Nolan Patrick begins push to make Flyers as rookie camp gets underway

Nolan Patrick begins push to make Flyers as rookie camp gets underway

VOORHEES, N.J. — Five days ago, Nolan Patrick was in rural Canada shooting ducks. Now, the future Flyers center is focused entirely on shooting pucks following a rather eventful offseason that included the draft and offseason surgery.

“It was exciting,” Patrick said Monday following his first practice in a Flyers sweater. “My first time skating with some of the guys here. I got in a good amount of time and training this summer so I’m feeling confident in my game and it went well.”

Patrick has begun his push at making the Flyers' opening night roster. The No. 2 overall pick in the draft was one of 25 prospects on the ice for the first day of Flyers rookie camp after arriving in Philadelphia over the weekend.

“I thought he had a good day, looked strong,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “I think we’ll able to see his progression as he goes through camp. Sometimes, as young players, there’s different points in camp where you see young guys hit a wall. ... He’s just got to go out and continue building his game and, as you go to main camp, it’s going to get tougher.”  

Patrick said he finally felt 100 percent around three weeks ago when he regained his conditioning skating three times a week before increasing his workload to four times a week in the days leading up to camp. Part of his offseason regimen included off-ice work in a remote location near the Manitoba/Ontario border with a group of NHL veterans that included three-time Stanley Cup champion and fellow Winnipeg native Jonathan Toews.

“He’s a really intelligent guy. One of the best guys I’ve ever met,” Patrick said about Toews. “I’d be here all day if I listed the things he taught me. ... He knows a lot about different kinds of training, nutrition and stuff like that.”  

Patrick’s offseason skating program in Philadelphia was delayed because of an abscessed boil that formed on his face.

“I was hiding with a hood up for a bit there,” Patrick said regarding the condition, which lasted about five days.

Once Patrick got past that unexpected obstacle, his regimen included what he referred to as “a lot of mobility stuff” and “getting his hips back to where they needed to be” as he looks to make the jump from the Western Hockey League straight to the NHL.

“That’s my goal coming in," Patrick said. "Just going to compete as hard as I can, and do everything I can to earn a spot. The main thing for me is competing every day and playing as hard as I can.”  

Rookie line combos
For an organization with one of the deepest talent pools of prospects in the NHL, there’s a real possibility that as many as four rookies could start the season on the Flyers' opening night roster, with two on defense to go along with Patrick and winger Oskar Lindblom. Last season, defenseman Ivan Provorov and forward Travis Konecny, the Flyers' two first-round picks in the 2015 draft, made the big club out of camp.

“I think the sense of opportunity has been made very clear over the summertime,” Hakstol said. “There’s opportunity for veterans and there’s opportunity for young guys. Guys should be excited. There’s guys in position hopefully to have good camps and to take advantage of some of those opportunities.”

Line combinations for Day 1 of camp:

Radel Fazleev — Mike Vecchione — Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Connor Bunnaman — Nolan Patrick — Anthony Salinitri

Carsen Twarynski — Mikhail Vorobyev — Ivan Kosorenkov

Oskar Lindblom — German Rubtsov — Pascal Laberge

Isaac Ratcliffe — Morgan Frost — Matthew Strome/Maksim Sushko

News and notes
• Defenseman Robert Hagg is not part of the rookie camp even if 2017-18 will serve as his rookie season. With three full professional seasons at the AHL level (over 200 games played) and seven defensemen on the rookie roster, general manager Ron Hextall allowed Hagg to join the veterans for the beginning of camp on Sept. 15.

• Hakstol will evaluate Wednesday’s rookie game against the Islanders from the press box of the Wells Fargo Center with Flyers assistant coach Gord Murphy and Phantoms assistant Kerry Huffman behind the bench.  

• Shayne Gostisbehere had planned originally to fly his family out of Florida by way of charter to avoid Hurricane Irma, but after further deliberations, the Gostisbeheres elected to fuel up and hit the road. His sister drove from the Tampa area to Nashville while Gostisbehere's parents made the drive safely from Fort Lauderdale to North Carolina. Aside from some leakage at his sister’s residence, it appears their homes remained intact.

Preseason TV schedule
The Flyers' preseason broadcast schedule was announced on Monday.

