Cam York was getting bored at Michigan. College life, of course, isn’t nearly as (umm) energetic these days, and the final straw was having his team’s season end disappointingly just before the start of the NCAA Tournament.
So York, a defenseman drafted by the Flyers 14th overall in 2019, turned pro by signing his entry-level contract.
“I just I felt like I was ready for the next challenge,” he said.
Well, he’s going to get it.
Though the target is for York to challenge for a spot on next year’s roster, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Saturday that York will be given a chance to play for the Flyers this season if all goes well with the AHL Phantoms.
“Normally when these kids sign out of college, they might get a handful of regular-season games prior to the summer break,” Fletcher said, “[but] this year we have over 20 games left in Lehigh Valley. We have about 20 games left in the NHL. So it’s an opportunity for him to really get some games, get some experience, and get ready for next year’s training camp.”
The Flyers entered Saturday three points behind the Bruins for the final playoff spot. They’re certainly close enough to overtake Boston, but they’ve played so poorly these last few weeks, Fletcher isn’t sure if he wants to buy or sell ahead of the April 12 trade deadline. But he’s anticipating having his answer very shortly.
“At risk of understatement, this week is a massive week for us -- in particular the next four days,” said Fletcher, noting that the Flyers were playing the Islanders on Saturday and Boston on Monday and Tuesday. “The trade market is still fairly undefined at this point. There are a lot of teams that are either just in or just out [of playoff positions] and are waiting to see how the next few games go before they settle on a path for the next week.
He excels at getting you out of your zone and getting you up the ice. He’s a guy inside the offensive zone that can move the puck and see the ice. He has the ability to play on the power play.
“We’re still looking to improve our team if we can, and we’re having conversations every day. We’ll see -- not only how the market shapes -- but how we play.”
York captained the U.S. National Junior Team to a stunning gold medal in January -- an experience, he said, “I’ll never forget.” Fletcher said the win over Canada in the championship was the best he’d ever seen York play.
» READ MORE: Cam York, "an offensive guy, a terrific skater”
As a sophomore at Michigan, York had four goals and 16 assists and was a plus-13 in 24 games. His 20 points were tops in the conference among his position, and he was the first Wolverine to be named Big Ten defenseman of the year since Zach Werenski in 2016.
Michigan (15-10-1) was the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region, but the plug was pulled on its season because of a COVID-19 breakout on the day it was to play its first NCAA Tournament game.
“It’s not how I wanted it to end,” York said. “We had a really good chance at winning a championship and that’s what I went there to do. Unfortunately, it just didn’t pan out. It just wasn’t meant to be.
“College was getting to the point where games were a little bit too easy for me, I think. I really want to challenge myself. The AHL and the NHL are both really good leagues. ... I’m just looking forward to that challenge now.”
Getting to know Cam York
1. He’s a puck-moving defenseman who is listed at 5-11, 185, and shoots left-handed.
2. Played two seasons at the University of Michigan. Had four goals and 16 assists this past season.
3. Voted by teammates to be the captain of the U.S. National Junior Team that stunned the hockey world by winning gold in Edmonton over the winter. The Americans beat heavily favored Canada in the championship on Jan. 5, the day York turned 21.
4. “To get that role [as team captain] on such a big stage, it was definitely a learning experience,” he said. “But I felt like I handled it well. I had a really good team, which always helps. But you know there was a roomful of leaders in that locker room. But it was a good experience for me and something that I’ll never forget.”
5. York was born in Anaheim, Calif., and played in the Ducks youth program before enrolling at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a renowned prep school in Faribault, Minn. Anaheim’s Stanley Cup championship in 2007, when York was 6, ignited his passion for hockey.
6. Notable SSM alums include Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Toews, Monique and Jocelyne Lemieux, and (for a time) Marlon Brando. York has listed Nick Leddy (Islanders) and Zach Werenski (Blue Jackets) as his favorite players.
7. Was picked 14th by the Flyers in 2019, a draft headed by New Jersey’s Jack Hughes and the Rangers’ Kaapo Kakko.
8. It’s the third-highest a California-born player has ever been drafted, following Rik Wilson (12th, 1980), a defenseman who played 251 career games, and Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews (1st, 2016).
9. York has said Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, and Matthews would be the three celebs he’d like to have dinner with. Kardashians? Whaddaya want, the kid grew up in Southern California.