Better With Popcorn

Knuble Brings Grit, Leadership to Flyers

The Flyers have brought back a familiar face to their organization.

Grizzled veteran Mike Knuble, who turned 40 last July, agreed to a one-year, $750,000 deal with the Flyers. It has been four years since Knuble was last a Flyer, and he will look to continue his long career back in Philadelphia.

Knuble's signing came as a result of losing Scott Hartnell for most of the season. Hartnell broke his foot on Tuesday and will miss 4-8 weeks according to general manager Paul Holmgren.

The Flyers brought in Knuble because of his play. Despite being 40, Knuble is a big-bodied forward (6'3", 227 pounds) and has made a name for himself by screening goalies and scoring garbage goals. 

He’s a big guy," said Maxime Talbot after the Flyers 2-1 win over the Rangers. "I know that he played here. He’s really dangerous in front of the net and it’s great news."

The Flyers, who are need of some physicality while Hartnell and Zac Rinaldo heal from their lower body injuries, were able to score both of their goals in their win over New York by playing exactly the way Knuble did.

Wayne Simmonds deflected a puck past Henrik Lundqvist while battling for position down low and Jakub Voracek slammed home a loose puck during a mad scramble. Both plays resembled exactly how Knuble has scored his 274 career goals.

"For sure," said Talbot in reference to the fact Knuble could bring more of those gritty goals. "We talked about it after the New Jersey game to create more traffic in front of the net and this is where the goals are going to come from. Tonight’s the best example of starting it and getting in the process of getting goals."

Knuble also possessed good hockey intelligence and his leadership skills also speak for themselves. 

"He’s played a long time in this league," said Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds, who likes to throw every ounce of his small frame around. "He’s a good player and has great presence. I think I can learn a lot from him."

The Flyers possess one of the youngest group of forwards in the NHL. Players like Simmonds, Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, Rinaldo, Tye McGinn and Scott Laughton to name a few are all under the age of 23. To have a player like Knuble on the ice and in the locker room will be a good thing for them.

"He’s a quality person in the locker room," said head coach Peter Laviolette. "He brings a lot of experience. I think that can be real helpful. Our group of forwards are young. We’re the youngest. To have a guy like that with his leadership and experience is important. The fact that he’s a big, strong player and he played a lot of games in the league can only help us."

Last season with Washington, Knuble scored only six goals and added 12 assists for his lowest totals in well over a decade.

But despite the drop in production last season on a team that struggled all around, it's a good signing for the Flyers in need of veteran depth and physical leaders.