Cam York played in 30 NHL games last season, so why is the Flyers’ highly regarded defenseman bouncing around with the prospects at development camp?
Because, he says with a smile, “it (attendance) wasn’t an option.’’
The Flyers apparently want to see if the 21-year-old backliner has fully recovered from a bumpy last season which included a bout with COVID and a season-ending foot injury. Plus, a lot of those 30 games were the byproduct of other players landing on the injury list.
The question now is: Can his talent merit a full-time job?
After Tuesday’s workout session at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, New Jersey, York said he has “realistic’’ expectations of making the starting roster right out of training camp.
And there’s really nothing to suggest otherwise, other than the possibility of a big free-agent signing on Wednesday.
The Flyers did pick up veteran Tony DeAngelo in a trade on Friday but last season’s trade of Justin Braun and a parting of the ways with veteran Keith Yandle means there should be some room for York.
Flyers development coach Kjell Samuelsson said York appears to be ready now for a full 82-game regular position on the team.
“I would say that’s my expectation,’’ said York, a first-round (14th overall) selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. “I’m always optimistic. I always strive for the best. I think that’s a realistic thing for me.
“Certainly it’s not going to be easy. There are always guys trying to take your spot. I’m going to have to earn it. But it’s certainly something that I really want. It’s something I’m really going to push for.’’
A summer to re-set things will certainly get him back on track after last season. He played those 30 games with the Flyers and registered three goals/10 points with a minus-8, which wasn’t too bad considering the Flyers as a team were a collective minus-87.
“My body feels good and training has gone well so far for me,’’ he said. “It (last year) was obviously a tough season but it’s almost good sometimes to go through things like that because almost all my life I’ve been on successful teams (including the University of Michigan). We’re all just trying to take all those things (from last year) and learn from the mistakes.’’
York said he hasn’t done much skating this summer. In fact, he’s only been on the ice two or three times. There’s a long way to go until training camp opens in mid-September so there’s really no rush.
“It (the foot) feels pretty good,’’ he said. “After I skate it feels a little sore. But that’s normal with that type of injury. Just trying to take it day by day, getting treatment. Other than that it’s pretty good.’’
At this camp, York is considered a veteran and he does have something to offer newly drafted players such as first-round pick Cutter Gauthier and third-rounder Devin Kaplan.
“It’s kind of weird,’’ York said. “It feels like yesterday I was kind of the young guy, the nervous kid coming in. Whatever I can do. . .I have NHL experience. Whatever I can do to help them out. Give them a pointer here or there. It’s a good group of kids.’’
Samuelsson, a stalwart on the Flyers defense back in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, believes York has the tools to succeed.
At 5-foot-11, 175-pounds, York isn’t going to muscle too many people in the corners and the netfront but he has good speed and stick positioning to make up for any shortcomings in the size department.
“I think he’s ready, in my mind,’’ Samuelsson said. “He’s been working very hard here the whole summer. He has gotten stronger. It’s above my paygrade to decide if he’s going to play in the NHL or not but in my mind he’s ready for the NHL.’’