Notes, quotes and tidbits from Flyers development camp: 3-on-3 tournament day

Notes, quotes and tidbits from Flyers development camp: 3-on-3 tournament day

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers Skate Zone parking lot was filled to the brim.

Among the fans, Tuesday was easily the most popular and heavily-attended day of Flyers development camp, as a 3-on-3 tournament brought a close to the on-ice portion of this year's youth gathering.

Wednesday wraps up development camp with the team's annual AAA Trial on the Isle in Stone Harbor, New Jersey — also a fun and fan-friendly event.

As for the 3-on-3 competition, the Flyers split a full sheet of ice in half, allowing two games to be played at once. That, along with other media availability during the action, makes it difficult to observe everything that happened on the ice.

But with that said, let's give you the highlights from what we saw and heard on the final day at Flyers Skate Zone.

German, German, German!
German Rubtsov, the Flyers' 2016 first-round pick, was head and shoulders above most of the 40 prospects in camp.

He was a treat to watch Tuesday.

The 19-year-old center looks like he already has NHL hands and control. He's nifty with the puck and put a pretty move on Carter Hart to score one of his three goals on the afternoon.

Rubtsov's team, which also featured Radel Fazleev and Tanner Laczynski, won the tournament. Here's the bunch celebrating.

Men among boys
While Flyers general manager Ron Hextall claims development camp is not for evaluation, it’s hard not to look at a couple players who are obviously ready to no longer be a part of it.

During the 3-on-3 tournament, defensemen Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers both looked far too advanced to be playing with players their ages. Sanheim was on Team Grey and Myers was on Team Black. When the two played against each other, it was a pleasure to watch.

Sanheim scored twice in about a minute against Team Black. He ripped a slap shot from 10-feet out on Felix Sandstrom and then tucked a rebound past Sandstrom. Overall, Sanheim scored four times. Myers scored just once but definitely looks above his age level.

Fresh wings
Matthew Strome possesses skills of a first- or second-rounder, but his skating flaws are what dropped him to the fourth round, where the Flyers snagged the winger at 106th overall last month.

Yes, Strome's skating will be a bit of a project, but he can do a lot of other things that jump out in a positive way. 

Strome put his stickhandling on display with a sweet goal on Hart.

Another player that showed his stuff was camp invite Ivan Kosorenkov, who scored a goal while also exhibiting quick skates and talented hands.

Don't be surprised to see him in September's training camp. Sure, development camp isn't for evaluation, but the undrafted winger showed that much at Flyers Skate Zone.

West Coast livin'
As is the life in minor league hockey, Hart is used to long bus rides.

With air travel permitted just for the WHL championship round, travel can be a grind. From Everett, Washington, to Brandon, Manitoba, it’s about a 21-hour drive without traffic.

“Some guys bring Xboxes, TVs in the back and you have a little bit of shelter,” Hart said. “We’re right on the coast there and [Brandon is] in the boonies. It’s a grilling bus ride, but it’s a good way to spend some time with your teammates. It’s a good way to come together.”

When asked Tuesday about Nolan Patrick, Hart said their paths haven’t crossed much.

“It’s a 20-, 25-hour bus ride if we go over there to play,” Hart said. “We only play them once a year. I've only played Nolan three times in my career. So I don’t really know him too well. He seems like a nice guy from when I met him and from what I’ve heard, he’s very skilled. 

“Well, he went second overall so he's definitely skilled. Seems like a down-to-earth guy and I think the Flyers are lucky to have a high-skilled prospect like him."

Patrick did not participate in on-ice activities during development camp after undergoing abdominal surgery June 13 but was at camp all five days.

Hakstol on Lindblom
Oskar Lindblom scored a goal and was impressive all camp.

You could really see his growth.

As a raw 2014 fifth-round pick, these development sessions have been important to the Swedish winger and now he's ready to push for a roster spot in September.

"I just think about it by myself, like fifth-rounder, I just felt like I can play and I can be on this level," Lindblom said last Friday. "So I'm just trying to push myself every day and be better."

