Flyers Notes: Anthony Stolarz's injury, offseason surgeries and more

Flyers Notes: Anthony Stolarz's injury, offseason surgeries and more

VOORHEES, N.J. -- On the night the Lehigh Valley Phantoms punched their ticket for the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs, Flyers prospect Anthony Stolarz went down.

The 23-year-old goalie left Wednesday's 2-1 shootout win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 1:32 into the first period with what appears to be a lower-body injury.

According to Tony Androckitis of Highland Park Hockey, Stolarz was seen on crutches after the game, while the Phantoms did not have an update on his status.

Stolarz, of course, is expected to be a piece of the Flyers' future and will be in the running for a job with the big club during training camp come fall.

A serious injury could impact his preparation for such.

How serious is it?

"I don't know yet on Stolie," general manager Ron Hextall said Thursday at his end-of-the-season press conference. "I don't have the whole ball of information there on Stolie, but it doesn’t look like he'll be healthy in the real near future, I guess is fair to say."

Will he play in the Calder Cup Playoffs, which start next week?

"I don't know that," Hextall said.

Stolarz made his NHL debut this season and finished 2-1-1 with a 2.07 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in seven games (four starts).

The Flyers' goaltending situation next season is far from sacrosanct. Michal Neuvirth signed a two-year contract extension at the March 1 trade deadline, while Steve Mason can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. It's possible the Flyers leave Neuvirth unprotected for the June expansion draft and Hextall did not rule out re-signing Mason.

A lot remains up in the air, which impacts the 6-foot-6, 210-pound Stolarz.

"We'll work through our process here and in the end, we'll figure out what's our best option for next year, and the following year and after," Hextall said of his goalies for 2017-18. "We do have kids coming, and I think everybody knows it. I don't have a lot of interest in getting into a long, drawn-out deal with a goaltender, but again, we'll look at our options and move when we feel is our best option at the appropriate time."

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol was impressed with Stolarz.

"From the small sample size, everything I saw in Stolie was headed in the right direction," Hakstol said. "Whether he's ready to be a full-time NHL goaltender, I think we have to wait and see where he's at in training camp. That's the next step for him, is to earn a full-time NHL position and full-time NHL job. Certainly, the work that he did for us, even after he got through the early jitters in a couple of his early performances, was sound and solid."

Weise, Manning surgeries
At the end of each NHL season, most teams are typically banged up with a handful of players who need surgeries.

The Flyers, however, were left in decent shape.

Winger Dale Weise underwent surgery Wednesday for bone spurs in his elbow.

Defenseman Brandon Manning, who suffered from back issues in the second half of the season, will have surgery to remove a small fragment from one of his discs.

"It's a very mundane procedure, is my understanding," Hextall said, "so he should be fine.

"At this point, that's it. From a health perspective, we're in pretty good shape."

2017 IIHF World Championship
Team Canada will be well-represented by the Flyers for the 2017 IIHF World Championship. Hextall is general manager and Hakstol will serve as an assistant coach.

Will Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux suit up for the Canadians?

According to a report by TSN's Darren Dreger, Simmonds and Giroux have been named to the roster.

"That's all yet to be determined," Hakstol said. "I'll leave that to the GM of Team Canada, I'll leave those things to Ron."

Nothing is official yet.

"I think there's some assumptions we can make, I don't know if any of them have really been solidified yet," Hakstol said. "I think there's probably going to be a half dozen of our players that potentially are going to be there and be part of the tournament."

The tournament begins on May 5.

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

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John Boruk/CSNPhilly.com

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

The opportunity to watch a Briere play again in Philadelphia will be an exciting reality for hockey fans this season.

No, Danny Briere isn’t coming out of retirement as the former Flyers forward has committed to handling the day-to-day operations of the organization’s newest ECHL team.  

However, Briere will be keeping close tabs on his younger son, Carson, who’s currently on the Philadelphia Rebels' 30-man roster and is setting his sights on making the team’s final cuts during training camp.

“It’s great,” Briere said Monday. “Growing up here for most of my life, I love Philly. It’s fun getting to play in the same city that [my dad] did. Whenever I think of him playing, I always think of that playoff run [in 2010] for the Flyers.”

After spending the past two seasons at IceWorks in Aston, Pennsylvania, the NAHL’s (North American Hockey League) Rebels are moving their operation to the Penn Ice Rink at the Class of 1923 Arena, where they made the formal announcement on Monday. It will be the organization’s third different home rink in the past four seasons after relocating from the Rio Grande Valley in 2015.

“It was a no-brainer,” team owner Marko Dundovich said. “When the opportunity presented itself, it was very easy. I think it will give the boys a better opportunity to play, get them seen and I think it’s going to continue to grow here, and our business and organization will do much better here.”

The Rebels and junior hockey simply didn’t attract a broad appeal in the Philadelphia suburbs like ownership had hoped, and as a result, attendance lagged as the team typically averaged around 125 fans a game.

