Flyers Development Camp: Day 2
Two defensemen working during puck battles in front of the net.
By Jake Pavorsky (@JakePavorsky)
The Philadelphia Flyers five day long Development Camp kicked off on Sunday evening, bringing together 26 prospects and five invitees.
Click here to see Nick Cousins’ account of Day One and a roster of the camp roster here.
Forwards and defensemen were placed into separate groups, and all went through drills in order to improve various aspects of their game.
The players took Sunday to mostly get acclimated to their surroundings, and took part in basic drills that evening. Monday was when the fun really began for them.
All of the forwards and four goalies stepped on the ice at 8:30 Monday morning, and took part in drills a little more strenuous than the day’s prior. The players were put through several agility drills in order to improve their skating, and then began shooting exercises. Marcels Noebels, who spent last year with the Adirondack Phantoms, showed some impressive moves, at one point putting a deke on coach Kjell Samuelsson before blasting a shot past the goalie. Top prospect Nick Cousins was also on the ice, displaying his skills before a decently sized crowd at the Flyers SkateZone.
The forwards were then put into one on one drills, and at one point Cousins and Brandon Alderson competed in an incredibly physical battle. Despite the obvious height advantage Alderson possessed, Cousins was able to hold his ground. It’s likely that their on ice duel was so evenly matched because they know each other’s tendencies.
After leaving the Sarnia Sting after the 2010 year, Alderson joined the Soo Greyhounds, where Cousins had been since the 2009 season. The two would become good friends during their time in the OHL, and have been able to continue together during their path to the NHL. Cousins was drafted by the Flyers in 2011, and Alderson signed an entry-level contract with the team in March.
The addition of Alderson to the Flyers farm system came as no shock to Cousins. “I wasn’t too surprised because [Ian Laperriere] came and watched him, and asked what kind of kid he was. He liked the way he plays, so I wasn’t too surprised”.
However, he’s grateful to have a friend to join him on the journey. “To have him here, a teammate, and my roommate in the Soo, it’s fun to have someone go through the process of making the next step to the NHL.”
Another player lucky enough to be joined by former teammates is winger Petr Straka. Straka spent a season with Samuel Morin in 2011 in Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL, and last season with Maxim Lamarche (who signed with the Flyers in May) while playing for Baie-Comeau.
The 21 year-old Czech player feels more comfortable knowing he has a few buddies donning the same jersey. “ It’s always nice to see familiar faces around. I’ve made a couple of new friends already, but it’s good to come in here and know that I’m gonna know someone here.”
So far, Straka has done much to impress. He possesses a rare combination of speed and strength at 6’0″, 195 lbs. With Philadelphia a short on true wing players and Straka’s capabilities, he was confident when asked whether or not he feels he can make the team.
“Absolutely I do” he told a group of reporters, “I’m gonna go into camp and do my best. If I don’t make it, I’m not gonna be down on myself, but as a competitor and a hockey player im gonna come into camp and hope and believe that I can make the team.”
Forwards were on the ice for about half of the allotted 90 minutes for skating in the morning, and then the defensemen were brought out. Several players stood out during drills, which composed of battles in front of the net, as well as taking shots from the point. Shayne Gostisbehere definitely excelled in the offensive areas, displaying a really fluid slapshot, something that has become his bread and butter. A third round pick from the 2012 Draft, Gostisbehere still views development camp in the same mindset.
“Last year was a bit of a learning process. [Ian Laperriere] said we’re gonna how to be pros this week and that’s what we learned last year. Just come in with your ears open and just be the best listener you can.” Gostisbehere noted it’s been a whirlwind year for him, as he was a part of the USA team that won gold in the World Juniors, and many have wondered whether he can make an impact with the Flyers sooner rather than later. However, Gostisbehere has stayed committed to Union College, where he’s spent the last two years playing in the ECAC.
“I have two more years left of college.” he said when asked about turning pro, “So, two more years.”
Another defenseman who was noticeable was Morin, mostly because he towered over his teammates. All eyes were on the Flyers first round pick as the 6’6″ Quebec native stepped onto the ice. For a man of his stature, his skating is above average, but areas like stick handling and getting a shot off quickly is where he’ll have to improve. But for now, players have been raining down praises on one of their newest teammates.
“He’s definitely a big guy.” Gostisbehere said, “During the testing he knocked everything out of the park. He’s a really nice kid, and definitely a good player too.”
“I was very impressed. He’s moves well for his size, and he’s pretty good with the puck. He was very impressive” said former University of Minnesota defenseman Mark Alt.
However, Morin won’t let the attention get to him. “I try to keep it simple here. When it comes to training camp, I’ll do more thinking. But I just want to play hockey and have fun.”
Players came back out for a brief skate from 2:00 to 2:30 P.M., and then were done for the day. They’ll be back on the ice tomorrow from 10 to 11:30 A.M, and then again from 2:00 to 2:30 P.M.