Opportunity in the form of a two-game Shayne Gostisbehere suspension is knocking and Cam York gets to see if he can answer the door.
Coach Alain Vigneault announced on Thursday afternoon York will be in the lineup when the Flyers visit Washington on Friday for the first of a back-to-back set with the Capitals.
The 20-year-old rookie defenseman, a first-round pick (14th overall) in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, is scheduled to take Gostisbehere’s place in the lineup and partner with Samuel Morin.
Gostisbehere was handed the penalty, which also will cost him more than $77,000 in salary, for boarding former teammate Mark Friedman, now with Pittsburgh, in Tuesday night’s game at the Wells Fargo Center.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound York was called up from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL where he has played six games with two goals/five points and an even plus/minus.
“My understanding is he’s been playing well,’’ Vigneault said during a media Zoom call after Thursday’s practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. “We’re going to give him an opportunity tomorrow to play his first NHL game. It should be very exciting for him.’’
York is the sixth rookie to make his NHL debut with the Flyers this season.
Vigneault said he wasn’t sure which side of the pairing York would play on, stating it might change within the game, depending on the situation.
York, who quarterbacks the Phantoms’ power play, will get playing time on the Flyers’ man-advantage situations.
“You want players to be put in situations where they can have success,’’ Vigneault said.
“And he’s considered a very good power-play person. He’s done it at the college level (Michigan), he’s done it in a small sample size at the American (Hockey) League level and we’ll see what he can do at this level.’’
Gostisbehere made a big splash his first year (2015-16) with the Flyers and wound up a finalist for the Calder Trophy (NHL rookie of the year).
He knows it can be a heady experience.
“You know when I got my opportunity it was because someone was injured,’’ Gostisbehere said. “He (York) is going to get his opportunity and I’m excited for him. He’s a playmaker and he kind of plays a game similar to my style. I like to see that, especially when it’s in your organization. It’s an exciting time for him.’’
Prior to signing an entry-level pro contract, York captained the U.S. national team to the World Junior Championships gold medal back in January.
Jake Voracek watched that tournament on television and came away impressed.
“Obviously I watched him closely because he was on the ice a lot,’’ Voracek said. “On the power play he did a really good job. It’s going to be exciting to see him in action. He’s an exciting prospect and hopefully he’s going to enjoy this.’’
>Gostisbehere unhappy with suspension
Gostisbehere was not pleased with the league discipline.
“I completely disagree with it,’’ he said. “I think they completely missed the mark.’’
It’s been a bumpy season for the 28-year-old Florida native.
“Starting with COVID, getting waived, healthy scratch, now suspended, definitely kind of tough for sure,’’ Gostisbehere said. “But personally through all of it I think I’ve played pretty well (nine goals/20 points, minus-5 in 40 games) throughout the season.’’
“Ghost’’ didn’t mention all the trade rumors which dogged him up until the deadline as well.
“For myself, take them (the down-events) and roll with them, I guess,’’ he said. “Get knocked down, get back up. Not much you can do but just worry about hockey I guess.’’
According to Vigneault, consistency might top the list of things Gostisbehere needs to improve.
“Shayne has had some good moments this year,’’ Vigneault said. “He’s also had some other moments that have been a bit more challenging.
“Like our team, consistency has been an issue. He’s done some good things for us. The league decided to suspend him for the two Washington games so we’ll probably have him back for that last one (against New Jersey on Monday).’’
>Playing against an old friend
Friday night’s game will be the first chance the Flyers get to play one of their most familiar ex-teammates, Michael Raffl, who was traded to Washington at the deadline.
Perhaps the one Flyer who misses Raffl the most is Scott Laughton. The two dressed side-by-side in the Flyers’ practice locker room at the Skate Zone, lived in the same apartment complex and often shared rides back and forth between South Jersey and Philadelphia.
“It’s weird seeing him (Raffl) in those colors,’’ Laughton said. “We spent a ton of time together. He’s definitely missed here. Hopefully he gets a shot at doing something special there.’’
Voracek said Raffl was a great presence on and off the ice and was known for his sharp wit.
“A lot of guys are kind of excited to joke around with ‘Raff’ . . .there’s going to be a lot of chirping I bet, but in a good way. He’s a friend to a lot of people in this organization.’’
Raffl is known as a strong two-way player and excellent penalty killer. He’s one of only a handful of players from Austria.
“We miss him dearly,’’ Voracek said. “But we wish him success. It’s going to be exciting to see him tomorrow.’’
Vigneault said Brian Elliott will start in goal for Friday night’s game at Capital One Arena and Alex Lyon gets the nod for Saturday night’s game.