VOORHEES, N.J. — On the final day of Flyers rookie training camp last year, Ian Laperriere had a prediction.
He wasn’t expecting Noah Cates to follow him to Lehigh Valley.
And Laperriere was proven right.
As a rookie, Cates made the Flyers’ roster out of camp, played all 82 games and was the team’s best defensive forward.
On the first day of this year’s rookie camp, Laperriere pulled out his crystal ball again.
The Phantoms’ head coach doesn’t think he’ll see Tyson Foerster, one of the Flyers’ top prospects, on his roster next month.
“I know a lot of things can happen, but I’m not expecting him back in the Valley,” Laperriere said Thursday at Flyers Training Center. “I’m sure the fans won’t be happy with me saying that. You never know, but he’s got his mindset, I feel like you walk around him, he’s confident, he’s got that swagger about him that I love, that everybody loves. He’s probably going to be at the next level and be there for a while.”
The 21-year-old winger could be a significant face to the Flyers’ rebuilding plans. In his eight-game audition with the big club last season, Foerster turned some heads, the most important one being John Tortorella.
"It's really encouraging to me, and I've said it many times, with this kid Tyson,” the Flyers’ head coach said in March. “I'm trying to be careful, but each time I watch him, I say, 'Man, there's a guy, there's another piece that maybe falls into place next year for us.'"
Foerster owns arguably the best shot in the organization. He has the potential to fill what has long been an organizational need for the Flyers and that’s a shoot-first goal scorer. The 2020 first-round draft pick put up seven points (three goals, four assists) in eight games with the Flyers last season. His poise was impressive.
“He was managing the puck like a veteran out there,” Laperriere said. “We all know he can shoot the puck, we all know he can make plays, but there’s more to it than that in this league. A lot of guys can shoot the puck, they can score, but they can’t play in this league because there are other things around that. Tyson improved so much last year in that.”
Come main training camp in a week, Foerster said he’s aiming for the Flyers.
“I think that’s everybody’s goal that’s here, is to make the Flyers,” he said Thursday. “That’s for sure my goal and, yeah, I think I’m ready.”
When the Flyers drafted Foerster in 2020, he was baby-faced and still raw from a strength standpoint. He has worked a lot on his body and overall game since then. This summer, he stayed in the area, living with Joel Farabee and to train at the Flyers’ practice facility with the team’s strength and conditioning staffers Dan Warnke and DeRick O'Connell.
“Speed and strength,” Foerster said of his offseason focus. “Just getting bigger. Everybody in the league’s really big and you just want to be strong on battles, strong on your stick and quick three steps.”
Laperriere commended him for it.
“All credit to him,” he said. “He stayed here all summer, he trained like an animal and it shows.”
It’s part of why the AHL affiliate head coach believes Foerster should be an important piece now to the Flyers’ rebuild under Danny Briere and company.
“The way the Flyers are doing things right now, it’s rebuilding, like Danny said it, so those kids, they’re going to have to be on their toes every day when they’re here or switches are going to be made,” Laperriere said. “But I’m not worried about Tyson. I think Tyson’s going to be here and I won’t see him.”