Sunday marked the start of the Philadelphia Flyers Development Camp for prospects to sharpen their skills before the 2021-2022 season begins. For many, it’s the first impression they’ll make in their journey into the AHL before realizing an NHL dream.
Previously, I outlined four hidden gems that’ll participate in this camp. In doing so, I mentioned the thirteen prospects who’ve already gained traction amongst the Flyers fanbase. The 2021-2022 season has officially begun for the players most hungry for a position within Philadelphia’s system.
Following the first day of camp, which players stood out?
Welcoming Back Laczynski and Frost
Tanner Laczynski and Morgan Frost earned ice time in 2020-2021. Unfortunately for both of them, they faced season-ending surgeries. Yesterday, both were on the ice for the first day of the Philadelphia Flyers Development Camp.
Upcoming is a crucial season for Frost. He’s in the final year of his entry-level contract and is waiver-exempt. During his second game of the 2020-2021 season, Frost underwent shoulder surgery. His opportunity disappeared as quickly as it came.
Laczynski shares those same contract similarities with Frost. Again, in the final year of his entry-level contract and waiver-exempt, Laczynski underwent hip surgery last April. He only played in a handful of games last season. Between the two, Frost could be positioned slightly higher than Laczynski on the depth chart. Both didn’t record a point in their short 2020-2021 stints, but Frost exhibited more control of the puck and won a higher rate of faceoffs.
However, Laczynski plays a more physical brand of hockey. Against division rivals, he played hardnosed minutes before his season abruptly ended.
Check out Frost (white sweater) courtesy of Charlie O’ Connor:
When Tyson Foerster became a Philadelphia Flyer in the first round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Chuck Fletcher salivated about his powerful shot (shown below courtesy of Jordan Hall.) The jury was out on his skating prowess. He isn’t the most explosive skater in his first step, but he’s hard to knock off the puck once he gets moving.
Similar to Morgan Frost and Tanner Laczynski, Foerster was hurt last season. He suffered a separated collarbone before the end of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms season.
Heading into 2021-2022, Foerster is eligible to lace his skates for the Phantoms again. If he makes the Flyers roster, he’ll burn the first year of his entry-level contract. There is no reason to rush Foerster into the NHL spotlight before he finishes an AHL season on a healthy note. Philadelphia is lucky to have Foerster on the ice for the first day of camp. He tweaked his shoulder, making him miss the World Junior Summer Showcase.
Yesterday, Foerster showed that he recovered from tweaking his shoulder. He was supposed to miss up to two weeks. Foerster began camp by ripping shots from the high slot and showing up a much improved skating step. His development is coming at the perfect time under watchful guidance, keeping his offensive capabilities while strengthening his two-way game.
Foerster can be a player this fanbase gets behind as he was scrapping with Jackson van de Leest (6’7″, 238lbs) throughout Sunday.
Jackson van de Beast?
That’s a fun nickname. It’s too early to consider Jackson van de Leest a good prospect, but we can all marvel at his size. Standing in at 6’7″ and 238lbs, he offers an absolute presence on the ice. Chuck Fletcher is right to take a chance on van de Leest during this Philadelphia Flyers Development Camp. Any defenseman with that size will catch an eye of a hockey mind.
Six days ago, I noted van de Leest as one of the hidden gems among the camp roster. He’s an undrafted talent, but so was Philippe Myers. Recently, Myers lured enough attraction from the Nashville Predators to act as a cog in acquiring Ryan Ellis. At the least, van de Leest could contribute to the physical brand of hockey Alain Vigneault wants.
The Flyers do not have many defensive defensemen in their lineup or depth chart. During camp, van de Leest must improve his lateral skating to cover the center of the ice to the left boards. From there, he could transform into a defensive anchor with incredible size.
York Is Close To NHL Ready
Though he played three games last season, Cam York averaged close to twenty minutes of ice time. In 2020-2021, he looked decisive and mature at the NHL level. Everything about his game seemed to come together smoothly at a rapid pace, but the Philadelphia Flyers aren’t ready to commit to him just yet. Keith Yandle takes the left side on the third pair. Quite frankly, York has a beautiful mind to pick before being ushered into the Flyers lineup.
Alone, York is close to NHL ready. Samuel Morin is likely the seventh defenseman for Philadelphia in 2021-2022.
York is among the top three players at Flyers Development Camp on the cusp of making an NHL roster. Two others who receive the same amount of fanfare are Morgan Frost and Wade Allison. All three played at the NHL level in 2020-2021. Allison was the only one who played more than ten games.
In three games, York showed his poise along the blue line. He’s far more than a one-dimensional defenseman. Of the top prospects in the defensive rankings, York is the best two-way defenseman of the pack.
Check out York utilizing an effective poke check on Connor McClennon, courtesy of Jordan Hall:
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre