If you like the idea of Egor Zamula making his NHL debut Tuesday night, Cam York could be next. The Flyers have some youth in the pipeline, especially on defense. But they could use some more up front to go along with Wade Allison.
If Tyson Foerster gets his way, he’ll be among the rookies buying dinners for the Flyers’ veterans next season with fellow forwards Allison and Tanner Laczynski. With the movement afoot, it’s just a matter of how many of these guys will develop into top-4 defensemen or top-6 forwards. With youth comes optimism. With experience comes reality.
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Foerster has been the Phantoms’ best player lately
Phantoms coach Scott Gordon says he wasn’t sure what to make of Foerster, the Flyers’ 2020 first-round pick, during training camp in late January. Foerster, the 23rd selection, obviously had talent. He improved from 10 goals to 36 when the Flyers plucked him from the Barrie Colts. But there was still something missing.
Foerster’s skating was just not right. “It was very choppy,” Gordon said.
Foerster, 19, is in the AHL only because the OHL season was canceled because of the pandemic. Defenseman Max Millman and forward Zayde Wisdom are in the same situation. Relative youngsters tossed into the deep end, playing against grown men who throw their bodies around because their family’s next meal depends on it.
It took a little while for Foerster to get his legs under him and show he was worthy of the being a first-rounder.
“But you look at him now, and he’s one of the faster guys on the forecheck and back-check,” Gordon said. “His poise with the puck, his vision. He doesn’t turn the puck over. He’s got a great shot.
“Defensively, he’s one of our more responsible players. It isn’t just one thing. It’s the whole package. He’s added all of the details that go into being a successful hockey player. He’s now getting more offense because of the details that are in his game.”
Foerster missed a month after suffering a small fracture in his right tibia during the Feb. 6 opener. He has seven goals in his last seven games, and his nine goals this season have come in the last 12 games.
Foerster grew up working on his grandparents’ farm, so he’s not fazed by intense labor. He credits the off-season work he did with skating coach Aaron Downey, who played for six NHL teams throughout the 2000s.
“Every game I’m getting more confident with the puck, even without it, actually,” Foerster said. “Gordo’s trusting us young guys more and more each game. I think it’s all about confidence.”
Foerster did not score during Monday’s harrowing 6-5 win over last-place Binghamton, but his play is opening eyes and leaving him hungry for even more.
“Me being here for this year has given me a great shot to be able to prove myself a lot more than I would in the ‘O’ because everyone in the OHL isn’t as good as here,” he said. “And I’m still producing. It’s huge for me to be here, and hopefully I can make a run at making the club next year.”
Gordon, who has coached more than 1,000 professional games, admires the kid’s moxie.
“That’s what he should think,” the coach said. “When you look at our roster and for him to come in and be one of our better players, that’s a good line of thought for him. The biggest thing is how much time he puts in in the summer to get stronger. That, ultimately, will decide it. Everybody can come to camp and show flashes, but it’s being able to handle the physical play of grown men for the long haul that is tougher.”
Things to know
Claude Giroux’s chances of catching Bobby Clarke as the franchise’s top scorer aren’t likely, but they’re at least worth considering. It’ll take continued production, good health and another contract.
Flyers notes: Yet another Phantoms player to get a shot with the Flyers. This time a defenseman, (but not Cam York).
Giroux’s two late goals lifted the Flyers to a shootout win in the first of a funky four-game set against the Devils. He also moved into third place on the Flyers’ all-time scoring list.
Yong Kim’s photo gallery from Sunday’s game includes compelling shots of Justin Braun dumping Nathan Bastian, and Brian Elliott playing hide-and-seek with the puck with the game on the line.
Shayne Gostisbehere’s injury could open a door for some of the kids to get into the lineup as the Flyers play out the string.
Sam Carchidi gazes into the future with the Flyers about to miss the playoffs for the fifth time in nine years. “... A prospect drafted in the low teens should be a quality NHL player and should generate lots of interest around the league, and with the Flyers having immediate needs, the time may be right for Fletcher to trade his top pick.”
From the notebook
York, the Flyers’ 2019 first-round pick, scored the first goal of his professional career Monday for the Phantoms.
Phantoms captain Cal O’Reilly had three assists Monday, including the 500th of his career. The 35-year-old has played in 742 AHL games and is the 10th player to reach 500 in the league. Former Flyers farmhand Peter White is among the others to reach 500 AHL dimes.
The things you stumble on. Two-time Selke Trophy winner Rod Brind’Amour was a -39 in his career. He was plus-13 over his first 18 years, and -52 over his last two.
Of Giroux’s 270 career goals, 95 have been assisted by Jake Voracek.
Top three all-time in points among teams in the Eastern Division:
Flyers: Bobby Clarke (1,210), Bill Barber (863), Claude Giroux (850).
Boston: Ray Bourque (1,506), John Bucyk (1,339), Phil Esposito (1,012).
Buffalo: Gilbert Perreault (1,326), Dave Andreychuk (804), Rick Martin (695).
New Jersey: Patrik Elias (1,025), John MacLean (701), Travis Zajac (550).
N.Y. Islanders: Bryan Trottier (1,353), Mike Bossy (1,126), Denis Potvin (1,052)
N.Y. Rangers: Rod Gilbert (1,021), Brian Leetch (981), Jean Ratelle (817).
Pittsburgh: Mario Lemieux (1,723), Sidney Crosby (1,319), Evgeni Malkin (1,100); also, Jaromir Jagr (1,079).
Washington: Alex Ovechkin (1,320), Nicklas Backstrom (975), Peter Bondra (825).
Remaining Flyers schedule
Tonight: at New Jersey, 7 p.m. (NBCSP)
Thursday: at New Jersey, 7 p.m. (NBCSP)
Saturday: vs. New Jersey, 7 p.m. (NBCSP)
Monday, May 3: vs. Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (NBCSP)
Tuesday, May 4: vs. Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
Friday, May 7: at Washington, 7 p.m. (NBCSP)
Saturday, May 8: at Washington, 7 p.m. (NBCSP)
Monday, May 10: vs. New Jersey, 7 p.m. (NBCSP)
From the mailbag
This team hasn’t had any guts since they traded Wayne Simmonds. Morin is the only defenseman with any aggression, but they don’t seem to like him. Forwards are all set-up men with no shooters. Last No. 2 pick in the draft is snake-bit and practically useless. Time to clean house. Only Provorov worth saving.
— David Mordia via email
Can we say there is any one area that this team is better in compared to last year? Seems like everything is worse (defense, scoring, goaltending, special teams …).
Trade G this summer . A stunner against the Devils doesn’t change anything. Team needs an overhaul. It’s not working folks. Congrats on the milestone, G.
So, are we REALLY sure that Giroux is part of the problem, for all those that constantly insist on pushing that theme? I’ll meet you halfway. If he is, he’s like No. 42 on their list of problems. So yeah, despite four lines, six D-men and a goalie on the ice, sure. Maybe he is.
Improve/bolster the D. [This] has nothing to do with Giroux.