Cam York’s season unfortunately came to a premature end when Michigan had to pull out of the NCAA tournament. It led to a choice: Return for his junior year or sign his entry-level contract with the Flyers. The decision did not appear to take long.
Before their game against the Sabres last Thursday, the team announced signing York to his three-year, entry-level contract. There was an important detail released. The contract would begin this season. That meant York had a chance to come up to the NHL if the Flyers felt he was ready.
For now, he will begin his professional career in the AHL with the Phantoms. York has not skated since Michigan’s NCAA tournament game was cancelled. That was on March 27th. So it’s been at least a week since he’s been off the ice.
While a path has been laid out for him to have a chance to debut this season, it’s likely going to take some time before he is ready to come up. It will all depend on the next few weeks both for York and the Flyers.
But at the collegiate level, it didn’t seem like York had much more to learn. And that’s something he agreed with as well.
"“I felt like I was ready for the next challenge. College was getting to the point where games were a little bit too easy for me, I think. I really wanted to challenge myself. The AHL and the NHL are both really good leagues. They’ve got a lot of really good players in them. I’m just looking forward to that challenge.”"
Not only did York have a chance to help Michigan win an NCAA tournament, something he set out to do, he had the opportunity to lead another team. York captained Team USA to a gold medal at the World Junior Championships, shutting out Team Canada in the finals.
He had one goal and six points overall in seven games. It was a bigger opportunity for him after an injury limited his time with the national squad the previous season.
It wasn’t his first go-around with the national team. He spent a few years in the United States Development Program as well. York mentioned the time he spent there helped him become a better player. Not only was he going against some of the other top players in the country, but the resources he was given also allowed him to grow and succeed.
The Flyers plan to put him in the same position as well. While they aren’t closing the door on the NHL this season, the plan is for him to spend time with the Phantoms first, once he is medically cleared to do so. They want him to have the best chance to come into training camp next season and push for a spot on the roster.
"“At this stage we want to be fair to him and give him a chance to be successful. We’ll see how our season plays out and how he adapts down there. He certainly has the talent and the intelligence to play at the NHL level.”"
Fletcher did not rule out a scenario in which York would not come up this season. So if the Flyers are pushing for the playoffs or focus shifts to next season, York has a chance to come up either way. His play in Lehigh Valley will help dictate what the team does.
While York isn’t the biggest guy on the ice, he knows he use his speed to keep up with opponents. And he’s able to use a quick stick to get pucks to forwards in a timely manner. He also isn’t afraid to jump up into the play, if needed, as well. Those were also just a few of the things scouts said about his game coming into the 2019 NHL Draft.
York has used his time in the USNDP and the NCAA to continue to work on his game and show off that intelligence and skill that Fletcher mentioned. It’s only a matter of time now before he gets a shot to show the Flyers what he can do at the NHL level.