Flyers development camp: 5 players to watch

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Flyers development camp: 5 players to watch

Roster spots won’t be won or lost at development camp.

The point of the annual gathering of Flyers prospects is more about getting a jump on preparations for the fall than it is about making an impression. That comes later, at rookie camp and training camp, in September.

This year, though, there's a collection of players worth keeping an eye on -- including a few who weren’t ready to make the jump to the NHL last season who might just be ready this year. Their journeys start today.

Here are five to watch:

Travis Sanheim
Development Camp will be most Flyers fans' first chance to see this year’s first-round draft pick on the ice. Sanheim won’t make the team this season; he’s still at least a few years away. But the Flyers are very high on the young defenseman, whom they selected 17th overall, and believe he’s got a lot of upside. This week’s camp will be his first opportunity to show it.

Scott Laughton
Arguably the most NHL-ready of all 29 players attending the camp, Laughton will spend the summer proving he deserves to stick around with the Flyers for good this year. He already has five games of NHL experience under his belt (in 2013), and had yet another strong year with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals in 2013-14. He was named captain of Team Canada at the World Junior Championship last year, too. The Flyers’ roster is crowded at center, sure, but this could finally be Laughton’s year.

Samuel Morin
The towering defenseman selected in the first round of last year’s draft has put on 20 pounds this offseason, and told French-language site TVASports.ca that he wants to make the Flyers’ roster this fall. Will it happen? Probably not. Could it? Perhaps -- the Flyers haven’t been able to bring in defensive help this summer and they’re still in need of it. Morin stuck around at training camp for a while last year; if he sticks around even longer this time around, he would come cheap. And that, as we know, wouldn’t hurt. 

Shayne Gostisbehere
Speaking of young, cheap defensive talent, Gostisbehere could be another option to flesh out the Flyers’ roster, should the team decide to do so. The Flyers inked the Union college product to an entry-level deal earlier this year, and then-GM Paul Holmgren said “it’s not far-fetched” that the Frozen Four standout could be in the NHL in 2014-15. "Ghost," as he's known, is a much-improved player from the version that the Flyers drafted in the third round in 2012.

Robert Hagg
Rounding out the trio of top defensive prospects is Robert Hagg, whom the Flyers selected 41st overall in last year’s draft. Hagg played against men in Sweden for two years, and made a seamless transition to the AHL late last season when he spent 10 games with the Adirondack Phantoms. A strong skater who’s projected to be a possible future top-pairing D-man, Hagg will most likely spend this season with the Phantoms -- but it’s not completely impossible he makes a leap to the NHL, either.

Flyers-Senators 10 observations: Jordan Weal comes through with finishing touch

Flyers-Senators 10 observations: Jordan Weal comes through with finishing touch

Thanks to Jordan Weal and more shootout magic -- yes, you read that correctly -- the Flyers captured a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).

Weal netted a game-tying marker and the only tally of the skills competition in which the Flyers are now 7-4 this season.

Here are 10 observations from the victory:

1. Weal made a heady play by skating hard to the net as Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson left the crease to play a puck. He intercepted Anderson's pass and quickly buried the shot to knot the score, 2-2, with 7:25 left in the third period. The rookie has five goals in his last 11 games and has turned into a serious catalyst for a team that has struggled to score goals since mid-December.

2. The Flyers have back-to-back wins for the first time since Feb. 28-March 3. Still, they have only six games left, all against Metropolitan Division opponents. Their record against the remaining clubs on the schedule is 6-9-1. The Flyers stayed put Tuesday -- six points out of the second wild-card spot as both the Bruins and Maple Leafs won.

3. Brayden Schenn snapped the Flyers' 0-for-17 power-play skid on a deflection of Shayne Gostisbehere's shot with 1:26 left in the first period. The Flyers were 3 for 46 on the man advantage in March until Schenn's tally. With the current state of the Flyers' season, Schenn's production has gone somewhat unnoticed. Coming off a four-year contract extension this offseason, the 25-year-old forward has 23 goals, three from tying his career high set last season. Sure, he's been reliant on the power play (like many of his teammates), but Schenn has shown up after being rewarded.