Of the seven preseason games the Flyers will play, three will be broadcasted on TCN — Sept. 26 vs. the New York Rangers (7 p.m.), Sept. 28 vs. Boston (7 p.m.), Oct. 1 vs. the New York Islanders (5 p.m.).

End to End: Which prospect are you most eager to see at Flyers rookie camp?

End to End: Which prospect are you most eager to see at Flyers rookie camp?

Throughout the offseason, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End today are reporters Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Which Flyers prospect are you most eager to see at rookie camp?

With rookie camp beginning Monday, the rookie game Wednesday and training camp Friday, there are a plethora of young players worth watching before the regular season begins. Let's stay away from Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom. Even the defensive prospects, too. We're all going to have our eyes on Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers.

The one prospect I am most looking forward to seeing during rookie and training camp is Russian center Mikhail Vorobyev, who popped at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championships. Vorobyev doesn't figure to factor into the forward competition this season, as it will be his first season in North America. Vorobyev will spend his first season in Lehigh Valley.

But there are plenty of reasons to watch Vorobyev. He was an unknown talent in Russia until the world juniors, and the Flyers selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft "probably because he was in Russia — he was hidden a little bit," GM Ron Hextall said in July. This will be our first chance to see Vorobyev in a competitive camp with the Flyers.

Vorobyev showcased a skill set that I don't think many of us knew he had over here during the world juniors, and the Russian factor was a part of it. In the KHL, he had a solid role as a 19-year-old with Salavat Yulaev Ufa, but it wasn't a role in which he was able to flash what he can do offensively. Once with his peers at the world juniors, he displayed playmaking and vision that created some buzz among Flyers fans.

What he will pan out as an NHL prospect still remains an uncertainty, but I believe he has the potential to blossom as a middle-six pivot. He's a player that I am going to keep my eye on this season at Lehigh Valley, and I think during camp, he'll be a prospect to watch — largely because we still haven't seen much of him.

Every which way, Sanheim looked like an NHL defenseman at July's development camp.

He has filled out physically, standing at 6-foot-4, 199 pounds. His offensive game is impressive, without a doubt his biggest strength. And his skating has improved to the point in which it looks fluid and natural.

Oh, and his confidence is not lacking — exactly what you want to see from the 21-year-old.

"I feel like I'm ready, I'm going to compete for a spot," Sanheim said in July. "Until somebody tells me differently, that's my goal. I'm coming to make the Flyers."

So I'm curious to watch Sanheim compete at camp and see how NHL-ready he looks with the Flyers' brass closely evaluating. With a little bit of time last season, the 2014 first-round pick grasped the learning curve at the AHL.

"He did a really good job last year from start to finish — got a lot better," Hextall said this summer. "The adjustment on the first month, month and a half, where he was going too much up ice, a little bit irresponsible and all of a sudden, a month, month and a half in, figured that part out. That was a huge step for him. He got better, he got better throughout the year and he needs to continue on that."

Morin and Hagg are the likely candidates to fill the Flyers' two open spots on the blue line, but Sanheim is out to prove he's just as much the part.

Flyers 2017 rookie camp: Outlook, projections for 25 players on roster

Flyers 2017 rookie camp: Outlook, projections for 25 players on roster

Sometimes rookie camp features a few prospects with legitimate shots at cracking the Flyers' roster when big camp breaks.

This year's edition is a bit different.

As the Flyers' youth movement picks up a notch, 2017 rookie camp presents five to six players with a conceivable chance to make the big club on opening night or at some point this season.

Those prospects and many others kick things off Monday at Flyers Skate Zone before main training camp opens Friday.

Let's get you set for rookie camp by breaking down the roster, which is comprised of 25 players:

Forwards (16)

Nicolas Aube-Kubel, RW, 5-11/187, No. 62
Outlook: The 21-year-old's prolific junior scoring didn't translate into his first year of AHL competition, which is common for some prospects in Year 1 of the jump. More acclimated and with a bigger role, the 2014 second-round pick is excited for Year 2 in Lehigh Valley.

Projection: Second season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Connor Bunnaman, C, 6-1/207, No. 82
Outlook: Bunnaman, a physical two-way center, had a breakout 2016-17 junior season, scoring 37 goals after posting 16 the year prior. Selected in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, the 19-year-old signed his entry-level contract with the Flyers in April.

