VOORHEES, N.J. – Paul Holmgren stood on his office balcony that overlooks the Flyers rink at Skate Zone and watched the informal practice taking place below.
Thirty members of the Flyers and Phantoms were skating for close to 90 minutes, gearing up for the start of training camp next week.
The practice was being run by Kimmo Timonen and Max Talbot and featured almost every notable Flyers player except Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux, who were taking part in the NHL Media Tour in New York and Newark, N.J., Ray Emery and Braydon Coburn.
And as interested as Holmgren was in watching his charges get themselves ready for the start of a new season, this week, he’s more interested in the prospects – like the trio who were watching below – who will begin rookie camp tomorrow.
“It’s going to be run by (coach Peter Laviolette) and it’s going to be a lot of system work that the Flyers do,” Holmgren said. “It’s going to be good. I’m excited for it. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of the younger kids come in – like Samuel Morin, Scott Laughton and Taylor Leir – and see how they do.”
Laughton is the one guy who has a bit of an inside track to sticking throughout the entire training camp and beyond, anyone else is really going to have to impress more and more each day.
“We have to give [Laughton] an opportunity to see how he does based on how he played last year,” Holmgren said. “The rest of that is up to the players. We’ll see how they look. If somebody really stands out through the practices and the rookie game with the Capitals we’ll continue to take looks at them. That’s what this is all about.”
Holmgren added that the plan is to keep all 25 players taking part in rookie camp as part of training camp for the first six days before making decisions on players.
Usually, players with junior eligibility are returned to their junior teams at that point in the camp, but not all of them will head back so quickly, namely first round draft choice Samuel Morin.
“He’s going to stay for awhile,” Holmgren said.
It’s likely that Morin gets the benefit of a good chunk of the NHL-level training camp before being sent back to Rimouski of the QMJHL.
Holmgren did take time away from all the chatter about rookie camp to update the health of a few injured Flyers.
Most importantly is captain Claude Giroux, who needed surgery on his index finger last month after his pitching wedge shattered in his hand during a shot at a golf course outside of Ottawa.
Originally listed as a 5-to-6 week injury, Giroux appears on track for a quicker return after a visit with the doctor Wednesday.
“Everything is good,” Holmgren said. “He’s going to keep the little splint on for a few more days just to be on the safe side. You can see he’s still skating and doing all his off-ice workouts. He can’t use his hand right now to use his stick or anything, but he should be able to start his rehab Monday for a week or 10 days.”
However, Holmgren said that Giroux wouldn’t necessarily miss any time in training camp.
“I think he’ll be able to take part in a lot of stuff,” he said. “But we’ll know better on Monday.”
Andrej Meszaros has not been cleared by doctors – yet – but talking to Holmgren it sounds like a foregone conclusion that he will be.
“He’s good,” Holmgren said. “Until we actually have the medicals it’s not official– and I don’t know when that is for Andrej – but I have no hesitation to say he will be cleared.”
The interesting update was on Marc-Andre Bourdon.
Bourdon has not been cleared yet either, but the optimism for him to return is at its highest point organizationally, since the concussion occurred last November.
“Marc just needs to play,” Holmgren said. “He looks fine. We’ll see how it goes. It’s encouraging how it’s gone for him because it’s gone in the right direction. We’ll see in the next few days here but I anticipate he’ll be fine too.”
Bourdon has been skating like the devil for five months now, and as such is probably in the best shape of his career. He looks fast and sharp. It’s just a matter of getting past that final hurdle, which for guys coming off a concussion is often the hardest one of all. But, at least it’s the final hurdle.
In unrelated news, forward Matt Read announced that he got engaged over the summer to longtime girlfriend Erin Cody.
The two met as freshman at Bemidji State and dated all through college as well as the last two years while Read was here with the Flyers.
Read said a July, 2014 wedding is planned.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37
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