Flyers' prospects eager to soak in the lessons at developmental camp

Posted: July 11, 2014

FOR SOME, it's a start. For others, a restart. Yet they all have the same target, even if the odds are likely working against most of them.

The Flyers opened their developmental camp yesterday at the Virtua Center Skate Zone in Voorhees. Twenty-nine prospects will go through the 6-day experience, which includes drills and instruction and the annual Trial on the Isle in Stone Harbor on Monday.

How many will ever make a dent at the NHL level - prominent or otherwise - at some stage in their careers remains to play itself out. But at this point, none of them thinks they can't.

"[Getting there is] everything," said center Scott Laughton, the organization's first-round pick in 2012, who spent last season on loan to the Oshawa Generals, of the OHL (where he was an All-Star), after getting called up for five games with the parent club in 2012-13. "It's my third year now. I'm still pretty young. I'm still 20. I want to play in this league 15 years from now. Not play when I'm 20 and be out [quickly]. Hopefully, I can make a roster spot. I'm definitely a little closer.

"I still think about [making it]. It would be a dream come true. That's where I want to be next year. That's the ultimate goal. There's no really lying about it. I just loved it up there. I learned a lot. That's where I want to be."

And in his spare time, he's willing to be there for the guys who are new to all of this.

"It can be pretty nerve-wracking," he acknowledged. "You really don't know what to expect. Any questions they have, I'll try to help. You want to keep it simple early on, get some ice under you and get ready. I'm kind of new here, too. They've got new-player development, things like that. Everyone's got a fresh start. I'm looking foward to it. That's what I'm training toward.

"I mean, anytime you get a week in July where you have this high intensity, kind of get out of your comfort zone a little bit instead of being at home, I think that's really good for a lot of guys, to see what it takes to get to the next level."

Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere spent some quality time in South Philly in April, winning an NCAA title with underdog Union College over the University of Minnesota. He was the Frozen Four's Most Outstanding Player. Down the road, maybe he can even have some bigger moments in the Wells Fargo Center in a different uniform.

"This is definitely giving us time to develop," said Gostisbehere, who was taken in the third round in 2012 and got to play two games with the AHL's Adirondack Phantoms 3 months ago after finally signing an entry-level contract. "We're just here to have fun and learn. There's a little pressure. [The college season] was definitely hectic, but definitely good times."

He plans on going back to school to get his degree, which he figures will take him two summers' worth of classwork. He says his brief stint in the minors at least helped him prepare for whatever lies ahead.

"There were no weak links out there," he said. "The [other] players were just as smart as me. Everybody's faster and stronger. You've just got to keep learning, every shift. Mistakes are going to happen, of course, but you take in every little thing."

Travis Sanheim just turned 18. He played with the Calgary Hitmen, of the Western Hockey League. The Flyers surprised some folks by selecting him with the 17th choice in last month's draft. A 6-3 defenseman, he probably is still a couple of years away from playing for Flyers coach Craig Berube. But the process has to begin somewhere.

"It's not really an evaluation week," Sanheim said. "It's more of getting to know the organization and the guys. This summer's a big one for me. I want to take what I learn here and build on it.

"It's been a busy last few months for me. It's hard to believe I'm here today. So I'm kind of soaking it in. At the same time, it still doesn't feel like it's real.

"I feel like I'm just scratching the surface, just developing as a player. I think I've got a lot of things to work on but there's a lot of, you know, ups to my game to build on."

It's about steps. That next camp is 2 months away.

Stolarz update

General manager Ron Hextall revealed that goaltender prospect Anthony Stolarz had hip surgery 5 weeks ago and will be out for another month. Stolarz, 20, was a second-round pick in 2012 who played in the OHL last season. He suffered a severe leg cut in January caused by an opponent's skate. He then incurred an eight-game suspension for whacking an opponent in the head during a playoff game.

The next step in his development, if he can stay on the ice, would be with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the AHL.

On Twitter: @mikekerndn

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