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Why Flyers picked Cam York over Cole Caufield in 2019 NHL draft

Why Flyers picked Cam York over Cole Caufield in 2019 NHL draft

Cole Caufield was there.

His polarizing 5-foot-7 frame, his eye-popping 72 goals and his century-mark production.

The Flyers didn't take him.

Why?

Because they liked Cam York. They did their homework on the U.S. defenseman. The Flyers went into the 2019 NHL draft Friday night with goals of restocking the organizational cupboard along the blue line. Assistant general manager Brent Flahr said last week that the Flyers had a few defensemen on their top-10 list.

York turned out to be their guy after trading back to No. 14 (see story). Flahr said the Flyers' entire scouting staff had probably watched York 10 to 15 times during the season.

"His whole team was well-scouted, that's for sure," Flahr said Friday night via a conference call.

That means the Flyers had seen a lot of Caufield, who was teammates with York on the loaded U.S. national U-18 team. It's not that the Flyers didn't like Caufield, but they clearly weren't as high on the diminutive winger as they were on York.

Thirteen other teams passed on Caufield, who was taken by the Canadiens at No. 15 overall. Many draft experts ranked Caufield as a top-10 talent, and some even placed the goal-scoring machine among the top-five players in the draft.

"He's a player we knew very well, we spent some time with him again here," Flahr said. "He's going to be a good player, so when we traded back, we were confident there were a couple players there, that we were guaranteed to get one of them. It's just kind of the way it worked.

"I think this kid is going to beat the odds. He checked a lot of boxes. He's obviously small, he's been small his whole life, but he's had nothing but success. He's a great kid and if we ended up with him, we would have been happy, as well. 

"We got a guy that we think will be a very good player for a long time."

York is a point-producing defenseman with an impressive skill set. He's a constant threat with the puck on his stick and thrives when joining the rush. The Michigan-bound lefty shot scored over a point per game in 2018-19 with 65 points, a USNTDP single-season record for a defenseman, while maintaining a plus-56 rating.

"He's kind of a modern defenseman," 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. With his mobility and ability to move the puck and the offensive dimension, he checks a lot of boxes. He'll need some time to get stronger and fill out like any young player, but he's a guy that has tremendous upside."

The Flyers undoubtedly need more defensemen in the farm system with many of their prospects having graduated to the NHL. At forward, the Flyers have much better depth, headlined by Morgan Frost, Joel Farabee and Isaac Ratcliffe.

York is a good option to help build back up the group of blueliners (see Flyers' draft recap).

"He's put up big numbers offensively," Flahr said. "He's a talented guy and projects to be a very good defenseman for a long time.

"I think if you asked him, he would want to turn pro tomorrow. He's going to a good program at Michigan, we'll take it year by year. I don't see him as a four-year guy, let's put it that way."

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Why Flyers fans should be concerned about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Why Flyers fans should be concerned about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

On Saturday, we broke down why Flyers fans should be hopeful for the post-All-Star break stretch. Today, we look at the reasons for concern.

Alain Vigneault has 11 playoff berths on his résumé. He knows the requisites for a postseason club and the Flyers have failed to look like one in a key aspect.

"As a team that considers themselves a playoff team, you need to have a good road record," Vigneault said last month.

The Flyers do not through 25 road games. As stingy as they have been at home, they've been the polar opposite away from home. On the road, the Flyers are 10-13-2, have a minus-30 goal differential and are allowing the NHL's second-most goals per game at 3.80.

The figures above are a major concern and the Flyers must stem the tide over their final 16 road games. Vigneault's team still has two trips to Washington, D.C., two to Tampa Bay, Florida, two to Madison Square Garden and one more to Pittsburgh. Those matchups with the Capitals, Lightning, Rangers and Penguins will be stiff tests.

Speaking of the schedule, the Flyers are battling in the NHL's deepest division and have 14 games remaining against Metro teams. The Flyers are in sixth place of the Metropolitan Division (three points out of third place) but would be in first place of the Pacific Division.

The Flyers will be challenged the rest of the way and so, too, will their depth at forward. The Flyers are a middle-of-the-pack scoring club (15th in the NHL with 3.06 goals per game) and without Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder).

Is the team's youth in the bottom six enough for the playoffs and a competitive shot? Or will (and can) general manager Chuck Fletcher add at the Feb. 24 trade deadline?

Big questions and we'll have answers soon.

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2020 NHL All-Star Game: Flyers' Travis Konecny shows off his career-high stuff for Metropolitan Division

2020 NHL All-Star Game: Flyers' Travis Konecny shows off his career-high stuff for Metropolitan Division

BOX SCORE

Travis Konecny stormed into the NHL All-Star break already with a new career high in assists. The Flyers' winger has 26 helpers and is projected to finish with 44, a sign of significant growth in a breakout 2019-20 season for the 22-year-old.

On Saturday night in the 2020 All-Star Game at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Konecny put his facilitating on display during the 3-on-3 action featuring the world's best players. He finished with three assists in the Metropolitan Division's 9-5 semifinal loss to the Atlantic Division.

"I had a lot of fun," Konecny said Saturday, via Flyers senior director of public relations and communications Zack Hill. "It was pretty funny, I was watching my parents in the stands and my mom didn't understand why we weren't playing like a real game.

"It's my first game and it's her first time seeing it. I don't know if she was expecting me to be blocking shots and forechecking, stuff like that. I had a lot of fun with it.

"It was a really cool experience, getting to play with some players, too, that I usually won't get the chance to play with was fun."

Konecny playing in his first All-Star Game at 22 years old should be exciting for the Flyers. Claude Giroux was 23 years old for his first All-Star Game back in 2011. The future looks bright for Konecny, who signed a new six-year, $33 million contract back in mid-September.

With 17 goals and 43 points through 47 games, Konecny is eight goals and seven points away from setting career highs across the board.

A breakout, indeed.

Here are more sights and scenes from Konecny's first All-Star Game:

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