Top Prospects Arrive to PPL Center to Take on NY Rangers This Weekend
September 13, 2022
The Rookie Series this weekend at PPL Center will feature several top prospects and NHL rookies vying for spots on the Philadelphia Flyers. Getting off to a strong start and making a good impression in the back-to-back games against the New York Rangers will be key for these players’ chances. The Flyers and Rangers tangle at PPL Center on Friday at 7:05 and Saturday at 5:05.
Tickets for both games are available HERE
Bill Meltzer has an in-depth look at the Flyers Rookie Camp roster:
Not every prospect in the Philadelphia Flyers’ farm system will be participating in the Rookie Camp portion of training camp. Some have NCAA commitments, while others are playing in Europe. In the case of Bobby Brink, offseason hip surgery will keep the young Flyers/Phantoms player out until late December or early January.
There can be a number of other reasons why a young player does not appear on the Rookie Camp roster. For example, Cam York has already surpassed the 25-games played threshold to qualify as an NHL rookie. He took part in Development Camp this summer and will be NHL camp with the veterans come Sept. 21. Likewise, players in their mid-20s who’ve played some NHL games but still technically qualify as NHL rookies — such as Wade Allison, Tanner Laczynski and goaltender Felix Sandström — are not on the Rookie Camp roster.
Following is a directory of where Flyers prospects are slated to play during the 2021-22 season. It excludes more experienced players in the aforementioned pro group who are only in the NHL Camp. It includes first-year and second-pros who are vying for opening night NHL or AHL roster spots. It also includes NCAA and European league players who are not in Rookie Camp. Players at Rookie Camp who are only AHL-only contracts or tryout arrangements are not included below.
PHANTOMS/FLYERS ROOKIES AND 2ND YEAR PLAYERS
Ronnie Attard (D): Attard turned pro last season after completing his junior season at the University of Michigan. He dressed in 15 NHL games for the Flyers. The 23-year-old is still considered a rookie under the CBA but the first year of his entry-level contract was used last season. Battling a numbers game for an opening-night NHL spot on the Flyers’ roster, Attard could open the 2022-23 season in the AHL with Lehigh Valley.
Jackson Cates (C): The elder Cates brother, who will turn 25 on Sept. 26, is now healthy after being limited to 37 AHL games last season due to injury. He has 15 NHL games to his credit over the past two seasons.
Noah Cates (LW): The versatile 23-year-old forward turned pro and joined the Flyers last spring after completing his senior collegiate season at Minnesota Duluth. He put in an impressive two-way showing in 16 NHL games for the Flyers (including five goals and nine points).The younger Cates brother has a fighting chance at earning an NHL opening night roster spot in new head coach John Tortorella’s lineup. First comes Rookie Camp and then the main camp.
Elliot Desnoyers (C/W): A member of Team Canada’s 2022 WJC gold medalist squad, the 20-year-old Desnoyers will be a rookie pro this upcoming season. Most likely, he will be with the Phantoms. However, Desnoyers made an impressive showing in NHL camp last year and went on to enjoy a very strong draft-plus-two campaign in the QMJHL. The player’s two-way acumen and speed are his calling cards. At the World Junior Championships, Desnoyers mostly played on the fourth line for Team Canada.
Samuel Ersson (G): A promising young goaltender who assembled an impressive early resume in Sweden’s domestic leagues and with the junior national team, there were high hopes for Ersson entering last season. Unfortunately, a series of groin injuries limited him to just five games last season. Due to reinjuries, he was unable to finish either of two return games to the Lehigh Valley lineup. He’s now healthy after surgery. The 22-year-old (he’ll turn 23 on Oct. 20) will vie for AHL playing time with one of Felix Sandström or veteran Troy Grosenick (depending on which goalie makes the NHL roster as Carter Hart’s backup and which one goes to the AHL once clearing waivers).
Tyson Foerster (RW): The Flyers 2020 first-round pick spent the entire 2020-21 AHL season with the Phantoms due to the CHL/AHL age rule being relaxed during the pandemic. The entire Ontario Hockey League season was canceled. Foerster also spent nine early-season games with the Phantoms last season before suffering a shoulder injury and undergoing surgery. He returned late in the season to play for the OHL’s Barrie Colts. A member of Team Canada’s gold-medal winning WJC team, the 20-year-old Foerster will (re)join the Phantoms in 2021-22 and try to fast-track himself to the NHL. That timetable will, of course, depend on his rate of progress.
