Cam York

Shayne Gostisbehere, trade candidate again? 3 questions that could incentivize Flyers

Shayne Gostisbehere, trade candidate again? 3 questions that could incentivize Flyers

At this point, Shayne Gostisbehere is probably completely unfazed whenever he hears his name coincide with the word "trade."

He has seen himself pop up in rumors over the past two NHL trade deadlines and last offseason.

Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher made a crack about it after the trading period had passed in February.

"That’s been the interesting one," Fletcher said. "I’ve been here a year. I can’t say I'm always on social media but I’m amazed at how often I’m trading him."

By now, everyone knows why Gostisbehere has been such a popularly debated trade chip. He has sought-after qualities with an offensive-minded skill set, a prime age of 27 years old and an attractive contract (under team control for the next three seasons at a $4.5 million cap hit). So it is not surprising why Sportsnet's Rory Boylen highlighted Gostisbehere in an article identifying one offseason trade candidate for each NHL club.

Following the deadline, Fletcher said the Flyers were not looking to move Gostisbehere but teams did inquire about the blueliner.

"Nothing really makes sense right now to me to move one of our seven D unless we’re getting a really great impact player back in some area," Fletcher said. "Those types of trades usually don’t happen right now."

Could it happen during the offseason or next season? Possibly. The Flyers, of course, still like Gostisbehere despite his difficult season as he's not far removed from a career 65-point campaign in 2017-18. But they're relatively deep on defense — and appear to be getting deeper — so they won't close the door on anything.

The outlook for 2020-21 could give the Flyers more incentive to listen on offers. Let's break down three questions that should factor into Gostisbehere's status with the club.

1. How fast can Zamula advance?

Egor Zamula, who has become one of the Flyers' top defensive prospects, is turning pro in 2020-21 and will garner many eyes.

The 20-year-old is smooth and skilled at 6-foot-4 with offensive upside. He'll have to get stronger (170 pounds) and he's coming off back surgery in late January, but Zamula looked impressively comfortable alongside Philippe Myers during an NHL preseason game last September. He then backed himself up with a strong 2019-20 WHL season and 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship performance.

Zamula drew praise from Fletcher during rookie camp and head coach Alain Vigneault liked what he saw after the one exhibition contest.

If he shows a quick transition at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, he'll put pressure on the Flyers' decision-makers. Suddenly, the Flyers would have another defenseman knocking on the door, which would make the trade deadline next season much more interesting, depending on the club's needs in other areas.

2. Will Braun be re-signed?

When the Flyers traded for Justin Braun last June, they acquired a veteran stay-at-home blueliner with a $3.8 million cap hit on the final year of a five-year, $19 million contract. The hope was Braun's experience and goal-prevention track record would help stabilize the Flyers on the back end. If the move didn't pan out, they could let Braun walk in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent.

The acquisition has worked out pretty nicely. Braun had a rough start and missed time in January because of a groin injury, but from just before Christmas up until the stoppage, he was one of the Flyers' best defensemen (14 points and plus-11 rating in 26 games). His active stick and ability to quickly kill plays in the defensive zone have helped improve the Flyers' goal differential.

The chances of the Flyers re-signing Braun feel like 50-50. He's 33 years old and the Flyers will be cognizant of how many years they commit to a defenseman climbing in age when they have kids on the blue line climbing in the system. Braun has been a positive, though, and if the Flyers bring him back for one year (maybe two) on a cost-effective deal, playing opportunity will tighten at the position.

As a result, the Flyers would have more flexibility to dangle a chip out there on the trade market, especially if their prospects prove ready to offer more depth.

3. When will York turn pro?

Keep an eye on Cam York and his sophomore year for the Wolverines. The Flyers' 2019 first-round pick is a mobile and modern defenseman with offensive strengths.

York is not expected to be a four-year guy in college. With better health and an even larger role, the 19-year-old is poised for a path-altering second season in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The 2020-21 campaign has the potential to be his last with the Wolverines.

"He looks at home in the college game and displays the same offensive characteristics," John Wroblewski, York's USNTDP under-18 head coach, said in March. "A kid that truly appreciates keeping the puck out of his net first and then letting the offense come to him — those are characteristics that should prove worthy of him making a quick climb to the NHL.”

York's timeline for when he signs his entry-level contract to join the pro ranks will have a big say in the Flyers' plans. The quicker he rises, the more reason the Flyers have to listen on Gostisbehere and others. The situation is similar with prospect Wyatt Kalynuk, who is creeping into the Flyers' pro picture.

