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Development Camp: Final Day Takeaways

The Flyers wrapped up their 2021 Development Camp on Wednesday with a half-rink 3-on-3 scrimmage in the afternoon.

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer /

The Flyers wrapped up their 2021 Development Camp on Wednesday with a half-rink 3-on-3 scrimmage in the afternoon. Surgery-rehabbing players were held out from the 3-on-3, including Tanner Laczynski, Elliot Desnoyers and the recently operated-on Zayde Wisdom. Wade Allison, who was held out of group sessions for a couple days for an undisclosed issue, also did not participate in the 3-on-3, along with the unavailable Matthew Strome (injured on the first day of camp) and Maksim Sushko.

Tweet from @JHallNBCS: Tyson Foerster was goal-scoring machine. He scored the championship winner for Team Orange.

Flyers 2020 first-round pick Tyson Foerster led all players in the 3-on-3 tourney with five goals, including an overtime winner to send Team Orange to the final game and the championship-winning goal in the finale. The 3-on-3 rosters were as follows, with goalies Samuel Ersson and Kirill Ustimenko rotating across the teams:

45 D Cam York
48 C Morgan Frost
56 RW Samu Tuomaala
77 D Brian Zanetti
81 D Jackson van de Leest
85 C Jon-Randall Avon
75 RW Connor McClennon

36 RW Linus Sandin
54 D Egor Zamula
65 D Wyatte Wylie
72 LW Owen McLaughlin
74 D Ethan Samson
76 LW Isaac Ratcliffe
91 D Boston Buckberger

52 C Tyson Foerster
59 C Jackson Cates
63 D Mason Millman
68 D Cooper Zech
80 D Quinn Schmiemann
83 C Nolan Ritchie
84 D Linus Högberg

Game 1 - Team White 2, Team Black 1 (SO) 
Goals: Black - Sandin; White - McClennon (Frost)
Shootout: Black - Sandin G, Ratcliffe NG; White - Frost G, McClennon G
SOG: Black 11, White 8
Saves: Black (Ersson) 7, White (Ustimenko) 

Tweet from @JHallNBCS: Morgan Frost shootout goal on Samuel Ersson.

Game 2 -- Team Black 7 -- Team Orange 3
Goals: Black - Ratcliffe 3, Samson 2, Sandin, Buckberger; Orange - Foerster, Schmiemann,Cates.
SOG: Black 15, Orange 10
Saves: Black (Ersson) 7, Orange (Ustimenko) 8

Tweet from @JHallNBCS: Isaac Ratcliffe caps off his hat trick.

Game 3 -- Team White 2 - Team Orange 1
Goals: Orange - Foerster; White - Avon (2)
SOG: Orange 12, White 9
Saves: Orange (Ustimenko) 7, White (Ersson) 11

Finals Qualifier -- Team Orange 2 - Team Black 1 (OT)
Goals: Black - Sandin; Orange - Zech (Foerster), Foerster OT
SOG: Black 8, Orange 6
Saves: Black (Ustimenko) 4, Orange (Ersson) 7

Tweet from @charlieo_conn: Here's a video of the 2v2 overtime, from start to finish, leading to Forester's dramatic (kidding) OT goal.

Championship Game -- Team Orange 3 - Team White 2.
Goals: White - Frost, McClennon; Orange - Foerster (2), Zech
SOG: White 10, Orange 7
Saves: White (Ustimenko) 4, Orange (Ersson) 8

Tweet from @billmeltzer: This move one-on-one with the goalie along with a toe-drag-and-shoot from the slot are two of Morgan Frost's go-to moves.

Of course, a 3-on-3 game on half ice is strictly about having fun and does not resemble an actual hockey game. Following are bigger-picture takeaways on one of the faster-rising prospects who attended Development camp, two recent late-round selections who have displayed offensive potential and one of the undrafted invitees.

Desnoyers aims to build off breakthrough Q season

Due to offseason hip surgery, Elliot Desnoyers was forced to miss the 2021 World Junior Summer Showcase for Team Canada. He said on Wednesday that he's close to being 100 percent but does not yet know the date when he'll be medically cleared. Desnoyers doesn't anticipate missing time during the 2021-22 QMJHL season.

 The Flyers' 5th-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft was signed to an entry-level contract on May 5, 2021. Desnoyers, who stands a shade under 5-foot-11, said he's currently carrying in the low 170s weight wise.

Prior to the 2020 Draft, the Flyers knew that Desnoyers was an unusually mature player in his defensive game, and versatile enough to play center or wing effectively at the QMJHL level. They suspected he also had untapped offensive potential.

