Pint-sized Pettersson likes to play physical


Pint-sized Pettersson likes to play physical

One way to describe Stockholm-born defensive prospect Jesper Pettersson?

Though he’s barely 5-foot-8, he’s 187 pounds, as wide as an aircraft carrier and has the muscle to back it up.
“Height-wise, he is small, but stature-wise, he is wide and really strong on his feet and competitive,” said Chris Pryor, the Flyers' director of scouting.
You might find it strange the Flyers quickly signed their seventh-round pick (198th overall) from June’s draft this week, well ahead of others, but there’s a reason.
At 19, Pettersson is eligible to play for the Phantoms this season. The Flyers wanted to get that resolved now so he'll be ready in time for training camp this fall.
“Yeah, he was able to come over and play this year,” Pryor said. “That was intriguing for us. We’ve seen him a lot over there. The kid got a chance to play over here, and it was part of the conversation.”
Pettersson, who completed his final day of Flyers development camp on Tuesday, admitted to being surprised that things unfolded so quickly for him.
“I didn’t think I would come to this camp and they would sign me,” he said. “I was a little surprised, but I’m happy it happened.”
Actually, Pettersson had his sights set on the Phantoms all along after playing 48 games with Linköping’s top club in the Swedish Hockey League last year.
“I knew I was gonna play here when I got drafted,” he said. “It’s something I talked about for a long time.”
His three-year, entry-level deal -- like all others -- is two-way and has bonuses for games played. At the very least, he would earn $575,000 in NHL salary. If he hits the "games played” bonus, that goes up to $645,000.
He may be small, but Pettersson threw his weight around during the scrimmage drills on the camp’s final day.
Size is always going to be an issue for him if makes the NHL. Then again, there have been other small but physical defensemen in the league.
Kimmo Timonen comes to mind. Barely 5-10, wide and “thick,” as they say.
Pettersson’s idol as a kid growing into his hockey skates was a fellow Swede.
“Yeah, Niklas Lidstrom I looked at,” he said. “He was really easy with his play, easy things.”
How Pettersson handles 230-pound forwards coming at him with speed will go a long way toward determining whether he has an NHL career.
“It’s been my whole life,” Pettersson said of his height. “Many people say I’m a small player and I’m too small to play. I always go into the corner with a big guy. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big or small guy.
“It doesn’t matter how small or big I am. I’m comfortable with my style."
He’ll need a few years at the AHL level to adjust.
“He has to get acclimated,” Pryor said. “The ice, the angles are different, not as much time or space. It’s a different game when they come over.”
Smaller players can play far more freely and without injury on the larger ice surface of Europe. Not so much here where they are more vulnerable to the hits and have less room to maneuver.
“You can probably go back and forth," Pryor said. “Some guys say it is an easier game over here because you have less time and space.
“Jesper is very competitive with good feet and very aware defensively without the puck. He plays a solid defensive game. He should pick up the game quickly over here.”
Pettersson is looking toward his first year in the AHL to show people he can take the punishment.
“I like the physical play,” he said. “On the small rinks, you get more physical, more hits. That’s what I like.”

Flyers Injury Update: Jordan Weal practices, but won't play vs. Capitals

Flyers Injury Update: Jordan Weal practices, but won't play vs. Capitals

VOORHEES, N.J. — Jordan Weal participated in the Flyers' full practice Tuesday at Skate Zone but will remain out of the lineup against Washington on Wednesday with an apparent concussion.

He was nailed in Edmonton by Oilers defenseman Eric Gryba. The hit in the corner came at 13:57 of the opening period.

Video replays show Gryba sandwiched Weal hard on the boards with Weal striking his head and right shoulder, then falling to the ice. Actually, Gryba hit him earlier in the period as well, but it was the second hit that seemed to go the most damage. 

Weal said both he and trainer Jim McCrossin agreed it was better to not return to the game after the second hit.

“He kind of drove me in pretty good there,” Weal said. “It’s a hockey play, though. Not much you can do.” 

The Flyers are being cautious with the head injury.