Adam Ginning (D): Selected by the Flyers in the second round of the 2018 Entry Draft, the 22-year-old Ginning will play his first North American pro season in 2022-23. Last season, he dressed in 51 of 52 regular season games and all 19 playoff matches for SHL champion Färjestad. Ginning is primarily a defensive defenseman who plays with some physicality to his game. Working on his play with the puck on his stick has been his No. 1 area of developmental focus. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound defenseman has decent mobility.
Olle Lycksell (LW): Drafted by Philadelphia in the sixth round of the 2017 Entry Draft, the 23-year-old Swede will play his first North American pro season in 2022-23. Small but crafty, the 5-foot-11, 176-pound forward, quietly assembled a strong SHL season for Växjö. In the regular season, he posted 34 points (14g, 20a) in 47 games. Lycksell then followed it up with an outstanding playoffs despite his club going out in four games. The player racked up eight points (3g, 5a) in a four-game sweep at the hands of Frölunda.
Mason Millman (D): An offensive-minded defenseman with very good wheels, the 21-year-old Millman will aim to establish himself as a regular with the Phantoms in 2022-23 and work his way up from there. Last season, he dressed in 36 regular season games and 13 playoff games for the ECHL’s Reading Royals in addition to 12 games for the Phantoms. During the pandemic shortened 2020-21 season, he played in 13 AHL games for Lehigh Valley.
Zayde Wisdom (RW): A hard-working power forward who has shown at lower levels that he can chip in offense as a complementary player to a skilled linemate, Wisdom impressed in the AHL during the early portion of the shortened 2020-21 season. He was later slowed by a bout with COVID and an injury. Last summer, Wisdom underwent shoulder surgery and missed several months of the season. Upon his return, he was assigned back to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. It took Wisdom some time to regain his pre-injury form but he was a force in the OHL playoffs (11 games, 4g, 11a). Wisdom will (re)join the Phantoms this season. Drafted by the Flyers in the fourth round of the 2020 Entry Draft, Wisdom celebrated his 20th birthday on July 7.
Wyatte Wylie (D): Wylie will be a third-year pro in 2022-23. The Everett Silvertips alum dressed in 21 games for the Phantoms in 2020-21 and saw his role expand somewhat last season under first-year head coach Ian Laperriere. Wylie dressed in 65 of the team’s 75 games. Originally chosen by the Flyers in the fifth round of the 2018 Entry Draft, Wylie will turn 23 on Nov. 2.
Egor Zamula (D): The 22-year-old Russian defenseman has dressed in 12 NHL games over the past two years (10 in 2021-22, two the previous year). One of Zamula’s NHL starts last season came on the right side of countryman Ivan Provorov’s defense pairing. With the Phantoms, Zamula played in 58 games (29 points) last season after dressing in 25 during the 2020-21 season. Zamula has above-average wheels, good poise for a young blueliner and some offensive upside. The biggest ongoing challenge for the tall and lanky defenseman has been a struggle to add muscular weight to his frame. He has had bouts of inconsistency during his two pro campaigns to date but has also shown some NHL-caliber upside. Zamula can comfortably play on either side of a defense pairing.
CHL (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) DRAFTEES IN ROOKIE CAMP
J.R. Avon (C): The pandemic was almost a blessing in disguise for Avon. He’d been a projected middle-round candidate for the 2021 NHL Draft but the cancellation of the entire 2020-21 Ontario Hockey League season resulted in the player not being selected in the ’21 Draft. However, as an invitee to the Flyers’ 2021 Rookie Camp, the player earned an entry-level NHL contract. The contract slid to the OHL for the 2021-22 season and can slide again in 2022-23. Avon showed solid progress with the Peterborough Petes this past season as he saw his role increase and posted 29 goals and 68 points in 64 games. The 19-year-old would benefit from additional major junior seasoning but he has eventual pro upside as a smooth skater with some skill.
Alexis Gendron (RW): Selected by the Flyers in the seventh round of the 2022 Draft, the small (5-foot-9, 175 pound) but skilled and late-blooming QMJHL forward is coming off a 30-goal season for the Blaineville-Boisbriand Armada. He’ll return to Q for the 2022-23 season. Gendron is the son of Flyers’ scout and former NHL player Martin Gendron.
Ethan Samson (D): Chosen by the Flyers in the sixth round of the 2021 Entry Draft, Samson is coming off a breakout offensive season in the Western Hockey League this past season with the Prince George Cougars (15 goals, 43 points in 68 games). Other aspects of the 19-year-old blueliner’s game need further major junior level development but the 6-foot-3, 183 pound blueliner has shown promise in the year since his Draft selection.