Lindblom attracted the eyes of many at development camp. He'll have the eyes of Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol in training camp.

"As you look at some of the completeness of his game, when you look at the skill package — and let's be clear, it's just a skill package because we're not in a competitive situation here," Hakstol said Tuesday. "Even the 3-on-3 games, that's a half-ice 3-on-3 game. That's not the competitiveness that training camp will bring, but I like the maturity that I see in his game on the ice … and the same thing off the ice."

Enter Sandstrom
Three-on-three tournaments are not exactly goaltender-friendly, but Sandstrom was quite impressive.

Sandstrom had a bit of a rough go in the first game against Team White, allowing four goals. But from Game 2 on, he was solid. He made several nice stops from a 20-year-old goalie with no defense in front of him against Team Orange in the second game. For fans of goaltenders, the matchup that was most enticing was Team Black vs. Team Orange, when it was Sandstrom (Black) vs. Hart (Orange). For the record, Sandstrom shut out Hart's team, 4-0.

Who got the better on Tuesday in a totally meaningless tournament? Our pick would be Sandstrom.

Results and what's next
Here are the Flyers' official scoring results from the 3-on-3 tournament.

Olle Lycksell — 5
Travis Sanheim — 4
David Kase — 4
Nicolas Aube-Kubel — 3
Radel Fazleev — 3
German Rubtsov — 3
Linus Hogberg — 3
David Bernhardt — 2
Brendan Warren — 2
Maksim Sushko — 2
Wyatt Kalynuk — 2
Mark Friedman — 1
Cam Lee — 1
Oskar Lindblom — 1
Wade Allison — 1
Phil Myers — 1
Matthew Strome — 1
Noah Cates — 1
Isaac Ratcliffe — 1
David Drake — 1
Tanner Laczynski — 1
Ivan Kosorenkov — 1
Connor Bunnaman — 1
Derek Lodermeier — 1

And if you're interested in heading to the beach to see the prospects on Wednesday, here's the schedule.

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

John Boruk/

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

The opportunity to watch a Briere play again in Philadelphia will be an exciting reality for hockey fans this season.

No, Danny Briere isn’t coming out of retirement as the former Flyers forward has committed to handling the day-to-day operations of the organization’s newest ECHL team.  

However, Briere will be keeping close tabs on his younger son, Carson, who’s currently on the Philadelphia Rebels' 30-man roster and is setting his sights on making the team’s final cuts during training camp.

“It’s great,” Briere said Monday. “Growing up here for most of my life, I love Philly. It’s fun getting to play in the same city that [my dad] did. Whenever I think of him playing, I always think of that playoff run [in 2010] for the Flyers.”

After spending the past two seasons at IceWorks in Aston, Pennsylvania, the NAHL’s (North American Hockey League) Rebels are moving their operation to the Penn Ice Rink at the Class of 1923 Arena, where they made the formal announcement on Monday. It will be the organization’s third different home rink in the past four seasons after relocating from the Rio Grande Valley in 2015.

“It was a no-brainer,” team owner Marko Dundovich said. “When the opportunity presented itself, it was very easy. I think it will give the boys a better opportunity to play, get them seen and I think it’s going to continue to grow here, and our business and organization will do much better here.”

The Rebels and junior hockey simply didn’t attract a broad appeal in the Philadelphia suburbs like ownership had hoped, and as a result, attendance lagged as the team typically averaged around 125 fans a game.

“It was the first time we tried Junior A hockey here,” Dundovich said. “If we had a 300-, 400- or 500-person fan base, we would have been OK in Aston, but I think it was tough to sell a junior hockey ticket in Aston. It’s a difficult sell in a small town.”   

Conversely, hockey fans in Philadelphia haven’t had much of an alternative to the Flyers since the Phantoms left the city in 2009 for Glens Falls, New York. Rebels forward Aaron Maguyon, who stays with former Flyers captain Keith Primeau throughout the season, feels the team cannot only fill the 2,500-seat ice rink, but the players will greatly benefit from the college vibe.  

