After about a half-dozen selections by Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis in Wednesday night’s expansion draft, it was apparent he wasn’t going after a lot of high-priced, aging talent.
So by the time it came time to announce his choice from the Flyers, it was no surprise Francis bypassed proven stars on the Flyers such as James van Riemsdyk, Jake Voracek or Shayne Gostisbehere.
Instead, Francis tabbed 23-year-old left wing Carsen Twarynski, a promising, hard-nosed player out of St. Albert, Alberta, Canada.
Twarynski, a third-round (82nd overall) pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, made a surprise breakthrough coming out of the 2019-20 training camp when he made the opening night roster and played in the Global Series game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Prague.
That was a memorable NHL debut. He went on to play 22 games for the Flyers over the next two seasons, recording a goal and a minus-5.
Most of his playing time has been with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, where he played 107 games, with 18 goals/38 points.
Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Francis made a wise choice.
“Ron and his group in Seattle have put a lot of time and effort into their preparation and with Carsen they have added a good, young piece to their team. Carsen is a hard-working player who has grown considerably in his four seasons since he was drafted in our organization. We wish nothing but the best for him in Seattle.’’
Obviously, playing in that Global Series game will be a career highlight for Twarynski.
Carsen’s parents, Rob and Kim, flew in all the way from Calgary, Canada to watch their son play in that game.
“It’s awesome,’’ Carsen said at the time. “I had a feeling they were trying to get down here but I wasn’t sure they were going to because of the distance. “It was nice to see them this morning and I’m glad to have their support here. It was a long travel day for them. Even if I knew they were coming, it would have exciting regardless.’’
Twarynski was known for his work ethic even back then.
“I don’t care about attention,’’ he said. “I love hockey. This has been a goal of mine ever since I was young. To be on the opening night roster is just another door opening. The work is nowhere done yet. You can get sent down at any time. I did the work to make the roster, now I have to do more work to stay on it.’’
>Offseason training in high gear
Recently, Fletcher made it known the Flyers are taking a much more proactive approach to their offseason training programs.
The pandemic really hindered some of the Flyers’ younger players during the March to July and September to December timeframes in 2020.
With travel and workout area restrictions loosening, the Flyers hope they can get back to a more normal offseason plan.
“We have our strength coaches who have worked with the players before they left in terms of the summer program they’ll follow,’’ Fletcher said during a recent news briefing. “Most of our players have trainers that they train with during the offseason. It seems to be a fact of life now for most pro athletes.’’
There’s constant communication between coaches and players during the summer.
“This summer obviously, gyms are open and trainers are able to train the players in person where last offseason was maybe a little bit more problematic in some locations,’’ Fletcher said. “The players have a good idea of what’s expected of them. Our strength coaches stay in touch with them. Our team nutritionist has reached out to them. We stay in contact with them regularly through the summer. And as the summer moves on, our coaches will follow up with them.’’
How much the players’ fitness levels contributed to last year’s disappointing season remains to be seen. But it’s clear the Flyers don’t want to hear any more excuses.
“There’s a lot of follow-up and these guys are professionals,’’ Fletcher reiterated. “They know what they need to do. They will work hard. I think it will be easier for every athlete, not just our players to have access to ice rinks, gyms and everything that maybe in the previous offseason was more limited. There’s a pretty good plan in place for that. In terms of guys coming back early, that’s really up to them.’’
Fletcher hopes most of the players are back at the team’s Voorhees, N.J. training facility at least two weeks prior to the opening of training camp in late September.
“We’ll have some players that will come in as the summer moves on and and train here, but that’s really up to them,’’ Fletcher said. “My expectation is by Labor Day, we’ll have a lot of people here in terms of our veteran players. Typically, it’s pretty quiet around here in July for the veteran players.’’