Projection: Fourth season with OHL's Kitchener Rangers

Radel Fazleev, C, 6-1/192, No. 65
Outlook: Fazleev, 21, is coming off his first pro season with the Phantoms in which he put up 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 65 games. The 2014 sixth-round pick endured a difficult transition because of a more limited role compared to his days with the WHL's Calgary Hitmen.

Projection: Second season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Morgan Frost, C/LW, 5-11/172, No. 68
Outlook: The Flyers' other first-round pick from this past June, Frost is a smart and skilled facilitator with high offensive upside. The 18-year-old, who wants to prove his well-roundedness in 2017-18, is still growing into his body but may be closer to the NHL than it appears.

Projection: Third season with OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Ivan Kosorenkov, RW, 6-0/181, No. 89
Outlook: As of right now, the Russian winger is the Flyers' only training camp invite. He impressed at development camp after surprisingly going undrafted this summer. A teammate of Flyers prospect Pascal Laberge, the 19-year-old scored 34 goals in the QMJHL last season and will try to earn a contract with the Flyers.

Projection: Second season with QMJHL's Victoriaville Tigres

Pascal Laberge, C, 6-1/162, No. 75
Outlook: Laberge went through a hellish 2016-17 season. He was the victim of a vicious hit, resulting in a bad concussion and mental hurdles thereafter. The 2016 second-round pick possesses excellent makeup and is anxious to be his old self in his 19-year-old season.

Projection: Fourth season with QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres

Oskar Lindblom, LW, 6-1/192, No. 54
Outlook: Once a relatively unknown 2014 fifth-round pick, Lindblom is now on everybody's radar. The 21-year-old Swede has developed into one of the organization's top prospects and will be pushing hard for a roster spot after showing his game in the SHL. Lindblom's size and scoring ability on the wing have many believing he is a building block and soon-to-be difference-maker.

Projection: First season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms or the Flyers

Nolan Patrick, C, 6-2/198, No. 64
Outlook: A training camp headliner, the 2017 No. 2 overall pick will have all eyes on him as he shoots for the Flyers' roster instead of a return to the WHL. Patrick, who turns 19 next week, is a do-it-all talent up the middle but must prove he's ready for the rigors of the NHL after an injury-plagued draft year and June abdominal surgery. It will be hard, though, to send him back to junior hockey — he can help now.

Projection: Either returns to WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings or makes Flyers' roster

Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, 6-5/205, No. 76
Outlook: A big boy, Ratcliffe is strong on his skates and soft with his hands around the net. Some viewed him as a first-round pick in June. The Flyers traded up to snag him in the second round (35th overall). The 18-year-old comes with a tall ceiling and will try to build off a 28-goal, 26-assist junior campaign.

Projection: Third season with OHL's Guelph Storm

German Rubtsov, C, 6-0/187, No. 63
Outlook: The 2016 first-round pick was super impressive at development camp in July and this marks his first rookie/training camp with the Flyers. The 19-year-old owns an advanced game and can do a lot of things. Once the Russian center played with his age group last season, his potential glowed.

Projection: First full season with QMJHL's Chicoutimi Sagueneens or first season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Anthony Salinitri, C, 5-11/170, No. 86
Outlook: Salinitri, 19, made big strides last season with Sarnia, going from 17 goals and 13 assists in 2015-16 to 28 and 30 in 2016-17 — not bad for a 2016 sixth-round pick. A former junior teammate of Travis Konecny, Salinitri exhibits nice speed at the center position.

Projection: Fourth season with OHL's Sarnia Sting

Matthew Strome, LW, 6-3/201, No. 78
Outlook: A ton to like in his size and skill on the wing but Strome is a flawed skater, a reason he dropped to the fourth round this summer. Still, that's a trait an NHL organization can massage and mold with time. The 18-year-old is a good kid and understands hard work.

Projection: Third season with OHL's Hamilton Bulldogs

Maksim Sushko, RW, 6-0/179, No. 90
Outlook: The Flyers' 2017 fourth-round pick from Belarus is a fast skater and polished with his stick. Only 18 years old, don't be surprised to see a considerable increase in offensive production for his second junior campaign.

