|Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey|
His coaches in Lehigh Valley hold him with high regard. Last season, Scott Gordon even went on the record to say Leier was the team's best all-around forward and that he wouldn't be surprised if Leier was a full-time NHL player as soon as this season.
In mid-November, the points started to come - and in bunches. Leier went on a five-game points scoring streak and had racked up 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his last 10 AHL games before earning the call up to Philadelphia on December 5th.
"Matt Read goes out and the first thing we think is, okay we need a third line left winger that can give us some speed and PK minutes," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall recalled during an interview with Phantoms radio broadcaster Bob Rotruck. "Taylor was the guy there."
Wednesday night in Allentown - with the Phantoms hosting the Bridgeport Sound Tigers - Hextall reaffirmed that he's very pleased with what Leier has been doing while in Lehigh Valley and held high praises for the third year pro.
"Taylor is a real pro. He's one of those kids that I think all of us as fathers if he was your child you'd be looking and going we did a pretty good job with this young man," Hextall said. "He works hard every night. He never takes a shift off. He's professional and a great teammate. He plays for the team. Everything that we embody as an organization he has a piece of it."
While Hextall was in Lehigh Valley complimenting Leier from all angles on Wednesday, the Flyers were preparing for their game that night in Colorado against the Avalanche.
Just like Leier's start to his AHL season, points were not coming in the NHL despite general strong play in limited ice time. But similar to his AHL season this year with the Phantoms, points are starting to come for Leier in the NHL.
Against the Avalanche Wednesday night, Leier recorded his first career NHL point - an assist - and followed that up with his first NHL goal in the Flyers' following game Saturday in Dallas against the Stars.
Leier's first NHL tally was the result of getting to the net. Former Phantoms forward Nick Cousins entered the offensive zone with Leier and fired a hard shot on Stars' goaltender Antti Niemi. Leier crashed the net and slipped the rebound in. It was only fitting that Leier's former Phantoms' teammate and occasional AHL linemate last season helped set up his first one. And the celebration from Cousins said it all.
Even if Leier is bumped back down to Lehigh Valley when Flyers' forwards Matt Read and Sean Couturier get healthy, it'll only be a matter of time before he's back in the NHL. It's not a reach to say that he can be a full-time NHL player for the Flyers in the immediate future, and according to Hextall that's all part of his plan with the organization moving forward.He's got it! The @NHLFlyers on the board thanks to career goal #1 for @23TLeier. #NHLFirsts pic.twitter.com/k8hzAYWwQ8— NHL (@NHL) December 17, 2016
"At some point with the Flyers, we hope young players can come up for two games, five games, ten games and actually help us win games and not just fill in," Hextall said Wednesday night. "We have a lot of young players in the organization starting to show up."