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5 Storylines to come out of Development Camp

What you saw and may have missed at the Flyers annual summer prospect showcase

by PhiladelphiaFlyers.com @NHLFlyers

As hectic as June and July are during in the NHL's calendar of events, the Flyers Development Camp wrapped up earlier this week to end a steady dose of news ranging from the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas, the 2018-19 pre-season and regular season schedule release, as well as the NHL Draft in Dallas. 

 

Regardless if you made it out to the team's training facility in Voorhees, here are a few storylines to come out of camp...

1. WHY SO EARLY?

If you noticed that this year's camp was significantly earlier than in previous years - You'd be right... and there was a reason for that.

GM Ron Hextall bumped up this year's camp because of the large amount of information that is taught and worked on with the prospects. This allows prospects extra time in the summer months to continue training on their own before Fall's camp hits.

Said Hextall: "Everybody here has weaknesses or they'd be in the NHL. All these guys. They have things they have to work on... Every player here, we want them to walk out with multiple things to work on individually that they need to get better at. Some guys need to shoot the puck better. Some guys need to defend better. Some guys need to get stronger... They leave now instead of July 15th so it gives them a couple more weeks."

Beyond that, the team's bonding and Trial on the Isle was even moved up in the schedule, taking place before the on-ice portion began, allowing the players to get to know each other better.

"It was a long day, but I think everybody just got to know each other much better," said Jay O'Brien. "That was big for me because I'm a first year guy. I got to know people in a different way with different personalities and that type of thing. It was a good day."

 

2. FIRST LOOK … The Class of 2018

Speaking of O'Brien, he was one of eight prospects attending their first NHL camp after being drafted just a few days earlier, which included defenseman Jack St. Ivany and goaltender Samuel Ersson, who were not in Dallas for the draft. It's entirely possible that seven of the eight picks will not attend camp come September.

St. Ivany is one of four players the Flyers drafted who will play collegiate hockey next season when he attends Yale.

"I'm a two-way defenseman, definitely puck moving," said St. Ivany. "I pride myself on my first pass out of the zone being a good one and getting the puck into our forwards' hands because that's their job. Also having a good stick in our defensive zone because that's the first job of a defenseman is to defend your own net."

Gavin Hain (174th overall) will attend the University of North Dakota, while the pair of first rounders will battle it out in the NCAA Hockey East: Jay O'Brien at Providence and Joel Farabee at Boston University.

Ersson, Ginning and Westfalt will all face each other in Sweden's top pro league, while Wyatte Wylie could be the only member of the 2018 Class to make an appearance in the Fall as a member of the WHL's Everett Silvertips.

 

3. INTERNATIONAL NETMINDERS

A total of six goaltenders took center stage at Camp, all of which are spread out across the globe. A pair of Swedes (Samuel Ersson & Felix Sandstrom), a pair of Russians (Kirill Ustimenko & Ivan Fedotov), Matej Tomek (Slovakia) and Carter Hart (Canada).

Ersson will battle for a playing time in Sweden's top pro league, the SHL, and was a little more excited to join the Flyers organization, which had six other players from Sweden at camp, including a familiar face from Brynas - Felix Sandstrom.

Sandstrom, who is no longer a member of Brynas for the upcoming season, will join HV-71 in the SHL and knows that the upcoming season is an important one for him having missed significant time last season dealing with injury issues.

Said Flyer GM Ron Hextall: "It's an important year for him, he knows it. You can kind of see how dialed in he is here. I mean, Felix is a good goalie. We're very high on Felix. He's a real competitor. He's a really hard worker. He's a great teammate and he's a great kid. Like I said, you seem him today, he's a hungry hockey player right now. You miss a year, there's a lot you can learn."

After a year in the USHL with Waterloo, Tomek will join the University of Nebraska-Omaha as a junior. He posted a 15-8-7 record with a 2.39 GAA and .907 save percentage in 30 appearances for the Blackhawks last season.

For Fedotov, this was his second camp. The towering, 6-foot-7 goaltender will return to Russia hoping to make a full-time roster in the KHL. For Ustimenko, the 3rd round pick in 2017 attended his first Flyers camp. He put in a full season of work last year in the Russian junior program with Dynamo St. Petersburg where he had a 1.81 GAA and .929, and hopes to make the squad at the 2019 World Junior Championships.

