The emergence of young defenseman Cam York was one of the most encouraging developments of the 2023-24 season for the Flyers. Along with the development of rookie winger Tyson Foerster this past season, York's all-around improvements during his third professional season -- his first full season in the National Hockey League -- could have the most lasting long-term implications for the hockey club.

Recently, York sat down with Flyers Daily host Jason Myrtetus to discuss his breakout campaign this past season.  He talked about his emergence as a top-pairing defenseman for Philadelphia this past season, especially on the defensive side of the puck. York also identified areas where he feels he still has opportunity for further growth.

Drafted by the Flyers in the first round (14th overall) of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, York was the most highly touted of six defensemen from the US National Team Development program selected in that year's Draft. After two seasons at the University of Michigan, York turned pro at the end of 2020-21 collegiate season.

NHL success didn't happen instantaneously for York, but the potential was clearly evident. Now, at 23, he has 169 games of National Hockey League experience under his belt. He overcame a difficult start to his player-coach relationship with John Tortorella to become a player the head coach relies upon to absorb heavy-duty ice time in a variety of different game situations. 

York was selected as the club's Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Award winner. The honor, which goes to the team's most improved player over the course of the season, is the only team award that is selected by the Flyers' players themselves.

"It was pretty special to be chosen by my teammates," York said on Exit Day.

Come next season, York is a leading candidate for the Barry Ashbee Trophy. The award goes to the player selected as the Flyers' top defenseman. 

York does many things well -- great feet, smart positioning, quick stick -- and breaks up many developing plays before they ever turn dangerous. York is so smooth that he often gets overlooked if he's not putting up points to go with it.

John Tortorella on Cam York

York had a bit of a tumultuous 2022-23 campaign. Expected to make the opening night NHL roster, he ended up going back to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and spending the first two months of the season in the American Hockey League. York was recalled to the Flyers on Dec. 9, 2022. He's been in the NHL ever since.

A natural left-side defenseman, he was often asked to play his off-side during the 2022-23 season. This past year, he was back on the left side for the duration of the season. York has pointed to this one of the reasons why things snapped into place for him this past season.

"I think last year was a good learning experience,:" York said. "Just kind of in terms of how to process things."

Tortorella, at times, did not know last season what to make of York's "California cool" demeanor.  This season, Tortorella came to understand that York's competitive fires burn just below the surface. For his part, York explained that he doesn't take things such as "hard" coaching personally.

This season, York has made his head coach believer -- even a staunch advocate. The coach even stated that he feels the Flyers' other young defensemen, such as Jamie Drysdale,  can learn from watching York.

"Remember, at the beginning of the year,  I didn't think Cam York was a National Hockey League player. I wasn't sure, judging from his last quarter of the prior year. Cam is probably one of our better defenders," Tortorella said on Feb. 5 as the Flyers returned from the All-Star break.

When the Flyers drafted York, the projection was that he would become a top-unit power play quarterback in the NHL. For Tortorella's part, the head coach was more impressed by what he saw defensively from York than by his offensive skills.

"I don't know if he's going to be that [offensive-minded] guy. Maybe, but I don't think that's what he does best. I look at him, first and foremost, as a good defender for us," Tortorella said in February. 

Offensively York posted 30 points in 2023-24 (10g, 20a) while dressing in all 82 games. That was a respectable total, especially in light of York's power play ice time fluctuating during the season and the Flyers team as a whole struggling mightily on the man advantage. Moving forward, helping the Flyers power play to improve is one of the areas York feels he can continue to grow as a player.

"That's an area where we all need to get better, and I definitely think it's something I can do better," York said on Exit Day.