Following a hot start to his career with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Philadelphia Flyers prospect Zayde Wisdom will be out indefinitely after undergoing shoulder surgery last Friday. The tough news was first announced by the Flyers, shortly after the surgery was complete.
Wisdom, a 2020 fourth-round draft pick, spent last season with the Phantoms, as the 2020-21 Ontario Hockey League season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 28 games with the team, he put up 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in an impressive first professional season. The Flyers traded up into the fourth round of the 2020 draft to select him, as they felt he was going to be something special.
“Wisdom is another guy that we had rated highly,” Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said after drafting Wisdom. “He’s a different type of player, you guys have probably read up on the history of the young man. Really impressive, impressive kid. Extremely driven. He plays with Wright, who’s a special exemption player in the OHL, he’s two drafts away, a very special player. [Wisdom is] going to be on one of the top junior lines in Canada for the next couple of years. Just playing with a player like that and with his tremendous work ethic, we feel he’s just going to get better and better. If and when he does make it, he’s a player that our fans are going to love just because of the heart and passion that he plays with.”
Will Wisdom’s Development be Effected?
Obviously, shoulder injuries are no joke and something that should be taken seriously especially at the NHL level. The average recovery time following surgery is anywhere from 4-6 months. It is not exactly clear how the injury occurred, but is something that bothered him enough to get it looked at before this season started.
He is currently in the prime years for development, so an injury of this kind will almost certainly hinder his ability to grow and develop over the next few years. The hope is that he will be able to return sometime in the second half of the season and learn as much as he possibly can. There is a slight possibility that he will be sent back to the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL to rehab and get some ice time before returning to professional hockey.
The Flyers are going to take their time developing him after dealing with such an injury. They do not want to rush him back into things too quickly and risk another major injury. With the amount of young talent currently in the system, there is absolutely no reason to rush him back into action. While it is unfortunate that he will be missing a huge chunk of time, things will work out better in the end if they give him the time to heal properly.
Wisdom is expected to be something special for the Flyers. Many compare him to the likes of Wayne Simmonds, former Flyers enforcer and powerplay specialist. Simmonds spent eight seasons in Philadelphia, and is currently on his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.
Leaning on a Former Flyer for Advice
Born and raised in Toronto, Wisdom has always looked up to Simmonds, from the time he started playing hockey. Having gone through a pretty tough life, he always found comfort in the game of hockey from a young age. The pair have grown close over the years, as he has not only developed into a professional hockey player, but also a young man. The Toronto natives even employ the same trainer, Derrell Levy, during the offseason. (from ‘Flyers winger Zayde Wisdom: From ‘horrifying’ birth to poverty to NHL draftee. He uses his rough upbringing as motivation.’ Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/27/2020)
“Wayner’s been an older brother to me, like, forever,” Wisdom said. “I’ve known Wayner since I was like 10 years old and going to his first ball-hockey tournaments back in Scarborough. I consider Wayner an older brother to me, someone I can call at any time, and not just about hockey but about life. If I’m having girl problems, he would answer the phone and help me through them.”
Sometimes in life, all you need is another person to motivate you to be better and do more. For Wisdom, that person has always been Simmonds regardless of the situation. He models his game after his idol and hopes to be able to make a similar impact once he pulls that orange and black jersey over his head. Until then, he will continue getting stronger, faster, and rehabbing the shoulder injury that will keep him out for a period of time.
Bobby Bader is a freelance journalist from Philadelphia, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers since the start of the 2020-21 National Hockey League Season. He currently works with the Hershey Cubs Hockey Club (USPHL) as the team’s media coordinator as the team prepares for its inaugural season. For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Bobby on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo on articles like this one.