The Philadelphia Flyers’ blueline is going through a bit of a rough patch as top defenseman Ryan Ellis has found himself on the sideline for four to six weeks, the news coming after he’s already missed most of the season. Justin Braun has reclaimed his role on the top pair with Ivan Provorov and Nick Seeler has stepped into the third pair role on the right side. While it’s held up so far, its long-term outlook isn’t great. It’s left many to wonder if the Flyers recall former first-round pick Cam York at some point in the foreseeable future as a possible remedy.
Higher upside than Seeler
Even though Nick Seeler made a great impression during the preseason and earned the seventh defenseman role while Samuel Morin is on the shelf, the shine has worn off now that he’s essentially an NHL regular due to the various injuries on the blueline to start the season. He and Yandle are getting worse by the game and anybody seems like an upgrade at this point. York undoubtedly has a higher upside than Seeler, but can he succeed paired with Yandle, who has been a hot mess lately.
York’s time to shine
Cam York feels like one of those players who’s in the wings just waiting for his time to shine. When he finally gets he recall, he’s got more than enough talent and potential that he may make it hard for the Flyers to ever send him back down. His ceiling is still a bit murky, ultimately depending on what kind of role he’ll fill for the Flyers, but a solid two-way top-four defenseman with a bit of offensive upside seems like a fair projection.
Is he ready?
Cam York has had a solid but quite start to the season for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. His stat line (one goal, five points, six penalty minutes in 15 games) isn’t exactly anything to write home about, but he isn’t really struggling in the AHL either. It won’t be the end of the world if they recall him for a spot start or two to evaluate what he brings, but committing to him as a long-term solution right now seems like too big of a step to take.
Where does he fit in the lineup?
The biggest issue with calling up York is his role on the team. Ellis is a righty but York is a lefty, meaning they would have to alter the lineup in some way to squeeze him in. You can either put him on the third pair with Yandle, moving the edler statesman to his off-side to accommodate York, or do they shakeup all three pairs to give York the best chance to succeed, something like-
Provorov – Ristolainen
York – Braun
Sanheim – Yandle
Pairing York with the stable veteran Braun is the best case for York in this scenario. But it takes away Provorov’s longtime line mate, forces Ristolainen to play a role that may be over his head, and forces Sanehim to play with Yandle, a pair that makes you cringe just thinking about it.
There’s a big inherent risk shaking everything up to fit in one player, especially when that player is completely untested in the NHL. It’s a risk that could pay off in spades, but also one that has the potential to either ruin the chemistry on defense or stunt York’s overall development.
It shouldn’t be a surprise if York does get recalled at some point over the next month, especially if Ellis is close to the six-week side of his timeline. If the defense goes any further off the rails, they may have little choice but to turn to York as a method of righting the ship.
An injury the caliber of Ellis leaves big shoes to fill and Seeler just isn’t cutting it. The main issue is the fact that he’s a lefty. Even if York is 100% NHL ready, there’s just no easy, optimal way to insert him into the lineup. It puts some ice on an otherwise perfect situation to give their youngsters a test, either York or Egor Zamula, who is also a lefty, some NHL time. Consider a York recall an option, but more of a last resort versus a move they’re eager to make.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nbcsports.com