Cam York could still be better than Cole Caufield

EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 05: Cam York #4 of the United States hoists the World Juniors trophy after defeating Canada during the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship gold medal game at Rogers Place on January 5, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 05: Cam York #4 of the United States hoists the World Juniors trophy after defeating Canada during the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship gold medal game at Rogers Place on January 5, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /
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The Philadelphia Flyers selected defenseman Cam York 14th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft after trading back from the 11th spot to acquire an additional pick. The Montreal Canadiens selected York’s teammate from the US National U18 Team, winger Cole Caufield, with the 15th pick.

The decision to select York was based on the need to continue the line of defensive prospects within the organization. Defenseman Philippe Myers had recently reached the NHL in 2018-19, concluding the organization’s line of development for prospect defensemen Ivan Provorov, Robert Hagg, Shayne Gostisbehere, Sam Morin, and Travis Sanheim.

Cam York, Cole Caufield- Top Prospects

York played the following two seasons at the University of Michigan, while Caufield suited up for the Big 10 rival Wisconsin Badgers. While both players have continued their development as top prospects, only Caufield is now making major contributions to a contender in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Caufield, who was taken later than anticipated in the draft largely because of questions about his size at 5’7, was projected as a top-six point producer. He has already shown flashes of excellence for the Canadiens, who are one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1993.

York is hardly devoid of his own personal, big stage accomplishments. He captained Team USA to a Gold Medal victory over tournament favorite Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship Gold Medal in January with Caufield on the roster. He followed it up with a strong season in the NCAA, recording 20 points in 24 games at a +13 for a Michigan team that was unfortunately disqualified from the NCAA Tournament because of positive COVID tests.

He played 11 games professionally in 2020-21, eight for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and three for the Flyers. The impressions he made were predominantly positive, and he will likely compete for a roster spot on the big club entering next season. His status will be determined largely by factors unrelated to his development, such as the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.

Did the Flyers make the right choice?

There’s no conclusion to be made on this draft choice. Flyers fans will naturally feel ripped off watching Caufield make highlight-reel plays for a red-hot playoff team like Montreal, but his immediate success at the NHL level has no true relevance to the development of York.

This is an organization that has been marred by painstaking irony in recent seasons. They seem to watch a player they previously let go win a Stanley Cup every season.

Even their fortunate luck in the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery, the moment that seemed like their big break, became another instance of bad luck. The selection of center Nolan Patrick second overall somehow just turned into a missed opportunity to select NHL stars Miro Heiskanen, Cale Makar,  and Elias Petterson taken with the ensuing three picks.

While Flyers fans have every right to be frustrated with the misfortunes of their team, they should have confidence in Cam York as a poised prospect with an extremely bright future in orange and black.