With the rookie games in the books, the final couple of days of rookie camp are taking place before main camp begins. On Monday, Flyers assistant GM Brent Flahr met with the media and discussed several prospects, both in camp and the obvious exception from this year’s draft.
Over the weekend, Tyson Foerster and Elliot Desnoyers were held at bay and didn’t create as many opportunities as the coaching staff would like to have seen. With main camp on the horizon, there is still plenty of confidence that both prospects can turn it around and turns heads.
“I think there’s another level,” Flahr said. “I was talking to Patrick Sharp about those games. He said the first one he played in, he was excited. The second and third ones are really hard to play in because your focus is on the main camp. I think there’s a little bit of that in it.
“I thought Tyson was frustrated. He worked, he competed. Desi looked off a little bit to me. I know he’s come in great shape. He’s been here a lot of the summer and worked hard. I’m sure he’ll figure it out. I’m not too worried about any of them.”
Emil Andrae is another prospect expected to be heavily on the radar in main camp. He only played in one of the two rookie games due to some travel issues ahead of rookie camp, but was among the most notable.
“Andrae, especially in the third period, I thought he elevated his game,” Flahr said. “He’ll be exciting and I know [John Tortorella] is excited to see him in NHL camp.”
The first goal of the rookie game on Friday went to Matt Brown, a camp invite who had signed on with an AHL contract in the offseason. While the focus at the moment is for him to earn an AHL roster spot, his performance in the two games this weekend certainly caught the attention of coaches.
“He’s as advertised. He’s a shorter kid, but to see him off the ice, he’s a tank. Obviously his speed is notable, energy, he’s goes to the hard areas,” Flahr said. “He got a couple looks and finished one off on Friday. I think he opened some of the coaches’ eyes. I think it was good for him and hopefully he’ll get a better look at camp.”
Simply put, Zayde Wisdom was all over the place in the rookie games this weekend. From dropping the gloves in the first game to scoring the lone goal in the second game, it was hard not to notice the impact Wisdom was able to provide.
While he was able to showcase the scoring ability in Saturday’s game, it’s Wisdom’s physical play that will help him remain on the radar.
“He’s a great kid, he works so hard off the ice, especially this summer. You guys saw when him when we first drafted him, he had a long way to go physically as far as conditioning. He’s worked extremely hard on that side of it,” Flahr said.
“Last year, he was just spinning his tires there. He lost his confidence and got away from the type of game he needed to play. We want him to score, but the biggest part of his game to be effective and earn a spot is physical play and being involved. You saw that this weekend.”
The biggest name not in rookie camp is the one drafted at the top of the 2023 draft class. Matvei Michkov is now on loan with HK Sochi in the KHL after sitting out three of the first four games for SKA St. Petersburg.
Now able to focus on playing again, the frustration can be behind the Flyers top prospect.
“Matvei was extremely frustrated not playing. He had the goal of being the top scorer in the league and you’re sitting there,” Flahr said. “Obviously, he was frustrated and as a young guy in Russia, you kind of have to bite your tongue and put in the work and hopefully get to play.
“I think for him to move back to Sochi, he just wants to play and personally that’s all I care about. He’s a young kid, he needs to play games. He’s very driven, he’s very focused, but at least he’s going to play lots of minutes.”
Two more prospects that have been able to show off their speed and skill are Denver Barkey and Alexis Gendron. These prospects are in different places in their development – Barkey fresh from the 2023 NHL Draft and Gendron about to begin his professional career after an excellent junior season in 2022-23.
A focus on speed and skill has been a discussion point for Flahr and the scouting department, as they look to bring more of those qualities to the Flyers roster.
“We talk about it. We also talk about size. It’s a fine line,” Flahr said. “Barley’s smaller, he’s got a long ways to go as far as where he needs to get to physically, but he’s a really good skater, extremely smart. There’s zero fear to his game. He’s got a lot of swagger. He’s a really good junior already, but it’s exciting to see where his game’s going to get to when he’s able to put on 15, 20 pounds.
“Alexis’ obviously worked hard off the ice. He’s put on weight, he’s stronger. He can fly, he can really shoot it. The rest of his game, he’s going to have to figure out. In junior, goals came easy to him. Now, it’s going to be a lot harder to produce. And when you’re not producing, it’s play away from the puck. I think team speed is something that our scouts have been told to watch for.”