Flyers

Meet Flyers first-round pick Cam York, a Cali kid with a Philly mentality

Meet Flyers first-round pick Cam York, a Cali kid with a Philly mentality

There's a perceptible Southern California coolness to Cam York. He's a laid-back 18-year-old from beautiful Anaheim Hills with a smooth and fluid game on the ice.

On the inside, though, there's an East Coast mentality. He understands Philly.

In fact, he loves it.

"That's probably the first thing I learned about Philadelphia is that they have passionate fans and they want to win," York said Tuesday at Flyers development camp. "They really hold their players accountable and, as a player, that's what you want."

When York heard his name called by the Flyers at No. 14 overall in last weekend's 2019 NHL draft, he already had a grasp of the organization, its values and the market in which it plays. Growing up, he appreciated the orange and black.

"I remember when I was a little kid and they would come out to Anaheim and play, I would always make sure I'd tell my parents, 'We need to go to this game,'" York said. "It's just one of those organizations where they have a rich history and just always a successful team. I'm really looking forward to being a part of it."

It doesn't take long to realize why the Flyers' entire scouting staff saw York 10 to 15 times during the season and came away sold on the point-producing machine from the blue line. He's an impressive skater with an even better offensive skill set. On the U.S. national U-18 team in 2018-19, York scored over a point per game with 65 points, a USNTDP single-season record for a defenseman.

"He's kind of a modern defenseman," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said. "He's very mobile, very intelligent, very cerebral. Lots of poise, plays a real responsible two-way game — he's a very good defender for a 6-footer."

And that's what York wants to emphasize just as much as his dangerous offensive game. He wants everyone to know he can play some defense, too. York was a team-best plus-56 on a U.S. national U-18 team that saw eight players drafted in the first round.

"Offensively, I feel like I'm dynamic and can make plays happen," York said, "but defensively, I feel like I don't get enough credit for what I do. I led my team in plus-minus this year, so I take a lot of pride in it. 

"I want to be a guy that plays 30 minutes a night, not just 20 because he's just offensively good. I want to be really good on both sides of the ice."

Philly can get on board with that mindset. York, who is headed to Michigan in 2019-20, will bring on the big moments, big minutes and a big city.

Don't let that Cali coolness fool you.


(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

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Worried about Alain Vigneault coaching Flyers' youth? There's evidence to ease concerns

Worried about Alain Vigneault coaching Flyers' youth? There's evidence to ease concerns

Kevin Hayes and some Flyers hit the ice Tuesday morning at Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.

The team tweeted out pictures of its new seven-year, $50 million man in Flyers orange, giving us the first glimpse of Hayes rocking his new threads.

In 2019-20, Hayes will be tasked with great responsibility as the Flyers look to rebound from one of their most trying, tumultuous and disappointing seasons in 12 years. As Hayes signed with the Flyers, he set up a reunion with head coach Alain Vigneault. From 2014-18, the two were together in New York, where Vigneault came under the microscope near the end of his tenure for not developing younger players.

From 22 to 25 years old, Hayes played his first four NHL seasons under Vigneault and scored a career-high 25 goals during the coach's final year with the Rangers.

"It's always tough when you go to a new team and you don't know how you're going to fit in with the coach, you don't know how you're going to fit in with the players," the 27-year-old Hayes said in June. "But playing under A.V. for four years, we had a great relationship, on and off the ice. He demands hard work. If you play the correct way, he kind of lets you play freely offensively. That was a huge factor in the decision — being comfortable with him made the decision a lot easier."

At his introductory press conference during April, Vigneault was asked about being maligned for not utilizing young players enough while in New York. It was a fair question because it was a tactile criticism of Vigneault as the Rangers parted ways.

But just how fair?

"Everybody has their opinion, I respect that," Vigneault said. "I don't necessarily agree with that, but for me, that's just part of the coaching job that you have to do. Some people are going to like some of the things [general manager Chuck Fletcher] and I do, and I do with my staff, and some other people aren't going to like it as much. At the end of the day, you know what we have to do? We have to win."

There are some interesting facts from Vigneault's time in New York, where he went 226-147-37 with three straight 100-plus-point seasons and a Stanley Cup Final appearance. (For some context, the Flyers haven't earned 100 or more points in a season since 2011-12, when they last won a playoff series.)

