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.

NHL Notes: Tomas Tatar, Red Wings agree on deal worth $21.2 million deal

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NHL Notes: Tomas Tatar, Red Wings agree on deal worth $21.2 million deal

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings agreed to terms with winger Tomas Tatar on a $21.2 million, four-year contract Friday.

The 26-year-old Czech native led Detroit with 25 goals last season and also had 21 assists. He has 20-plus goals in each of the past three seasons, including a career-high 29 in 2014-15. In 345 NHL games, he has 99 goals and 95 assists.

The team announced the deal a day after Tatar's arbitration hearing and before the ruling was to be handed down. Tatar will count $5.3 million against the salary cap through 2020-21.

Tatar's cap hit moving forward is the same as Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat, who also signed a long-term deal as a restricted free agent.

The Red Wings missed the playoffs in 2017 for the first time since the 1989-90 season. They're moving into a new arena next season and will need a new core of players to return them to relevance. Pavel Datsyuk left the team before last season, and although Henrik Zetterberg had 68 points -- his highest total in five seasons -- Detroit didn't have anyone else reach 50 in 2016-17 (see full story).

Wild: Foligno seeks more in Minnesota
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Marcus Foligno has left the leap behind in Buffalo.

That doesn't mean his offensive production can't or won't continue to rise in Minnesota.

Coming off a career-high 13 goals for the Sabres last season, the 25-year-old was acquired by the Wild to bring some needed grit and strength to the left wing position on the third or fourth line. He's capable of putting the puck in the net, too, though he has so far been more of a sporadic scorer in the NHL.

"Definitely, 20 goals is something I envision myself to reach, and I hope to do that in a Wild jersey," Foligno said. "Playing with some big centermen, playing on a well-rounded team, I think I can do that. I felt last year that my offensive side was getting there, and I'm looking to improve on that this season" (see full story).

Blackhawks: Wingels recovering from broken foot
CHICAGO -- Blackhawks forward Tommy Wingels broke his left foot during offseason training, but is expected to be ready for training camp.

The 29-year-old Wingels, a suburban Chicago native, agreed to a one-year deal with the Blackhawks on July 1. He had seven goals and five assists for the San Jose Sharks and Ottawa Senators last season.

The Blackhawks announced the injury on Friday.

A high school hit, Flyers draft pick Noah Cates now looks ahead

A high school hit, Flyers draft pick Noah Cates now looks ahead

VOORHEES, N.J. — Noah Cates was just a teenager playing high school hockey in Minnesota.
 
Then he spun himself into a national sensation.
 
Back in February 2016, Cates scored a goal you see in movies with a fairytale finish. To push Stillwater Area High School into the Class 2A state tournament, Cates shook the only defender in sight with a stunning spin move before reaching around the goalie and finding the net for the punctuation.

The result was a 1-0 overtime win and pure chaos in the stands. What ensued over the following days, Cates never could have imagined.
 
"Oh geez," he said with a smile last week at Flyers development camp. "Attention right away, but it was just a crazy experience all around. That, and the next couple days with the tourney and stuff — it was a great time in my life playing high school hockey with all my friends."
 
Cates, a junior at the time, was featured on ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10 plays, while the goal made waves on the internet across national media outlets.
 
All while he was preparing for states.
 
"It was just a whirlwind those couple days, but it was unbelievable," he said. "Unforgettable."
 
Cates is now moving on from Stillwater, looking to write a new chapter of his young but already exciting hockey career. His junior season ended in the semifinals of the state tournament. As a senior, Cates racked up 65 points (20 goals, 45 assists) in 25 regular-season games.
 
A little over a month after high school graduation, Cates was skating on the Flyers' practice ice and seeing the NHL life. The 18-year-old left winger was selected by the Flyers in the fifth round of the June entry draft and took part in the team's six-day July development camp.
 
"Just see what elite players are like from my age, year older, two years older," Cates said of the Flyers' annual youth gathering. "See what I need to work on, see what the next steps should look like for me and my development.
 
"It was definitely cool to see but you try to calm down. They drafted me, so you've got to feel you belong here."
 
Cates will play for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL in 2017-18 before starting his college career at the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2018-19. He still has long ways to go in accomplishing the NHL dream, but his potential was obvious at development camp. Cates stands at 6-foot-1, 165 pounds, and brings a slick shot as well as strong puck skills, as evident by his famous goal.
 
"I like skill, I like trying new stuff," he said. "Just kind of try new stuff, try new things out there."
 
Getting a feel for the Flyers was a nice start to his year of preparation for the college ranks in the USHL.
 
"Strength and speed, just getting bigger, faster, stronger," Cates said of what he hopes to improve. "Those players, you see them out here, they're so big, strong and skilled. They'll be tough to keep up with them, but if you're in the weight room and you're working out hard, it'll make it easier."
 
It's all part of moving on from high school. He'll never forget the spin and goal to send Stillwater into states — and how could he? It's hard to top such a memory.
 
An NHL goal might do it.