Projection: Second season with OHL's Owen Sound Attack

Carsen Twarynski, LW, 6-2/201, No. 81
Outlook: Traded from the Calgary Hitmen during the 2016-17 season, Twarynski was strong with the Kelowna Rockets, totaling 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 28 games with a plus-19 rating. The 2016 third-round pick is a tough-minded forward with good size. Set for his fourth junior season, he turns 20 years old in November.

Projection: First full season with WHL's Kelowna Rockets

Mike Vecchione, RW, 5-10/194, No. 74
Outlook: Far from inexperienced, Vecchione was a four-year standout at Union College, signed with the Flyers at the end of March and made his NHL debut in April. An intelligent and dedicated player, the 24-year-old will be fighting for a job in a forwards group brimming with competition.

Projection: First season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms or the Flyers

Mikhail Vorobyev, C, 6-2/207, No. 46
Outlook: The 20-year-old Russian played in the KHL last season and opened eyes at the world juniors with a tournament-leading 10 assists in seven games. The 2015 fourth-round pick enjoys creating behind the net and will be a player to watch at Lehigh Valley.

Projection: First season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Defensemen (7)

James de Haas, D, 6-4/209, No. 85
Outlook: Another big blueliner, de Haas, 23, signed with the Phantoms in August after four years with Clarkson University. As a captain last season, de Haas tallied 29 points — most by a Clarkson defenseman in 14 years — on seven goals and 22 assists in 37 games.

Projection: First season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Mark Friedman, D, 5-10/191, No. 59
Outlook: A bit under the radar given the rich amount of defensive prospects in the Flyers' system, Friedman goes all out and has two years of USHL experience along with three years of college (Bowling Green State). Don't forget about the 2014 third-round pick at Lehigh Valley.

Projection: First season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Frank Hora, D, 6-1/203, No. 77
Outlook: The 21-year-old signed with the Phantoms in July after playing four years with the OHL's Kitchener Rangers. More of a stay-at-home defenseman, Hora registered a career-high 33 points in his second junior campaign.

Projection: First season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Sam Morin, D, 6-6/227, No. 50
Outlook: This should be the season the 2013 first-round pick makes the jump to join the Flyers' youthful blue line. Morin, 22, has had plenty of seasoning. Strong along the boards and in his own end, he looked the part in his NHL debut last April.

Projection: Third season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms or first season with Flyers

Phil Myers, D, 6-5/209, No. 61
Outlook: With a full summer of good health and training, the 20-year-old is stronger and could be a dark horse to make the Flyers out of camp. Myers looks like an absolute steal as an undrafted free agent the Flyers snagged in 2015. A true two-way defenseman, Myers is getting much closer to making an impact in orange and black. 

Projection: First season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Travis Sanheim, D, 6-4/199, No. 57
Outlook: If not out of camp, Sanheim very well could be with the Flyers at some point in 2017-18. The 2014 first-round pick is the Flyers' most talented defensive prospect. Only 21 years old, Sanheim has come a long way physically and in his own end, while his offense is already there. Despite facing a bit of a numbers crunch this season, he's "coming to make the Flyers," he said.

Projection: Second season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Reece Willcox, D, 6-3/183, No. 60
Outlook: The 2012 fifth-round pick played 48 games last season with the Phantoms, his first at the AHL level. The Cornell product is a complementary defenseman and the 23-year-old will want to see more action in 2017-18.

Projection: Second season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Goalies (2)

Carter Hart, G, 6-1/177, No. 79
Outlook: Mature beyond his years, Hart is a mentally sound goalie with a precocious game. The 19-year-old has been superb at the junior level and it'll be intriguing to see how much he dominates that competition in 2017-18. Many view the 2016 second-round pick as the Flyers' goalie of the future.

Projection: Fourth season with WHL's Everett Silvertips

Alex Lyon, G, 6-1/201, No. 49
Outlook: Lyon will be the guy at Lehigh Valley this season after the injury to Anthony Stolarz. Following a stellar career at Yale, Lyon was solid in Year 1 with the Phantoms, posting a 2.74 goals-against average and .912 save percentage. He turns 25 years old in December and may see the Flyers if an injury hits the big club's goalie tandem of Michal Neuvirth and Brian Elliott.

Projection: Second season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms