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Prospect camp an education, on and off the ice

by Al Alven / Philadelphia Flyers
(Voorhees, NJ) - Kevin Marshall joked that he couldn't remember his first prospect camp with the Flyers, back in 2007.

"I'm an old man and that was too long ago," said the 21-year-old defenseman, who is coming off of a strong first pro season with the AHL's Adirondack Phantoms.

"Besides, I think this heat is starting to get to me. What's my name again?"

For the self-described "prospect veteran," keeping things light and helping incoming youngsters through their first camp experience is as much a part of his role as his own development.
A third round pick in this year's draft, Michael Chaput is getting his first taste of life as a Flyer this week at the team's annual prospect camp. (Getty Images)

"In all seriousness, I've been through this before. When I came in for my [first prospect camp], there were guys who helped me, settled me down. It's all about eliminating stress. We're here to work, but we're also here to have some fun."

Marshall is one of 35 players participating in the prospect camp this week at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey. The breakdown includes 18 forwards, 11 defensemen, and 6 goaltenders.

"It's an education for these kids," explained the Flyers’ director of hockey operations, Chris Pryor. "Actually, it's an education for all of us. We get the chance to evaluate, but also to set them on a path as far as training regiments go. It's a conditioning camp, first and foremost.

"They get to test themselves, based on where they're at now and where they go from here. A lot of these guys we'll have back at our main training camp in September."

Among the camp participants are several members of the Flyers' 2010 entry draft class, including their first selection, Michael Chaput (3rd round, 89th overall).

"It's a new experience, but so far it's been awesome," said the 18-year-old center, a Montreal native. "Seeing the facilities, getting to know a lot of the guys and the coaching staff, I feel really comfortable.

"Just putting on a t-shirt that says "Flyers" on the front...I have to admit, sometimes I still have to pinch myself a little bit. But it's real, and I'm so glad to be here."

Chaput, like many of the players at the camp, will all but certainly be returning to his amateur team in the fall, in this case the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the QMJHL. For him, the camp is more a matter of acclimation.

A handful of others, including Marshall and forward Michael Testwuide, will be expected to compete for roster spots with the big club in two months time.

"My approach is one of preparation," said Testwuide, a 6-3, 210-pound forward signed out of Colorado College back in March. "At 23, I'm sure I'm one of the older guys here, if not the oldest. My goal is to play in the NHL next year."

Like Marshall, Testwuide is participating in his fourth NHL rookie camp, having tried out with the Montreal Canadiens in each of the previous two years, and the Washington Capitals the July prior.

"I'm a power forward. I like to dig for pucks in the corners and battle in the crease. Hopefully, my game is tailor made for what the Flyers need, but I feel I'm a good fit with the organization's philosophy. That legendary toughness."

Camp continues with morning practice sessions and scrimmages through Sunday, with the exception of Thursday’s annual Trial on the Isle marathon race in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.

"There's a nice mix of on and off ice activities, to really keep things interesting," said Marshall. "I look forward to the Trial on the Isle; that's always a lot of fun. We also do various things, like softball games and maybe an outing into the city.

"Every year, we have a great collection of guys and this group is no different. It's going to be a good week for all of us."
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