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Late-Blooming Hayden Hodgson Battling for Flyers Roster Spot



Hayden Hodgson, Philadelphia Flyers

If right winger Hayden Hodgson continues playing like he did in the Philadelphia Flyers’ preseason opener, you have to like his chances of being on the opening-night roster.

Hodgson, 26, a textbook late-bloomer, is trying to show the Flyers he can help them with his scoring and his physicality.

He had a breakout season with the Phantoms last year, did well with a late-season call-up in Philly, and now is trying to be on an opening-night, NHL roster for the first time in his career.

“I got my first taste last year, and you have that feeling all summer,” Hodgson said after a training-camp session Sunday in Voorhees. “I came into camp in the best shape as possible, and doing everything I can. … Empty the toolbox, no matter what it is. Do whatever you can to (get) an open spot here.”

This will help him: If the Flyers try to send him to Lehigh Valley, they would risk losing the 6-foot-2, 207-pound Hodgson on a waiver claim.

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Realistically, he is battling for a spot as a fourth-line right winger or as an extra forward.

Hodgson knows about the Flyers’ new coach, John Tortorella, and his demanding style. He was at one of his training camps when he coached Columbus.

This camp has “high intensity and high demand. I think that’s what I bring,” Hodgson said.

Hodgson’s emergence last season, Phantoms coach Ian Laperriere said, was his team’s biggest surprise.

The previous two seasons, Hodgson played in the ECHL, “and I didn’t even know who he was,” Laperriere said after last season ended. “He started on the fourth line and played well, and he kept moving up.”

Hodgson finished with 19 goals in 46 games with Lehigh Valley. He added three points (goal, two assists) in six games with the Philadelphia Flyers.

The season, he said, gave him confidence he belongs in the NHL.

In the Flyers’ preseason opener Saturday, Hodgson made the most of his 7:46 of playing time. He had an assist, two hits, and a fight against A.J. Greer during a 2-1 win over Boston. He helped set up Jackson Cates’ late game-winning goal.

Hodgson, who worked on improving his speed in summer workouts, said camp has been grueling, “but obviously you just have to bounce through it. It’s more mental than physical.”

He said “everybody is buying in. It doesn’t matter who it is. I think everybody is kind of ramped up on the intensity level — from younger guys to older guys.”

And especially guys fighting to win a spot on the roster.

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