Leier Leaving His Mark In Latest NHL Stint

Sunday, December 18, 2016
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
For forward Taylor Leier, it wasn't too surprising that his name was called when Philadelphia Flyers winger Matt Read went down with an injury in the beginning of December.

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.

Perhaps off to a bit of a slow start offensively with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this season, Leier was still doing all of the right things on the ice - being hard on the forecheck, playing with speed and creating offensive opportunities for his teammates.

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."

It was tough sledding for Leier in his first game or two with the Flyers this season - getting just 5:23 and 6:50 of ice time, respectively. He wasn't playing poorly, or doing anything wrong. Chalk it up as earning his ice time and being able to be put into situations where he could have success on the ice.

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.

"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."


PerttuJunnonaho said...

Does Tyler Couldbourne get a chance to play whit the Phantoms even now that Leier has moved up to the Flyers or are we still that stupid and short sided that we don"t give him even a chance to show what he"s all about!

PerttuJunnonaho said...

We must try really hard to make the right trade happen, which would upgrade thous positions where we are in badly need of upgrading! So one very good option would be if we can trade Scott Laugton or Jordan Weal who still have lot to offer to another club. Minnesota"s Jordan Greenway would be perfect upgrade to our teams left wing position where we are really thin, cause we have now logjam in our right wing position and more right wingers in our pipeline coming, so Greenway"s really big size and power along whit his talent would go long way to making us a contender again! Another player who i have being looking for our organization as an upgrade is young Dallas Stars right shooting defense-man Stephen Jonhs who is just the kind of player which we badly need. And because of Vegas and they"re option to take from every team a player, we should try hard to trade Del Zotto in the trade deadline along whit Nick Schulz and Mark Streit and get back Jonhs and more draft pick"s for next summers draft. So if we are able to pull this of, then we can protect three defense-men who are Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas and Stephen Jonhs in the expencion draft! Neuvirth will also bring us a good return on trade value before next summers draft if he can rise to his normal form before it. So that was my thoughts on upgrading our team to contender, so please Hexy give it some thought!

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