VOORHEES – Technically, defenseman Philippe Myers is still a rookie.
But try telling that “freshman’’ status to opposing forwards lurking around the Flyers’ net this upcoming season.
You see, the 6-foot-5, 218-pound Myers played in 21 NHL games last season, just four short of what would have ended his rookie standing.
Therefore, at 22, he’s back for one more spin with Flyers rookie camp this time around.
Yet make no mistake, Myers figures big in the team’s plans and he’s already talking a bit like a veteran.
“I got a look at it last year and obviously it made me want to work that much harder this summer,’’ Myers said after a practice at the Skate Zone.
“I want to be up here this year and help the team win. I want to earn it so I’m excited to get things going.’’
Besides his mobility for a big man, Myers has other things to offer. He’s a right-handed shot, a powerful one at that, which can be helpful on things like the power play.
And he has composure, which usually doesn’t come until the mid-20s for a defenseman.
He displayed that in his 21-game trial last season.
“I think what I learned is to try and stay calm under pressure,’’ he said. “Try not to panic. I think I got a little more comfortable as the games went on. I’m happy I got those steps out of the way.’’
That said, it’s not a given that Myers will land a regular top-six position coming out of official training camp, which opens Friday.
Figure veterans Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun, both acquired in the offseason, for spots in the top four.
Then you have two returning young stars, Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere, who will be getting big minutes.
That leaves Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg. Sanheim had a brilliant second half and nearly overtook “Ghost’’ for the defense scoring lead.
Hagg is among the team’s leaders in hits and blocked shots.
So unless there’s an injury, Myers will have to displace one of those gentlemen in order to see steady ice time.
That said, he’s setting his sights high. The coaching staff, including Phantoms helmsman Scott Gordon, agree.
“I got my feet wet last year and I know what to expect this year,’’ said Myers, a native of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. “I want to be a top-four guy and have a bigger role on the team.
“That’s basically what they (the coaches) told me my goal should be.’’
A confident Myers can be an effective one. Like Provorov and Gostisbehere, he’s at his best when he’s involved in the offense as well as the defense.
“I just want to get the pucks to the forwards, jump in the rush, stuff like that,’’ Myers said. “I didn’t want to make too many mistakes out there (last year).
“I have to build up my confidence before I start trying things offensively. It’s always good to keep your game simple.’’
Gordon has been instrumental in Myers’ development. Over parts of two seasons with the Lehigh Valley team, Myers is a plus-21.
When Gordon served as Flyers interim coach last season, he had a chance to work with Myers’ transition to the NHL.
“From the very first game when he stepped in he looked comfortable,’’ Gordon said. “I think some of the things you can get away with in the American Hockey League, you have to learn quickly (in the NHL).
“I felt when he did come up to play, he showed good intelligence. He didn’t put himself in bad situations.’’