Ian Laperriere ran the Flyers Prospect Camp last year and disliked the process so much that he gave it an extreme home makeover this season.
It all starts with the title too. Now known as Flyers Development Camp (not surprising since Laperriere is the Flyers director of Player Development), the five day event is going to be slimmed down, have less eye candy and be more intensely focused on instruction and development.
Usually, this camp, which will take place this year from July 7-11, is full of prospects and about 20 camp invitees, hoping to earn a serious look from Flyers management. It also usually constitutes of a couple scrimmages, where players also try to impress the brass.
That lead to a lot of unnecessary injuries in the summer time. That’s part of why it all had to change.
“There are going to be a lot less players,” Laperriere said. “We will primarily have players we’ve drafted or players we have signed under contract. And the few (non-roster) invites we do have are going to be players that we want to get another look at.”
The number of non-roster invites though will be very few, as the concentration for the Flyers will be more on the advancement of their own prospects.
“I can’t blame the invite guys. They come in and are trying to make a name for themselves,” Laperriere said. “It’s their one shot. I would do the same thing. So, they take a run at some of our top prospects in a game sometimes. Looking back, it’s not worth it.”
As such, there won’t be any games during the camp. Instead, the schedule will be intense, but solely focused on developing certain skills for certain players.
“There are no games,” Laperriere said. “I went to [General Manager] Paul Holmgren and [Director of Hockey Operations] Chris Pryor and told them how I felt. It’s ridiculous to play games because we’ve had so many injuries in the past. I feel bad for the fans who want to see the future Flyers play [in games] but at the end of the day this is what’s best for the kids in the system.”
It’s July. Off-season training programs are designed to help players get into game shape by mid September. In July, they are more susceptible to injuries that come about because of a lack of being on the ice on a regular basis.
“I don’t believe in brining kids in during July and have a training camp atmosphere,” Laperriere said. “It’s not fair to anybody. It’s not fair to the kids to be expected to be in top shape in July, which I don’t think they should be. They should be in good shape, but not ready to compete.”
Instead, the smaller groups and a focus more on development should prove to be more beneficial for the young talent.
“If we have less players and four coaches out there, it gives us more time for individual attention for players,” Laperriere said. “At the end of the day, we won’t change them in four or five days, but if they leave with a few drills to work on at home, we did our job.”
The schedule will consist of a one hour practice Sunday night at 6 p.m. With one group of 15 on the Flyers rink at Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. and one group of 15 on the Phantoms rink.
Monday, Tuesday and Thursday will be longer days with identical schedules.
In the morning one group will be on the ice and the other will be in the gym. Practice will be an hour tops.
“Remember, it’s a smaller group,” said Laperriere. “So, with 13 skaters and two goalies, that’s a lot of skating at this point in the summer.”
The two groups will switch before breaking for lunch. After lunch there will be a team meeting and then a second on-ice session lasting about 30 minutes that will be skill drills only.
The players will have a couple hours of down time before a team dinner and an evening meeting.
Wednesday will be the one day that’s different as the prospects take part in the annual Trial on the Isle in Stone Harbor, N.J.
So far, 24 players are coming to the camp. Included in that last is last year’s first round pick Scott Laughton, who played five games this season for the Flyers, goalie prospect Anthony Stolarz, who will also take part in the U.S. U-20 development camp this summer, as well as other promising draft picks like center Nick Cousins, defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and winger Taylor Leier.
Also expected to attend are recent free agent signings Brandon Alderson, Petr Straka and Maxim LaMarche, defenseman Mark Alt, who was acquired via a trade with Carolina before last season, as well as several players who played significantly for the Phantoms last season such as forwards Andrew Johnston. Marcel Noebels, and Tyler Brown, goalie Cal Heeter and defenseman Matt Konan.
The six draft picks the Flyers have in Sunday’s draft are also expected to attend. If for some reason the total number dips below 30, other non-roster invitees may be added.
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