Happy Monday, everybody! And a happy belated Canada Day to our pals up north! I hope we all had a pleasant weekend, or maybe your weekend’s still going, what with the holiday on Wednesday, maybe you decided to just keep it all rolling. Good on you.
If you had a day off, awesome, but we didn’t, and the Flyers didn’t! Mixed in with all of the free agency happenings, the prospects were still rolling their way through development camp, and we made it back to take some more notes and make some more observations. We’ve got extended impressions, names we haven’t talked so much about, it’s the whole gambit over here. Let’s dive right in.
1. Adam Ginning shows some physicality
After something of a slow start to camp that didn’t have him flash as a number of the other new prospects have so far, Ginning put up a noticeable final day of drills. As a big body, but not the greatest skater or puck handler, the big player comparison made for Ginning, at least within the Flyers organization, is to Robert Hagg, and the hope that he could still be physical and strong defensively. But, to start camp, we didn’t even see him doing much of that, not leaning so much into his size or bringing much in the way of edge—that changed yesterday.
From the first drill that saw forwards competing against defensemen for control of the puck, Ginning stood out, and it looked like things were clicking. He wasn’t always able to keep his assignment off the puck, but he was doing well to frustrate their attempts, and even got under Vorobyev’s skin after the delivery of a quick little cross check after the whistle blew. While Ginning remains something of a project in terms of that skating and puck handling that we mentioned earlier, it’s still his first camp, and at least the one thing we were really looking to see made its way to the surface, in the end.
2. Jay O’Brien is slippery
Sometimes I polish my placeholder section titles, but I didn’t for this one, I’m just going to leave it alone. But I’ll explain.
We talk a lot, particularly in regards to the younger players who still have some growing or bulking up to do, about how size might be their biggest pitfall in their game. This worry was there for O'Brien. Though he received the coveted Hextall “thick” designation, he’s still only ever played against high schoolers, and size and strength were an open question—but so far he’s done well to at least circumvent it.
In the puck battle drills, O’Brien didn’t present as the strongest—he wasn’t completely getting pushed around, you could see a bit of a strength discrepancy, but he made do with what he had available to him and he got by with his skating. He used a bit of speed and quick pivots to keep away from defenders, and it got the job done. We will need to see him get a bit stronger (earn that thick designation, right?) but it was a nice enough start and foundation put forward.
3. Olle Lycksell shines again
We talked a bit about Lycksell in our first impressions piece after the first day of camp, noting that he came out strong and flexed some fancy puck handling, and he impressed on that first day. And it seems that steam he was working to pick up didn’t run out, as he impressed yet again in Sunday’s sessions.
Again we got to see more of that fancy puck handling, but this time it came not during unencumbered skating drills, but in puck battles and game situation approximations. Far from the biggest player on the ice—listed at 5’10” and 163 pounds—he, like O’Brien, was slippery using that solid skating and stick handling to remain strong on the puck, even when facing a much larger defenseman. We saw him knocked down a couple of times, but even then he didn’t let up, playing the puck from his knees and ultimately still keeping it away from the opposition. I think we like to call this tenacity.
And maybe we would like to see him get physically stronger still, so that he isn’t getting knocked down and having to play the puck from the ice surface, but it’s a good sign to see that he’s thinking creatively, finding ways to make his size and skillset work.
4. Vorobyev holds strong
And this is normally when I would do my “well, since we mentioned so and so earlier, let’s circle back and spend a little more time talking about that and them now” segue, but that’s not really how we’re working this one. We’re not circling back to Vorobyev just because he was mixing it up with Ginning in the start of that first session. But just because he was very good yesterday.
We talked mostly about his shot after Thursday’s session, and it’s still very good, but we’re going to shift gears, we don’t need to rehash it. Where Vorobyev really shined yesterday was in the two-on-two drill, where a player and their partner had to maintain control of the puck, and maybe try to score a goal. We saw Vorobyev veritably running the show when he was out for these drills—goal or just ultimate shot on net, whatever the end result, the defenders just couldn’t seem to push him off the puck, not in the corners, not in open ice, it just wasn’t happening.
And really, this shouldn’t be a surprising development—watching him with the Phantoms, we know he’s defensively sound and can protect the puck well under pressure. We’ve seen him run nearly entire penalty kill shifts on his own, but still, seeing him flash this skill in camp is nice.
5. Morgan Frost is like a cheat code
Alternately title: Morgan Frost is so good, it’s not even funny. We’ve been talking a lot here about slippery or elusive players from these puck control drills, and in this field, Frost was at the top of the class. It’s hard to say, really, if he was getting outmuscled (though my inclination is to say it would be a no) because the defensemen just couldn’t catch him.
With nearly lightning quick cuts and pivots, Frost was able to skate clear around defenders and keep going about his business. To say he was able to skate around them like they were standing still is sort of a cliché, but it was close to it. He was very quick, very mobile. And, in a way, it felt a little unfair to watch.
We’ve said it already with our first two elusive players, that making sure you do have the strength is a must, but with Frost bringing this much speed and evasive ability to the table? Maybe we’re willing to cut him a bit of slack.
6. Teacher’s Pet Watch 2k18
I promised an update in our search for this summer’s teacher’s pet, and an update I have for you. We didn’t have a clear winner come forward in the race on my first day on Thursday, but yesterday we got one: our pal Mark Friedman.
It wasn’t cleaning up pucks that did it, yesterday, but a moment before the one-on-one puck battle drills where he’d give his forward a little nudge to get into the right position, or to get ready to go. What a nice thing. Wow.*
*Oh no. It’s just now occurred to me that this might have been a mean or competitive shove. Not a helpful one. Oh no. What have I done.