Brian Zanetti (D): A member of Team Switzerland at the 2022 World Junior Championships, Zanetti is a mobile defenseman with puck-moving upside and a 6-foot-2 frame. Still raw in certain areas of his development, the 19-year-old was drafted by the Flyers in the fourth round of the 2021 Entry Draft. After roster cuts are made in the Flyers camp, he’ll rejoin the Ontario Hockey League’s Peterborough Petes along with teammate Avon. Zanetti has another year of World Junior Championship eligibility remaining and is expected to play a larger role for the Swiss next time around. In the meantime, the Flyers will look for him to continue to advance in the OHL before a decision has to be made about whether to sign him to an entry-level NHL contract.
The reason why Flyers’ 2022 first-round pick Cutter Gauthier will not be at Rookie or NHL Camp is that it is forbidden under NCAA rules for any player to attend a training camp (even if he pays his own way) that overlaps with the scholastic calendar. With the fall semester underway, no NHL players with active NCAA program affiliations will be at the September camps run by the NHL organizations that hold their signing rights. The Flyers’ list of NCAA-affiliated players includes all of the following prospects: Bryce Brodzinski (senior, RW, University of Minnesota), Alex Bump (LW, committed to University of Vermont in 2023-24, will play in the USHL for the Omaha Lancers in 2022-23), Cutter Gauthier (freshman, C/LW, Boston College), Gavin Hain (Sr. opt-in for 5th season, W/C, University of North Dakota), Devin Kaplan (freshman, RW, Boston University), Ty Murchison (freshman, D, Arizona State University), Jay O’Brien (senior. C, Boston University), Hunter McDonald (freshman, D, Northeastern University), Owen McLaughlin (freshman, C, University of North Dakota).
EUROPEAN LEAGUE PLAYERS
The regular season gets underway in Europe a month (or more, depending on the league) ahead of the NHL’s regular season but also ends earlier. There are four Flyers draftees who will play in Europe in 2022-23.
Alexei Kolosov (G, Dinamo Minsk, KHL): Still just 20 years old, Kolosov is entering his third season in the KHL and second as a No. 1 starter. He’s appeared in three games to date this season, posting a 1-1-1 record and allowing a combined nine goals. As with other young Belarusian and Russian players, there is a nebulous timetable as to when Kolosov may eventually become available to be signed and brought to North America. His countryman, 25-year-old Ivan Fedotov, was originally slated to join the Flyers in 2022-23 after signing an NHL contract in the offseason before he was subsequently detained by Russian authorities for allegedly failing to register for military service. Fedotov subsequently was conscripted. He is currently stationed at a military base in northern Russia, Up to this point of the 2022-23 season, the former CSKA Moscow standout and Russian national team starting goalie is not playing organized hockey.
Emil Andrae (D, HV71, SHL): The 20-year-old Andrae is coming off a stellar World Junior Championship for bronze-medalist Sweden. He served as team captain, logged heavy minutes in all game situations and contributed eight points (4g, 4a) in seven games.Small (5-foot-8) but deceptively strong with his low center of gravity, Andrae had a dominant 2021-22 season at the Allsvenskan level, where he helped HV71 Jönköping earn a promotion back to the Swedish Hockey League. He’s had a strong preseason for HV71 and seems primed for a solid season at Sweden’s top pro level. His ETA for being signed to an entry-level NHL contract and coming over to the NHL could be as soon as a year from now if all goes well. The Flyers originally drafted Andrae in the second round of the 2020 Entry Draft.
Santeri Sulkku (LW/C, Modo Jrs, Swedish J20 national league): Drafted by the Flyers in the 7th round of the 2022 Entry Draft, Sulkku played junior hockey in Finland last year for the Jokerit J18 and J20 teams as well as four international games for the national U-18 team. This season, he’ll return to Sweden (he previously played in the Brynäs junior system) and play for Modo Hockey Örnsköldsvik’s J20 team. Sulkku turned 18 on June 14.
Samu Tuomaala (RW, Jukerit, Liiga): The Flyers’ 2021 second-round selection has put a disappointing 2021-22 campaign — split between the Phantoms early in the season and two teams in Finland later –in the rearview mirror. The 19-year-old will aim for an expanded role under Jukerit Mikkeli head coach Olli Jokinen and a roster spot on Team Finland’s 2022-23 entry at the World Junior Championship. Playing time was hard to come by for Tuomaala last season.
Tickets for the Flyers vs. Rangers Rookie Series are on sale now by clicking HERE
Opening Weekend for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at PPL Center is Saturday, October 22, and Sunday, October 23 against the Cleveland Monsters including T-Shirt Throwing Sensation Cameron Hughes, Rally Towels, and Postgame Photos on the Ice with the players after the Sunday game.
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