|Taylor Leier (right) is among those in competition for final forward spot on Flyers' roster. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey|
Written by: Tony Androckitis, Twitter/Facebook
Entering his pivotal third year of pro hockey - the final year of his entry-level contract - Taylor Leier is calm, cool, and determined to make the Philadelphia Flyers' opening night roster, starting with a good showing at this year's training camp.
"Every year I come in with same mindset, and that's to make the team," Leier said after Sunday's intra-squad scrimmage in Voorhees. "I think that should be every athlete's mindset going into a training camp or any sort of season is to try to be the best and at the top of your game. There should be no difference in your mindset I don't think."
While the spotlight might be on younger prospects like Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny, Leier is a darkhorse candidate to push for an NHL job this fall - though the competition to fill out the bottom six forward group is much tougher than in either of Leier's first two seasons at the pro level.
The long odds didn't seem to phase Leier as he was sitting in the veteran's locker room with the main group of Flyers players at training camp.
"My mindset is straight up to make the Flyers as soon as possible, and trying to do everything I can and work as hard as I can to get there."
Last season, Leier got his first taste of hockey at its highest level - a six-game stint with the Flyers. While he didn't record his first NHL point, the experience and confidence gained from that visit from Philadelphia has Leier thinking that full-time NHL work might be within his grasp.
"There's a big difference from when I first came in to now," Leier replied, talking about just how fast his first two years in the Flyers organization had passed him by. "Just confidence-wise and that comfort level. It was nice to be familiar some of the guys here and not be quite as shy around them. It's pretty intimidating the first time you meet all these guys that you grew up watching. It's nice to have a little bit of comfort level inside the room."
Leier was in the Flyers lineup last night in Newark - a shutout loss to the New Jersey Devils - but he understands the importance of the next few nights of preseason action.
"The games are the biggest part of camp," Leier said, adding, "They'll probably decide the roster spots. We'll see what happens and I think everyone's looking forward to it."
All in all, Leier is in a pretty good spot this fall. He's competing for a full-time NHL job in training camp and proving he's capable of playing at hockey's highest level. If he ends up falling short of his goal to make the Flyers, he'll be surrounded by talented players in the AHL with the Phantoms - just 45 minutes and a phone call away from the NHL.
"We get treated really well down there so if I end up getting sent down or any of the guys around here get sent down it's not the worst thing in the world."