Who would have thought? Who would have thought Taylor Leier would be this darn good. I mean it makes people want to do the, “Twist and Shout,” by the Isley Brothers, and later sung by The Beatles. Leier is really showing the Philadelphia Flyers top brass that there is a reason to remain patient within the farm system. Some players take longer than others to develop, and he was one of those players. Does Leier deserve a promotion to the Flyers second line?
Leier was born on February, 15, 1994, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Flyers. Leier signed a three-year entry level contract with the orange and black on September 9, 2013. He made his NHL debut against the Carolina Hurricanes on November 14, 2015. The young prospect didn’t register a point against the Hurricanes, but Leier showed off his wheels.
The gifted playmaker has become sort of a mainstay at the AHL level thus far. For the 2015-16 season while playing for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Leier registered 20 goals, and 29 assists for a total of 49 points in 71 games played. He showed his versatility and range with a his good shot. More importantly, Leier played in any situations the coaching staff asked of him. This earned him six games with the big club, to which he registered 0 points during his tenure with the orange and black.
Of course, Leier began the 2016-17 season playing for the Phantoms. He had quite the season registering 13 goals, and 24 assists for a total of 37 points in 48 games played. Leier missed time due to injury, but he was fortunate enough to represent the Phantoms in the AHL All-Star game. He was very impressive in his All-Star debut, registering a hat trick in the AHL All-Star Challenge. For his efforts, he won the MVP award and really displayed the depth within the Flyers farm system.
The former Portland Winterhawk product, Leier was given another shot with the orange and black in the 2016-17 season, as well. This time he registered his first NHL goal against the Dallas Stars on December 16, 2017. In addition, Leier also added an assist for a total of 2 points in 10 games played for the Flyers. He really took advantage of his opportunity in the short time he was called up by the big club. Leier just looked far more composed, and was pretty noticeable with his speed.
Even with performing well during his brief stints with the big club. Leier still wasn’t a sure lock to make the final cut as he entered this year’s training camp. He came into camp standing at 5′ 10,” weighing 174 pounds, and his cards stacked against him to make the big club. His hard work and dedication paid off in a big way with making the Flyers final roster.
It’s been a unique journey for Leier with his efforts to make the NHL. However, the Flyers fourth line is thriving thanks in large part to Leier. The “Honey Bees,” line contains Leier, Scott Laughton, and Michael Raffl. This line has been one of the Flyers most consistent lines on a nightly basis. They are constantly buzzing around the net, and they do a really good job with putting constant pressure on a goaltender. Leier had this to say about his current linemate Laughton back in training camp.
“This is the fourth year we’ve played with each other, so it’s definitely nice to be with a guy like that. I feel comfortable around him and know all his tendencies.”
With Leier performing well on the fourth line all season. It’s ironic that Raffl was promoted to the second line against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night, due to an upper body injury to Jordan Weal. Raffl was paired with Valterri Filppula and Travis Konecny. Although, Raffl has been strong on the pucks all season. He has yet to register a single point in 20 games played. Leier on the otherhand has registered 2 assists, and is a plus 2 for the season in 18 games played. He just appears faster and more skilled than Raffl.
Leier has shown more this season for a promotion to the second or third line, than Raffl has. The sky is the limit for a once dark horse in Leier. It will be interesting to see if Hakstol stays with the current lines when Jordan Weal returns from injury, or if Leier finally gets the promotion he deserves.
The orange and black will host the Pittsburgh Penguins in the stadium series at the Linc on February 23, 2019.
Late Sunday night Defenseman Radko Gudas was suspended 10 games for a slash to the back of the head of Winnipeg Jets Forward Matheiu Perreault on Thursday night.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports