The whole gang was back at Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone on Thursday.
The majority of the big club took part in an on-ice workout, rookie camp commenced, Alain Vigneault and company looked on from up top and Ian Laperriere led the show down on the ice.
The Flyers' 2021-22 season is getting closer — and felt like it Thursday — so let's get into five observations from Day 1 of rookie training camp in Voorhees, New Jersey.
Scraping off the Frost
Morgan Frost has played two pro hockey games over the last 550-plus days.
But his skill level is still as high as ever.
"He's unbelievable," Wade Allison said Thursday. "I'd do anything for that skill. He's a very special player out there, the stuff he just creates out of nothing, sometimes it just leaves me watching. Unfortunately sometimes he does it to me, so that's tough. He's a special player, he's going to make a lot of noise in the NHL."
The 22-year-old center is one of the top prospects in rookie camp. His 2019-20 rookie year at the pro ranks was cut short in March 2020 when the sports world went on pause because of the coronavirus pandemic. When the NHL season resumed that summer, Frost was on the Flyers' 31-man roster for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs but did not appear in a game. Then, in just his second game of 2020-21, Frost suffered a shoulder injury, which required season-ending surgery in early February.
So one can understand why Frost is licking his chops for the pair of rookie games against the Rangers this weekend. The contact and competitiveness should be a good test for Frost as he prepares for next week's main training camp. The 2021-22 season will serve as a prime opportunity for Frost to continue translating his playmaking style to the pro level. Unless he barges his way onto the Flyers' roster during camp, the 2017 first-round pick will be set to open the season with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley — which would not be a bad thing if that turns out to be the case.
Frost has played 22 games for the Flyers and 41 for the Phantoms, a reminder that he's still a young pro with plenty of upside.
"I definitely want to make the team," Frost said. "Anything I can do to stand out, if I have to take someone's spot or whatever, I'm willing to do that. Just work hard in camp and we'll see what happens.
"When I was in junior, it was kind of just playing freely and that kind of thing. When you get to pro, it's a lot more of a mental battle. Especially with the injury, being up and down between teams, it's a mental battle. I think I've become a lot more mentally strong through it all. I feel like a better person, more mature person."
Frost said he has also grown physically as he's just over 190 pounds, a weight he wants to stay around throughout the season.
"It's funny you mentioned him, I just grabbed him in the gym there and he looks bigger," Laperriere, first-year head coach of Lehigh Valley, said. "What I'm looking for when I'm out there, it's the details, what they do, what we're asking them to do. Good sticks, good position, you reload inside the dots and he's doing it. That's why I grabbed him in the gym, I’m like, 'You're doing everything I'm asking you to do, keep doing that.'
"He's anxious to play games, he's been out for so long. It's got to be tough for him not playing, but he's putting the work in. Games are going to come fast for him, but so far, he looks great, he looks healthy, he looks excited. If he can become the player everybody thinks he can, it's going to help the organization."
New Flyers getting acclimated
The Flyers' big club had a well-attended and well-paced workout before the rookies took the opposite ice at Skate Zone. It was a lively and energetic session led by skills coach Angelo Ricci.
Not only are the Flyers ready to bury the disappointment of last season, but there's also a sense of newness with so many new faces following general manager Chuck Fletcher's busy offseason. There were plenty of new guys to spot on the ice Thursday and just about all of them were out there.
The most recent acquisition Derick Brassard was sporting his new No. 19, the former jersey number of guys like Rick MacLeish, Scott Hartnell and Mikael Renberg. Nolan Patrick, who was traded this offseason, last wore No. 19 for the Flyers.
New backup goalie Martin Jones was not on the ice; he's arriving to town very soon.
One other note: Oskar Lindblom appeared to be in great shape. He looked trim and stronger. At his exit interview in May, the 25-year-old winger expressed eagerness for a full offseason of training.
The club's prospects have a chance to learn from former Flyers like Danny Briere, Chris Stewart and Nick Schultz, just to name a few of the many staffers and instructors assisting with rookie camp.
Frost put his skating and skill on full display in a drill with Briere.
It was No. 48 vs. No. 48.
"It's awesome," Frost said of working with Briere and Stewart. "I think all of us young guys used to watch them play in the NHL. They were great players. It's good to pick their brain and pick up details from them."
Briere owns 307 career goals and is one of the better playoff performers in Flyers history. Stewart, now a Flyers development coach, retired last September after putting up 160 goals and 322 points in his NHL career.
Allison, a winger with arguably the best shot in rookie camp, echoed Frost's sentiment.
"They're legends," he said. "Danny Briere, special player, he was for a long time. Stewie was a great player as well. Any time you can pick their brain, even if it's small stuff, you pick up a little detail here. They're teaching you the right stuff, they obviously succeeded out there when they were out there. Pick their brain here and there and take what you can from them."
Prospect Felix Sandstrom took part in the big club's workout as the goalie opposite of Carter Hart.
Kirill Ustimenko and Samuel Ersson are the two netminders in rookie camp. Sandstrom, Ustimenko and Ersson will be competing for time in Lehigh Valley.
Ustimenko, a 2017 third-round pick, looked pretty good in the first session, which was the full group of forwards and defensemen. The positions split up on separate rinks in the second session.
Ustimenko made a few impressive saves on Allison, including this sprawling stop on a rebound attempt. The save came at the end of the rink where Vigneault, the Flyers' coaching staff and other hockey operations personnel were watching directly above on the perch.
Tanner Laczynski stood out Thursday. He's one of the better players in rookie camp and looks on track to compete as a full participant in main training camp. After an audition with the Flyers last season, Laczynski had right hip surgery in late April to repair a torn labrum.
Maksim Sushko (undisclosed injury) got in solo work with the Flyers' development guys. He will not participate in rookie camp but the Flyers are hopeful he'll be ready for main camp.
Elliot Desnoyers (hip surgery) skated in the Flyers' big club workout and the rookie camp's skill portion of Day 1.
Zayde Wisdom (shoulder surgery) is at camp but not on the ice. He's rehabbing and will be out until December.
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