John Tortorella has mentioned how the Flyers do not want to lose sight of what's best for the club's future.
After all, the Flyers are very much in a transitional season and have emphasized the importance of playing their kids.
On Friday night, Tortorella will see one of the organization's best youngsters for the first time in regular-season action. Cam York, the club's 2019 first-round draft pick, will make his season debut as the Flyers visit the Golden Knights (10 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).
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York's look with the big club comes at the expense of Tony DeAngelo's spot in the lineup. The 27-year-old defenseman will be a healthy scratch against Vegas. The decision is notable given DeAngelo is leading the Flyers in minutes per game, quarterbacks the power play and was acquired during the offseason to be a top-pair guy alongside Ivan Provorov.
If he was playing to a satisfactory level in the eyes of the coaching staff, he would not be sitting for a game. DeAngelo leads all Flyers defensemen in goals (four), points (14) and shots (58). However, the Flyers have played him on their third pair the past three games. His on-ice goal differential at even strength is minus-12, second worst on the team. He also missed a game Nov. 29 because of a lower-body injury.
"Tony can be better," Tortorella said last Saturday morning, the first day the Flyers put DeAngelo on the third pair. "Ultra competitive, love the way he plays, but positionally is something that I think we need to help him with. I think a number of our D, we're really trying to concentrate on structure.
"I think with Tony, structure has to be a part of it without getting in the way of just the way he plays. He's a hockey player. I think we need to allow him to be instinctive, also. We're trying to find a fine line."
And the Flyers do want to look at more youth throughout the season. This move is not purely about DeAngelo's play. It's also about playing York, a 21-year-old prospect doing well at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. Like DeAngelo, York plays with a puck-moving style and is a power play QB.
The Flyers, at 9-13-5, have to balance the want to win with evaluating for the future.
"Not just the best guys, but where it's going to be forecasted to — the future of the team," Tortorella said Nov. 28. "I want to put another young guy back there because I think that is going to help us in the future.
"Are you looking more short term or long term? And that shifts sometimes as the year goes on.
"Tony's been trying so hard and getting so much ice time, I think he's the one that's fighting it a little bit."
After games, DeAngelo has held himself accountable all season. Tortorella praised him in the offseason.
For now, though, DeAngelo will sit a game. We'll see soon if there's anything more to it.
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