to a $32.4 million, six-year contract.

Jones will count $5.4 million against the salary cap through the 2020-21 NHL season. He was a pending restricted free agent.

General manager Jarmo Kekalainen says reaching a long-term agreement with Jones was an offseason priority.

Agent Pat Brisson confirmed the terms of the contract, which includes a modified no-trade clause in years five and six.

Jones was the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft to the Nashville Predators. The Blue Jackets acquired him in a January trade that sent center Ryan Johansen to Nashville.

In three NHL seasons, the 21-year-old Jones has 17 goals and 66 assists for 83 points. Kekalainen says Jones was just beginning to tap into his potential.

Lightning: Steven Stamkos elects to re-sign 
Two people familiar with the decision have confirmed to The Associated Press that Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is staying put in Tampa Bay.

The people spoke on the condition of anonymity on Wednesday because the Lightning have not announced the decision. Details of the contract weren't immediately available.

The agreement was reached two days before the 26-year-old Stamkos had the opportunity to test free agency, where he was expected to command lucrative offers from numerous bidders, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings.

Instead, the two-time NHL scoring champ chose to stay with the franchise that selected him with the No. 1 pick in the 2008 draft.

Blues: Kyle Brodziak signs 2-year contract extension
ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues have signed forward Kyle Brodziak to a two-year contract extension.

The 32-year-old Brodziak had two goals in the playoffs after totaling 11 points in 76 regular-season games leading the checking line.

The 11-year veteran also has played for Edmonton and Minnesota and has 239 points in 697 career games. He was a seventh-round draft pick by the Oilers in 2003.

The Blues also announced Wednesday that the Chicago Wolves, their American Hockey League affiliate, have named Craig Berube head coach. The 50-year-old Berube, former head coach at Philadelphia from 2013-15, got a two-year contract.

Berube played 17 seasons with the Flyers, Maple Leafs, Flames, Capitals and Islanders.

Sabres: Casey Nelson signs 2-year contract extension
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres have signed defenseman Casey Nelson to a two-year contract extension.

Nelson made his NHL debut in March last season after signing a one-year deal with Buffalo shortly after completing his college career at Minnesota State. He had four assists in seven games with the Sabres.

He will have an opportunity to compete for a spot on the Sabres roster this season.

In college, the 6-foot-2, 183-pound Nelson was the WCHA's defensive player of the year last season. Overall, the Wisconsin native had 14 goals and 46 assists for 60 points in 99 career college games.

Flyers kick off annual developmental camp next Thursday

Flyers kick off annual developmental camp next Thursday

The Flyers' annual developmental camp opens next Thursday at Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, and concludes on July 11.

The following day, the rookies and prospects — 34 in all — head to Stone Harbor for the Trial on the Isle.

This camp is overseen by developmental coaches John Riley and Kjell Samuelsson. This is mostly a drills 'n skills exercise highlighted by a 3-on-3 tournament at the very end.

“This is a week for you to get better,” general manager Ron Hextall said. “We are not going to evaluate you. We’re going to find ways to try and make you better, try and send you away with certain things to work on the rest of the summer to make yourself better.

“So we’re very strict about that. I tell everybody on our staff, no evaluations here. You want to have the kids unguarded where they say, ‘Hey, I feel like I need to work on this,’ and bang, John Riley or Kjell Samuelsson give them a template to work on, whatever they need to work on, strength coach. So that’s the time we really want them to try and get better.”

The real “camp” starts with full Flyers training camp in September.

“Training camp is different,” Hextall said. “Kids who played really well in junior have given themselves a leg up in trying to make our team. That’s really the first part of the tryout.”

This year’s development camp includes nine of the Flyers’ 10 selections from last week’s NHL draft in Buffalo, as well as the club’s first-round selections from 2013 through 2015.

A total of 16 forwards, 12 defensemen and six goaltenders are scheduled to attend.

Center German Rubtsov, the Flyers’ first-round pick (No. 22) from this year’s draft, won’t be attending the developmental camp. He was slated to return to Russia before the July 4 holiday.

On-ice is tentatively scheduled for 8:30 a.m. by specific groups, starting on July 7 with goalies. Skaters won’t be on the ice before 10 a.m.

The 3-on-3 tournament on July 11 begins at 3 p.m.

For a complete camp roster, click here.

2016 Flyers free-agent fit: Blackhawks LW Andrew Ladd

2016 Flyers free-agent fit: Blackhawks LW Andrew Ladd

Each day until July 1, the day free agency begins, CSNPhilly.com producers Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone will profile some of the NHL's top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.

Andrew Ladd, left wing

Age: 30
Height: 6-3
Weight: 200
Last team: Chicago Blackhawks
2015-16 cap hit: $4.4 million

Scouting report
The No. 4 overall pick in 2004 by the Carolina Hurricanes, Ladd has won two Stanley Cups, one with Carolina in 2006 and one with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.

Ladd used a dominant rookie season in the WHL with the Calgary Hitmen in 2003-04 to elevate himself into a top-5 pick, and has built a reputation of being a leader in the NHL.

An 11-year veteran, Ladd has played for three teams and captained the Winnipeg Jets’ franchise from 2010 when it was still in Atlanta until last season, when the Jets traded him back to the Blackhawks before the trade deadline for Chicago’s postseason run.

He first broke into the NHL during the 2005-06 season, his first year of professional hockey, which he began in the AHL. His call-up came in November, but a knee injury suffered in December kept him out until February when he went back to the AHL.

In March 2006, Carolina brought him back up for its postseason run, and Ladd contributed five points in 17 playoff games as the ‘Canes won their only Stanley Cup.

Carolina traded Ladd to Chicago at the trade deadline of the 2007-08 season, where the winger spent the next three seasons. In 2008-09, he scored 15 goals in 82 games.

With the Blackhawks in 2009-10, Ladd added 17 goals in the regular season and six points in the playoffs, but made his mark with five points in the Final against the Flyers.

Because of cap restraints, Chicago traded Ladd to Atlanta that offseason, where his career took off. He potted a career-high 29 goals in his first season with the Thrashers.

Ladd’s best season came in 2014-15, when he registered career-highs in assists (38) and points (62). He had 17 goals and 17 assists with the Jets last season in 59 games before Winnipeg sent him back to Chicago, where he had eight goals in 19 games.

He had two points for the Blackhawks, who were bounced by the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference quarterfinals in seven games.

Projection
In terms of fit, Ladd would be a nice complementary piece for the Flyers.

Ladd, 30, possesses a solid two-way game and isn’t afraid to throw his body around. He’s a big winger who can score and would complement Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek well. If not on the top line, he’d be a healthy supplement on the second line.

Because the Flyers are looking for a winger with size, Ladd could be someone on general manager Ron Hextall’s radar come Friday, but it comes down to financial fit.

The Flyers have less than $12 million in cap space, according to generalfanager.com, and still have to re-sign Brayden Schenn to a healthy raise as well as a few others. Hextall would also like to have $2 million reserve in space for the season (see story)

We have to figure Ladd will cost somewhere between $4.5 million and $5 million. Can Hextall fit that on the books without moving another piece? I don’t know.

It might be tough to squeeze Ladd in cap-wise, but he would fit well here in terms of what the Flyers are looking for — a big, scoring winger.