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2024 Flyers Development Camp: Day One

Flyers' Oliver Bonk (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)
(Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

It is the official start of the 2024 Flyers Development Camp.

Yesterday, Daniel Brière held a press conference ahead of the Flyers Development Camp, summarizing some information. Notably, there was an extended discussion revolving around Matvei Michkov. He signed an entry-level contract for 3yrs/$12.75mil.

“We’re excited that he’s [Michkov] finally coming. There was a lot of things that needed to happen in the background, but that was mostly for him and the team in Russia, and his representatives.” – Daniel Brière; 7/1/2024

However, this Flyers Development Camp will not feature Michkov. The first day on the ice did not include a ton of competitive drills, but it did offer the first opportunity to see the new crop from the 2024 Flyers Draft Class, as well as others:

Jett Luchanko

Jett Luchanko did score in an offensive zone entry drill, paired against Josh Zakreski. On the powerplay, zone entries are a main forte for Luchanko, often pushing the puck into the attacking zone by himself.

Once the Philadelphia Flyers selected Luchanko, many felt like the team reached because of other prospects on the board. Zeev Buium was practically hand-delivered to the Minnesota Wild when Brière traded back from 12th to 13th overall. Then, Luchanko, not Konsta Helenius or Cole Eiserman, went to the Flyers.

“The draft doesn’t change the way I see things or go about my business. I’m always just trying to work hard every single day, and I think good things come from that. I’m not worried about where I went. I’m just worried on getting to work and getting started here.” – Jett Luchanko; 7/2/2024

An intriguing sight will feature Luchanko pushing against and competing with his former OHL competitors, such as Denver Barkey, at the Flyers Development Camp.

Carter Sotheran

Carter Sotheran featured in transition passing and skating drills in the defensive and neutral zones along with the other defensemen at the Flyers Development Camp. Sotheran credited Sam Morin and Nick Schultz for helping him break down film and work out in the defensive zone throughout his WHL season:

“They’ve kept in touch with me throughout the whole year. Almost every week, [I’ve] talked to guys like Sam Morin and Nick Schultz. They’ve been really good with me, and taught me a lot.” – Carter Sotheran; 7/2/2024

An important aspect is growing confidence in his game, which Sotheran said Morin and Schultz push. Sotheran describes his game as a transitional defenseman, reliable in the defensive zone. He can work on the powerplay and penalty kill, too.

Last season on the Portland Winterhawks, Sotheran boosted his point total to 40 points in 66GP, adding 11 points in 14GP during the postseason.

Hunter McDonald

Hunter McDonald is a name Brière mentions from time to time. Most recently, Brière included McDonald while citing Adam Ginning and Emil Andrae during his press conference yesterday. According to Brière, they will be in the mix for a role with Philadelphia, likely battling Egor Zamula.

“I’m super confident in myself. Obviously, that’s my goal. I’m going to keep that mentality and see how it takes me.” – Hunter McDonald; 7/2/2024

McDonald could begin with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, but with a successful push in development camp and, eventually, training camp, his goal to make the Flyers’ could be realized.

Massimo Rizzo

Massimo Rizzo paired with Owen McLaughlin during zone entry drills. He is a prospect Philadelphia acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes with a fifth-round pick in the 2025 NHL Entry Draft in an August 2023 exchange for David Kaše.

He is a playmaker on offense. Rizzo is at his best when he innovatively creates space for his teammates to generate high-quality scoring chances. Developing with the Flyers, he will be familiar with a former teammate at the University of Denver, Bobby Brink, who awaits a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent.

“Me and Bob [Brink] are close. He’s been great with taking me in and introducing me, showing me what to do around here and how things work. He’s been great.” – Massimo Rizzo; 7/2/2024

Last season, Rizzo was an alternate captain at the University of Denver, totaling 44 points (10G, 34A) in 30GP en route to an NCAA Championship.

Noah Powell

Noah Powell comes with a great story. Brière and Brent Flahr combined to select him in the fifth round of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. His 74 points (43G, 31A) in 61GP for the Dubuque Fighting Saints included the most goals scored in the USHL. What makes that feat more impressive is Powell suffers from mild, bilateral hearing loss.

He is a physical power forward who gets into the greasy areas to score goals. Powell added fighting and hitting to the traits of his game. You could find him near Chris Stewart on the first day. One of the more substantial marks against his game was his skating, which Flahr said already improved in his quick conference once the 2024 NHL Entry Draft finished. Powell added to that, telling how he focused on his area of improvement:

“Just power skating, working on my edges, extra skating stuff. It’s gotten better but definitely leaves room for more improvement.” – Noah Powell; 7/2/2024

Opportunity is the name of the game for Powell. It contributed heavily to his breakout season with the Fighting Saints. Now, he must apply the same philosophy and see where it takes him.

Oliver Bonk

Not long ago, Brière mentioned Oliver Bonk having a similar timeframe as Michkov. Philadelphia prepared to wait for Michkov, not expecting his early arrival. In the same breath, Brière said Bonk has another season with the London Knights in the OHL, then maybe a season with the Phantoms:

“If you draft the guy in Juniors, take Oliver Bonk for example; people made a big stink about Matvei Michkov, but Oliver Bonk is almost on the same timeframe. He’s most likely going to play another year of Juniors. He might need one year of minor league. They might come up here with the Flyers right around the same time.” – Daniel Brière; 6/20/2024

Of course, one shoe dropped with Michkov. The other could be the future of the defense, and he could very well help the awful Flyers powerplay with his right-handed shot.

“The powerplay started clicking very well and it’s easy when you get a one-timer from five feet away, also. I got more reign from my coach; a lot of trust from the coaches to try your offensive side more.” – Oliver Bonk; 7/2/2024

Philadelphia needs ‘Bumper Bonk.’

Spencer Gill

Spencer Gill is another prospect who will be trained to walk the blue line. His build, 6’4″ and 185lbs, is slender, but he is 17. For all the people who love Rasmus Ristolainen, he is 6’4″ and 208lbs, the lightest of all 6’4″ defensemen on the Flyers (Travis Sanheim and Erik Johnson).

Speaking of build, Gill referenced Noah Dobson as a player he tends to model his game after. For reference, Dobson is 6’4″ and 200lbs:

“I like to watch a lot of Noah Dobson. He’s got a very similar build to me, good puck mover, and he can contribute offensively.” – Spencer Gill; 7/2/2024

Last season with Rimouski Océanic in the QMJHL, Gill tallied 46 points (12G, 34A) in 65GP, added five assists in as many games in the postseason, and won gold with Team Canada at the U18 IIHF World Juniors.

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