Moving from a dominant Moncton Wildcats team to the Halifax Mooseheads in 2020-21, Desnoyers got his first opportunity to play an expanded offensive role. He responded by getting off to a torrid start offensively (six goals and 12 points in the first eight games of the season).

"The skating has been a big part for me," he said. "The game is all about it these days and I have worked in the summer to get quicker and get faster every year," 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a gap in the Maritimes Division schedule after the season started off according to plan. The interruption of the season also disrupted the groove that Desnoyers was in at the time of the pause. When his season resumed, he cooled off a bit offensively but continued to play well in his two-way game. 

Late in the season, Desnoyers got hot again offensively to finish the season with 21 goals and 49 points in 37 games. He finished as the Mooseheads' leading goal-scorer and point-getter while linemates Zach L'Heureux (Nashville Predators 2021 first-round selection, 27th overall) and Robert Orr (Carolina Hurricanes 2021 fifth-round pick, 136th overall) ranked second and third. 

McClennon makes good impression in Dev Camp

Drafted by the Flyers in the sixth round (178th overall) in the 2020 Entry Draft, Winnipeg Ice right winger Connor McClennon has shown the ability to put the puck in the net at every level of hockey he's played to date. During the belated and brief Western Hockey League 2020-21 season, McClennon posted 14 goals and 33 points in 24 games. 

Undersized but competitive, the 5-foot-8 forward is willing to venture into traffic despite being at a physical disadvantage. He is a good skater with very good hands. He serves as an alternate captain for Winnipeg. McClennon is aware that he needs to continue developing his all-around game and add strength to compete as a pro. 

"That's definitely something I worked on this summer; it was a big focus point when I left after my time in Lehigh down there for a couple weeks," he said. "Getting bigger and stronger carries on to playing at both ends of the ice. Protecting pucks on the wall. Rounding my game out was the biggest focus this summer."

Over the last two years, McClennon formed a dynamic one-two offensive punch with his Winnipeg Ice linemate, Peyton Krebs (Vegas Golden Knights 2019 first-round pick). The Winnipeg alternate captain has scored at every level to date including a dominating performance (11 points in five games) for Canada White at the Under-17 World Hockey Championships in 2019.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Flyers did not hold a Development Camp in 20. Thus, this year's sessions were the first for the 19-year-old McClennon. He excels in one-on-one situations and he has a quick shot release.

First Dev Camp a Learning Experience for McLaughlin

The Flyers have had a few local products in the farm system over the years but usually they've been brought aboard as undrafted free agents. This year, the Flyers selected Chester County native and Valley Forge Minutemen product Owen McLaughlin in the seventh round (206th overall) of the Entry Draft.

"It was super cool to be drafted by the team I've always rooted for," he said, adding that he knew the Flyers had interest in drafting him because Philadelphia scouts were present at multiple games he played over the past year and he talked to people in the organization.

The young center dressed in 11 total games for the United States National Team Development Program's under-18 squad in 2020-21. He also appeared in 33 prep school level games for Mount St. Charles Academy (16g, 38a). Next season, he will play in the USHL. Come 2022-23, he will be a freshman at Penn State, playing for head coach Guy Gadowski.

"Winning a championship is the biggest goal but personally, I want to have a good season in Sioux City," McLaughlin said. "Things have gone well for me in the offensive zone so far in my career. I want to continue to improve as an all-around player."

Every player will develop on his own timetable. The Flyers, who will hold McLaughlin's rights for five years if he plays a USHL year plus four collegiate seasons, have preached patience with his development path. Back in 2017, Flyers prospect Noah Cates was at a similar point in his development path: just out of high school hockey in Minnesota and planning to play a full year in the USHL before attending the University of Minnesota Duluth. 

van de Leest tried to make the most out of Dev Camp

The huge-framed 20-year-old defensemen (6-foot-7, 238 pounds) confirmed on Wednesday that he's received an invitation to Rookie Camp. There, he will compete to earn an NHL level-contract or an AHL deal with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

"I'm not going anywhere without a fight," van de Leest said.

van de Leest likes to throw his weight around and plays a simple, straightforward game. On the first day of 2021 Development Camp, van de Leest jockied and jostled in a clean but spirited fashion with Flyers 2020 first-round pick Tyson Foerster.

van de leest spent four-plus seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Calgary Hitmen. For a time a few years ago, van de Leest was paired in Calgary with Flyers prospect Egor Zamula.

An impressive physical specimen who keeps himself in good condition, the question mark with van de Leest is whether he is sufficiently skilled with the puck and quick enough with his decision-making and execution to eventually translate his game to the professional pace. Moving in a straight line, he has good mobility for a player his size but other aspects of his skating and footwork have been a main focus for him to improve.

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