To the surprise of many – but not necessarily everybody – the Flyers decided to go through with their plan to trade their first pick to help fill a void in the second round at Friday night’s draft at Vancouver.
General manager Chuck Fletcher traded his No. 11 overall pick to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for the No. 14 pick, along with a selection in the second round (No. 45).
With the No. 14 pick, the Flyers took defenseman Cam York from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.
Fletcher thus fills the hole left by trading away his second-round pick (No. 41 overall) last week when he acquired defenseman Justin Braun from the San Jose Sharks.
York, 18, is a 5-foot-11, 176-pound native of Anaheim Hills, Calif. He will attend the University of Michigan next year.
York, a left-handed shot, told NBCSN-TV that he is pleased to be selected by the Flyers.
“It’s a special moment for me,’’ York said. “I got a lot of friends and family here so I’m really happy to be a Flyer.’’
York grew up playing roller hockey in Southern California but when the roller rink was closed down, the lure of ice hockey eventually took over.
He said roller hockey contributed to his ice hockey skating skills.
Now he heads east to hopefully play for the Flyers somewhere down the road.
“They have a rich history with much success,’’ he said. “You know they’re going to have a really good team here soon.’’
In a media conference call late Friday night from Vancouver, Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said the Flyers were pretty confident York would still be available at No. 14.
“We did some investigating,’’ Flahr said. “We kind of knew. At the same time, there were a number of players who fell (such as top-10 prospect Cole Caufield, a diminutive right wing who wasn’t taken until the No. 15 pick by Montreal) that we would have been fine with.
“But Cam was a guy we were excited to get and we were able to acquire a second-round pick tomorrow (Saturday) as well which is a big asset.’’
Flahr noted that the Flyers could have gone for someone like Caufield but York has upside as well.
“York was probably seen (by Flyers scouts) as much as any player,’’ Flahr noted. “Just because of the number of first-round picks. Our whole staff had probably seen him 10 to 15 times.’’
The assistant GM describes York as “very mobile, intelligent, lots of poise. . .plays a real responsible two-way game.’’
Both Flahr and Fletcher said in recent weeks that they would go for the best player available and in this case, they went against the perception that they need more offense.
“He (York) is going to need a year or two before he turns pro,’’ Flahr said. “We have some forwards coming (in the system) – at this time, he was the best player for us.’’
York figures to play at least one year at Michigan before making a serious run at the Flyers.
“I want to reach the NHL as soon as I possibly can,’’ he said. “But there’s no specific timetable. Just going to take it day by day and hopefully get there as soon as I can.’’
He had a feeling he might be going to the Flyers.
“I talked to the Flyers at the (scouting) combine,’’ he said. “I knew they were interested.’’
York says he models his game after Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly.
“A guy that isn’t that big in stature but a good puck-mover,’’ York said. “(Someone) who can play in all situations.
“The way the game is going you can use speed to be successful. Shayne Gostisbehere and myself are pretty similar. They have an exciting young defense corps and I can’t wait to get out there and start working with them.’’