Which brings us to Carter Hart, as most Flyers fans know has had a very successful junior career, and will turn pro this season. As far as expectations and goals, Hart knows that the most important thing is to focus on himself and his game in order to be successful when he advances to a higher level of play next season. 

"I just have to control what I can control. I have a big summer of training ahead of me to get ready for training camp in September," said Hart.  "I just have to worry about doing my job and going out there and playing and performing. Coming to camp in September, my job is to just stop the puck. The only thing that really matters is what I think of myself. I can't worry about what staff think, what management think, what other people think, what fans think, I just have to worry about what I think as soon as I step out on that ice."

 

4. FORWARD THINKING

German Rubtsov was at his second development camp after finishing his first full season of North American Hockey - and what a season it was. After a trade took him from Chicoutimi to Acadie-Bathurst in the QMJHL, Rubtsov was a key two-way player who helped lead the Titan to the President's Cup as Q-Champions and a Memorial Cup title as overall CHL champions. Expectations are for Rubtsov to turn pro and fans will likely get to see the 2016 First Round pick in preseason action come training camp.

"He's an intelligent player. He has a lot of skill," said GM Ron Hextall. "Again, he's a very responsive player. He doesn't cheat the game. He's never on the wrong side of the puck or the wrong side of his man." 

Another draft pick who attended his second camp and recently completed his first full season of North American hockey is the highly skilled, Mikhail Vorobyev, who fans might recall had a very successful World Junior in 2017 leading all players in the tournament with 10 assists. Vorobyev posted 29 points (9g-20a) in 58 games while adjusting to the smaller ice surface.

"The small ice is faster game and I've gotten to actually feel much comfortable now," said Vorobyev, who used a translator but admitted that the players on the team understand him much better now after a full year. "I am so much better after the one year spent in the AHL."

Said Hextall: "He can play all situations. He's got good size. Whether he's ready this year or next year that's certainly up to him. He's going to have to come in and prove it. He made a lot of strides last year."

Morgan Frost is coming off a highly successful "draft plus one" year and hopes to use this summer to get stronger.

"He's got work to do. He's got to get a lot stronger, and he knows that," added Hextall. "He had a terrific year. Played for a top team and went far in the playoffs. I think he learned a lot about pushing through in the playoffs and going through a couple months of playoff hockey, which is a lot for a young person."

Pascal Laberge will also make the full time jump to pro after the 36th overall pick in 2016 spent a few games with the Phantoms. 

Said Hextall: "Pascal is highly skilled, he's got good size, he skates well. Really good hands and vision. The consistency part has got to come around... [It's] Time for Pascal certainly to take it to another level. As I said, he's got an awful lot of ability."

Also of note were that a trio of forwards drafted in 2016 did not participate in the on-ice portion of camp due to injury, but were still in attendance: Wade Allison (52nd overall), Tanner Laczynski (169th overall) and Connor Bunnaman (109th overall).

 

5. FREE AGENCY

In the midst of everything going on with Camp was one of the most important days of the NHL off-season. July 1 marked the first day of free agency and the Flyers made their biggest splash under GM Ron Hextall, adding the highly sought after scoring winger, James van Riemsdyk to the mix.

With the move, the Flyers added prolific scoring to their left side and quite possibly two very dangerous units on the power play.

"The Flyers were one of the first teams to call me during that period [Free Agency window]. I got a chance to talk to Hexy and Hak. I got to feel them out for some different things that they were looking for, the reasons they thought I would be a good fit and I really liked their vision for their version of the Flyers. So I was excited to want to join up and be a part of that."

Other news to come out of the first day of free agency is that Hextall confirmed that the club will move on from center Valtteri Filppula, and did not re-sign defenseman Brandon Manning, who inked a two-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Goaltender Petr Mrazek became an unrestricted free agent and signed with the Carolina Hurricanes.

The club has also not yet signed any of their RFA's, who they made qualifying offers to on June 25: Tyrell Goulbourne (LW), Robert Hagg (D), Taylor Leier (LW), Alex Lyon (G), Danick Martel (C), Anthony Stolarz (G) and Reece Willcox (D). 

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