TORONTO — Skating around in an empty rink in August for a photo shoot might not seem like much, but for prospects Phil Myers and Oskar Lindblom, donning the Flyers' colors while on the ice together gave the pair an opportunity to envision what their 2017-18 season might look like.
Myers and Lindblom were on the ice together this week at Toronto’s Mattamy Athletic Centre inside the historic Maple Leaf Gardens for the annual NHLPA Rookie Showcase — an opportunity for trading card giant Upper Deck to shoot the players for upcoming products.
The Flyers prospects spent a large part of Monday afternoon on the ice together, feeding each other for one-timers and getting to know the rest of the rookie class from around the NHL.
“That’s what I dream about, so keep it going and try and make a spot in Philly,” Lindblom said of wearing the Flyers' colors.
Myers got to see his life in Flyers colors last October when he suited up in preseason games.
“Obviously I’m going to go [to training camp] with the mindset of making the team, that’s my ultimate goal,” Myers said. “It’s been my dream since I was a child.”
Myers heads to camp this year with the confidence of a full summer of training behind him. Last summer, offseason hip surgery hindered his ability to work out and the 20-year-old admitted to being out of shape during preseason play.
“I had stages this summer,” Myers said. “It started with putting weight on, then we were doing power and then at the end it’s more speed stuff. It’s paid off so far and I feel good. So I’m happy.”
The defenseman spent a bulk of his summer training in his hometown of Moncton, New Brunswick. He also trained with the Flyers for 3½ weeks. The 2015 free-agent signing didn’t do any extravagant trips this offseason, but he did catch a few concerts.
“I went to a concert in Philly, the Zac Brown Band, and I went to a music festival in Montreal, Ile Soniq, which was pretty fun,” Myers said. “It was a fun weekend, but I was still reasonable, I got the training in. It’s important to stay on track.”
With the youth movement in full swing, Myers sees an opportunity to follow the likes of Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov on a young Flyers' blue line.
Even with an opportunity, the Flyers should have up to two rookies on the back end; Myers knows there’ll be stiff competition with the likes of Sam Morin, Robert Hagg and Travis Sanheim also competing to be everyday NHLers.
“A little competition is always good,” Myers said. “All the guys are ... we all get along really well. We’re juggling to try to help each other make the team. It’s going to be a good experience and I’m really looking forward to it.”
For Lindblom, this is his second taste of North American hockey. The native of Gavle, Sweden, has spent parts of the past four seasons playing for Brynäs IF in the SHL, but got a small sample of American Hockey League action when he dressed in eight games for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms two seasons ago.
“That was good for me just to see how it is over here, feel the environment, feel the games, good experience,” Lindblom said. “It’s a lot faster here, but give it a couple of games and then you’re in it. I went to Philly last weekend, trained there, after a couple of weeks, I’m going to be fine.”
The 21-year-old scored 22 goals and 47 points in 52 games last season — up from the 25 points in 48 games he produced during the 2015-16 season.
Lindblom credits his development for the increase in point production.
“One year older, faster and stronger,” he said. “More skilled overall. I played with two good players over there, they helped me a lot.”
Though there are roster spots open, and Lindblom is certain to challenge for one, the 6-foot-2, 192-pound forward isn’t opposed to further seasoning in the AHL, if that’s what’s recommended.
“If I’m not good enough to play in the NHL, then I’ll need to take a little longer way, but that’s how they do it over here,” Lindblom said. “That’s not a big thing for me to go to the AHL. If it happens, it happens, and we’ll go from there.”
The influx of youth has veterans such as Wayne Simmonds excited for the upcoming season.
“There's a ton of 'em. Our prospect pool is probably top two in the league, so you can go down the list: Sanheim, Morin, Hagg, Lindblom — there’s a million guys I could keep naming off,” Simmonds said at the BioSteel Camp last week. “We’re going to have a lot of young defensemen coming in and I think it’s going to make our team better.
“With a good mix of youth and veterans, I think the youth can spark the veterans a little bit and the veterans will help bring the younger guys [along].”