Cam York’s here to stay with the Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers, Cam York (Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
Philadelphia Flyers, Cam York (Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports) /

In 2019, Chuck Fletcher announced to the world that the Flyers were picking, with their 14th overall pick, a young defender named Cameron York. He wasn’t rushed to the NHL. He was allowed to take his time and develop as a hockey player. While other NHL first-rounders picked by the Flyers didn’t pan out for various reasons, such as Sam Morin and Nolan Patrick, the Flyers were patient with York.

Since last year was pretty much a mess, a bunch of young players was called up to see what they could bring to the big club. Noah Cates and Bobby Brink, for instance, showed that they might be able to contribute. York was one of those players. In 30 games, he scored three goals with seven assists on a last-place team with an interim coach and was devastated by injuries. Still, he showed enough presence to be given a real shot at starting this new year.

Then during training camp, Coach John Tortorella shocked the Flyers world. York would be sent back to Lehigh Valley for “further development“. It wasn’t that he played badly.  He just wasn’t ready to meet Coach Tortorella’s expectations. During the press conference, Tortorella said:

"“I think it’s a perfect situation for him to go down there and play. I think it’s the toughest position – goaltending’s the most important, defense is the toughest to play. To me, it’s part of the process for him with us in trying to get him the end goal to be that player that we think he can be.”"

Cam York has a bright future with the Philadelphia Flyers

See, the coach knew that sitting on the bench wouldn’t be good for his development. Getting time in at the AHL level would be better. York worked on his game and his patience paid off. In 20 games, he scored three goals and 10 assists while taking only four penalty minutes. For a player that everyone has said has a lot of “hockey intelligence” and can “see the whole ice”, this was good.

And we have seen that performance so far. In eight games since being called up, he has scored one goal and assisted on four others. And, on a seventh-place team, he is an amazing +4. He has played himself into a starting role. Which brings us to an interesting question: If Cam plays, who is sitting?

So far this year, the Flyers have played eight defenders: Justin Braun, Tony DeAngelo, Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov, Nick Seeler, Rasmus Ristolainen, Egor Zamula, and York. DeAngelo and Risotlainen have both been benched in an effort to get them to play better. Only Provy and Sanheim have played in every game with Seeler missing just two. If we put every on a chart looking at stats, this is what we’d get:

Name                  Games Played   Goals  Assists  Points    +/-   Penalty Minutes   Hits    Time on Ice
Sanheim, Travis        35                     4         10          14           -6                 22                  36        21:03
Provorov, Ivan           35                     1         11          12         -10                10                   54       23:21
Seeler, Nick                33                     3           3             6             3                 28                   46       14:01
Braun, Justin              32                     0           0             0            0                  17                  32       16:16
DeAngelo, Tony         30                     6         12          18         -14                 34                 20        24:21
Ristolainen, Rasmus 28                   0            1            1           -7                  20                 67        18:21
Zamula, Egor              11                    0            2            2          -1                    0                    6         13:45
York, Cam                     8                      1           4            5            5                    0                     8         18:33

When you look at the stats, you see that York has more points than Braun and Ristolainen combined. He has more time on ice than Braun, Seeler, and Zamula and around the same as Risto. He has the highest +/- and had yet to put the Flyers down a man.

When you look at the defenders, it’s obvious that Provy and Sanheim aren’t going anywhere. And despite some recent issues, DeAngelo has his value on the team and has seemingly responded well to sitting. Seeler isn’t great, but is cheap and has played his heart out for Coach Tortorella. Zamula has played well but is playing in the AHL at present. It’s only a matter of time before he comes back up.

That leaves two guys left: Braun and Ristolainen. Braun is probably one of the better trade candidates the Flyers have this year. At the same time, Ristolainen is one of the higher-paid defenders on this team and has just one assist for a guy who was supposed to be an offensive juggernaut. He also is responsible for Carter Hart getting injured in the game against Carolina.

While trading Braun makes sense, he does provide some stability on the blue line. He’s a steady vet who doesn’t make too many mistakes. Coach Tortorella likes him because he does many things that don’t show up on the stat sheets. Ristolainen, however, is overpaid and a liability.  If I had a vote, I’d dump Risto and use that time to develop York and Zamula.

York is here to stay. Barring some sort of terrible turnaround in play, he’s earned his spot here in Philly and will hopefully be a fixture for a long, long time.  Maybe he can be one of the guys that Torts can rely on to turn this team around. So far, in what I’ve seen in eight games, I’d say the future is now.