When the Rangers won the Eastern Conference in 2014, the team's second-leading scorer was 23-year-old Derek Stepan, who experienced a career year over 82 games. Ryan McDonagh was the team's best defenseman at only 24 years old. And Chris Kreider was a team-best plus-14 at 22 years old.

The following season, New York put up 53 wins and 113 points. Hayes had an excellent rookie year (17 goals, 45 points) and the Rangers' youth took strides.

In 2016-17, when New York experienced a 102-point season, the team's second-leading scorer was 23-year-old J.T. Miller and one of its best defensemen was 22-year-old rookie Brady Skjei, who scored 39 points over 80 games.

So there is evidence of Vigneault getting the best out of older and younger players.

At our level, there's not one coach that will not play a player that will permit him to win. I firmly believe that talent has no age. If a guy who's 19 can step in and help the Flyers win and be competitive, he's going to play. Talent has no age.

- Vigneault

The Flyers were not the most disciplined team with the puck during 2018-19. Fletcher talked about bad on-ice habits at his end-of-the-season press conference. But he knows the talent — both young and old — is in place.

The belief is that an experienced coach like Vigneault, along with experienced assistants, can create better habits and smarter decisions from everybody on the ice.

"There weren't a ton of young players during my time with the Rangers that came up in the system because of where that organization was at the time," Vigneault said. "Was I perfect with all of them? No, and I don't think anybody is. I think my record is pretty good with younger players, it's pretty good with core players as far as them coming into a season and having strong performances. It's also good with older players."

The Flyers, once again, have a blend of veterans and youngsters. It gives Vigneault a prime opportunity to reinforce his track record and prove he can win with all ages.

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Which Shayne Gostisbehere should Flyers fans expect in 2019-20 season?

Which Shayne Gostisbehere should Flyers fans expect in 2019-20 season?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jordan Hall and Brooke Destra

The topic: Predictions for Shayne Gostisbehere's 2019-20 season.

Hall

Some reporter (it was me) was bullish on Gostisbehere entering the 2018-19 season. 

He was super impressed by Gostisbehere's skill and mobility during the preseason, especially with the defenseman fresh off a career-high 65 points, the fourth most among NHL blueliners in 2017-18.

He foresaw big things for Gostisbehere. And that reporter (it was me) was way off.

There are a handful of important factors to note when analyzing the outlook for Gostisbehere in 2019-20.

Firstly, Gostisbehere will be playing under a new coaching staff. Coaches and their philosophies are crucial to a player like Gostisbehere.

Secondly, during his exit interview, Gostisbehere admitted to dealing with a banged-up knee from early on through the midseason. He didn't use it as an excuse, but for a guy that relies heavily on his slipperiness and mobility, a knee problem can be a significant hindrance.

And thirdly, Gostisbehere should feel a lighter burden on his shoulders with the additions of Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun. Both bring different elements to the table but understand goal prevention and can play minutes. One would think those acquisitions will allow Gostisbehere to play a bit more freely without the 26-year-old trying to do too much, overthinking every decision.

How all of the above impacts Gostisbehere's production and usefulness will be one of the more fascinating storylines to watch in 2019-20.

I don't see why Gostisbehere can't get back into the 50-point range or 40-assist territory — although, that will depend on a lot.

Destra

I'll be very upfront with my views of Gostisbehere's performance last season — it was no indication of the direction he is heading in as a player and it truly isn't a big concern (at the moment). He was one of many players who underperformed on the Flyers and when his lower-body injury surfaced at the season's end, it validated a lot.

He's about to have a bounce-back year — and it's going to be a good one.

Heading into this season, this is probably the most balanced the defense has looked in well over a decade. He will be able to play on his true side as a LHD and will have the opportunity to be a leader to whoever the other half of his pairing is.

Even though he wasn't at the top of his game in 2018-19, he was still able to put up nine goals — this tied him for the lead in most goals scored by a defenseman on the Flyers (along with Travis Sanheim).

Gostisbehere also has the ability to make or break his respective power-play unit. Not many players stationed up at the blue line have the kind of sniper shot he can produce. Even if he doesn't pot one, he is capable of getting the puck in deep and setting up high-danger scoring opportunities.

It'll be tough to top the numbers he put up in 2017-18 (65 points — 13 goals, 52 assists), but there's a chance he comes close to it. By the nature of his game, he is an offensive defenseman — his instincts are strong and he tries to contribute to his team in any way that he can.

It's very possible to see him at 55-plus points for 2019-20.

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