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2021-22 Player Review: Cam York makes the jump

Another prospect graduating to the NHL!

Philadelphia Flyers v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

We’ve touched on this some so far in our season reviews to date, but it bears repeating, if you’re looking for a positive piece from last season, it was how well some of the young players in the organization were able to perform in their looks at the NHL level, and there’s probably no better example of that than Cam York.

Though he was still obliged to get a good bit of that AHL seasoning with an equally struggling Phantoms team, York still got in a tidy 30 game stint with the Flyers, and quickly had us wondering why exactly we didn’t see him for an even longer stretch.

Basic Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
30 3 7 10 6 33 9.09%

The expectation for York, speaking just generally on his projection as a player, is that with his instincts and skill level, would be able to chip in a bit of offense at the NHL player, and we hoped to see some of that once he finally got the call up to the Flyers, to be sure. But what we didn’t expect was for him to hit the ground running pretty immediately and just about match his production at the AHL level on the season (there he scored 12 points in 34 games played).

York was a particular breath of fresh air on the power play. He put up four of those 10 points (a goal and three primary assists) on the power play, and once he was given a chance there, gave the first power play unit a real positive jolt. And in a lot of ways, this shouldn’t be a surprise. York’s skillset should lend well to positive impacts on the power play—he’s developed his shot from the point well and can get that through traffic, he’s quick and a strong lateral skater meaning he can keep pucks in well at the blue line, and when you combine his vision and his decisiveness, he’s able to find lanes and make clean passes in distributing from the point. And that’s all what we saw at work in his stint on the Flyers’ power play.

But, at the same time, this was a bit of a pleasant surprise because, in truth, this is the best we’ve seen York look on the power play, even better than at the college or AHL level. It remains an open question whether this was just something of a flash in the pan, given the sample size we’re looking at, but York’s offered a nice glimmer of hope to stabilize a power play that’s been a real trouble area for the Flyers for years at this point.

5v5 On-Ice Stats

Corsi For % Corsi For Relative GF% Expected Goals For % PDO
Corsi For % Corsi For Relative GF% Expected Goals For % PDO
47.12% 3.05 41.86% 50.48% 0.980

5v5 Individual Stats

Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
0.79 0.52 6.6 0.12

Then, dipping into the 5-on-5 underlying numbers, they aren’t flashy, but on the whole they’re still quite solid. He was somewhat middling in terms of individual offensive contributions, that feels like a potential area for growth, given what we’ve seen in terms of his offensive instincts and toolkit, but we can live with this to start.

And as far as the on-ice numbers go, it’s certainly a statement on just how poorly things went for the team as a whole that we can look at, for example, York’s 47.12 CF% and say “hey that’s pretty good!” but that’s truthfully where we’re at. In a vacuum, the numbers for his on-ice impacts aren’t world beating, but he is comfortably above the team’s average in just about every metric. The only area where he’s posted a negative relative impact is in GF%, that 41.86 percent, and even that one we’re not fussed about—the sample is so small for that particular metric that it’s difficult to give it a ton of weight at the moment, and what’s more, he posted a much stronger 14.71 HDGF%. And that backs up what we see with the shot metrics as well—with York on the ice, the Flyers aren’t giving up a ton in the way of very dangerous chances.

But perhaps what was the most impressive about York’s impacts in his time with the Flyers is specifically how he was able to stabilize Ivan Provorov, something that not really anyone has been able to do since Matt Niskanen retired (if you don’t count the good looks in his four games with Ryan Ellis). And this too probably shouldn't come as a big surprise—even more than a steady defensive presence beside him, what Provorov really needs is a partner who is able to move the puck well, to take some of the pressure off of him and keep him from feeling like he needs to do absolutely everything and getting himself into trouble. To be sure, York’s defensive game is coming along well and his support there is good, but transitioning the puck is what he does best, and has done best at every level, so his skill set is one that compliments Provorov’s needs well, even as he was playing on his off-side. But that said, surprising or not, it’s still impressive that he was able to have that large of an impact as a player still so new to to league.

All of this is to say that, while this is still a small sample and there’s a lot yet to be seen in how York carves out a role for himself at the NHL level, and how his results will trend, he’s done just about as well as he possibly could have to set a strong foundation for himself.

And he’s in an interesting spot heading into next season—management has been somewhat noncommittal about him being a lock to make the team out of camp, but given the work he was able to put in last season, and what the team is working with elsewhere on their defense depth chart, we can pretty comfortably pencil York in for the opening night roster. But, that said, the acquisition of Tony DeAngelo likely guarantees that he’ll be starting off on the third pair, which in some ways does feel suboptimal.

Now, let’s be clear: at this point in his career, we would still rather see York playing a limited role in the NHL than a larger role in the AHL. There’s not really much, if anything, that he can learn in the American League that he can’t learn in the NHL, and it’s time that he gets a chance to get settled in with the NHL squad, hopefully get some special teams time, and if all goes well, a chance at earning some more 5-on-5 time and a move up the lineup.

We want to keep our expectations for next season reasonable—after all, this team is likely not going to be very good and to expect York to take a massive leap forward into dominance on a not very good team is probably a step too far. But he is still poised to take a step forward, and that’s what we’d like to see, him continuing to develop his game and making the most of what is sure to be an... interesting 2022-23 season.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick.