Hextall Bolsters AHL Roster On Day 1 of Free Agency

Friday, July 1, 2016
Will O'Neill is crossing the Pennsylvania hockey rivalry. Photo: Amanda Statland
Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall was at it again, stocking the cupboard with legitimate AHL talent on the first day of the free agency period.

Last year, it was forwards Tim Brent, Chris Conner, Colin McDonald and Aaron Palushaj along with veteran defenseman Davis Drewiske and goaltender Jason LaBarbera. This year, Hextall is off to a great start in building a competitive roster in Lehigh Valley.

The Flyers today added forwards Andy Miele and Greg Carey and defenseman Will O'Neill to the mix for the fall, potentially giving the Lehigh Valley Phantoms three elite AHL-level talents. There's no doubting Hextall is going to do everything he can to field a playoff-caliber AHL team.

He's off to a great start.

More on the signings today and what it means for the Phantoms moving forward after the jump.

The Flyers signed Miele to a one-year, one-way contract worth $575,000 and includes a $25,000 signing bonus, meaning he will make that $575k regardless of whether he plays in the NHL or AHL in 2016-17.

Miele, 28, was the #1 ranked forward on my 2016 AHL-level Free Agent Tracker, leading the Grand Rapids Griffins and the entire AHL Western Conference in scoring last season with 62 points (14G-48A) in 75 games. What the 5-foot-7 forward lacks in size he more than makes up for offensively with the ability to find open teammates and create scoring chances with regularity at the AHL level. Miele enters the season with 355 career AHL games under his belt - meaning he will count as one of the five veterans Lehigh Valley can dress each night - but he's a career point-per-game player in the AHL with 106 goals and 205 assists in his five years in the league, He figures to be the Phantoms' top line center this fall.

Carey, 26, was signed to a one-year, two-way contract and was ranked 26th among AHL-level free agent forwards.

He had a breakout year with the Springfield Falcons last season - his second year as a pro and first full year in the AHL. His 26 goals in 64 games ranked 11th best in the league last year on a Springfield team that finished dead last in the Eastern Conference last season. He projects to be the second line left winger on Lehigh Valley in 2016-17.

O'Neill, 28, was signed to a two-year, two-way contract and was the #2 ranked defenseman among AHL-level blue liners. Last season with the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, O'Neill followed up a career year in 2014-15 with a career high 50 points (eight goals, 42 assists) last year with the AHL Pens. What the Phantoms are getting in O'Neill is an elite offensive defenseman to possibly pair with incoming rookie Travis Sanheim who also plays a sound defensive game. O'Neill will undoubtedly be the power play quarterback in Lehigh Valley in 2016-17 and beyond.

With those three additions, here's what the roster in Lehigh Valley looks like currently:

Taylor Leier - Andy Miele - Chris Conner
Greg Carey - xxxxxxxx - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Danick Martel - Cole Bardreau - Colin McDonald
Tyrell Goulbourne - Steven Swavely - Radel Fazleev

Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Travis Sanheim - Will O'Neill
Robert Hagg - Max Lamarche
Reece Willcox - Jesper Pettersson

Anthony Stolarz - Alex Lyon

Qualified restricted free agents: forward Petr Straka


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