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How Flyers prospect Cam York can help and torture goalies

How Flyers prospect Cam York can help and torture goalies

NHL talent evaluators couldn't miss Cam York's offensive exploits.

The catch-me-if-you-can defenseman lit up score sheets and caught all eyes during his draft year. When a teenage blueliner skates as smoothly and handles the puck as dynamically as York does, pro clubs watch in bunches and envision big things for the future.

Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said the team's entire scouting staff had seen York 10 to 15 times during the 2018-19 season. The Flyers then drafted York at No. 14 overall last summer after he set a U.S. national team development program single-season record with 65 points (14 goals, 51 assists) in 63 games.

For John Wroblewski, the head coach of the loaded USNTDP under-18 squad that year, he didn't want NHL suitors hypnotized by just the offensive gifts.

He emphasized York's defensive strengths.

"One of the things I kept telling scouts that I was so impressed with Cam was how the game was always in front of him," Wroblewski said last month in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "The puck hardly ever advanced behind him, you couldn’t beat him 1-on-1 — I could probably count on one hand how many times he got actually beat 1-on-1 over two years — and his strength around the net; he just understands.

"He has innate defensive ability, it’s natural. It seems effortless. Some guys you know they’re competing in their defensive zone and they have to, they scratch and claw — he just always has the right spots. His gap control, his stick detail, it’s all organic.

"I think he’s going to be rock-solid offensively in the NHL, but his prowess will be how reliable he is defensively. Working around him and watching his video on a daily basis, he never got beat." 

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

York is now with Michigan and his upcoming sophomore year could be his last at the collegiate level. Because of two impressive years in the USNTDP, he went to the draft and Ann Arbor with hype.

"I think if you asked him, he would want to turn pro tomorrow," Flahr said after the Flyers drafted York. "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."

In 2018-19, York was the go-to defenseman on a U.S. team that produced eight first-round draft picks last June — Jack Hughes (No. 1), Alex Turcotte (No. 5), Trevor Zegras (No. 9), Matthew Boldy (No. 12), Spencer Knight (No. 13), York (No. 14), Cole Caufield (No. 15) and John Beecher (No. 30).

York, a 5-foot-11, 174-pound lefty shot, was third on the U.S. in assists (behind only Hughes and Zegras), fifth in points and sported a team-best plus-56 rating.

"He just hit the ground running at the program, he was such a student of the game, he’s smart in practice, his instincts were outstanding," Wroblewski, who led the U-17 team this season, said. "He never really hit any type of a speed bump throughout his two years with the program. He seamlessly went from being our top defenseman to running the power play for the U-18 team in February and beyond, and then of course he set defensive scoring records at the program.

"Really kind of a seamless two years, but a kid that never really took it for granted, either. He always showed up, he had a workmanlike attitude in regard to practice. He was like a pro from a young age — he showed up, did his job, low maintenance, but a fiery competitor at the same time."

Just how skilled and electric is he with the puck on his stick?

"It’s interesting, for as much talent as we had on that team, I think Cam might have been our best shootout guy," Wroblewski said. "We didn’t utilize him because of the star power that you had with those top-five scorers — Boldy, Zegras, Cole, Jack and Alex Turcotte. We never utilized him because this just doesn’t make a lot of sense when you’ve got that firepower up front, but he was probably our best shootout guy."

As a defenseman on that team.

"The things that he would do to our goalies and Spencer Knight, he would make them look silly with the edgework," Wroblewski said. "He looked like a video game the way that he could come in, carve his edges and then just like sling it underneath the crossbar. It was really cool to watch. I’d never seen anybody be able to create on the shootout like he did."

(Rena Laverty/USA Hockey)

In his freshman season at Michigan, York dealt with a pair of injuries but still put up 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) and a plus-9 mark through 30 games. The 19-year-old led the Wolverines in secondary assists (eight) and was third in blocked shots (54).

A healthy and stronger York as a sophomore will bring him closer to the Flyers. He'll play a ton of minutes — which is what he's shooting for at the pro ranks, as well — and an even bigger role on what should be a formidable 2020-21 Michigan team.

York's strength and developmental curve at the Division I level, especially next season, will determine how quickly he signs his entry-level contract.

“Defensemen are always going to take a little bit longer," Wroblewski said. "Goalies take the longest, defensemen are the next, you look at the middle of the ice, centermen, that’s next and then wingers transition the quickest to the NHL obviously.

“I think any opportunity, as long as he’s being challenged at the college level, he should stay. But I also appreciate the challenge of the American Hockey League. I know a lot of guys don’t want to go there, ride the bus, but after having worked in that league, that buffer zone between there and the NHL is very important and can be pivotal for defensemen and young players.

