We’re barely a week away from the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening game of the 2020-21 NHL season on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
36 skaters and five goaltenders took to the ice on Monday at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, as training camp began. They’re testing out their offseason training regimens and, in some cases, putting their best foot forward in an effort to grab a spot on the main roster or the taxi squad.
Through the first two days of camp, two returning players look like they should be back in the mix this season.
Forward Oskar Lindblom, of course, suited up for the Flyers’ last two playoff games in the Toronto bubble this summer after successfully undergoing treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma. Now, declared cancer-free more than one year after his initial diagnosis, the 24-year-old is feeling much stronger than back in early September.
“I only had two weeks to work out with the team at that point,” he said. “I didn’t have any ice sessions before that. I’ve been home for a couple of months and been able to skate and work out. It’s been a big difference.
“I feel more powerful. I feel like I’ve got more energy in my body too — a lot better, I would say.”
“Other than the long flow, he’s looked great,” chuckled coach Alain Vigneault. “He’s been here for quite some time. He’s been skating a lot.
“He seems to be in real good condition. I’ve had a couple of talks with him about where he is and how he feels. As far as I could tell, obviously, today was the first time I was on the ice with the guys as far as practices. He looked real good — real strong and powerful. I think he’s cleared: good to go and really anxious for a full season with his teammates.”
“My goal is to start playing the first game, but it’s the coach that decides if I’m playing or not,” Lindblom said.
“We’ll see, but I’m doing my best out there. I want to get back where I was before I got sick. I want to help the team on special teams, and I want to help the team on five-on-five. Whatever I can do. It doesn’t matter if I score a goal or block a shot. I just want to be there and help the team win.”
Patrick Making His Way Back
The mindset is a little more cautious for Nolan Patrick. The 22-year-old center, who was selected second overall in 2017, missed all of last season with symptoms related to migraine disorder. So far, his on-ice work has been encouraging.
“I thought Nolan looked really good,” said Vigneault after Monday’s sessions. “I’ve had a couple chats with him the last couple days. He feels good about where he is. He’s really upbeat about his energy level.”
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) January 4, 2021
“I see the excitement in him about being back with his teammates, about working and having fun, and I see the excitement in his teammates with him being back,” Vigneault continued. “In this situation, obviously he was probably very nervous today. Anxious to get going, hasn’t played in a while. I think for him and for our team, it was a positive day, a step forward, and we’ll take it a day at a time and see how he’s doing.”
While Patrick declined to speak about his symptoms or what he has dealt with over last year, he’s encouraged by how he has felt so far.
“I have been progressing and getting better every week,” he said. “I’ve been playing in scrimmages, so it is nice to be out there today.
“I’m just trying to get into a few scrimmages and see how I feel. Like I said before. I’ll see how I feel after camp and go from there.”
Other Roster Notes
Defenseman Zayde Wisdom, a fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft, was absent from Monday’s on-ice session — “not available,” according to Vigneault, who said that’s the language that the league is requesting during training camp.
Wisdom made his NHL training camp debut on Tuesday and made a solid impression in front of the watchful eye of the local media.
— Bill Meltzer (@billmeltzer) January 5, 2021
When camp opened, the Flyers announced that they were missing two injured players:
- Goaltending prospect Kirill Ustimenko, 21, will be out approximately 4-5 months after undergoing surgery on his left hip to repair a torn labrum
- Left-wing prospect Isaac Ratcliffe, 21, sustained a fractured rib in training and will be out a minimum of four weeks
Four other Flyers prospects will remain on loan to European clubs, where they have played through the fall:
- F David Kase — Czech League
- D Linus Hogberg — Sweden’s secod-tier Allsvenskan
- F German Rubtsov — Russia’s KHL
- F Maksim Sushko — Russia’s KHL