Flyers' most anticipated NHL debut this season has arrived


VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers are ready to give Cam York his NHL appetizer before he pushes for the full course in September.

The team's 2019 first-round draft pick will make his NHL debut Friday night when the Flyers visit the Capitals (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). York was called up to the Flyers' taxi squad Thursday and practiced with the big club at Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone.

As the Flyers disappointingly fell out of the playoff race this season, they started taking early peeks at prospects who should compete for jobs in 2021-22. York will become the sixth Flyer to make his NHL debut this season, joining Maksim Sushko, Tanner Laczynski, Wade Allison, Jackson Cates and Egor Zamula.

He's arguably the most anticipated debut.

The 20-year-old is a smooth-skating, point-producing blueliner with endless skill and advanced smarts. He has had a banner year, winning a gold medal at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship as the U.S. captain and earning Big Ten Defenseman of the Year as a sophomore at Michigan before he decided to turn pro in late March.

"I watched world juniors when I got here from Europe before the season," Jakub Voracek said Thursday after practice. "I watched him closely because he was on the ice a lot, he was running the power play, he did a really good job. He captained the U.S. to the gold medal. It's going to be exciting to see him in action. I know what he can bring, that's for sure. He's an exciting prospect and hopefully he's going to enjoy these games."

Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said the reports on York have been good from general manager Chuck Fletcher and AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley head coach Scott Gordon. York played six games for the Phantoms. Over his final three, he put up two goals, three assists, seven shots and a plus-2 rating.

York, a native of Anaheim Hills, California, had a goal and an assist in Lehigh Valley's 5-3 win Wednesday over Hershey.

"I watched his goal from last night, it was pretty nice," Scott Laughton said. "He looks good out here, looks calm and looks like he's a good puck mover. Exciting for him and his family, but exciting for us, too, to inject some new life."

In his draft year, York scored 65 points, a U.S. national team development program single-season record for a defenseman. He's regarded as a proficient power play quarterback and will get a look on the Flyers' man advantage.

"There's no doubt," Vigneault said. "We want players to be put in situations where they can have success and he's considered a very good power play person, a quarterback on D. He's done it at the college level, he's done it for a small sample size at the American League level and we'll see what he can do at this level."

Fletcher and the Flyers want York vying for a 2021-22 roster spot in September training camp.

"He’s a young man that excelled at college and does a lot of things well," Fletcher said in early April. "For me, it’s just more about getting some playing reps. Really, we need Cam to be a good player for us next year, we want him to challenge and push for a spot on our roster. So, really, the focus right now is just about getting him that opportunity to see for himself how he fits and the areas that he may need to work on and it’ll just be a great learning experience for him.”

With Shayne Gostisbehere's two-game suspension handed down Wednesday, the Flyers' opportunity for York's debut widened.

More: 'I completely disagree with it,' Gostisbehere says of suspension

Here's how the Flyers will look on defense Friday night:

Ivan Provorov-Justin Braun

Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers

Samuel Morin-Cam York

Update: Vigneault puts York with Braun

"I'm excited for him, he's a playmaker, he kind of plays the game similar to my style," Gostisbehere said. "I like to see that, especially when it's in your own organization. I'm really excited for him to go out there, make some moves and help our team win. It's exciting times for him."

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