(Voorhees, NJ) – Training camp always provides some surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant. Philadelphia’s 2009 version is no different.
Take the defense corps. Before the first whistle was blown, it seemed as though Philadelphia’s top six blueliners, as well as the seventh, were pretty much set in stone. Chris Pronger
, Braydon Coburn
, Matt Carle
, Kimmo Timonen
, Ryan Parent, Randy Jones and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen seemed to be the group the Flyers would start with on opening night in Carolina on October 2.
Enter Danny Syvret, who has played very well after a career year for the AHL’s Phantoms last season. The 24-year-old Ontario native is proving that he can play in just about any situation while providing both a steady defensive presence and some offensive flair at the same time.
|Danny Syvret is coming off of his best year as a pro last year, when he tallied 57 points for the Phantoms. (Getty Images) |
“Last year was a real indication of [Syvret’s] maturity as a pro,” said John Stevens after Friday’s practice. “He was real leader for the Phantoms and put up clearly his best year yet as a pro. Now he’s come back [with more] confidence. He’s played very well for us. We’re confident with him on the ice, he can play right or left side, and he doesn’t look like he gets rattled at all. He plays with a lot of composure and actually defends pretty well.”
In 76 games with the Flyers’ American Hockey League affiliate in 2008-09, Syvret tallied 12 goals and 45 assists for 57 points (third on the team). He went scoreless in two games with the Flyers.
Syvret thinks he has made a good impression, and is hopeful it has earned him an NHL job.
“It’s gone pretty well. I thought I came [to camp] in pretty good game shape so I thought I came in with a pretty good advantage,” he said. “You can never count your chickens before they’re hatched. I can [only] keep playing and hopefully prove that I’m capable of earning a roster spot.”
Stevens compared Syvret to another young defenseman on his club who continues to get better and better in Matt Carle
, who is a threat on offense but who can also take care of his own end.
“He gets good position and he defends a lot like Matt Carle
does,” said the head coach. “Matt’s not the biggest guy, but he’s really strong on the puck and is not fearful of competition along the wall. His hockey intelligence allows him to position himself well.
“[Syvret has] certainly moved himself up the depth chart since he’s been here. We really haven’t seen any deficiencies in his ability to defend at this point.”
Of course, were Syvret to make the team, that would mean either Ole-Kristian Tollefsen or Randy Jones would be the odd man out. Rumors were swirling among the local media on Friday that the Flyers may place Jones on waivers in the not-too-distant future.
Stevens was asked about Jones’ play in camp so far.
“Jonesy made a step in the right direction [Thursday], and I still think he needs to play better,” he said. “But, I think he played better last night than he had previously. That’s what we want to see from a guy like him.”
“I’m battling and fighting and working as hard as I can, and I’m going to continue for the rest of camp,” added Jones.
Stevens stressed that a guy like Jones shouldn’t be looking over his shoulder and should instead just focus on his own game.
“You can speculate all year long about players. Last year when Danny [Briere] was coming off of injury, I think the media had every guy on our team going somewhere, and that’s just not the case."
“I think as players all you can do is worry about playing the game. There’s competition for jobs right now. To sit and speculate about who might get traded or what might happen, there’s not enough time in the day to worry about that.”FLYERS NOTES
Brian Boucher will start in net on Saturday night in New Jersey (7:00 p.m.), and will likely play the entire game. Ray Emery will be back between the pipes for Tuesday’s preseason finale against Minnesota at the Wachovia Center (7:00 p.m., Tickets
). … Stevens was asked what he would like to see the team improve upon the last couple of games. “We turned it over in the neutral zone [on Thursday] and that led to some good chances against. Those are the things we’d like to eliminate.”