Phil Myers is physically gifted, possessing size, strength, and speed. The Flyers recalled the 22-year-old defenseman from Lehigh Valley on Halloween, but although he possesses a unique physical skillset, it is his mental edge that gives him an advantage and given that he’s just 28 games into his NHL career, he is only going to get better.
Rejection and Disappointment
Myers was undrafted, which watching him play seems nearly impossible. However, in his draft-eligible year, and his first year with Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the QJMHL, Myers played 60 games. He tallied eight points (2G, 6A) and also had 55 penalty minutes, finishing with a -14 for the season. These numbers weren’t great and kept him off the radar of NHL scouts. He was invited to the Calgary Flames developmental camp in 2015 but wasn’t signed.
Enter the Flyers who invited Myers to their rookie camp. After watching the young man play, then General Manager Ron Hextall saw no flaws in his game. On September 21st, 2015, the Flyers signed Myers to an entry-level contract. In his next season with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, everything seemed to click, racking up 45 points (17G, 28A). He also burst up to a +52 and helped lead the Huskies to the Memorial Cup. Myers followed that up with another successful season in 2016-2017. He represented Team Canada at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championships, although his tournament was cut short due to injury.
Myers started his career in the AHL playing one season for the Phantoms. Last year, in his second professional season, he was called up to the Flyers and finished out the season, playing 21 games. Although he didn’t have the best numbers, that time was imperative to his growth. The Flyers found another young defenseman to help solidify the blue line.
Starting 2019-2020 in Lehigh
Prior to the start of the season, Myers was sent down to Lehigh Valley. This move both shocked and angered Flyers fans as Myers certainly has more upside than some other players on the roster. Myers told Phillysportsnetwork.com about being sent down:
“Yeah, I was really disappointed and sort of a little bit of a wake-up call.” Myers told me at a practice recently. “I needed to get back on track. Not try to do too much and keep it simple. I think I went down there with the right attitude and played pretty well in those couple of games I played in and kept it going up here. Since I went down there at the beginning of the year, it feels that much better to get back up here.”
Myers credited his playing partner, Travis Sanheim, and alluded that the chemistry they have since they played together in Lehigh Valley is why they are successful. He also isn’t satisfied with just being on the ice. Myers is determined to get better, “By all means, I am not satisfied… can always play a little better. I think you can always improve in everything. I am trying to stay humble, stay on the right track, keep the right mindset and stay positive.”
Making an Immediate Impact
Since Myers’ call up, the Flyers are 5-0-2. He had a positive impact on Sanheim, who at the time was having a bit of a tough start. Since the two have been paired together, Sanheim has settled down. Although both are fairly young defensemen, their chemistry is undeniable. Prior to last night’s game against the Capitals, Myers had scored in three straight games.
When asked about the young defenseman play, Head Coach Alain Vigneault stated the following: “His gap is better. Because of his size, he has such a long reach. When you have a better gap you create more turnovers. He was effective for us, he showed poise with the puck. Not just in the offensive zone but in our end in pressure situations. He is a young player that is just scratching the surface. He’s gotta work real hard and be the best that he can be.”
Bringing a Disciplined Edge
In 28 NHL games, Myers has just TWO penalty Minutes. Myers is constantly battling forwards in front of the net, yet he is disciplined to not take that cheap penalty. When asked how it was possible he chuckled. “Yeah, I am trying to play hard and be smart at the same time. I’m trying to be, I don’t want to say this, but trying to be a **** out there and not be fun to play against. Take away time and space.” Apparently, from the reaction of Bruins fans, it is working.
Myers is off to a great start, however, we can still expect little growing pains along the way. Last night against the Capitals, he had a rough first period and was caught in the middle of no man’s land on the lone Capital Goal. He settled in and played a really good defense afterward. We can expect more of the same ad Myers is off to a really good start to his career. He will be a top defender for many years for the orange and black.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports