Just when things started to look up for Philadelphia Flyers forward Cam Atkinson, hope suddenly came crashing down.
As reported this morning, Atkinson will undergo surgery on his neck/upper arm area on Wednesday and will miss the remainder of the 2022-2023 season. Atkinson did not play in any games this year. He is expected to make a full recovery from his surgery.
Skating regularly during practice sessions with the Flyers, Atkinson was cleared for contact on December 3rd. Last Friday night, however, Atkinson was placed on the IR. Atkinson was present during the start of training camp in September until an upper-body injury occurred on September 25th.
The 33-year-old was ecstatic after the hiring of John Tortorella in June. After working with Tortorella for six seasons in Columbus, Atkinson was prepping his teammates for Tortorella’s camp. On October 25th, Tortorella mentioned that he didn’t think Atkinson’s injury would develop into another Ryan Ellis situation where a return looked clear at first, but didn’t end up happening. Tortorella was banking on Atkinson to make a return at some point during the season, but his return is now out of the question.
“I just don’t see it going down that road. I don’t know what else to say on it. I’m gonna leave it up to him, the guy wants to play. I know him so well, he’s played through so many injuries with me. It’s legit that he just doesn’t feel comfortable. I know once that door cracks and says, ‘I feel ready to go’, I think he’s gonna jump right in.”John Tortorella; 10/25/2022
The absence of Atkinson in the lineup is obvious. A top-six forward with a shoot-first mentality, Atkinson wouldn’t have cured the Flyers’ goal-scoring troubles single-handedly but he certainly would’ve been a key contributor on offense. With Atkinson now confirmed to be out for the season, the Flyers have a combined $15,172,500 on the IR.
In his first season with the Flyers last year, Atkinson scored 50 points (23G, 27A) throughout 73 games. He missed the remaining nine games after suffering an injury on April 12th, 2022, against the Washington Capitals.
With both Atkinson and Ellis confirmed to miss the entire season, and possibly Couturier too, the road for the Flyers will not get any easier. On December 1st, general manager Chuck Fletcher mentioned that he expected the Flyers to be more competitive as the season continued since they were only five points out of a wild-card spot. Since his comment, the Flyers are now ten points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and have gone 2-5-2.
The Flyers are currently in 27th place in the NHL standings. Just nine points ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for last place, and five points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets for last in the Eastern Conference. Snake-bitten by injuries for the second season in a row, not having an entirely healthy roster isn’t benefiting the cause of finding an identity that is currently missing.
(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)