PHILADELPHIA – It only took a half-dozen games for the Flyers to make their first promotion/demotion move to their roster.
The Flyers, 3-2-1 after Tuesday night’s tough 3-2 loss at Vegas, announced on Thursday they have promoted defensemen Louie Belpedio and Victor Mete from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and loaned rookie defenseman Emil Andrae to the Allentown team.
Coach John Tortorella said Belpedio would make his NHL debut in Thursday night’s home game against the Minnesota Wild.
Coincidentally, the 27-year-old Belpedio started his career with the Wild after he was selected by them in the third round (80th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft. The Illinois native played four games with the Wild over several seasons and more recently has played 75 games for the Phantoms over the past two campaigns.
Tortorella was fairly blunt in his talking about why Andrae was sent down. He mentioned that Andrae, a native of Sweden, might be having some difficulty adjusting to the smaller North American-size rinks.
“They (Belpedio, Mete) are the better ones,” Tortorella said before the morning skate at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J. “So we called them up.
“It (playing in the NHL) is too much for him (Andrae) right now. The speed of it. How quickly you have to make decisions. I think the size of the rink, which comes into it how quickly you do have to play in the NHL. Is it (NHL play) good for him right now? We felt it wasn’t.”
Tortorella made it clear Andrae has had some positive moments and this move shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as a long-term thing.
“This isn’t a negative thing,” he said. “This is what we’re going to do. It’s going to happen to other people, too, along the way this year. Instead of playing him eight, 10, 11 minutes (here), he will play 20-plus down there. It’s so important as far as developing players. Especially at that position.”
The Flyers still believe they have a legitimate prospect in Andrae. It’s just going to take a little more time for seasoning, perhaps the way Cam York blossomed after spending a couple months with the Phantoms at the start of last season.
“Just to play those few minutes and the struggles that were going on, it does not help,” Tortorella said. “We want to get ahead of this right away because we think he (Andrae, a former second-round draft pick) has a future.”
The promotions of Belpidio and Mete came as a bit of a surprise because it was believed Ronnie Attard was ahead of both on the organizational depth chart.
Belpidio smiled when reminded he’s making his Flyer debut against his former team.
“It will be exciting,” he said. “I played my first NHL game with that organization. I know a lot of guys over there. But I have to worry about us in this room tonight. Just enjoy it.”
Belpedio mentioned he still has a lot of friends on the Wild roster.
“It will be good to go against them and not wear the same jersey,” he said. “I just try to close out the outside world and focus on me. Whether that’s in hockey or life.”
>York’s struggles in Vegas
Tortorella acknowledged York endured a difficult performance against the Golden Knights, who rallied with a pair of goals in the last half of the third period to secure the win over the Flyers.
“It just wasn’t that mistake (leading to a crucial goal) in that game,” Tortorella said. “I thought it was a struggle for him right away in that game. But I thought he’s given us some good minutes early in the season, too. Inconsistent, which is to be expected. He’s still very young, playing on a top pair, playing 20-plus minutes. It’s still a process with him.”
York’s errors might also be a byproduct of the Flyers’ decision to be more offensive this year. For a young defenseman, it’s a delicate balance about when to join the rush, etc.
“I’m really encouraged with the mindset of trying to make more offensive plays,” Tortorella said of York’s push on the offensive side of the puck. “But you can’t force a play and try to beat someone at that time. You could have made any other play except the one that he did. But that’s how he’s going to learn.”
Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen was set to miss his seventh consecutive game with an undisclosed injury. Also, defenseman Marc Staal remains out of the lineup. . . .Center Morgan Frost was scheduled to be scratched again for a fifth straight game. . .Carter Hart was scheduled to start in goal. He played in the Vegas game after getting a complete night off in the 5-4 overtime loss at Dallas.