Philadelphia Flyers hockey is back. Development Camp is set to begin on Sunday at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, NJ.
A total of 29 players are scheduled to attend the camp, ranging from 18-year-olds through first-year professionals in the Flyers organization. The roster includes 20 Flyers draft picks, including three first-round selections and four of the team’s 2021 selections.
Among those 29 players are five prospects that are particularly exciting. All five of them played in the NHL last year and are in the mix for this season. Flyers Development Camp is the first step on their journey this season.
Five players to watch at Flyers Development Camp
Wade Allison comes first on the list alphabetically and he’s also the player that should spend the most time with the Flyers this season. In fact, it’d be surprising if Allison doesn’t break camp with the Flyers and remain on the roster all season (barring injury).
Allison started with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the AHL last season, recording nine points (four goals, five assists) in 10 games. He was then called up to the Flyers. Allison immediately injected some life into the NHL club and finished the season with seven points (four goals, three assists) in 14 games. He was one of the few bright spots as the Flyers circled the drain in April.
Allison saw time with the Flyers’ top two lines as well as the power play in his 14 NHL games. He should start the season on the Flyers’ third line behind fellow right wings Cam Atkinson and Travis Konecny.
Morgan Frost could’ve fallen into the “NHL hopefuls” category for each of the past few seasons. He made his NHL debut in the 2019-20 season, recording just seven points (two goals, five assists) in 20 games. Frost played most of the 2019-20 season in the AHL, putting up 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) for the Phantoms.
Last season, Frost was poised to finally have his chance after Sean Couturier went down with an injury. Unfortunately for Frost, he also suffered an injury that ended his season in just his second game.
Now, Frost is fully healthy and ready to make his push for a roster spot. He was originally earmarked as a bottom-six center for the Flyers, but that was before they signed Nate Thompson and –– more so –– Derick Brassard. Those signings, Brassard in particular, make Frost’s road to a roster spot that much harder.
Frost, 22, is at the age where he should begin to make an NHL impact. The 2017 first-round pick will be one of the players to watch throughout Development Camp and Training Camp.
Tanner Laczynski falls somewhere in between Allison and Frost. He doesn’t have the same ceiling that either of those players have, but he’s not that type of player. He’s a defensively responsible center that can play at both ends of the ice.
Laczynski made his NHL debut last season. He played in five games before suffering a season-ending hip injury.
He should be in the mix with Brassard, Frost, and Thompson for a roster spot in Training Camp. However, Laczynski may be on the outside looking in due to the numbers game. He’ll be someone the Flyers look at to call up if the team needs a spark or if there are injuries throughout the year.
Cameron York is the next great Flyers defenseman waiting in the wings. Well, the Flyers hope so, anyway. The young defenseman had an eventful 2020-21 season.
To end 2020 and start 2021, York captained Team USA to the gold medal at the 2021 World Junior Championship. He had six points (one goal, five assists) in seven games and was named one of Team USA’s top three players.
York also finished up his NCAA career with the University of Michigan, opting to sign his entry-level contract after his sophomore season. York recorded 20 points (four goals, 16 assists) in 24 NCAA games last season and was named the Big 10 Defenseman of the Year. He was also named to the Big 10 First All-Star Team and NCAA (West) First All-American Team.
Upon turning pro, York played four games with the Phantoms. He went scoreless in the first three, but put up three points (one goal, two assists) on April 26th. He was then called up and made his NHL debut on May 7th.
In three NHL games, York looked like he belonged. He didn’t record a point but played over 20 minutes in each of his first two games and 18:28 in the Flyers’ season finale.
Heading into the 2021-22 season, York has his eyes on the NHL. It’s going to be a hard path for him to get there, however, with Keith Yandle in the fold. Yandle won’t block York, per se, but the Flyers may be a bit more conservative with the young defensemen. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Yandle can help mentor York in Training Camp and the youngster may need some AHL seasoning before playing every night for a contender –– which is what the Flyers are hoping to be.
As of now, York is the Flyers’ seventh or eighth defenseman behind Samuel Morin. But if the Flyers need to call up someone, it’ll be York. He’ll be playing big minutes for the Phantoms when he’s in the AHL.
While Cam York gets most of the attention, we can’t forget about Yegor Zamula. The 6’3″ Russian defenseman also made his NHL debut last season, playing a total of 34:08 in two games. He spent most of the season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and it’s looking like he’ll do the same again this coming season.
Zamula, 21, was nearly a point-per-game defenseman (84 points in 89 games) in his final two WHL seasons but only had six points in 25 AHL games last season. He struggled a bit in his first professional season, but he made strides throughout and looked solid in his two NHL games.
The Flyers’ defensive corps is pretty solid with the veteran additions. York is ahead of Zamula on the pecking order, but it wouldn’t be surprising if both defensemen saw time with the Flyers in the 2021-22 season.
Photo: Heather Barry Images