No. 6: Cam York
2020-21 League/Team(s): University of Michigan (Big Ten, NCAA), Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL), Philadelphia Flyers (NHL)
2020-21 Statistics: 4 G, 16 A, 20 P in 24 GP (NCAA), 2 G, 3 A, 5 P in 8 GP (AHL), 0 G, 0 A, 0 P in 3 GP (NHL)
Acquired In: 2019 (drafted)
Ranking in Spring 2020 25 Under 25: 11
How did York’s 2020-21 hockey season go? Is his stock trending up or down from where it was entering the year?
York had, really by all counts, a pretty stellar season. Despite a disappointing end to their season, which saw them removed from the NCAA tournament due to COVID protocols, the University of Michigan had a very strong 2020-21 season, and York was a key piece to their success. He was given big minutes at 5-on-5 and on the power play, and he was pretty tremendously effective in that role. The Wolverines were a very good transition and play driving team, and York was one of the primary drivers in both of those areas. His game, though not centered around highlight reel plays night in and night out, is a details oriented one, and last season he was playing with a lot more confidence with the puck, and his awareness and ability to make those subtle plays both with and without the puck developed quite well, and that made him a consistently very effective defender. And for all that, he earned conference honors, as he was named the Big Ten’s top Defensive Player of the Year, as well as named to the Big Ten’s First All-Star Team.
Then signing after his college season ended, York was able to get in for eight games in the AHL with the Phantoms, where, after a bit of a rough first game, was able to settle in nicely and seemed to be getting the hang of playing at that level, and in the small sample, was very close to replicating much of those excellent results he found in college. And for all of that, he was also given a chance at at three-game run with the Flyers to close out the season, where he frankly didn’t look a bit out of place, and flashed some very good impacts.
Oh, and there was also captaining the US’s gold medal winning World Junior team to add the cherry on top.
York took a significant step forward in his development this season, and the bit of professional experience he was able to gain will be a big asset to him heading into this season. He’s set a solid foundation for himself, and there’s a lot to be optimistic about here.
What are we expecting from York this season? What should we be looking for from him?
With the veteran additions made to the team this offseason, that does really limit York’s chances of making the Flyers right out of camp. Samuel Morin being set to miss the start of the season certainly does open up the battle for the seventh defenseman spot with the Flyers, and while it is possible that York beats out a couple of veterans for a spot on the opening night roster, pushing on the veterans down into the seven spot, knowing what we do about Alain Vigneault’s level of trust in rookies, it’s hard to imagine that happening. And because it’s also hard to imagine the Flyers wanting him to start the season as the seven, it seems more likely that we’ll see him sent down to play for the Phantoms, where at least he’ll have the benefit of playing a lot of minutes.
Now, while we would be comfortable with him jumping right into a depth role with the Flyers, and that might suggest that we would assume the AHL would be a piece of cake for him, we’re still keeping our expectations reasonable and anticipating that he may face some growing pains. These players are all a lot bigger and stronger than those he faced in college, and for a relatively smaller player like York, that’s going to be an adjustment. He may not be dominant at this level right away, but he’s going to be good. The hope is still that York will be able take the big role he’s given and run with it. He’s at his best when he’s playing with confidence, and to have that rolling in what should hopefully be a normal season would make for an exciting product.
How does York fit into the Flyers’ long-term plans? Where does he stand in the Flyers’ organizational depth?
Though he remains close with Zamula, York is probably the Flyers’ top defense prospect at the moment, between his upside and proximity to NHL readiness. And while the path to a spot on the NHL roster this season is looking a little more difficult for him, the impression is that he is still very much part of the long-term plan for the Flyers.
And in a way, this does make sense. The Flyers are invested in him as a played and invested in his development, and they don't seem overly eager to rush him to get to the NHL. He can take this season to mature at the AHL level, will likely still get another look at the NHL level at some point, and that would put him in the best position to hopefully make the jump to being a full time NHLer next season. There will be space for him then—the Flyers will only have Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, and Ryan Ellis under contract as far as their core defensemen go, and York’s performance and readiness this season will likely determine how they handle next offseason, how they fill out the rest of the defense corps. They’re willing to be a bit more cautious with his development, but there still lies a big opportunity ahead for him.
What do we think York’s ultimate NHL upside is, and how likely is it that he gets to something approaching that?
This seems to be a little bit of a divisive topic, but from the side that is quite high on York, the optimistic upside that we’re looking at with him is that of an above average second pair defenseman who can play up in the lineup (and also run a power play) in a pinch. On a team with a very deep defense corps he’s probably a good 3, but he has the potential to jump up on the top pair and still be successful if need be (like a Matt Grzelcyk in Boston, if we want to play the comparables game). Now, York still has a way to go in terms of maturing his game and getting fully acclimated to the NHL level, but that mark isn’t too far out of reach. He’ll likely at least challenge for a spot on the team out of camp here, as we said, he’s ready to make the jump to the NHL now, so that’s a good start.
How We Voted: Cam York
How We Voted: No. 6
|Tyson Foerster||Morgan Frost||Cam York||Morgan Frost||Morgan Frost||Tyson Foerster||Wade Allison||Morgan Frost||Tyson Foerster||Morgan Frost|
Previously in Flyers Summer 2021 Top 25 Under 25:
- No. T-24: Ivan Fedotov
- No. T-24: German Rubtsov
- No. 23: Jay O’Brien
- No. 22: David Kase
- No. 21: Linus “The Hog” Hogberg
- No. 20: Isaac Ratcliffe
- No. 19: Ronnie Attard
- No. 18: Connor Bunnaman
- No. 17: Noah Cates
- No. 16: Elliot Desnoyers
- No. 15: Emil Andrae
- No. 14: Samu Tuomaala
- No. 13: Zayde Wisdom
- No. T-11: Tanner Laczynski
- No. T-11: Samuel Ersson
- No. 10: Bobby Brink
- No. 9: Egor Zamula
- No. 8: Tyson Foerster
- No. 7: Wade Allison