The Flyers' 2021 development camp wrapped up Wednesday with an entertaining 3-on-3 tournament.
Three teams were composed of seven players apiece. The tourney featured three games, a semifinal playoff matchup and a championship.
After losing its first two games, Team Orange made a playoff rally to beat Team Black, 2-1, in the semifinal showdown and knock off Team White in the title game, 3-2.
Samuel Ersson and Kirill Ustimenko, the two goalies in camp, played every game and rotated teams. The pace of play was nonstop and the games had a running clock, so the goalies looked pretty gassed by the end of the tournament. They faced a lot of shots; Ersson made 40 saves and Ustimenko converted 32.
Eleven different players scored at least one goal.
Let's get into the action with our final five observations from development camp at Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.
'Natural-born goal scorer'
Tyson Foerster was a goal-scoring machine, putting up a tournament-high five goals for Team Orange.
He showed the accuracy of his shot on the championship winner.
He showed the power of his shot on the semifinal winner as he unloaded from distance.
"He's a natural-born goal scorer," former Flyer and current development coach Chris Stewart said Wednesday. "He has an NHL shot right now and definitely the future's bright for him."
The 2020 first-round pick also made a nice defensive play and subsequently set up a Cooper Zech goal.
The 19-year-old winger was fun to watch all camp. He looked more mature physically from when he was drafted in October 2020 and his game looked more well-rounded, too.
Throughout camp, the Flyers closely watched the workloads of Wade Allison and Tanner Laczynski. With both of them held out of the tournament, Foerster took over the stage.
Hatty for Ratty
Six prospects were called up to the Flyers last season for their NHL debuts and audition time.
Entering his third pro season, Isaac Ratcliffe is hunting his debut. The 6-foot-6 winger is determined to put himself back in the discussion among the Flyers' top prospects after an injury-marred 2020-21 campaign.
The 2017 second-round pick scored a hat trick in one of Team Black's games. Ratcliffe has the skill to score, but he's in the process of discovering how to play and be effective at the pro level.
"Enthusiastic, he's got a great range, has an NHL body," Mike O'Connell, the Flyers' new senior advisor to the general manager and player development, said Tuesday. "So far, what I've seen with this, I think we can really help define his game, what we feel is going to be best for him to have the best impact on not only his career, but the success of the Flyers. I think that's what we have to help him do, just identify his game. ... He’s an extremely likable young man and works hard."
Familiar Frost sighting
Morgan Frost sure is exciting when he sees space and has the puck on his stick.
He scored on a nice move for Team White and also netted one in the shootout.
The playmaking center was a veteran in this camp and looked like it, as expected. His immense skill always stands out. In 2021-22, he'll continue to try to show his game can translate to the NHL level. He's only 22 years old and has essentially played only one pro season after missing all but two games last season (shoulder surgery).
"He has all the tools," O'Connell said. "We just have to do what we can to get him in those situations where he can show them off and help the team."
Ethan Samson is an intriguing defenseman.
When the Flyers drafted him in the sixth round this summer, you could see why they liked his upside. He's got quality size already and just turned 18 years old in August.
But Samson has an element of skill to his game, too, which we learned at camp. He scored a pair of goals during the tournament, one of them coming on a sweet move and finish.
"He’s close to 6-foot-2 and his frame’s going to still fill out as he’s an August birthday," Flyers amateur scout Mark Greig said in July. "He’s got some room to develop. Right-hand shot and for a D-man it’s always an asset as we find them harder to find."
Phantoms' blue line
Egor Zamula and Cam York didn't do anything spectacular in the tournament but looked fine. For Flyers fans, they'll be worth the ticket at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, where they're projected to start this season.
Zech, a 22-year-old defenseman who was signed this offseason, is a smaller puck-mover who impressed in camp. He's still young and has good AHL experience already.
Other observations from development camp
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