4. Good effort by the Flyers after beating the Penguins, 6-2. They had struggled in sustaining any semblance of consistency and finally did for consecutive games -- and it came on fan appreciation night.

5. Steve Mason made his 13th start in the last 15 games and did his part. It looked like he didn't see Kyle Turris' shot in the third period that handed Ottawa a 2-1 lead. Overall, though, Mason once again gave the Flyers a chance. He entered with a 2.12 goals-against average over his last 12 games, while making 26 saves and three stops in the shootout Tuesday. The other goal allowed was gift-wrapped by Flyers penalties, resulting in a 5-on-3 and Erik Karlsson blast.

6. The Senators did what they do: aggressive and disruptive play on the puck-handler and making the opposition work for everything. Ottawa thrives on close, grind-it-out games, which has been a recipe for success as the Senators vie for the Atlantic Division crown.

7. Anderson has just been a wonderful story this season. He's taken some time away from the team to be alongside his wife, Nicholle, who is battling cancer. And even through that, he's having one heck of a season at 35 years old for a team destined for the playoffs.

8. Stick tap to Radko Gudas for jumping on the opportunity to stand up for a teammate late in the first period. Weal, not of much size at 5-foot-10, 179 pounds, was on the receiving end of two hits from 6-foot-1, 216-pound defenseman Mark Borowiecki. The second check was to the back and put Weal headfirst into the boards. Gudas saw it perfectly and swooped in to send a message.

9. More on Weal -- the rookie forward has shown he can help the Flyers in the future. With him playing well in a top-six role, Ottawa looked like it put a concerted effort on being physical with Weal. Similar to Travis Konecny, that's something Weal will have to overcome as more defensive focus is shifted to him.

10. A little inside the box score …
• With his assist, Gostisbehere has three points in his last two games. He's been active offensively with nine shots in those two outings.

• The Flyers were 1 for 4 on the power play, making them 4 for 48 this month.

• The Flyers outshot the Senators, 35-28, and blocked more shots, 20-17.

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Senators 2 (SO)

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Senators 2 (SO)

BOX SCORE

A live-and-let-die week of hockey began for the Flyers on Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center against the Ottawa Senators.
 
The Flyers came in six points out of the wild card but with a tragic number of eight -- eight points won by Boston or eight points lost by the Flyers -- would eliminate them from the playoffs.
 
This was a playoff-type, defensive hockey game from the second period to the finish with the Flyers prevailing 3-2 in the shootout. Jordan Weal won it after saving the Flyers in regulation.

Ottawa's Kyle Turris broke a 1-1 tie with 7:25 left, but Weal re-tied it with 5:59 left in regulation.
 
Notable goals
Weal's third goal in five games that made it 2-2. Goalie Craig Anderson tried to clear the puck and Weal intercepted for an open net.

Challenge
Ottawa lost its challenge that Wayne Simmonds interfered with Anderson at the net on Weal's goal.
 
Goalie report
Steve Mason made his ninth start in 10 games.
 
Power play
Four shots and no goals on the Flyers' first attempt. They had two shots on their second chance. Yet, they did score with a brief 39-second brief power play at period's end to tie the game. Brayden Schenn tipped a Shayne Gostisbehere drive. 

The Flyers are a woeful 4 for 47 on the power play for March. They were 1 for 4 against the Sens, who are 17th in the NHL in penalty killing.
 
Penalty kill
Naturally, the Senators took advantage of their PPs. They had a 23-second five-on-three and scored on nifty 35-foot snap-wrister from Erik Karlsson to make it 1-0. Ottawa was 1 for 3.
 
Fights
Radko Gudas decisioned Mark Borowiecki in the first period.
 
Scratches
Forwards Roman Lyubimov (healthy), Michael Raffl (left knee) and Nick Cousins (concussion) and defenseman Nick Schultz (healthy).
 
Up next
The Flyers practice Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Skate Zone. They will face the Islanders on Thursday at Wells Fargo Center.