VOORHEES, N.J. – Yes, it was only a development camp three-on-three scrimmage tournament but when a player scores five goals, including two game-winners in just a few games, heads turn.
Flyers rookie Tyson Foerster caught the eye of everyone at the Skate Zone on Wednesday, the final day of the camp, including director of player development Chris Stewart.
To put it in perspective, Foerster is competing against other kids to show coaches and management he deserves consideration for a spot on the varsity roster, possibly sooner than later.
“He’s a natural goal-scorer,’’ Stewart said during a media Zoom call. “He’s got an NHL shot right now. Definitely the future is bright for him.’’
Foerster, the Flyers’ first-round pick (23rd) overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, turned pro last year and made a good impression with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He notched 10 goals/17 points in just 24 games.
The Alliston, Ontario, Canada native has both size (6-foot-2, 194 pounds) plus the skill to make him an attractive NHL candidate in the near future.
Possibly the only thing holding him back to this point was a micro-fracture in his knee at the beginning of last season and a shoulder injury toward the end of the campaign which accounted for his limited number of games.
“I think at the start of the year it was tough going down with an injury in the first game of the season,’’ Foerster said. “I thought I played really well that game. After camp, obviously, I was ready, and I was in my best health.
“After I got back after the six weeks that I was out, I felt I wasn’t there. I had to wear a knee brace. My lungs weren’t there. I wasn’t in the best shape. After a couple games there, I kind of got my groove back. I started playing well. The boys around me helped a lot. We were a family there and I thought I was playing really good by the end of it.’’
Foerster took part in the Summer Showcase with Team Canada and it was a good trial to test the shoulder.
“I think I’m in great health right now,’’ Foerster said. “My shoulder is a lot better. I’m looking forward to this camp.”
In a normal situation, Foerster probably would have played in the Ontario Junior League last year. But because of the pandemic, the OHL was shut down and Foerster jumped in with the Phantoms, which provided invaluable pro experience.
“Oh, that was huge for me,’’ he said. “I think it was huge because I’m playing against stronger guys, bigger guys. I showed that I can hold my own there and I think I proved myself there.’’
Another season with the Phantoms this year would put him in a good position to get a brief recall to the Flyers should there be a couple injuries.
“I think it’d be huge for me to go back there (to Lehigh Valley),’’ said Foerster, “but that’s really out of my control. I’m just going to try and prove myself at camp.’’
Foerster said the one thing he’s been working on is his skating.
“I think I’m improving everyday,’’ he said. “Honestly, I feel like I can hold my own out there.’’
Here are Stewart’s observations on other top prospects in camp:
>Isaac Ratcliffe (big left wing recovering from lung injury): “The biggest thing for him was getting healthy. We all know what he went through last year with the injury and it got a little scary. But he had a great offseason in the gym and he’s ready to come in and compete in training camp this year.’’
>Wade Allison (strong right wing also coming off a series of injuries): “Coming into camp this year, he has (realistic) expectations as far as load management, competing for an NHL spot. He’s a guy that works hard. He’s got an NHL shot and is going to compete for a spot (with the Flyers) as well.’’
>Morgan Frost (talented center who has played 22 games over two seasons with the Flyers): “He had a big summer, you can see it on the ice. He looks like a guy who has NHL ability. You can tell that he’s played games here. He looks like a veteran in the development camp. He’s ready to go as well.’’