Emil Andrae is an undersized defenseman with skills and a head for hockey. Philadelphia Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr suggested that Andrae could be a lineup fixture next season.
Brent Flahr might be right.
“To me he’s pretty close to challenging for a spot full-time,” Flahr said at the close of Development Camp.
Starting the season with the Flyers would help the team’s defensive corps. After the Ivan Provorov trade and Tony DeAngelo release, the Flyers would love to see a competitive prospect step up and step in.
And making the Flyers likely would remove the legal obligation Andrae, 21, and the team have with the Swedish Ice Federation. Roughly, if Andrae doesn’t make the Flyers, his rights revert to Sweden.
“It’s a little bit complicated because there is a return policy,” said Andrae, who was a standout at Development Camp.
“Me and my agent and the Flyers’ staff are working on that and we’re having a discussion so we’ll see what happens.
“My goal is to be on the best league as possible. I want to play in the NHL as fast as I can. I want to stay with my development and keep getting better as a player.”
Andrae is 21 and only 5-foot-9 and 176 pounds. He was picked in the second round of the 2020 draft, 54th overall. In Development Camp, he drew comparisons to former Flyers Kimmo Timonen, also an undersized defenseman.
“I’m a small defenseman so I’m trying to push my limits,” Andrae said. “I’m trying to be aggressive.
“Love to play hockey. I’m competitive and I give my 100 percent every time I’m on the ice. If we would have stayed on [the ice at camp] one hour, I wouldn’t complain. It was nice to be out there.”
Smaller Ice Surface
European players have to adjust to an ice surface that is smaller in North America than in Europe. Smaller ice often means more physical play. Andrae got a taste of that last year when he played 13 games with the AHL Phantoms.
“I’ve been playing in some tournaments on the smaller ice,” Andrae said. “I got a feeling for it. It was different now playing in the AHL. Bigger guys, stronger guys. It was nice for me … to get a feel for it.
“Of course there’s adjustments. The ice is bigger in Sweden. Now it’s smaller. There’s some timing and some angling you do different here than back home.
“I feel like I adjusted pretty fast and it didn’t take me too long to adjust to the game. I think it worked out fine.
“My style works better on the smaller ice. It’s less skating, more thinking and timing. I like the smaller ice. It’s like small passes and for me, as a smarter player, it’s better to play on the smaller ice than the bigger.”
Andrae played in Sweden’s top pro league last year. He scored six goals and 20 assists in 51 games for HV71 Jonkoping. He scored two goals and four assists in 13 games with Lehigh Valley.
In 2021 and 2022, he played for Sweden in the World Junior U-20 Championships. In 2022, he scored four goals and had four assists in seven games and was a plus-6. His four goals led all defensemen in the tournament as Sweden won the bronze medal.
“He hasn’t changed much since he’s 18 years old,” said Flahr, who expects Andrae to be in camp in September. “Such a smart player. I’m real excited to see him with NHL players.
“I just think he’s such a smart kid. So poised and competitive that I think he’ll make a pretty good impression at camp.”
Nick Schultz is the Flyers’ assistant director of player development. He’s clearly an Andrae fan.
“I think that’s kinda been his M.O. all along — just how competitive he is as an undersized player,” Schultz said.
“But he’s not light. He’s strong. He’s thick. He understands the game. He understands positioning. He understands how he has to play.
“When he’s that competitive, he gives them that edge. Also, his puck skills; he’s very good. He’s an all-around player.
“He’s someone that’s kinda knocking on the door here, too, which is good. I think we need these guys. We have the depth with these young guys to push the other guys. We have some guys coming so it’s exciting to have that competition inside.”
Flyers forward Elliot Desnoyers speaks very highly of Andrae: “He’s a good player, super skilled. A nice guy off the ice, too.”
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