Flyers’ Defensive Future: Cam York

Cam York was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round (14th overall) in the 2019 NHL Draft, the first under new general manager (GM) Chuck Fletcher. It was a significant move, as the new GM was starting to put his own stamp on making the Flyers brand his. For those who might not know a lot of background on the 19-year-old defenseman, this is who may potentially represent the Orange and Black in the coming seasons.

Thorough Hockey Roots

York was born in Anaheim Hills, California, and as a result, paid close attention to the Anaheim Ducks franchise. In fact, the team’s 2007 run to the Stanley Cup championship helped get York interested in the game itself.

Cam York Flyers Draft
Cam York, Philadelphia Flyers, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers

One cool aspect involving the Ducks and York is that he specifically ended up becoming close with Scott Niedermayer’s son Jackson and hung around the family quite often, learning from Scott himself (from ‘Helped by a Hall of Famer, Cam York begins his own path to the NHL,’ Courier Post, 06/29/2019).

York also went through a couple of the best hockey programs leading up to his name being called in the 2019 NHL Draft. He attended the boarding school Shattuck St. Mary’s, which was a hockey home for many current and former NHL talents. The alumni list includes players, such as Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon, and former NHL defenseman Joe Corvo, among others. He attended the boarding school for two years, and produced significantly for the club:

  • 2015-16: 18 goals and 51 assists in 60 games
  • 2016-17: 9 goals and 39 assists in 54 games
Colorado Avalanche Nathan MacKinnon
Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon is one of the many famous alumni from the Shattuck St. Mary’s program (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

After establishing himself with Shattuck St. Mary’s, York joined another solid program in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the United States National Team Development Program, also known as the USNTDP. Famous alumni who have gone through that program include Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Patrick Kane, Jack Hughes, Zach Werenski, and Ryan Suter. The numbers he posted during his tenure there are as follows:

  • 2017-18 (Under-17 team): 5 goals and 20 assists in 38 games
  • 2017-18 (Under-18 team): 3 goals and 10 assists in 21 games
  • 2018-19: 14 goals and 51 assists for 65 points in 63 games

Overall, York surrounded himself with some of the best people who have helped bring out the best in his game. Having someone like Hall of Fame defenseman and four-time Stanley Cup champion Niedermayer around for pointers is something that not every growing hockey player has access to. If York can emulate some of the game that Niedermayer had when he played in the league, then the Flyers hit a homerun with this pick.

Also, the development programs like Shattuck St. Mary’s and the USNTDP team have had a high success rate when it comes to producing quality, game-changing hockey players. They have left their imprints on York’s game as well, giving him a well-rounded hockey knowledge that will only bolster his productivity down the line.

Now, he is playing in a D1 hockey program at Michigan and will continue to surround himself with other successful hockey people who will help and back him as he grows into form to play in NHL games. He has currently played in 15 games for the Michigan Wolverines, netting four goals and five helpers.

Potential Future Impact

The Flyers have a ton of younger defensemen already that are growing and making a difference in the lineup. There might be a bit of a logjam, especially with younger defensive players — Provorov, Hagg, and Sanheim to name three. Philippe Myers is another younger guy who is making a name for himself after being recalled from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms earlier in the year. Granted, there is always the possibility of one getting traded as a result of trying to fill another hole on the roster.

Travis Sanheim Philadelphia Flyers
Travis Sanheim, Philadelphia Flyers, Oct. 20, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

I think York has the possible chance to become a significant cog in Philadelphia in a couple years. It isn’t guaranteed he opts out of college early to turn pro, but when the time comes for him to sign that entry level contract, I think he’ll start moving up the ranks rather quickly, eventually becoming a solid, reliable defenseman for the Flyers. He was projected as a top-four defender back before the draft in the summer, and a role will possibly open up for him once the contracts are up of veteran guys like Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun, should both sides decide re-signing is not in the cards.

Like previously mentioned, he may also get his spot if a defenseman or two gets traded off of the roster in order to help the team in another aspect. Either way, I expect York to eventually sign with the Flyers, and earn the attention and praise from both fans and management alike.