Philadelphia Flyers general manager Daniel Briere wants to see youth injected into his defensive corps. That happened last year among the forwards.
There is a strong possibility that one Swede, Emil Andrae, might make the opening night roster. Well, we have another Swedish candidate for Briere. And we know Phantoms coach Ian Laperrière would concur.
“What a guy to work with,” said Laperrière, who coached Ginning in Lehigh Valley last season.
“So mature for his age. Super nice guy, very team-oriented. That’s another dark horse for me for this training camp.
“Everybody talks about the flashy names but nobody talks about the fifth, sixth defensemen. But you need those guys. I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays quite a bit of the games in the near future.”
Ginning, 23, is 6-foot-3, 196 pounds. He was a 2018 second-round pick, 50th overall. Last season was his first in North America. He played 68 games for the Phantoms and led them with plus-24. He scored three goals and 16 assists. He also played one game with the Flyers.
“I feel like that’s what I’m good at; I want to be a defensive guy,” said Ginning (pronounced GIN-ing, according to Adam).
“I want to do that to help the team I’m playing for. I take a lot of pride in playing good defensively. If that keeps me under the radar or not, that’s not up to me. That’s what I’m good at and that’s what I’m going to keep doing.”
Ginning believes his defensive game is his path to making the Flyers. A team can never have too many defensive-minded players.
“I think that’s going to be my ticket [defense],” Ginning said. “I’ve feel like I’ve been doing that for a lot of years.
“It’s nothing new to me to not get those points or stats. I take a lot of pride in playing good defensively and I think that’s what’s going to take me to the next level.
“I want to block shots. I hate to get scored on. Don’t give up chances. If I make good passes, don’t give the puck away.”
Phantoms assistant coach Jason Smith coached Ginning last season. Smith sees Ginning’s talent and how it can translate to the NHL.
“From the start of the year last year to where he ended the season was a lot of growth and I think a lot of that was just finding comfort playing in the [smaller than Europe] North American rink,” Smith said.
“He’s a real big body with a real good stick. He has good vision to move the puck. He skates well and he’s very competitive. If you’re competitive and you can skate and you can move the puck, it’s great skills to give yourself a chance to develop and be a player.
“His growth in his game was probably the largest on our back end from start to finish.”
The Flyers have a veteran defensive corps, with Marc Staal, Sean Walker, Rasmus Ristolainen, Travis Sanheim. Nick Seeler. Cam York will be starting his third season in Philly. Victor Mete was brought in as a free agent.
The Young Guys
Ginning, Andrae, Ronnie Attard, Helge Grans and Egor Zamula will be looking to crash the roster.
“He’s a guy you have to watch game-to-game to see how effective he is,” Laperrière said about Ginning. “He might score one nice goal but that’s not his strength.
“His strength is to be in your face, poised, really good for his partner. He makes everything easier for his partner.
“When we put Ronnie with him last year, Ronnie’s game went like this [upward] because Ronnie could do his thing offensively and Ginning could take care of the defensive part of the game.”
Smith is a 15-year NHL veteran who was the Flyers’ captain in his one year in Philadelphia (2007-08). He knows what kind of talent and commitment is required for an NHL career. He also knows what is needed to break through from a minor league player to an NHLer.
“I think it’s just continuing to play the game the way he [Ginning] played last year — moving the puck, playing simple, defending well, blocking shots, winning battles along the wall are all important things,” Smith said.
“You have to continue to grow, build confidence. I think the biggest thing is to be consistent. Playing in the National League, it’s an everyday league. It’s not taking games off or riding the roller coaster.
“You want to try and be as consistent as you can from start to finish. I think he did a real good job [last] year once he got comfortable playing in the rink — in the size and the rink different from the European rink. He was a very stable defender, puck-mover and very competitive guy.”