Training camp is upon us! The Philadelphia Flyers have hit the Ice down in Vorhees at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone for Six days of blood, sweat, and pucks on net! As we prepare to launch ourselves back into the rigors of an NHL season, here are five storylines you should be following.
The redemption tour
Perhaps the biggest storyline going into camp involves the return of two players – Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom.
According to Sam Carchidi, Patrick passed his physical which means he is able to practice with the rest of the team in full capacity. This is huge for the former second-overall pick, who missed all of last season due to a migraine condition. He re-signed with the team this past offseason and spent months hustling in scrimmages in order to prepare for his full-time return.
Patrick has played in 145 games as a Flyer and in that time has amassed 26 goals, 35 assists, combining for 61 total points. This will be a key offseason for him as he looks to compete for the third-line role.
Oskar Lindblom was always going to draw a lot of attention. With a new three-year deal worth $9M to his name, this could be his brightest season yet.
He made his return to the Flyers during their postseason run, playing a key role in a game-6 OT win over New York with depth fading away. But now, he’ll get a full Training Camp with his teammates before the new season begins.
Not only did Lindblom fight through treatments and beat a rare form of Cancer named Ewings Sarcoma, but he’s already raring to go for a full season of Hockey after a miraculous return to the team just in time for the playoffs.
Seeing both youngsters back on the Ice will be beyond heart-warming for fans.
Flyers become Wonderkids ‘r’ us
We all know that the Flyers have created a factory for the next generation of Philadelphia Hockey in recent years and we’l get to see several of those names in action over the next week.
Egor Zamula had a shot to make the playoff roster and gathered valuable experience working with the veterans. This could be another huge opportunity for the 20-year-old who continues to earn nothing but strong praise.
Of course, the spotlight will naturally turn to this year’s first-round pick Tyson Foerster. The 18-year-old spent his time in the OHL with the Barrie Colts where he was predominantly used as a center. He tallied a whopping 80 total points (36 goals, and dished 44 assists) across 62 games. With Taxi-squad places up for grabs, if the rook can show a few flashes of the explosiveness that got him drafted, then there’s every chance he makes it onto the unit that will travel with the team.
Connor Bunnaman could be competing for a fourth-line role behind Morgan Frost. While Frost is almost a lock to make the roster, Bunnaman will be looking to pick up the slipstream now that he has another year of experience in his back pocket. With stop-gap free agents out of the way, Bunnaman could make some noise in camp.
A new look Flyers defense?
Replacing Matt Niskanen was never going to be an easy task. His shock retirement caught the team by surprise and while the signing of Erik Gustaffsson is an important one, he won’t be handed a spot on a silver platter.
Shayne Gostisbehere provided an almost-identical skillset and will be gunning to take back what he’ll believe to be rightfully his after flashing in the playoffs. This could be a battle worth noting. Ghost has been mentioned in trade talks for months now with nothing further coming from them. Could a strong camp tilt the scales in his favor?
Justin Braun and Bobby Hagg should have the third line locked up, and that leaves our attention to fall on Phil Myers, who will step up and partner Provorov on the top-line this season. Myers has risen from a UDFA to a key defensive contributor in the blink of an eye and he’ll be looking for a strong camp to solidify his spot.
Just winging it
Moving Sam Morin to the wing felt like a pretty weird idea, but with the defensive depth looking plentiful, the Flyers wanted to try and get the big-bodied youngster in a more favorable position.
At the beginning of 2019-2020, Morin heartbreakingly suffered a second torn ACL. Having worked his way back again, Vigneault is willing to move the 6’6 25-year-old up to an offensive role in a bid to see what happens.
It’s easy to envision Morin in an ‘enforcer’ type role and delivering big-time hits to the more elusive talents the Flyers will face this year. If he is to make the team, however, he’ll need to at the very least unseat savvy vet Michael Raffl on the third-line for a regular spot in the rotation. Let the fun begin!
We’re all going on a European tour
While the Flyers are kicking off their Training Camp schedule down at the Skate Zone today, there are four players who will not be present as they are out on loan on European teams. Here’s a quick update on each player:
F David Kase
Who: HC Energie Karlov, Czech Extraliga & Czech National Team
Season so far: 5 goals & 17 assists for 22 points in 22 games.
D Linus Hogberg
Who: HC Vita Hästen, Allsvenskan
Season so far: 2 goals & 10 assists for 12 points in 26 games.
F German Rubtsov
Who: HK Sochi, KHL
Season so far: 3 goals & 8 assists for 11 points in 35 games.
F Maksim Sushko
Who: Dynamo-Minsk, KHL,
Season so far: 2 goals & 3 assists for 5 points in 29 games.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire