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The Flyers’ development camp will include an intriguing 6-foot-7, 238-pound defenseman | On the Fly

Jackson van de Leest, an undrafted 20-year-old, is among the players who will participate in the camp starting Saturday.

Calgary Hitmen defenseman Jackson van de Leest (left) battling for the puck during Western Hockey League action against Red Deer in January 2020.
Calgary Hitmen defenseman Jackson van de Leest (left) battling for the puck during Western Hockey League action against Red Deer in January 2020.Read moreLarry MacDougal / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Starting Saturday, the Flyers will hold their five-day development camp in Voorhees, and center Morgan Frost, defenseman Cam York, and right winger Wade Allison are some of the marquee prospects who will participate.

But perhaps the most fascinating player in camp will be Jackson van de Leest, 20, a physical, undrafted defenseman who caught the eyes of the Flyers scouts when he played for Calgary in the Western Hockey League last season.

When you are 6-foot-7 and weigh 238 pounds, the scouts’ eyes tend to go in your direction.

“He’s a late bloomer and it’ll be interesting to see how he does,” Brent Flahr, a Flyers assistant general manager, said the other day. “We’re intrigued, and we’ll see what we have here.”

His size and improved play on the junior level earned him a camp invite.

Van de Leest is “growing into his body,” Flahr said. “Early on, he was a huge kid, but a little raw. Now, he’s significantly stronger and his mobility has improved. It’s about teaching him the fundamentals and to be able to defend and move the puck against top players.”

In 21 games last season with Calgary, van de Leest had 12 points (three goals, nine assists) and a plus-6 rating.

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The Flyers will also have a seven-day rookie camp, led by first-year Phantoms coach Ian Laperriere, starting Sept. 15 in Voorhees. That will be followed by the main training camp, which will begin Sept. 22, also in Voorhees.

The new-look Flyers will open their season Oct. 15 against visiting Vancouver.

The development camp will have players divided by positions, and they will work on their different skills. It will end with a three-on-three tournament Sept. 1. Saturday’s opening session will be off the ice.

The rookie camp is more drill-oriented and will have a couple of exhibitions against the New York Rangers’ first-year players.

Most of the prospects who are in college or playing in Europe will not be able to participate in the camps, which are starting later than usual.

Because of COVID-19 concerns, the fans probably won’t be allowed to attend the camps, though that decision has not been finalized.

Flahr said last week Samu Tuomaala, a second-round draft pick last month — he was the Flyers’ highest selection because they traded their first-round choice to Buffalo in the Rasmus Ristolainen deal — might not be able to be at development camp because of a tournament conflict in Europe. But on Tuesday he confirmed that the speedy right winger will be at the camp, thus giving him a chance to get acclimated to the organization.

The goalies at development camp will be Samuel Ersson and Kirill Ustimenko. Because Felix Sandstrom is beyond his entry-level contract, he won’t be at development camp but might be involved in rookie camp, Flahr said.

Flahr said promising right winger Zayde Wisdom, who recently had shoulder surgery, will be at the practice facility during the camps but won’t be on the ice.

Tanner Laczynski, a center/winger who had hip surgery in the offseason, won’t be available for the development camp but might be ready for rookie camp. “We’re not going to push it, though, if he needs a little more time,” Flahr said about the former Ohio State star. “But he’ll be ready for the main camp.”

Allison and Laczynski are among the players who will be battling for a spot with the Flyers. Allison appears to be a front-runner, and it would be surprising if he wasn’t on the team.

Here are the players who will be on the ice at development camp:

Forwards: Allison, Jon-Randall Avon (camp invitee), Ethan Burroughs (camp invitee), Jackson Cates, Elliot Desnoyers, Tyson Foerster, Frost, Owen McLaughlin, Connor McLennon, Isaac Ratcliffe, Nolan Ritchie (camp invitee), Linus Sandin, Matthew Strome, Maksim Sushko, and Tuomaala.

Defensemen: Linus Högberg, Mason Millman, Ethan Samson, Quinn Schmiemann (camp invitee), van de Leest (camp invitee), Wyatte Wylie, York, Egor Zamula, Brian Zanetti, and Cooper Zech.

Goalies: Ersson and Ustimenko.

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Things to know

  1. Despite a subpar season, defenseman Travis Sanheim got a healthy raise.

  2. Ivan Provorov gets recognized on the streets of Philly because he’s a Flyer. But now, people just want to talk about his dog. Erin McCarthy has the story.

  3. Jay Greenberg, former Daily News hockey writer, author, and celebrated sports journalist, is remembered fondly by Gary Miles.

  4. Flyers’ development camp will feature Wade Allison, Morgan Frost, Cam York. Also, the Flyers have a new equipment manager.

  5. Henrik Lundqvist retires after a stellar career. In games against the Flyers, he was 35-19-5 with a 2.58 GAA and .914 save percentage.

Cap crunch

With the signing of Sanheim ($4.675 million salary-cap hit), the Flyers are up against the $81.5 million cap.

If they carry just 22 players — most teams use 23 — they will have only $281,477 of cap space.

That cap number is based on Allison, Frost, and Samuel Morin earning roster spots, and Laczynski not making the team. Laczynski ($925,000 cap hit) could win a spot over Frost ($863,333).

Important dates

Saturday through Sept. 1: Flyers development camp in Voorhees.

Sept. 15: Rookie camp opens in Voorhees.

Sept. 22: The start of training camp in Voorhees.

Sept. 28: Flyers start their preseason schedule by facing the New York Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center.

Oct. 15: Flyers open the regular season by hosting Vancouver.

From the mailbag

Comment: Nolan Patrick was a complete bust and disappointment. I give Chuck Fletcher credit for utilizing him in a deal that gave us a legit good player (Nashville’s Ryan Ellis). But it’s still hard to swallow missing on that pick. I don’t wish him well as a clear portion of his issues in Philadelphia involved motivational issues. — Billy O. (@BillBanditt) via Twitter

Response: Thanks for the comment, Bill. Patrick was very inconsistent in his time here — rarely looking worthy of being a No. 2 overall draft pick — and it’s difficult to ascertain how much was because of his migraine issues and how much was because he wasn’t comfortable in Philly. It’s probably a little of both. Patrick, who was quickly dealt from Nashville to Vegas for Cody Glass, recently told the Las Vegas Sun a “fresh start was the best thing for me.”

If that becomes true, it’s a win for all the teams involved in the trades.

Send questions by email ( or on Twitter (@broadstbull), and they could be answered in a future edition.