Hal Gill a Long Shot for Flyers Roster, Just Happy to Be Here

Hal Gill a Long Shot for Flyers Roster, Just Happy to Be Here

Over the weekend we learned the Flyers invited 38-year-old defenseman and 15-year NHL veteran Hal Gill to training camp, which opens this Thursday already believe it or not. Given the problems the Orange & Black had in their own end last season, it’s good to see they are still looking into options even as the start of the season rushes forth.

Of course, Gill is only with Philadelphia on a tryout basis for now, and it seems likely that’s all it will be. A huge part of the problem the Flyers had last season were injuries, but as Tim Panaccio points out, the club’s blueliners (minus Chris Pronger) are all healthy heading into this year’s camp. With nine defensemen already competing for ice time, Gill has his work cut out for him.

No matter, says Gill. He tells Panotch he’s just happy for any opportunity to continue playing, and it sounds as though he’s prepared to find another sweater to wear once his time in Philly runs out. Per our CSN insider on Sunday:

“I think I can go in and do the best I can,” Gill told CSNPhilly.com. “I know throughout the year there is going to be changes. I am certainly not looking at it as a guaranteed spot.”

“My agents talked to [Flyers GM Paul] Holmgren and I’ve been looking for a contract and also trying to get into a camp and be competitive and get into some games,” Gill said.

“I’ve been talking to Holmgren. I can go in there and at least be a presence in camp. Be a veteran in camp and help out that way and get in some games. It works out that way.”

Gill played 32 games for the Nashville Predators in a condensed 2013 season, logging a minus-3 over a little more than 13 minutes of ice time per night. He’s clearly lost a step at this stage of his career, and was never much of an offensive threat. However, Gill may still be able to help a club in a limited role as a third-line defenseman, or even on the penalty kill.

That club probably won’t be the Flyers though. One of Homer’s big moves this offseason was to bring in Mark Streit from the New York Islanders, while the Flyers also have a bevy of young players in their system who could push for ice time this season or in the near future. But again, it’s good to see the team is willing to exhaust all possibilities.

>> Gill on tryout with Flyers: 'A chance to play' [CSN]

Wayne Simmonds stars as Flyers top Predators, push win streak to 5 games

Wayne Simmonds stars as Flyers top Predators, push win streak to 5 games

BOX SCORE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Dave Hakstol likes Wayne Simmonds’ net-front play more than that of any player in the league.

The Flyers' power forward showed on Sunday why his coach thinks that way.

Simmonds’ two power-play goals in front of the crease helped extend the Flyers’ win streak to five, their longest of the season, in a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Sunday night (see Instant Replay).

“If there’s a better guy in the league at net front, whether it’s on power play or 5 on 5, I don’t know who that is,” said Hakstol said after Sunday's victory. “He did a great job there tonight.”

Simmonds’ first goal came when he deflected Jake Voracek’s shot past Juuse Saros, giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead at 18:12 of the first period.

“They had great movement around the top of the box and Jake told me to go back door if he was going to get it for a one-timer,” Simmonds said. “So I stuck my stick out back door and he hit it, and it went in the net.”

Then Simmonds batted a puck through Saros' legs for a 2-1 advantage at 6:47 of the second period for his team-leading 13th goal of the season.

“It was kind of a little bit of a cluster and the puck comes to me, and I’m alone in front of the net so I just put it five-hole and it worked,” Simmonds said.

The right wing’s father was watching in the sellout crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena during the Flyers' annual father-son trip.

“It was nice, obviously,” Simmonds said. “I just went outside and saw him. He didn’t really say much to me, but I know he’s glowing on the inside.”

Simmonds has now scored 10 career goals in 20 games against Nashville.

“What I really like about Simmer is he’s at net-front, he’s scoring goals, he’s on the power play, but he’s a great, hard-nosed, 200-foot player,” Hakstol said.

Simmonds’ goals gave the Flyers an early spark on Sunday.

“It was huge,” said Flyers left wing Michael Raffl, who scored the winning goal at 16:37 of the second period when made a power move on a rush and tucked the puck past Saros. “That gives us all the momentum.”

The Flyers improved to 7-3-1 in their last 11 games.

“We’re just trying to take care of pucks and maintain the pressure that we have,” Simmonds said. “The next shift up every game is the most important shift and that’s how we’re trying to play it here.”

Predators coach Peter Laviolette, a former Flyers coach, wasn’t surprised by his former team’s power-play success. The Flyers entered the game tied for the third best power play in the league cashed in twice on seven chances on Sunday.

“We knew going in that their power play was really good,” Laviolette said. “Their players have a lot of time together and cohesiveness and they’re pretty set in what they do. They bring pucks to the net and when they do that, things can happen. That was a difference in the game tonight.”

Winning goalie Steve Mason has started 10 of the last 11 games. He made 30 saves Sunday to improve his record to 8-8-3.

“This is the situation I want to be in, so it’s a workload that all summer you prepare for even when I was not getting the work load I wanted,” Mason said. “You prepare for it and now that it’s here I’m making the most of it.”

Sources: Phillies close to signing reliever Joaquin Benoit

Sources: Phillies close to signing reliever Joaquin Benoit

WASHINGTON – It looks as if the Phillies will have some action at the winter meetings.

The team is close to signing veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, sources tell CSNPhilly.com. The winter meetings officially begin on Monday. The signing is expected to be announced before the meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, is a veteran of 15 seasons in the majors. He is coming off a strong 2016 season in which he pitched in 51 games for Seattle and Toronto and recorded a 2.81 ERA.

Benoit began the 2016 season with the Mariners and had a 5.18 ERA in 26 games. He was traded to Toronto in July and gave up just one run in 23 2/3 innings over 25 games, but did not pitch in the postseason after suffering a torn calf muscle in late September.

The right-hander has pitched for six teams in his career and has a lifetime 3.79 ERA in 712 games.

Entering the offseason, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said he wanted to improve the bullpen. He opened the offseason by trading for veteran right-hander Pat Neshek and last week claimed lefty David Rollins off waivers from Texas. Now, Klentak is poised to add Benoit.

Benoit has mostly pitched in a setup role in his career, but he does have closer experience. It is unclear what role he’d pitch in for the Phillies. The Phils have Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Neris returning to the back of their bullpen in 2017. Benoit could complement that pair or the Phillies could choose to trade Gomez or Neris.

Neris pitched in 79 games in 2016 and had a 2.58 ERA, so the Phillies would only deal him if they were to get a strong package of talent in return.