Cam York had an eventful 2022-2023 season.
On December 8th, 2022, he was recalled to the Flyers before they began a road trip against the Vegas Golden Knights the next day. Since then, York remained in Philadelphia for the remainder of the season.
York proved John Tortorella to be correct. Tortorella challenged York to become a game-changer and to play more aggressively. He spent a healthy portion of his time in the top four of the defensive unit, sometimes playing opposite Ivan Provorov on the first pair. He proved to Tortorella that he is a full-time NHL defenseman.
“I’ve seen players get better each game. I’ve seen our back end get better. Cam York, [the] minor leagues worked. That whole situation you guys were pissing and moaning about when we sent him down worked. Cam comes up and is trying to make a difference.”John Tortorella; 12/20/2022
There is even more opportunity on the Flyers’ defense after Provorov went to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a three-team trade. York could permanently find his role on the top pair in Philadelphia.
In 54GP, York tallied 20 points (2G, 18A), and it wasn’t the most impressive step forward in his progress. What stood out the most was the heavy ice time he earned. His average time on the ice ran about 19:39 each game. He ranked fifth on the team, excluding goaltenders, last season.
Tortorella, who began the season without York on the roster, relied on him once he arrived. York accepted the responsibility to carry a lumbering amount of minutes, earning the trust of his head coach.
During even-strength hockey, York excelled and complemented Provorov when paired together. He adapted, playing both sides of the ice along the blue line.
In addition to his new number, turning in the 45 for 8, York agreed to a 2yr/$3.2mil extension ($1.6mil/AAV) on July 10th, 2023. A bridge deal, York will be 24 years old when this contract expires at the end of the 2024-2025 season, preparing for a bigger payday.
Accepting this extension from the Flyers isn’t a sleight on York. It’s the opposite. York could have agreed to a more lucrative contract instead of a two-year bridge term, but due to the salary cap in the NHL, York bet on himself to achieve that deal in 2025, where he’ll still be a restricted free agent.
Though he has all the tools to take a massive step forward in development, it will not be easy. The Flyers’ defense is not better than it was a season ago. Additionally, York will not be playing with a minute-eating defenseman like Provorov. Suddenly, York is the defenseman meant to eat minutes.
Rasmus Ristolainen, Sean Walker, and Nick Seeler make up the defensemen who could occupy the right side of the ice. York will receive more minutes next season, but the defensive unit is subject to many moving parts. He could partner with Travis Sanheim, playing on the right side of the ice instead, but Sanheim and Ristolainen represent the only duo with prior chemistry in the new lineup. It is likely that York pairs with Walker, even if that means manning the second pair.
A veteran presence could also benefit York. Marc Staal used to be a consistent top-four defenseman who averaged 20:37 minutes per game in his prime with the New York Rangers. Last season, he averaged 18:12 with the Florida Panthers. He is a beneficial mind for all young defensemen in 2023-2024, especially an emerging skater like York or even Yegor Zamula.
Next season presents York with every opportunity to become a top pair defenseman in the NHL. Removing Provorov and Tony DeAngelo will apply pressure on teammates like Sanheim. If York continues his development trajectory from last season, he could be the defenseman who rises to the top. As the Flyers rebuild, the younger skaters take the reigns as the franchise moves forward.
(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)