The Philadelphia Flyers are opening their annual Development Camp this weekend, and there are plenty of prospects to keep an eye on.
Earlier today we looked at the forwards that would be partaking in camp, and how we turn our attention to the blue line and crease. 24 of the 40 prospects in camp are those forwards, but there are 12 defensemen and four goalies in camp as well.
The majority of the Flyers’ “big five” defensemen have graduated from Development Camp, but two remain.
#57 Travis Sanheim
This will likely be Travis Sanheim’s last Development Camp as he has a chance to crack the Flyers’ roster this season. Sanheim went through some growing pains early in his first professional season but transitioned well as a top defenseman for the Phantoms.
Sanheim finished with 37 points (10 goals, 27 assists) and a +7 rating in 76 games. He also added three assists in five playoff games. He had a strong finish to the season with 11 points in his final 18 regular season games, and looked like a much more confident and better defenseman as the year moved along.
Development Camp and Training Camp will go a long way in determining where Sanheim plays this season. There are two defenseman spots up for grabs, but the more experienced Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin could be the frontrunners for those if Sanheim falters.
#61 Philippe Myers
Another defenseman looking to make his NHL debut this season, but appears to be on the outside looking in, is Philippe Myers. Myers was signed in September 2015 after being invited to training camp on a tryout and has become one of the Flyers’ best defensive prospects.
The big defenseman battled some injuries last season but still managed 35 points (10 goals, 25 assists) in 34 games. He had three assists in his first three games of the World Junior Championships as Canada’s top defenseman before being concussed in his fourth game.
Myers has a great skillset, especially for someone his size at 6’5″. He has tremendous vision, patience, and skating ability along with everything else that comes with your prototypical defenseman. While from a raw “skill” standpoint he might be good enough to make the Flyers, he will likely need some professional experience with the Phantoms before making the jump. But luckily that raw size and skill will be on full display during Development Camp.
The rest of the defensemen are either too early to judge, with this and last year’s draftees waiting to make an impact, or in camp on a tryout basis. Mark Friedman is a name to keep just under Sanheim and Myers on your radar, as well as Swedish defensemen Linus Hogberg and David Bernhardt
There are only four goalies in camp, but two of them are very top of mind.
#79 Carter Hart
Carter Hart seems to be the guy when discussing the Flyers’ goalie prospects. Hart was drafted in the second round last year and since then has won back-to-back WHL Goalie of the Year awards. In the past two seasons he is 67-34-7-5 with a .922 save percentage. He was even more impressive this past year with a 1.99 goals against average and .927 save percentage.
Hart has the size (6’2″) and skillset needed to succeed as a goalie in today’s game, and he is still just 18 years old (turns 19 in August). He will continue to develop his game with the Everett Silvertips in the WHL this season, and look for him to shine in Development Camp against his peers.
#83 Felix Sandstrom
Felix Sandstrom has been progressing well in each of the last three seasons. He has gone from a teenage goalie playing with the J18 and J20 squads to a split-starter at the SHL level.
This past season Sandstrom finished with a .908 save percentage for Brynas, but he really came to play on the international stage. He had a 1.98 goals against average and a .928 save percenatge in 11 games for Sweden and the World Junior Championships.
Hart seems to get most of the attention from Flyers fans, but keep an eye on Sandstrom as well both this weekend and beyond.
Development Camp will be action packed on the ice and talent packed as well with a bevy of forwards, defensemen and goalies showing off their stuff in front of coaches, scouts and fans.
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