Emil Andrae is a rookie defenseman with a legitimate chance to make the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening night roster.
He’s only 21 years old, so he has youth on his side if not experience. He appears to be blessed with a high hockey IQ.
There is one other trait Andrae has that few have in the NHL — he plays like former Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen. He uses his smarts and quickness. Moving the puck and his decision-making are top notch.
“He kinda looks like Kimmo Timonen out there,” Flyers director of player development Riley Armstrong said.
“He’s got the big, wide base. Not comparing him there, that’s some big footsteps to fill. But I think that he can be in that role.”
Like Andrae, Timonen wasn’t a big man — only 5-foot-10, 194 pounds. Andrae is listed at 5-9, 181.
“I’ve heard that before,” Andrae said at Development Camp.
“Actually I haven’t seen him play but people explain to me that I’m pretty similar to how he was as a player — a small defenseman, a little bit grit to it, and also pretty smart.
“I like people saying that about me. So I think I just have to be better and try to do what he does.”
Timonen had a 16-year NHL career that included seven seasons with the Flyers and a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks. He played 519 games in Philadelphia, scoring 38 goals and 232 assists for 270 points and a plus-44. He played 1,108 NHL games and scored 117 goals and 454 assists (571 points).
Not bad for a 10th-round draft pick who was the 250th player selected in 1993.
“He played through so many injuries and was just a warrior out there,” Flyers winger Matt Read told The Inquirer in 2015 when the team was honoring Timonen before a game.
“He came to play every night and never took a night off. Coming in my rookie year, he was one of the guys I looked up to. He was a good leader in the locker room and kind of showed you the ropes, on and off the ice.”
Andrae was a second-round pick in 2020, the 54th player selected. He knows to succeed in the NHL, he needs to improve his footwork and stick work.
“I still have to do improve that part, of course,” said Andrae, who is from Sweden. Timonen is from Finland.
“That’s a big part if you want to play here in North America. You need to be on your toes and be aggressive and do those angles. I’m not that big so I have to use my skating.”
Armstrong was a Lehigh Valley Phantoms assistant coach and saw Andrae up close in the playoffs last season.
“I thought he was awesome for us in the playoffs last year, coming in like playing his whole season over there [Sweden] and coming in and playing for us,” Armstrong said.
“I know Lappy [head coach Ian Laperriere] put him in a pretty big role. Saw some power-play time with us and I think playing in those three playoff games that we did have was a really good experience for him.
“If you watch the session out here [Development Camp], I would say him and Adam Ginning, they look like men out there to some of these guys. I think that’s good to see. I really do think he has a nice future ahead of him in the game, definitely.”