Coach Dave Hakstol was vague as to when Weal would re-enter the lineup. Weal had just been called up last week to replace Travis Konecny, who was placed on IR.

“I feel good,” said Weal, who took extra practice on Tuesday. “It definitely has been progressing every day. ... I’m day-to-day and as soon as I’m ready to go, I’m ready to go.

“It’s one of those injuries you just have to take your time with. I think when I feel I’m ready to play, I’ll be in.

“It’s frustrating. But it’s part of the game. With these injuries, it’s tougher than if it was, say your finger or your shin or something where you could put ice on it and get it better. You just have to treat it right and get back as quick as I can.”

Gudas’ departure
Defenseman Radko Gudas left early during what was a brief but long-delayed 45-minute practice on Tuesday.

What was noteworthy about Gudas’ departure, however, was that he picked up his gear and headed back to the dressing room while both trainers remained on the bench.

So he wasn’t injured.

Immediate speculation was that he might have been traded. An hour later, general manager Ron Hextall announced Gudas had had a dentist appointment to fix a broken tooth, incurred during the recent road trip.

Needless to say, Gudas’ leaving blew up Twitter with trade rumors.

Lower, lower body
Jake Voracek took a shot below the belt and couldn't stand for a few minutes near the end of practice. He remained in obvious pain in the dressing room and did not talk … as if he could. 

Michael Del Zotto on trade watch as NHL deadline nears

Michael Del Zotto on trade watch as NHL deadline nears

VOORHEES, N.J. — Michael Del Zotto knows the score.

With the NHL trade deadline just a week away, this can be a very uncomfortable time of year for an unrestricted free-agent-to-be.

Players who are expecting a pay day on a club where there are at least two or three younger and far less expensive rookies anticipating a promotion, know what that implies.

They’re on trade watch.

“It happens every year,” Del Zotto said. “It’s not like it’s the first time. I’ve been traded before. It is what it is. It’s a business.

“You realize that pretty early in your career. I understand where I’m at as far as my contract, being a UFA this summer.

“Same thing with taking each game one day at a time. You take each day one day at a time. Go home, make dinner, get ready for tomorrow and whatever happens, happens.”

The 26-year-old Del Zotto was traded in 2013-14 from the New York Rangers to Nashville. That trade occurred in January, well before the deadline, during a season after which he was about to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time.

That same summer, Del Zotto signed a one-year deal with the Flyers for $1.3 million. His current deal pays him $3.875 million. He’d have to take a pay cut to stay here given the long line of prospects ready to step in at a first-year NHL salary and that fact he has struggled defensively this season.

Del Zotto averages 19:23 ice time. He has 10 points in 32 games and is second among Flyers defensemen with 113 hits. He’s missed a total of 22 games this season with two different injuries, one to his left knee, the other to his left leg.

If you had a chart ranking of Flyers likely to be dealt at next Wednesday’s deadline, Del Zotto would be No. 1, with Mark Streit and one of the Flyers’ two goalies right behind him.

If possible, general manager Ron Hextall would like to add draft picks at the deadline.

“It’s a business and these things are out of your control,” Del Zotto said.

When he was traded to Nashville a few years ago, Del Zotto said he saw it coming.

“Anytime it does happen, and for the first time, it hits you hard,” he said. “Being in New York, I had my brother and wife living with me, it made it extra tough. With our schedule being tough, you don’t get to see them very often, but with them living with me, it was pretty special.

“That’s what hurt the most. Leaving my family. I decided, it’s a business and you never know when it can or can’t happen ...”

The line behind him in Philadelphia includes Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers, etc.  

Del Zotto laughed and admitted he’s aware of those waiting.

“That’s the part of the game that is out of my control,” he said. “That is why you have the GM and coaching staff. To make those decisions. My job is to come into work every day, give everything you have.

“That’s one thing. I can always look myself in the mirror. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I give everything I have every day. At the end of the day, if I can look myself in the mirror, I’m happy. That’s all I can control.”

The Flyers host Washington on Wednesday before going to Pittsburgh for their Stadium Series outdoor game this weekend.

"[Those] are huge four-point games for us," he said. "We can't overlook that. We know where we are in the standings."