Yes, the NHL offseason is shorter than usual this summer. But after missing out on holding a 2020 development camp, the Philadelphia Flyers will gather their top prospects later this month.
On Monday, General Manager Chuck Fletcher that the club has invited 17 forwards, 10 defensemen and two goalies to the event. It will run from August 28-31 at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, New Jersey.
The roster includes 20 Flyers draft picks, four free-agent signings, and five camp invitees. Let’s break it down.
Three first-round draft picks will be in attendance in Voorhees: forwards Tyson Foerster (2020) and Morgan Frost (2017) and defenseman Cam York (2019).
Frost appeared in 20 games for the Flyers in the 2019-20 season. He looked poised to take the next step, but a shoulder injury that required surgery ended his 2020-21 campaign after just two games.
Frost is one of 13 players on the development camp roster who was born in the 1990s, but remains waiver exempt for next season.
Like Frost, York, 20, is also waiver exempt. He could end up as first call-up to the Flyers’ defense if there’s an injury on the left side.
York is entering his first pro seasons. He had a solid two-year college career at the University of Michigan and captained Team USA to a gold medal at the 2021 World Junior Championship. In his brief professional audition at the end of last season, York acquitted himself well. With the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, he collected five points in eight games. During three games with the Flyers, he showed that he has the hockey sense to be effective on both sides of the puck at the NHL level.
Tyson Foerster had no trouble making the jump from junior to the AHL. When the Ontario Hockey League shut down for the season, he put up 17 points in 24 games with Lehigh Valley. Foerster doesn’t turn 20 until January. But it’s expected that he and the other junior-age players who gained AHL experience last season will be permitted to return, rather than taking a step back to junior.
The New Guys
Four of the Flyers’ six draft picks from 2021 are expected to debut in the orange and black at development camp.
That list is headed up by Samu Tuomala. After Philadelphia sent its first-rounder to Buffalo in the trade for Rasmus Ristolainen, Tuomaala was their first selection, at No. 46. He’s a speedy Finnish winger, who showed impressive offensive skills at the World Under-18 Championship. At the tournament, he finished with 11 points in seven games and was named to the all-star team. Tuomala signed his entry-level contract with the Flyers on Saturday but is expected to return to Karpat in Finland’s Liiga next season.
On the blue line, fourth-rounder Brian Zanetti and sixth-rounder Ethan Samson will get a chance to show their stuff. Zanetti comes out of the Lugano program in the Swiss league. For the last two years, Samson played under new Lehigh Valley assistant coach Jason Smith on the Prince George Cougars of the WHL.
The 2021 draft class is rounded out by seventh-round pick Owen McLaughlin. He was drafted as a high-school hockey prospect and is planning to suit up for Sioux City in the USHL next year. After that, he’s committed to Penn State.
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The Eyebrow Raisers
Fans should keep an eye out for scoring winger Elliot Desnoyers. The fifth-round pick from 2020 lit up the QMJHL last season. He finished in the top 10 in both goals (21) and points (49), in just 37 games played. He was also named to the league’s second all-star team.
Zayde Wisdom, the fourth-rounder from 2020, also exceeded expectations last season while with the Phantoms. He is on the development camp invite list. But the Flyers announced Friday that Wisdom had undergone successful shoulder surgery, just a couple of weeks after taking part in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence Summer Showcase.
Injury update: 2020 NHL Draft pick (4th round, 94th overall) Zayde Wisdom had successful shoulder surgery today in Philadelphia. Wisdom appeared in 28 games last season with the @LVPhantoms (AHL), recording 18 points (7g-11a). He is out indefinitely. pic.twitter.com/rkXfsnxCv1
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) August 13, 2021
The oldest development camp invitee is Tanner Laczynski. Now 24, the hard-working center turned pro in 2020-21 after four years at Ohio State. He played five games with the Flyers after being called up in early April. But his rookie campaign was cut short when he suffered a hip injury that required surgery.
The battle for the crease in Lehigh Valley is also set to begin. Camp invitees Samuel Ersson and Kirill Ustimenko will be working to lock in an AHL spot next season. Felix Sandstrom, the 24-year-old who played 11 games for the Phantoms last season, is the third goalie in the mix. He won’t be attending camp.
Schedule Details To Come
Some planning still in the works for development camp, including finalizing Covid-19 protocols. The Flyers say they’ll release their complete on-ice schedule later this month. It’s not yet certain, but some sessions could be open to the public.