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Meltzer's Musings: Exhibition Schedule, Freibergs, Forsberg, and More

June 20, 2014, 8:51 AM ET [847 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT

* Yesterday, the Flyers announced their preseason schedule for 2014. As usual, the slate of game starts with a match against Toronto in London, Ontario. There is no information yet on the training camp schedule or on the annual Prospect's Game against the Washington Capitals.

Last year's training camp arrangement -- starting camp at the Wells Fargo Center, shifting to Lake Placid and then to the Skate Zone is unlikely to be repeated. However, as with last year, the team is conducting split squad games in London and Philadelphia early in the preseason. It would be logical for the London group to stay on to play in Toronto the next night.

The exhibition game slate is as follows:

Mon, Sept. 22, 2014 vs. Toronto (London, ON) 7:00 PM -- Split Squad
Mon, Sept. 22, 2014 vs. Washington 7:00 PM -- Split Squad
Tue, Sept. 23, 2014 at Toronto 7:00 PM
Thur., Sept. 25, 2014 vs. New Jersey 7:00 PM
Sun., Sept 28, 2014 at New Jersey TBD
Mon., Sept. 29, 2014 at NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Tues., Sept. 30, 2014 vs. NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Thurs., Oct. 2, 2014 at Washington 7:00 PM

* The official Twitter page of Bowling Green University Ice Hockey announced yesterday that Bowling Green defenseman Ralfs Freibergs has been invited to the Flyers' upcoming Development Camp in July.

Freibergs, 23, is a mobile and offensively talented but undersized defenseman. Earlier this year, he earned a spot on Team Latvia at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Freibergs was at the center of controversy after he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). The Latvian defenseman was suspended by International Olympic Committee and retroactively disqualified from the five Olympic tournament games he played. He has appealed the ruling.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association stated that Freiberg's remaining NCAA hockey eligibility is not affected by the IOC ruling. He is slated to play his junior season for Bowling Green in 2013-14. As with other NCAA-eligible players, Freibergs must pay his own way and cover all expenses himself in order to attend an NHL Development camp. If the Flyers or another team signs him to a professional contract, he would have to forgo his final two collegiate seasons.

The Flyers and NHL other teams strongly emphasize that Development Camp is not about players "auditioning" for contracts, and is supposed to be about players learning ways to improve their on-ice and off-ice training regimens. However, unaffiliated young players (i.e., those not drafted by an NHL team) often view the camps as a way to catch the eye of NHL teams to at least earn training camp invites. It is hardly out of the question that a free agent at Development Camp is ultimately signed by the team hosting the camp or by another NHL club.

Freibergs, who led all USHL defensemen in scoring during his stint with the Lincoln Stars, has been a productive offensive defenseman for Bowling Green. In 45 collegiate games to date, the 5-foot-11, 190 pound blueliner has posted 29 points (four goals, 25 assists).

* Former Flyers captain Peter Forsberg celebrates his 41st birthday day. Today also marks the 22nd anniversary of the Eric Lindros trade with the Quebec Nordiques, which sent to Quebec the rights to Forsberg, along with Steve Duchesne, Ron Hextall, Mike Ricci, Kerry Huffman, the rights to Chris Simon, Philadelphia's 1993 first-round pick (used by Quebec for goaltender Jocelyn Thibault), Philadalphia's 1994 first-round pick (used on the selection of defenseman Nolan Baumgartner) and $15 million in cash.

* On this date in 2008, the Flyers acquired a 2008 first-round pick (originally belonging to Colorado) and the Columbus Blue Jackets' third-round pick from Columbus in exchange for forward R.J. Umberger. The Flyers used the first round pick to take defenseman Luca Sbisa and the third-round pick on defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon. On that same day, the Flyers traded their own 2008 first-round pick to the Washington Capitals in exchange for defenseman Steve Eminger and the Capitals 2008 fourth-round pick. The Caps selected defenseman John Carlson with the pick. The Flyers took goaltender Jacob Deserres with the fourth-rounder. After a brief and unproductive stint with the Flyers, Eminger was traded along with Steve Downie to Tampa Bay in exchange for defenseman Matt Carle.
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