VOORHEES, N.J. – There don’t figure to be a lot of roster spots open for newcomers on the Flyers this season but a young guy can dream, can’t he?
At the start of rookie camp on Thursday at the Skate Zone, there were plenty of hopeful smiles on the prospects’ faces. For some, this is the first chance to show what they can do.
That would include former first-round draft picks such as Morgan Frost (2017), Cam York (2019) and Tyson Foerster (2020).
But lesser known talents such as Brian Zanetti (fourth-rounder in 2021) also will be drawing some attention as well.
Recently hired Lehigh Valley Phantoms head coach Ian Laperriere is running the show for this four-day program and he says he’s looking forward to working with these prospects.
Laperriere liked what he saw from Zanetti, although it’s still quite early in this stage of development.
“He picked up really quick on what we’re talking about,’’ Laperriere said. “It was impressive. He was one of the kids who stood out.’’
Zanetti, a native of Switzerland, is making the adjustment from the Olympic-size rinks in Europe to the tighter ones in North America.
Playing for Lugano’s Under-20 team last season, Zanetti compiled nine goals/29 points in 41 games.
Being around some of the veterans who are working out is a good experience in this camp.
“They work hard everyday,’’ Zanetti noted. “In the gym and on the ice, they give a hundred percent everytime. “It’s an amazing feeling to be here with them.’’
One of the vets Zanetti looks up to is defenseman Ryan Ellis, who came over from Nashville in the Phil Myers-Nolan Patrick trade.
“He works so hard,’’ Zanetti said. “He does extra things, like with skating. He’s also a good guy. We’ve talked two times and he was very kind to me.’’
Zanetti didn’t know where he would be drafted.
“When I was drafted by Philadelphia it was amazing,’’ he said. “It’s a good start. I have to keep working and go hard everytime.’’
He’s scheduled to play for Peterborough of the Ontario Hockey League starting this fall.
>Frost adds muscle
An offseason of high-intensity training has brought Frost up to 190 pounds, quite a difference from the 175 pounds he weighed when he was drafted.
There’s the possibility Frost could make the opening night roster and Laperriere is trying to get him ready for just such a scenario.
“I just saw him in the gym,’’ Laperriere said, “and he looks bigger. I told him when we’re out there (on the ice), I’m looking for detail. And he’s doing it. So far he looks great, he looks healthy.’’
Frost missed all but two games of last season due to shoulder surgery. In all, he’s only played in 22 games for the Flyers over the past three seasons.
“If he can become the player everyone thinks he can, he can help the organization,’’ Laperriere said.
Flyer legend Danny Briere, who helps with the development of Philadelphia’s young players, was on the ice and working with players such as Frost. Also in attendance was former Flyer and current director of player development Chris Stewart.
“All of us young guys used to watch them play in the NHL,’’ Frost said. “They were great players and it’s good to pick their brains.’’
It might take a little while to get the engine started. He hasn’t played a game since January.
“You can have summer scrimmages,’’ Frost said. “But it’s nothing compared to real game against other opponents. I just have to switch into that mindset and be ready.’’
>Spending summer in Philly helps
Laperriere said the players who stuck around over the summer to use the Flyers’ training facilities have a bit of an advantage.
“It’s a tough business we’re in,’’ the coach said. “They know that. That’s why most of these kids were here all summer. They put the work in. I’ve been here for 12 years and I know it goes a long way when you do spend your summers here. We have a great facility here and great trainers. Down the road there might be injuries (on the Flyers) and there might be a chance to play. If there are injuries, the organization knows they have done the work and if they spent the summer here. . .the kid who did spend the summer here and the kid who didn’t, if they’re the same player, they’re going to take the kid who did spend the summer here.’’
For an example, Laperriere used Tanner Laczynski, who got into five games with the Flyers last season.
“He spent most of the summer here and he looks good out there,’’ Laperriere said. “He’s on the bubble. He’s thinking he’s giving himself a better chance to make the team.’’
>York gives his all
Laperriere has been impressed with York’s tireless efforts in practice.
“He’s a workhorse, I’ll give him that,’’ Laperriere said. “He’s very engaged out there. He looks bigger, too. He trained out in California.’’