|Forward Danick Martel hoping to be a difference maker. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey|
Rookie Camp kicks off on
Written by: Tim Riday, Twitter
Before we take a detailed look at who will take part in this year’s festivities, let’s get some of the basics out of the way.
Rookie camp kicks off
Monday, Sept. 19 at 3 p.m. (Flyers postponed the 1st on-ice practice to Tuesday morning) in Voorhees, New Jersey at the Skate Zone, the official training center of the Flyers. The on-ice practices will begin on Sept. 20 at 10:30 a.m. before the Flyers' prospects travel to East Meadow, New York to face the Islanders' youngsters in a scrimmage at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21.
Then it's time to get down to business at the main training camp. That opens on Friday, Sept. 23 in Voorhees.
But first, here's a breakdown of the 21 prospects who get to hit the ice early. We've broken them up into several groups. Let's get started!
The Main Event
These are the kids you know well.
These are the kids you know well.
Ivan Provorov, who has the best chance to earn a job with the Flyers at training camp, was named the Western Hockey League's top defenseman last season after scoring 21 goals and assisting 52 more in 73 games for the Brandon Wheat Kings. Many scouts and draft pundits believe he's NHL-ready but the only opinion that matters is Hextall's. I can see Provorov forcing Hextall's hand, too. He's incredibly poised for a youngster and screams top-pair blueliner. His two-way ability is insane.
Then there's Travis Konecny. He's undoubtedly the top forward in the Flyers' system and could provide a much-needed offensive punch almost right away. He tallied 30 goals and 71 assists between Ottawa and Sarnia in the OHL in 2015-16 and has all the makings of a top-line point producer. The Flyers have a logjam of bottom-six forwards, however, so we may have to wait another year for Konecny. That's not a bad thing, either. There’s no need to put pressure on the youngster out of the gates.
The last of the main eventers is Travis Sanheim. He recorded 15 goals and 53 assists in 52 games for the WHL's Calgary Hitmen last season. An injury derailed part of his campaign but he's back to 100 percent. It's likely he'll start out 2016 with the Phantoms, though. But if he has a good showing at camp, you never know what's going to happen. He’s a polished two-way defender. Stay tuned.
Eyes On The Prize
Provorov, Konecny and Sanheim aren't the only intriguing names on the roster. There are several other youngsters to keep an eye on.
First up is Philippe Myers, who took arguably the biggest step out of any prospect in 2015-16. The towering defenseman, who signed an entry-level contract with the Flyers last summer, broke out for 17 goals and 45 points for Rouyn-Noranda last season after entering the season as a relatively unknown prospect. His two-way game impressed the Flyers' scouting department and he'll look to continue to improve his shutdown game.
Don't forget about forwards Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Radel Fazleev, either. Both these guys tallied over 70 points last season and could develop into second- or third-line depth wingers for the Flyers. Their offensive smarts are off the charts and both possess the ability to play special teams. Aube-Kubel could be an absolute weapon on the power play, while Fazleev has top penalty killer written all over him.
In net, the Flyers brought in Alex Lyon, a coveted collegiate goalie, to possibly push Anthony Stolarz in the minors. Lyon went 19-8-4 with a 1.64 goals-against average for Yale in 2015-16 and will likely serve as Lehigh Valley's backup this year.
Finally, there's winger/center Samuel Dove-McFalls. He appeared in just 29 games for Saint John QMJHL after suffering a serious knee injury early in 2015. Dove-McFalls is a defensive-minded forward with some offensive upside. He could surprise.
It's always nice to have some guys with AHL experience around.
Defenseman Sam Morin, a first-round draft choice in 2013, and forwards Steven Swavely, Danick Martel and Tyrell Goulbourne all spent time with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in 2015-16.
Morin had his ups and downs in his first year as a professional but showed some real promise in the second half of last season. Don't be surprised if he sees some NHL ice time this year.
Martel, an undersized winger who can play the middle if needed, was a bright spot for the Phantoms last season. He notched 22 goals and finished with 37 points in 67 games.
Another skater who is no stranger to Flyers camps is Reece Willcox. The defenseman finished up his senior year at Cornell with two goals and 13 points in 33 games and is expected to fight for a spot in the Phantoms’ defensive corps.
The New Guys
Ready to get a good look at the 2016 draft class? Good because five of the Flyers' selections will be in town for rookie camp.
With first-rounder German Rubtsov unable to attend because of KHL commitments, Pascal Laberge, a first-round talent who the Flyers stole early in the second round, will headline this group.
Laberge played both center and wing at the junior level last season. He's an efficient two-way forward with the potential to develop into a playmaker or even a goal-scorer.
Fans and management will also get the chance to see what netminder Carter Hart can do. Hart was the first goalie selected this summer and plays a reactive hybrid style.
Laberge and Hart will be joined by forwards and fellow 2016 picks Carsen Twarynski (third round), Connor Bunnaman (fourth round) and Anthony Salinitri (sixth round) at the Skate Zone. Rubtsov, winger Wade Allison and Swedish defensemen Linus Hogberg and David Bernhardt will not be in attendance.
The other newcomer is Russian forward Roman Lyubimov, who signed an entry-level contract with the Flyers in mid-July. The 24-year-old spent the last six seasons in the KHL with CSKA Moscow and is expected to compete for a bottom-six role.
Rookie Camp Invitees
After spending time with the Flyers at development camp in July, defensemen Garrett McFadden and Brennan Menell will return as invitees to rookie camp.
McFadden, a small but speedy blueliner who will serve as alternate captain of the OHL's Guelph Storm for a second consecutive year, went undrafted the past two offseasons. He was, however, the 12th-overall selection at the 2013 OHL Draft.
Menell, another offensive-minded defenseman, is set to enter his third year with the WHL's Vancouver Giants. He racked up seven goals and 43 assists in 2015-16.
In Case You Missed It
- Highland Park Hockey is now on YouTube! Be sure you're subscribing this weekend - there might be a preview of what's to come this season next week.
- The Flyers announced their training camp roster Thursday. Slipped through the cracks was news of the Phantoms signing signing former Hartford WolfPack forward Chris McCarthy, a Collegeville, Pa native, to a two-way AHL/ECHL contract for the 2016-17 season to further bolster the Phantoms' depth up front.
- On Tuesday, I featured the first installment in a weekly series that will run throughout the season. 'Tuesday's Talk' will be the place to get your questions answered as well as learn a thing or two about the finer details of the American Hockey League every week.
- I'm opening back up the GoFundMe account for those interested in keeping me on the road covering AHL hockey live this upcoming 2016-17 season. For those more familiar/comfortable with PayPal, you can also help send donations there. Thanks in advance for your help spreading the word about the new and improved Highland Park Hockey!