McDonald could make jump from farm to Flyers someday

Hunter McDonald

VOORHEES, N.J. – Most hockey fans love it when a low-round draft pick not only makes the NHL but becomes a star.

Just ask any Flyer follower what they thought when sixth-rounder Rick Tocchet worked his way to the top.

Or sixth-rounder Ron Hextall. Maybe even fifth-rounder Oskar Lindblom. Well, you get the idea.

Which brings us to this year’s dark-horse favorite, defenseman Hunter McDonald, a sixth-rounder in Philadelphia’s 2022 draft.

The 6-foot-4, 207-pound native of Fairport, N.Y. has the laugh and the enthusiasm to win over even the most cynical puck follower.

Thing is, the 22-year-old McDonald is the type of kid who just might fool the experts.

After an excellent career at Northeastern University, he got a taste of pro hockey toward the end of last season when he played 11 games for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

“From my standpoint, finishing up in Lehigh was great,” McDonald said after a recent session at development camp at the Flyers Training Center. “Coming into this summer, knowing what I need to work on.

“It (AHL play) was faster than college. For me, it was keep playing the way I want to play. But it (the size and speed of the players) is only going to get faster and bigger as I go up.”

Could McDonald even challenge for a position on the Flyers at some point?

“Yeah, I’m super confident in myself,” he said. “I mean obviously that’s my goal so I’m going to keep that mentality and see where it takes me.”

McDonald confirms he’s a physical player, so the thought of going up against the NHL tough guys doesn’t really faze him.

“I’m just sticking to that, don’t try to be something that I’m not,” he said. “It’s something I keep in the forefront of my mind. I think that’s going to take me far.”

 

>Bump happy with transfer

 

Alex Bump, a fifth-rounder in the 2022 draft, attends Western Michigan University after transferring from the University of Vermont.

It probably won’t Bump’s chances of making the Flyers because WMU just happens to be the alma mater of Flyers president of hockey operations Keith Jones.

Whenever Western Michigan’s name comes up in conversation, Jones grins and refers to it as the “Harvard of the Midwest.”

Bump, a Minnesota native who can play a couple forward positions, said he’s happy where he ended up.

“I think Western is a really good spot for me,” Bump said. “With the way they play and everything. ‘Jonesy’ played there. The Flyers liked the idea but the coaching staff there knows what it’s doing. They know how to play at the next level.”

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About Wayne Fish 2473 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.