Happy Friday and happy offseason, everybody! Are we enjoying our break from Hockey Things? Is this even really a break? Either way, some things are still happening, and we’re here to talk about them.
The Flyers kicked off their annual development camp yesterday and we finally got a chance to see all—or at least most—of our favorite kids out on the ice. That’s pretty exciting, right? Right!
The first official day of camp always seems to be something of a whirlwind—there are a lot of people around doing things and a whole lot is happening that you don’t totally have the context to put into place yet. So we’re pulling together the ends of threads and hoping we can make something with them as the week goes on… (is this metaphor working for you? Okay, fine, I’ll get to the point)
This is just to say that the first day is all about, well, first impressions. And with all of the quick happenings, we’ve collected a list of notes and impressions from our first day of camp. It’s like you’re peeking at the notes section of my phone while I’m jotting thoughts down. Which is pretty close to being inside my brain. But that’s a scary thought, so let’s just move right along, then,
1.Jack St. Ivany’s not so rough as I imagined
In talks about some of our most recent draftees, one idea that’s been tossed around is of St. Ivany being something of a project largely because of his skating. And this made us a little nervous—we heard the same thing last year regarding Matthew Strome, and we saw what that looked like in practice.
But this didn’t end up being quite the same case with St. Ivany. While he didn’t flash as someone who made you think “wow, he’s a really great skater,” he also didn’t present as a complete, unremitting mess. It was just fine. And this feels like a pretty low bar to clear, but it’s at least a bit of an encouraging sign—if the skating was supposed to be bad, and it’s not so bad, maybe the “project” isn’t such an undertaking, and the Flyers lucked into a player who slipped below where he perhaps should have been taken.
2. Matt Strome still kind of looks the same
But, since we’re talking about skating, and since we’ve named him specifically, let’s talk for a moment about Strome. The section title tells you where we’re going with this, but I’ll reiterate, he still looks pretty much the same, in terms of his skating.
The forwards kicked things off with a handful of skating drills, and Strome struggled some in these, particularly one which saw them having to skate on one foot and use their weight to lean into skating a circle, before proceeding straight across the rink. The wacky stride persisted, and there just didn’t seem to be too much power there. And maybe we expected this, that he wouldn’t come back after just one year and be completely fixed, but the skating still seems to be a big area in need of much more fixing.
3.Phil Myers looked just about as good as you’d expect
This was one of our threads while covering the Phantoms in the playoffs, that the guys you expected to be very good, were in fact very good. This was true of Myers then, and remained so in the first day of camp.
On the surface, he stands out on a physical level, if only for being one of the larger bodies at this camp, but also, yeah, for the polish in his skills. He shows good mobility for such a larger skater, doing well in the skating drills, and showed strength in the corners and made use of his long reach to break up passes in a scrimmage style drill in front of the net. You might have known I would say all this, and that’s fine. We’ve come to expect Myers to be very solid here, and he has been so far, and he should be, as he goes forward and guns—as he says he is—for a roster spot out of training camp.
4.Mark Friedman too!
And, since we’re talking about defensemen and development camp veterans, this brings us, logically, to Friedman. He’s another one who we expected to have a solid start to camp, both because of his veteran status and the fact that he’s just always one who takes these camps very seriously, and he lived up to these expectations. There wasn’t one particular drill where he really flashed, but appeared solid more or less across the board—skating, passing, shooting, all of the things, he was working hard and showing that he had it down, but still focusing all the same.
We’ll also be talking about him later for another thing. I’m not going to spoil it for you, though. But keep scrolling and you’ll get there.
5.Linus Hogberg stands out
By now we’ve touched on a couple of players who have carried some buzz or story lines into camp with them, but now we’re going to shift over to something of a sleeper. Coming into camp more under the radar, Hogberg had himself a very nice first day of camp.
