VOORHEES, N.J. – Matt Read isn’t sneaking up on anyone this season – and he knows it.
So he’s coming into his second professional season with a different approach – he’s going to be a chameleon.
He’s just going to blend into the mix for the Flyers, playing a variety of roles – namely whatever the Flyers need him to do at the specific time.
Winger on one of the top two lines? He’ll look to score. Playing third line minutes, he’ll look to shut down the opponent’s top scorers.
He’ll play penalty kill, he’ll get time on the power play, heck, there’s a good chance he might play some center too at the beginning of the season with Danny Briere expected to miss the first few games.
“I’ll just fill in at different positions all over the ice,” Read said after another informal practice Thursday. “I’m very versatile. I can play on any line. I just want to concentrate on defense as much as I can and help this team win. We have so many good offensive guys on this team, so you don’t need so much from me, but I’ll still contribute whenever I can.”
Of course, that’s Read being his ever-humble self.
He was fourth on the team in goals with 24, which led all rookies in the NHL last season. He also finished with 47 points, fourth most among rookies in the NHL. He also led all rookies in game-wining goals with six and finished a plus-13, fourth among rookies.
The big question is, can Read repeat that kind of production, albeit in a shortened season.
“Time will tell when the season starts,” Read said. “But I’m just going to stick to the basics and make sure you do the right thing when you get the puck and get to the open ice to help your teammates. I want to be the hardest-working guy out there. Hopefully I’ll have some opportunities and get some lucky goals and lucky points.”
Read was at his best last season playing with Briere and Wayne Simmonds. With Briere unable to start the season, don’t be surprised to see Read slide to the middle as coach Peter Laviolette looks for another player in camp to take on the left wing role.
There’s no doubt Read and Simmonds have some chemistry, so to see them together makes sense. But Read isn’t concerned about who he plays with. He just looks to challenge himself in different ways in each game.
“It doesn’t really matter to me,” he said. “I like being versatile. That way, every game is a different challenge. If you’re put in a shut-down role and playing against their top line, that’s fine. Then if you are on the top two lines you’re supposed to produce goals. You make the best of every opportunity and be prepared to play any position in any game.”
And in the process, he wants to make sure he doesn’t hit that famous second-season swoon.
“They always talk about the sophomore slump,” said Read, 26. “I think being more mature and older than most rookies I can [withstand] the pressure and keep working hard and try to be a top player in this league.”
Tom Sestito, whose recovery from the mumps delayed his arrival to Philadelphia, skated for the first time Thursday.
He was joined by a good number of Flyers teammates for the hour-long practice, however Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux, Kimmo Timonen, Andrej Meszaros and Ilya Bryzgalov took the day off.
Former Flyer Brian Boucher filled in as the second goalie at practice. He said he was headed to Raleigh, N.C. to join the Carolina Hurricanes Friday.
Wayne Simmonds is finally en route to Philly and could be in town as soon as Friday. His arrival was delayed a few days because he misplaced his Passport. Simmonds is the last remaining veteran to report.
Members of the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL) can’t be recalled until the CBA is ratified by the players, so the expected call-ups won’t arrive until the weekend – likely Saturday night.
The players expected to be called up to the Flyers include Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Tye McGinn, Zac Rinaldo, Eric Wellwood and Brandon Manning.
Scott Laughton, playing for Oshawa in the OHL, is also expected to be at camp.
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