PHILADELPHIA – When Cam York signed his first professional contract a few weeks back, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher left the door open for the defenseman seeing some NHL action before season’s end.
That prospect may have gained a little traction with the recent pause to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ season due to COVID concerns.
York was promoted to the Flyers’ taxi squad, raising speculation he might get a chance pending circumstances.
The former University of Michigan standout and captain of the 2021 U.S. national team’s World Junior Championship gold medal seems to keep running into pandemic roadblocks.
The Wolverines saw their season end prematurely just as they were about to play Minnesota-Duluth in the NCAA playoffs.
But the 20-year-old is skating with the Flyers’ reserves now and anything is possible.
“I know about the Phantoms situation being shut down and I’m not quite sure how long it’s going to be,’’ coach Alain Vigneault said Sunday afternoon in a pre-game media Zoom call.
“Chuck didn’t want him (York) sitting around so he called him up and put him through the protocol and testing. He is skating at this time.’’
Right now the Flyers are just about fully healthy on defense and actually, with seven on the roster, have to scratch someone each night.
Benching two players while the Flyers are still mathematically in contention might be a bit of a stretch.
But the Flyers have called up players such as forwards Tanner Laczynski and Wade Allison, so anything would seem possible.
York, a 2019 first-round (14th overall) draft pick, was deemed “ready’’ by Fletcher if the Flyers chose to go that way.
“We’re going to have our first couple-day (three-day) break coming up here,’’ Vigneault said. “And then if we have some decisions to make with our lineup, we’ll do that.’’
>Farabee battles through tough stretch
Second-year player Joel Farabee got off to a red-hot start, then cooled off recently but still leads the team in goals with 15.
Vigneault said young players (Farabee just turned 21) go through these kinds of things.
“There have been difficult circumstances because of the COVID and the schedule,’’ Vigneault said. “Joel’s done a real good job.
“Usually younger players need that practice time, need that development time in the practices. Joel’s been able to continue that progression. Obviously he’s had some ups and downs but you can tell he’s got a lot of hockey sense, he understands the game and adjust to circumstances. He’s been one of our better players.’’
Farabee acknowledges it’s been tough with the lack of practice time.
“This year overall has been really different,’’ he said. “I got the good experience of a normal season last year. This year it’s been pretty different.
“You don’t have many practices so when you have a bad game sometimes it’s tough to get out of it.’’
>Hart out until Tuesday
Goaltender Carter Hart, who apparently suffered a lower-body injury in last Thursday’s game at Pittsburgh and was not dressed for Saturday’s game against Washinigton, will be kept off the ice until Tuesday.
The Flyers don’t play again until Thursday.
Also, Vigneault said he was putting defenseman Robert Hagg back in the lineup, replacing Phil Myers.
Both Nolan Patrick (head injury) and Laczynski were scratched. Vigneault said he’s playing it cautious with Patrick, who did skate on Sunday morning.
>Hockey Fights Cancer night
The Flyers wore special lavender-trimmed Hockey Fights Cancer jerseys in warmup to kick off ceremonies.
Later, Oskar Lindblom was recognized for his recovery from Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
Farabee said Lindblom is an inspiration to his teammates.
“Something I envy about Oskar is the way he goes about his business,’’ Farabee noted. “He’s always got a smile on his face. Good or bad days, he’s always the same person. He’s such a great teammate. Maybe a great leader for us someday.
“I’m really excited just to know him. Tonight it’s really cool he’s being honored.’’
>Words of caution for Aube-Kubel
Vigneault hasn’t been happy with the play of Nicolas Aube-Kubel and benched him for a game for taking too many penalties.
So what does Aube-Kubel do? Takes a bad penalty against the Caps, which resulted in a goal.
“The penalties, there’s just too many of them,’’ Vigneault said. “It seems like with any team, when you take a bad penalty, a lot of times you don’t kill it off.
“Good penalties, you find ways to kill them off. It’s definitely something that he’s aware of. Obviously he hasn’t gotten the message yet because he’s still taking quite a few.’’
The Flyers’ penalty kill is one of the least efficient in the league so penalties are a sensitive area right now.
“He’s a young player, some young players are able to figure it out, some just can’t. He’s getting an unbelievable opportunity. Hopefully he figures it out.’’