"You look at [Casey] Mittelstadt in Buffalo as an example of how college wasn’t challenging enough for him, the NHL might have been too much — that American League is a really, really, really pivotal spot for a lot of young players. ... It can be a huge tool and not one that prospects should be scared of or feel slighted if they end up there.”

But Wroblewski doesn't see York far down the ladder.

"Just from his past, the way that he came into the program, U-17 and was able to fit right in, and then really thrive at the U-18 level as an underager and then set the scoring records that he did," Wroblewski said. "He looks at home in the college game and displays the same offensive characteristics. A kid that truly appreciates keeping the puck out of his net first and then letting the offense come to him — those are characteristics that should prove worthy of him making a quick climb to the NHL.”

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Future Flyers Report: Bobby on the Brink of a breakout and a check-in on the rest of the Flyers' 2019 draft class

Future Flyers Report: Bobby on the Brink of a breakout and a check-in on the rest of the Flyers' 2019 draft class

Another week of hockey has come and gone, so it must be time for another Future Flyers Report. This week, we will be taking a look at the team’s most recent draft class to see how it has been performing so far this season. 

Did Fletcher make the right decision at the draft? 

There has been a lot up for debate when it comes to evaluating how the Flyers did in the most recent NHL draft. The biggest controversy being Chuck Fletcher not drafting the highly-anticipated Cole Caufield with the 11th overall pick — but traded the pick instead. With that, the Flyers selected Cam York with the No. 14 pick and gained an extra pick in the second round.

That pick came into play quickly when the Flyers traded their 45th and 65th selections for the 34th overall pick. There, they drafted Bobby Brink.

So, while Caufield would have been a great addition to the talented prospect pool the Flyers currently have, adding both a skilled defenseman and a talented winger with a snipe-shot of his own is a prime example of a win-win scenario.

Early last week, both York and Brink were named to the U.S. national junior team preliminary roster.

Cam York 

York and Michigan were off this past week and won’t play again until Dec. 30, but through 14 games, York has tallied eight points (four goals, four assists) in his rookie year. The 18-year-old has become a huge asset for his team and is setting himself up to have a long, solid career in the pros if he keeps performing at this rate. 

Bobby Brink

Now, let’s take a look at that 34th overall pick with the great hockey name. 

While Brink went without a point last week against Arizona State, he got things rolling again when Denver swept Colorado College with a two-point (one goal, one assist) weekend. The highlight of the weekend had to go to this beauty of a backhanded shot that he had Saturday night. 

Mason Millman

Millman did not play this weekend, as he was serving the rest of his suspension from this hit on Dec. 6 when he and the Saginaw Spirit faced the Sarina Sting. He will be able to return Dec. 19.

Through the 28 games he has played so far this season, he has 15 points (six goals, nine assists), which gives him the second-most points by a defenseman on the team — trailing only Ilya Solovyov, who has 27 points (three goals, 24 assists).

Ronnie Attard

It’s an unfortunate situation for Attard, who hasn’t played with his team, the Western Michigan Broncos, in over a month because of an injury. Though he hasn't played since Nov. 9, Attard does have five points through the 10 games he was a part of. His most highlight-worthy game of the season so far came against Colorado College, when he had a three-point game (two goals, one assist). 

Egor Serdyuk

Serdyuk had a solid showing this weekend with the Victoriaville Tigres in the QMJHL, having an assist in both games. After having a fiery start to the season, registering seven points (six goals, one assist) in the first four games, things have slowed down significantly for the 18-year-old. Aside from that first stretch of games, this past weekend was only the second time he had points in consecutive games.

Roddy Ross

Ross has had an average season so far, having a 9-12-2-1 record through 24 games played. His best performance of the week came on Dec. 13, when the sixth-round pick allowed only a single goal on 22 shots and had a .955 save percentage.

Bryce Brodzinski

Making the transition from league to league is a big jump for many and most times than not it’s difficult to instantly become impactful for their new team. This seems to be the case with Minnesota’s Brodzinski. While in his senior year of high school he received numerous accolades for his work, it’s taking some time to get used to the pace of the game at a college level. Through the 18 games he has played this season, he’s managed only five points (one goal, four assists).

There’s no need to panic, though, as Brodzinski was the perfect move in the seventh round of the draft. 

Overall?

As time continues to move forward after the draft, it seems as though these picks are growing on many. While there will always be a few who question the "what if" in Caufield, it’s important to focus on knowing what the organization walked away with instead. The past cannot be changed — and looking ahead, there are too many promising names in the pipeline to be caught up in such things.

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