ALLENTOWN, Pa. – To say it’s been a difficult season for the Philadelphia Flyers is underselling the storyline a bit. Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher made some moves over the summer to get the Orange and Black back to contending in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as they did in the bubble during the 2019-20 season. Injuries and inconsistent play have dashed a strong start, and now the Flyers are at the bottom of the National Hockey League’s standings. Although the season has been a wash for the Flyers, several Lehigh Valley Phantoms players are making splashes with the big club this season, none of which are more significant than forwards Gerry Mayhew and Isaac Ratcliffe.
Mayhew and Ratcliffe were not thought of as top players to join the Flyers at the beginning of the season. Mayhew departed the Iowa Wild, where he spent five seasons to join the Phantoms to start the season, and his excellent play earned him a spot in the NHL lineup where he’s tallied six goals in 16 games. He’s provided some valuable depth scoring on a Flyers team that’s missing such regulars as Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes, and Joel Farabee and has fought hard to earn his ice time. Ratcliffe is a highly regarded second-round pick of the club from 2017 and hadn’t worked his way into the conversation for NHL time, but four points in his last three games with the Phantoms helped him make his case. He’s chipped in four points in seven games with the Flyers in his brief stint so far.
Both players were critical to the Flyers earning a point in another heartbreaking loss, this time to the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime. Mayhew scored the game’s first goal, and Ratcliffe had a primary assist in setting up Patrick Brown in the third period for a key goal. Ratcliffe was eventually moved up to the Flyers’ top line with Claude Giroux later on in the game as a result of the assist and a few very strong shifts, and he even had a nice between the legs move during Monday’s game that was denied in close but shows he has good skills to go with his size. With the future in Philadelphia uncertain, particularly amidst rumors that Giroux may get traded at the deadline, the excellent performance of these two players moves them from simply filling gaps in the lineup to being a large part of the future.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) February 21, 2022
Both players earned their NHL opportunities with significant time spent in the American Hockey League this season. Mayhew led the Phantoms in scoring before he was recalled after a December 21 game against the Hershey Bears, where he had a five-game point streak. Mayhew previously had back-to-back seasons where he put up 60 points with the Wild, including 61 points (39 goals, 22 assists) in only 49 games, good for 1.24 points per game, and was third in the league in scoring when the season was paused. Ratcliffe turned pro during the same season that Mayhew was tearing up the AHL and was on pace to eclipse his regular season-best numbers from his rookie season before being called up to the Flyers.
That future is uncertain once the season concludes. Mayhew was brought in on a one-year contract and is unrestricted at the end of this season if the Flyers don’t extend his contract before then. Ratcliffe is impressing at the end of his entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent for the Flyers, who most likely will be re-signed for next season. Philadelphia has plenty of roster decisions to consider this summer as six forwards, five defensemen, and two goaltenders will need new contracts or be replaced, in addition to three more players on injured reserve for the club. Although the pair of players may be heading on different trajectories, they are worth watching for the remainder of the season as they work to stay in the NHL next fall.
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