“It was the first time we tried Junior A hockey here,” Dundovich said. “If we had a 300-, 400- or 500-person fan base, we would have been OK in Aston, but I think it was tough to sell a junior hockey ticket in Aston. It’s a difficult sell in a small town.”   

Conversely, hockey fans in Philadelphia haven’t had much of an alternative to the Flyers since the Phantoms left the city in 2009 for Glens Falls, New York. Rebels forward Aaron Maguyon, who stays with former Flyers captain Keith Primeau throughout the season, feels the team cannot only fill the 2,500-seat ice rink, but the players will greatly benefit from the college vibe.  

“I think it prepares us for the future and playing college hockey, for sure, so in that way, it’s like a sneak peek for what’s to come," Maguyon said. "I think it helps pull guys closer together. We have restaurants we can go to or just activities we can do in the city."

According to the league website, the NAHL set a new single-season NCAA record with 280-plus commitments, and the Rebels had 12 commit to Divison I programs. Head coach Joe Coombs has built a tier-II junior hockey powerhouse over the past two years. Last season, the Rebels finished with the NAHL’s best regular-season record, advancing to the championship game of the Robertson Cup in Duluth, Minnesota, where they came up short in a 2-0 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas. 

“This is business,” Coombs said. “Let’s bring the game to the people. Over the last two years, we struggled with our attendance. I didn’t even know this place was here — UPenn hockey rink — and we couldn’t think of a better venue right here in University City to try and market our brand of hockey and bring our game to the people.”  

And who knows? You might just see a few former Flyers in the seats, as well.  

NHL Notes: Penguins sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin to 6-year contract

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USA Today Images

NHL Notes: Penguins sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin to 6-year contract

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin has turned his steady play for the Stanley Cup champions into a new contract.

Dumoulin and the team agreed to a six-year deal on Monday that will run through the 2022-23 season and will pay him an average of $4.1 million per year.

The 25-year-old Dumoulin had three goals and 11 assists during Pittsburgh's run to the Cup this spring and hasn't missed a playoff game during the team's sprint to back-to-back titles.

Dumoulin averaged a team-high 21:59 of ice time this postseason, and his plus-9 rating was best among Penguins defensemen. Dumoulin was forced to take on a larger roll this spring after injuries forced Kris Letang to miss the playoffs.

Predators: Watson signs 3-year, $3.3 million deal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year $3.3 million deal keeping him under contract through 2019-20.

The Predators announced the deal Monday.

Watson will earn $1 million this season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in the third year.

The 25-year-old forward is coming off his best season yet with Nashville. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound Watson had a career high with five goals and seven assists in 77 games this past season. Watson scored four goals and had nine points in 22 playoff games helping Nashville reach the Stanley Cup Final.

The 18th pick overall in the 2010 draft, Watson had three goals and 10 points in 57 games during the 2015-16 season.

Now, center Ryan Johansen is Nashville's lone restricted free agent awaiting a new deal.

Sabres: Okposo says he’s healthy after concussion
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sabres winger Kyle Okposo said he is fully healthy after a concussion led to sleeping trouble, significant weight loss and a trip to intensive care last March.

Okposo missed the final few weeks of Buffalo's season with a previously undisclosed illness. In a letter posted on the team's website Monday, Okposo said a routine hit in practice caused his mood to change and other problems that required hospitalization.

The 29-year-old said he lost his appetite, had a negative reaction to sleep medications and that at one point he weighed less than 200 pounds. He spent time in the Neuro Surgical ICU at Buffalo General Hospital to be stabilized. Okposo's playing weight is listed at 218 pounds.

Okposo played in a 4-on-4 summer league game in Minnesota with other NHL players last week and reported feeling great. New general manager Jason Botterill said Okposo was on track to be ready for training camp.

"I've worked with a lot of different people -- concussion experts and people who have dealt with concussions themselves -- and I feel confident in the fact that I can play hockey again," Okposo said in the letter. "In fact, I know I can play again. I know I can play and not worry about hitting my head, which is a major hurdle for someone who's dealt with this. If I didn't feel 100 percent right now, that probably wouldn't be the case."

Okposo's last NHL game was March 27 against Florida. He had 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points in 65 games during his first season with Buffalo. He signed a $42 million, seven-year contract with the Sabres last summer.

NHL: Gamble to get back Hall of Fame ring
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A scuba-diving treasure hunter who found an American Hockey League Hall of Fame ring in one of New York's Finger Lakes is returning it to its owner.

Gary Gavurnik, of Auburn, New York, plans to return the prized ring to former AHL star Dick Gamble on Monday. Gavurnik found it with a metal detector in Canandaigua Lake over the Fourth of July weekend.

The 88-year-old Canadian-born Gamble starred for the AHL's Rochester Americans and retired early in the 1969-70 season. He was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2007.

Instead of wearing the ring, though, he gave it to his son, Craig, who wore it every day for seven years before losing it in the lake. He never told his dad and ordered a replacement.