Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher wanted to make something perfectly clear the other day: He did not draft right winger Bobby Orr Brink because he has known him and his family for several years.
“First of all, I want to certainly comment that our scouting staff puts the list together,” Fletcher said after watching a session at the Flyers’ development camp earlier in the week in Voorhees. “I certainly know some of the players and occasionally will give my opinion, and ultimately I have to make the decision. But I rely on the scouts to put the list together, and Bobby was a player that our entire staff scouted and very much liked as a hockey player.”
Brink’s dad, Andy, coached Fletcher’s son, Keith, and taught him in school in Minnesota. And the younger Brink was teammates and good friends with Keith when they were on youth teams. Brink spent a lot of time at the Fletchers’ house while growing up.
“There’s a long relationship there, certainly,” Fletcher said. “In terms of the background, I felt comfortable giving my opinion to the staff that he’s a quality kid from a quality family. Watched him play at every level, and it’s remarkable -- he was a star player in squirt and peewee, and he’s a star player in the USHL. He’s a high-quality prospect.”
Brink, an agitating 5-foot-8, 165-pound right winger who takes pride in being a two-way player, insisted he “never really thought about” being drafted by Fletcher while he was growing up. “But it’s pretty cool that I knew him and his son growing up and now I’m part of his organization.”
In 43 USHL games last season, Brink scored 35 goals, and the Flyers had him ranked as the draft’s 20th-best prospect and felt fortunate they were able to get him at No. 34.
Brink said he needs to get stronger and faster this summer before heading to the University of Denver, but said he didn’t agree with those who believe he needs lots of skating improvement.
“I think my skating was overblown,” said the baby-faced Brink, known for having a quick burst of speed. “I have to work on it and keep getting better at it.”
At the Flyers’ development camp this week, he displayed good hands, speed, and a wicked shot, and he showed a knack for being around the puck. Brink scored the game-winner late in Saturday night’s scrimmage, putting a backhander from the doorstep high into the net as Team Orange beat Team White, 3-2.
He doesn’t think his size will be an obstacle when he does reach the NHL.
“You see it throughout the league now,” he said. “Guys like Johnny Gaudreau and Brad Marchand are having so much successes. They’re 5-7 (or so) and scoring over 100 points. I don’t think size is a factor like it used to be.”
Many Flyers fans were upset the team didn’t draft 5-7 Cole Caufield, the high-scoring right winger from the U.S. National Team Development Program, in the first round of the draft. Getting the explosive Brink in the second round, however, was widely applauded.
Fletcher made a trade with Nashville and moved up 11 spots to get Brink with the 34th overall selection.
“I think we play a little bit alike, but I wouldn’t say we play exactly alike,” Brink said when asked about Caufield, who scored a ridiculous 72 goals in 64 games. “We both score a lot. He’s got a really good shot, too, and he’s got good hands and he’s fast. I think we have a lot of those similarities, but I never really compared myself to him.”
As for his middle name, Brink’s father was torn between “Orr” and “Clarke,” before deciding to pick the Bruins’ legend over the Flyers’ icon.
“He was such a big hockey fan growing up and he decided to name me after Bobby Orr,” Brink said. “He was just a huge fan of Bobby Orr’s.”
Brink said the five-day development camp, which ended with Saturday’s entertaining scrimmage, gave him a chance to get familiar with his teammates and the staff.
“I tried to soak up all the information I could,” he said. “I love it here. They have a great staff and great players they’ve drafted.”