Jamie Drysdale PHI eager to show worth

OCEAN CITY, N.J. -- Jamie Drysdale is determined to show the Philadelphia Flyers what he's capable of when healthy.

The 22-year-old defenseman had surgery in April to repair a sports hernia on the left side of his abdomen, an injury he played through all season.

The sports hernia surgery was the second major operation he's endured the past two seasons. He was limited to eight games for the Anaheim Ducks in 2022-23 because of a torn labrum in his left shoulder sustained Oct. 28, 2022.

"I've technically been in the League for four years, but I always say I've only played about a year and a half," Drysdale said during the Flyers Community Caravan at Ocean City Sports and Civic Center on Wednesday. "Just playing a full year, showing what I can do, what I know I can do, I think that's kind of went under wraps the last couple years to be honest with you."

Drysdale had five points (two goals, three assists) in 24 games for the Flyers, who acquired him in a trade with the Ducks for forward prospect Cutter Gauthier on Jan. 8. He never was healthy after sustaining the sports hernia in Anaheim's season opener, when he had an assist in 22:54 of a 4-1 loss at the Vegas Golden Knights on Oct. 14.

"That was not a lot of fun to play with, but could get through it, could manage as best as we could," Drysdale said.

"[The doctors] mentioned it was not ideal. It was probably worse than what they thought it was. ... I guess they call it a sports hernia, but really just a tear of the muscle."

Flyers general manager Daniel Briere said during the NHL Scouting Combine last month how impressive it was that Drysdale played through what he called a "significant injury."

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"He wanted to play games," Briere said. "He's had a lot of injuries to deal with the last few years, so he wanted to play, so I give him a lot of credit. He showed a lot of character, leadership, the way he handled it.

"He should be in a much better position [this season], should be a lot freer to play."

Drysdale said recovery from the sports hernia surgery went quickly and he started skating last week, with the goal of being completely cleared for the start of training camp in September.

"I stayed in Philly the whole time pretty much after the year, got surgery done and started the rehab right away," he said. "I've just been training there, staying on top of it and feeling good."

At his best, Drysdale is capable of driving offense from the back end and adding a big shot on the power play. Both are areas the Flyers need improvement after finishing 27th in scoring (2.82 goals per game) and last on the power play (12.2 percent).

He was selected by the Ducks with the No. 6 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and has 50 points (10 goals, 40 assists) in 147 NHL games. But he's only played one fully healthy NHL season, when his 32 points (four goals, 28 assists) in 81 games for the Ducks in 2021-22 were second among rookie defensemen behind Calder Trophy winner Moritz Seider of the Detroit Red Wings.

And as excited as Drysdale is to show what he can do when healthy, his teammates are just as ready to see it.

"Obviously when we got him, he was probably only about 50 percent, 60 percent, he was playing through a bunch of stuff, so it's been really nice just to see him skating in the summer," Flyers forward Joel Farabee said Wednesday. "He's obviously a great skater. ... But when he's really playing at 100 percent, he controls the game.

"It's something that our [defense] corps has needed for a long time, a guy who can control the play like he does. So, we're super pumped to have him whether it's 5-on-5, power play, you name it, he's going to be playing, so it's really special and he's a great player."