He really stood out in the passing drills, where both his delivered and received passes were crisp and precise, even when he was moving with a bit of speed. He also flexed quite the shot—while the defensemen were practicing the Radko Gudas Special (blasting the puck in on net from the point, as if I even needed to explain that), Hogberg’s shot had more than a fair bit of zip to it. And this is good news, him having a nice start to camp—we may not be figuring to see him with the Flyers for a bit, but having some defensive prospect depth behind Myers and Friedman is a good sign, a must.
6.Morgan Frost is a bigger boy now…
I suspect we’ll be talking a lot over these next few days about Frost and his performance in drills, and there’s plenty of time for that, but I want to start with perhaps the most noticeable change in him—his weight. This was something of a concern for him, that he came in last year looking a little slight, and the Flyers were clear that they needed him to bulk up, and he did just that. He weighed in at around 170 pounds when he was drafted, and now he says he’s tipping the scales at about 184. And it shows—it’s just one day to go off of, but, if nothing else, he looks bigger and stronger.
And as for the drills, like I said, we’ll be spending more time on those in detail, but Frost also still looked about as good as expected. The shot was still solid, and he didn’t seem to lose anything I his skating, with putting on a bit of weight. So that’s not nothing.
7….and Joel Farabee, not so much
And since kicking up his efforts, it seems Frost has transferred over the “needs to bulk up” narrative over to one of our newest first round picks in Joel Farabee. As it stands, he’s listed at 6’0”, 164 pounds, and that just sounds about right. He’s still got some time to put on weight, and maybe he’ll never be the kind of guy who gets the Hextall “thick” designation, and that’s fine, but boy does he look thin now, compared to the others.
But the good news is, in terms of skill and from what we’ve seen so far, it all seems to be there. The shot’s pretty good, the skating and edgework is really nice and fluid. He looks polished, perhaps even more than you’d expect from an 18 year old. So the skills are there, but what we’ll really have to wait and see is how he holds up in the drills where he has to battle with other players, if the size becomes a hindrance.
8.Olle Lycksell gets fancy
And another one of our more under the radar prospects had a very solid start to camp! And another Swede, no less!
Despite a strong first season in the SHL, Lycksell didn’t garner as much buzz heading into this camp, but he proved to be one of the flashier skaters during the first day on ice. He flexed some smooth skating and a bit of zip, but what most stood out was his stick work. During one of the skating and puck control hybrid drills, he really shone, not just holding onto the puck while moving with speed and keeping his turns tight, but handling it as he went. And I don’t have much of a breakdown, here, but he was the only player I caught who was doing this, adding the extra fanciness and nailing it, and it was neat to watch.
9.Misha with a SHOT
I thought about polishing this section title, but I just went right with the note I put in my phone when I had the thought. This is authenticity happening here, folks.
But anyway, it’s sort of mean, when you think about it. Misha Vorobyev flexed a really impressive shot in the shooting drills yesterday—picking the high corners in the snap shot drill, and practicing Ovechkin style one-timers from the right faceoff circle—but it’s not one we get too see as often in games, with him more often deferring to passes. But, at the very least, maybe it’s encouraging to see that this isn’t for an absence of a good shot, just a preference.
But still, Misha, please use that shot more. Do the thing.
10.And for our very own Steph Driver…
With last year’s favorite teacher’s pet Travis Sanheim having aged out of development camp, a vacancy has opened up. We loved the teacher’s pet thing! Who’s it going to be this year?
Well, we’re working on finding out. A clear successor hasn’t stepped forward yet, but we do seem to have a handful of guys who have thrown their hats into the ring. Let’s see what we’ve got.
Mark Friedman: The Veteran In The Room. Helped clean up pucks.
Jack St. Ivany: Also helped clean up pucks.
Pascal Laberge: Led at least most of the drills for the forwards.
It’s not a lot to go on, right now, but we have some pieces, and we’ll be paying close attention to this matter over the coming days. Stay tuned for details on this breaking story.