Right winger Zayde Wisdom, a promising Philadelphia Flyers prospect, is both excited and apprehensive about the team’s training camp in September.
Excited to make an impression on new coach John Tortorella and his staff.
Apprehensive because he knows Tortorella runs a tight ship and will push his players to their limits.
“Yeah, it’s going to suck for the week or two that we’re going through it, but it’s all worth it in the end,” Wisdom said after the final day of development camp Friday in Voorhees. “If that’s what it takes to be a winning team, then I’m sure all the boys are behind it.”
Wisdom, drafted in the fourth round by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2020, had shoulder surgery last August, following a productive stop with the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Even though he was just 18, he was permitted to play in the AHL because the Ontario Hockey League was stopped because of the pandemic. Wisdom became the youngest player in Phantoms history.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) July 15, 2022
Wisdom, a relentless 5-foot-11, 195-pounder, made the most of it, collecting 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 28 games for Lehigh Valley, including six goals in his first seven games.
After last summer’s surgery, he returned to his OHL team, Kingston, and it took him a while to get in sync. The shoulder got stronger as the season progressed, and Wisdom started playing like his old self.
“I think I was out for five and a half months, to be exact,” said Wisdom, who finished the OHL’s regular season with 38 points in 43 games, then had 15 points in 11 playoff contests. “It was definitely tough coming back, but I feel like I got my groove by the end of the season. Starting with the playoffs, I felt like I was back at 100 percent and was myself. Hopefully, I can carry that back to main (Flyers) camp and next season.”
At Kingston, where he was teammates with center Shane Wright, who was drafted No. 4 overall by Seattle, “I took on a big leadership role where I had guys … coming up to me, asking me questions and what it was like (with the Phantoms),” Wisdom said. “It was definitely a good experience for me. I learned a lot about being a leader. I just want to (move) that forward and to the next level with me.”
Wisdom, 20, figures to start next season with Lehigh Valley.
After that, his next destination is Philadelphia, where he has been shown around the city by his close friend, former Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin.
“I definitely know they’re supporting me and are there for me 100 percent,” Wisdom said about the Flyers’ management. “They want me there just as quick as I want me there. You never know. I’ll get my opportunities one day. I’ve just got to make sure I give it all I I’ve got when I get the opportunity.”
Wright, who was Wisdom’s teammare in Kingston, nearly had a chance to go to Philadelphia with the No. 5 overall pick. He had been the projected No. 1 pick but slid to Seattle at No. 4. The Flyers took center Cutter Gauthier at No. 5.
“Yeah, he was close,” Wisdom said. “That would have been crazy cool for real. I was never in contact with him during the draft. He probably didn’t even have his phone on him during the draft. He was serious. I think he’s going to prove a lot of people wrong.”
At the draft, it appeared Wright gave a lengthy stare at Montreal’s draft staff because he was upset he didn’t go to the Canadiens with the No. 1 pick.
“That’s Shane for you,” Wisdom said with a smile. “I know he’s going to have some (good) games against Montreal now, just from that. I look forward to those.”
Now that development camp is over, Wisdom plans to go home to Ontario and return to Voorhees in mid-August to “get back in the gym here and work out, getting ready for camp.”
His focus this summer is on conditioning
“Just coming off the injury, it’s been tough getting back into game shape,” he said.
But he’s getting there, and he will continue with workouts and getting ready “because obviously we’ve got John Tortorella coming here. It’s going to be a tough training camp coming up.”
He said he is “getting ready for the physical and mental part of the game.”