Laviolette: 'I want to make sure we leave camp healthy'
Chris VandeVelde signed a minor-league deal with the Flyers in September. (USA Today Images)
WASHINGTON -- From the get-go, Chris VandeVelde slipped into the Flyers' training camp under the radar, signing a minor-league deal in early September.
No one knew much about him. No one gave him much of a chance. No one thought he’d last this long, either.
Well, VandeVelde has.
In fact, unless another bomb drops from the Flyers' front office, the 26-year-old has won the vacant spot at left wing over Austrian Michael Raffl and Phantom/Flyer Tye McGinn (see story).
Raffl was sent to the Phantoms on Friday afternoon; McGinn went back after Thursday’s loss in New Jersey.
“I did kind of sign late and it was an AHL deal,” VandeVelde said before the Flyers' preseason-finale loss on Friday (see story). “Not a lot of guys knew about me coming into camp. I just came into camp with a positive attitude, work hard every day and open some eyes. I think I have done that so far.
“Just being on an AHL contract, to make it this far is something in itself. There are still cuts to be made. Just go out and try to have a better game than [Thursday] night [in New Jersey].”
General manager Paul Holmgren said VandeVelde’s one advantage over Raffl, who has played his entire career in Europe, was North American experience -- 38 games in the NHL with Edmonton; 194 in the AHL.
You can thank Flyers assistant GM Ron Hextall for the “discovery” here. VandeVelde played college hockey with Hextall’s son, Brett, at North Dakota.
VandeVelde kept in touch with Hextall over the summer, seeking a contract once his deal with the Oilers expired.
Now he’s here and will likely make the final roster cut this weekend over 19-year-old center Scott Laughton, who has junior eligibility and figures to go back to Oshawa.
In this camp, VandeVelde has played mostly wing but played center with Edmonton.
“I played center more [in my career],” he said. “I will do anything to stay up here. Whatever they need.”
Laughton centered him and Adam Hall.
All this said, VandeVelde logged just 6:00 in ice time on Friday while Laughton had 10:35, competing on the power play and penalty kill.
Laviolette said he thought Laughton played well in his final two games even though Laughton said that was not the case in either contest.
Either way, it still looks like Laughton will get a full nine games before a final decision is made.