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March 27, 2017

What they’re saying: Flyers are contenders to sign college free agent Mike Vecchione

Over the last couple of years, the Flyers have at least expressed some interest in top college free agents like Jimmy Vesey and Drake Caggiula. While the Orange and Black weren’t able to land either one of those players, they are in the running for one of the top unsigned college players this year: Union’s Mike Vecchione.

Over the weekend, Flyers GM Ron Hextall and assistant GM/director of player personnel Chris Pryor were watching Vecchione and his Union teammates in the NCAA Tournament’s Midwest regional.

And as most Flyers fans know, Union is where Shayne Gostisbehere went to college and won a national championship. The Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi talked to Vecchione, who has apparently been in contact with Ghost:

As a freshman, Vecchione starred on the Union team that won the NCAA championship. Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was one of his Union teammates, and he is trying to persuade Vecchione to sign with Philadelphia.

“We’re very close and I would love to play with Shayne again,” said Vecchione who recently graduated with a 3.4 grade point average and a history degree. “But like he said, I’m going to make the decision that’s best for me. If I have an opportunity to play there, I’m definitely going to consider it. It’s just a matter of finding the best fit for me and when I’ll be able to play and what teams need a center.”

What type of player are the Flyers looking at? In January, SB Nation’s Chris Dilks ranked the Union center as the third-best college free agent prospect:

Vecchione is a complete, 200-foot player. His skating is good enough to make plays in open ice, and he can win battles along the wall. He’s also capable of playing center and being a go-to guy in the face-off circle, which makes him more intriguing as a pro.

College free agents are far from sure things, but it obviously wouldn’t hurt if the Flyers are able to add to an already deep talent pool. We’ll see if Gostisbehere is able to convince his former teammate to come to Philly.

In case you missed it at PhillyVoice

30 Thoughts: Jakub Voracek’s MVP vote would go to Brent Burns: Elliotte Friedman, Sportsnet

Friedman, who might be the most plugged-in NHL reporter, believes that the effects of Claude Giroux and Gostisbehere’s hernia surgeries last summer are being noticed around the league:

Claude Giroux admitted to Philadelphia reporters his surgically repaired hip/abdominal injuries bothered him more than he let on. “When you try to make plays you used to make and can't really make them, it is frustrating and confusing," he said.

A few opponents wondered about that, and I had an interesting conversation this week with an exec who said teams are getting more and more wary about the length of recovery from sports-hernia surgery. Both Philly GM Ron Hextall and defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere have downplayed how much of a factor the latter’s own surgery has played in his sophomore struggles, but, again, opponents suspect it’s more of an issue than meets the eye.

Q&A: Flyers' Michael Del Zotto talks DJing, making mixes for his teammates: Brian Weitz, Sports Illustrated

The Animal Collective DJ (and Flyers fan) chatted with Del Zotto about his interest in DJing:

Claude Giroux is huge into house music, but he likes the heavier stuff. For the Flyers’ goal song that I mixed this year, he was actually the guy I went to. I mixed an Italian soccer anthem with a heavier beat, and I went to him with three or four different options. I had him choose which one he liked the best, and it’s been a big hit. The boys and the crowd both seem to like it, which is great. So he has good taste as far as the heavier house music goes. Worst taste in music would have to be the western Canadian guys like Brandon Manning, Brayden Schenn and Dale Weise. They love country music, and I hate it.

Flyers 6, Penguins 2: 10 things we learned from a satisfying blowout: Charlie O’Connor, Broad Street Hockey

O’Connor sees a silver lining in what has been a disappointing season for the Orange and Black:

Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that the Flyers’ season will almost surely be remembered as a major disappointment, and rightfully so. But don’t forget that last season, the Flyers could barely move the puck up ice against the Mike Sullivan-coached Penguins. They were completely flummoxed by the constant pressure style of their rival, and it took a game where Pittsburgh had absolutely nothing at stake for the Flyers to even squeeze out one win over them. This year, Philadelphia dealt with their rivals much better, and in my opinion, that does bode well for matchups in the future.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann