Michael Nylander hoping to earn a Flyers' spot and a reunion with Jaromir Jagr

Posted: September 19, 2011

Hotshot prospects Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier have received most of the media attention, but they aren't the only forwards trying to earn spots on the Flyers' roster.

Others in the mix include promising Matt Read and veterans Adam Mair and Michael Nylander, among others.

Nylander is trying to write one of the NHL's most inspiring stories, attempting to return to the NHL 11 months after spinal-fusion surgery.

The 38-year-old center played just seven AHL games with Rochester last year before suffering a season-ending injury that required major surgery in October.

"I'm excited to be here," Nylander said the other day.

Sunday, the second day of camp in Voorhees, Nylander did not practice. Coach Peter Laviolette downplayed his absence, calling it a maintenance day.

Nylander, aware that his injury and age make him a long shot to win a roster spot, arrived early in camp to get ready for the grind. He agreed to a tryout contract with the Flyers primarily because he wants to be reunited with winger Jaromir Jagr.

"He's a big reason I came here," Nylander said. "We always had good chemistry together."

Nylander, a Sweden native, and Jagr were successful linemates with the Rangers and Washington.

During a 15-season NHL career that started in 1992-93, Nylander has played for Hartford, Calgary, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Washington, Boston, and the Rangers. He has 209 career goals and had superb seasons when he was Jagr's linemate in 2005-06 (23 goals, 56 assists) and 2006-07 (26 goals, 57 assists) with the Rangers.

During the first day of camp, Nylander centered Max Talbot and Wayne Simmonds.

"We want to take a look at him in some games and see what he's capable of doing," Laviolette said. "From watching him, he certainly seems to have the talent. He's had a good career. He's another guy we'll put on the opportunity list."

In 1983, the Phillies were known as the Wheeze Kids because they had several longtime veterans, including Joe Morgan (39 years old), Tony Perez (40), and Pete Rose (41).

If Nylander makes the team, the Flyers will have their own Wheeze Kids unit, with Jagr (39), Nylander (almost 39) and captain Chris Pronger (almost 37).

It appears Nylander will only win a spot if Schenn needs more seasoning.

Camp notes. Laviolette is pleased with what he called a "crisp" pace of camp, one that has 66 players vying for jobs.

"There's been a lot of stuff thrown at them in two days," Laviolette said. "When you're putting in a system, you do it piece by piece. I do, anyway.

"It's also hard for the first five days because you get three hours to work and you manage that time and you've got to manage 67 people or whatever we're at right now. That's a little bit more challenging, but there's a lot of information that's been given because we have these games coming up."

The Flyers play their first of seven exhibitions Tuesday in Toronto.

"I don't want to go into the games and not at least have an idea of what we're doing," he added. "As far as receiving [information] and working on it, I think that part of it has gone well."

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi@phillynews.com, or on Twitter at BroadStBull.


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