The Flyers made their first-round pick a little later than expected, trading out of the 11th overall slot to the 14th spot and acquiring a second-round pick back.
The pick was a bit of a surprise, given the mass of forwards that was available at 11th overall and some still there three picks later, but the Flyers opted to give their defensive prospect group a new headliner. The team selected defenseman Cam York with the 14th overall pick.
Here is a scouting report on York.
Weight: 172 pounds
Earlier this week, we wrote about how York was the standout defenseman on a US Development Team loaded with forwards. He had 65 points in 63 games last season, and proved to be a very efficient player.
York has a good combination of hockey sense and skating that sets him up to be a skill prospect. He's got great mobility, which makes him dangerous offensively, but balances it with a solid defensive ability, an active stick and good positioning to be reliable as a two-way player.
From an offensive standpoint, he was arguably the best defenseman in the draft. Again, it's his skating ability that does that most for him, but it helps to play on a team that was loaded with offensive talent from the forwards and a top power-play unit that resembles an All-Star team. At the same time, he was very much a quarterback at the blue line, having to distribute the puck and do so in quick motions playing among quick-thinking forwards. His vision is very good and he's solid with the puck, so he can make that great pass or jump into the play and be a finisher.
His shot is fairly solid and he mixes it up between long-range wrist shots and heavy slap shots. The noticeable thing about his shot is that it is accurate and he is able to release quickly. He's also not afraid to get up in the attacking zone and crash the net for a rebound opportunity.
Defensively, the foundation of his game is in his footwork. It is well established and it helps him get good reads on the play and be in the right position most of the time. While he's not the most physical player on the back end, he will welcome contact and can be a good player in battles at the front of the net.
York plays a game that resembles Hall-of-Famer Brian Leetch, but also has qualities of defensemen like Cam Fowler -- an ironic comparison since York is from Anaheim Hills, CA and played for the junior Ducks. But when you look at the description of the player, he sounds an awful lot like a more defensively sound Shayne Gostisbehere.
York isn't going to play with the Flyers any time soon. Much like what was thought about the Joel Farabee pick a year ago, this is a college-bound player and he will go for some extra development and to likely add to his size as well. Of course, Farabee decided to turn pro after his freshman season, so you never know.
The Flyers opted to choose York over high-scoring forward Cole Caufield, competitive forward Peyton Krebs and had another defenseman on the board at 11th overall in Victor Soderstrom and another forward and teammate of York's in Matthew Boldy.
So why York? It seems like it is a priority for the Flyers to get a defensive prospect back into the system that can be viewed as the headliner of the group. Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers have not only graduated to the pros, but to the NHL. With all three now up in at hockey's highest level, the prospect pool needs a torch-bearer who will potentially be the next exciting blue liner to join the group. That is what York will be, and his already smart and polished game with offensive prowess and defensive balance make him a solid pick out of the group, even if it may not have been the popular choice.
What Scouts Say
“He could become one of the best defenseman in this class if he learns how to develop that elusive ‘it’ factor to his game.” - Hockey Prospect scout Brad Allen
“After Byram, he’s the best defenseman I’ve seen in this draft.” - Hockey Prospect scout Dusten Braaksma
“Based on what I’m seeing out there I think he’s one of the most underrated players in the draft. I love his game and have him ranked top 10. He’s ahead of Dach and Cozens.” - NHL scout in Hockey Prospect Black Book
"It's hard to gauge if he has a high-end game offensively, but he can certainly deal the puck great on the power play. Most of the time, he just lets the puck do the work, lets the team do the work and if he needs to step up, he will. He just takes the temperature of the game and plays accordingly. He gets involved physically but he's mostly just smart positionally. I think he defends fine." - Scout in Recrutes Draft Guide