“I think it prepares us for the future and playing college hockey, for sure, so in that way, it’s like a sneak peek for what’s to come," Maguyon said. "I think it helps pull guys closer together. We have restaurants we can go to or just activities we can do in the city."

According to the league website, the NAHL set a new single-season NCAA record with 280-plus commitments, and the Rebels had 12 commit to Divison I programs. Head coach Joe Coombs has built a tier-II junior hockey powerhouse over the past two years. Last season, the Rebels finished with the NAHL’s best regular-season record, advancing to the championship game of the Robertson Cup in Duluth, Minnesota, where they came up short in a 2-0 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas. 

“This is business,” Coombs said. “Let’s bring the game to the people. Over the last two years, we struggled with our attendance. I didn’t even know this place was here — UPenn hockey rink — and we couldn’t think of a better venue right here in University City to try and market our brand of hockey and bring our game to the people.”  

And who knows? You might just see a few former Flyers in the seats, as well.  

NHL Notes: Penguins sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin to 6-year contract

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NHL Notes: Penguins sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin to 6-year contract

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin has turned his steady play for the Stanley Cup champions into a new contract.

Dumoulin and the team agreed to a six-year deal on Monday that will run through the 2022-23 season and will pay him an average of $4.1 million per year.

The 25-year-old Dumoulin had three goals and 11 assists during Pittsburgh's run to the Cup this spring and hasn't missed a playoff game during the team's sprint to back-to-back titles.

Dumoulin averaged a team-high 21:59 of ice time this postseason, and his plus-9 rating was best among Penguins defensemen. Dumoulin was forced to take on a larger roll this spring after injuries forced Kris Letang to miss the playoffs.

Predators: Watson signs 3-year, $3.3 million deal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year $3.3 million deal keeping him under contract through 2019-20.

The Predators announced the deal Monday.

Watson will earn $1 million this season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in the third year.

The 25-year-old forward is coming off his best season yet with Nashville. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound Watson had a career high with five goals and seven assists in 77 games this past season. Watson scored four goals and had nine points in 22 playoff games helping Nashville reach the Stanley Cup Final.

The 18th pick overall in the 2010 draft, Watson had three goals and 10 points in 57 games during the 2015-16 season.

Now, center Ryan Johansen is Nashville's lone restricted free agent awaiting a new deal.

Sabres: Okposo says he’s healthy after concussion
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sabres winger Kyle Okposo said he is fully healthy after a concussion led to sleeping trouble, significant weight loss and a trip to intensive care last March.

Okposo missed the final few weeks of Buffalo's season with a previously undisclosed illness. In a letter posted on the team's website Monday, Okposo said a routine hit in practice caused his mood to change and other problems that required hospitalization.

The 29-year-old said he lost his appetite, had a negative reaction to sleep medications and that at one point he weighed less than 200 pounds. He spent time in the Neuro Surgical ICU at Buffalo General Hospital to be stabilized. Okposo's playing weight is listed at 218 pounds.

Okposo played in a 4-on-4 summer league game in Minnesota with other NHL players last week and reported feeling great. New general manager Jason Botterill said Okposo was on track to be ready for training camp.

"I've worked with a lot of different people -- concussion experts and people who have dealt with concussions themselves -- and I feel confident in the fact that I can play hockey again," Okposo said in the letter. "In fact, I know I can play again. I know I can play and not worry about hitting my head, which is a major hurdle for someone who's dealt with this. If I didn't feel 100 percent right now, that probably wouldn't be the case."

Okposo's last NHL game was March 27 against Florida. He had 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points in 65 games during his first season with Buffalo. He signed a $42 million, seven-year contract with the Sabres last summer.

NHL: Gamble to get back Hall of Fame ring
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A scuba-diving treasure hunter who found an American Hockey League Hall of Fame ring in one of New York's Finger Lakes is returning it to its owner.

Gary Gavurnik, of Auburn, New York, plans to return the prized ring to former AHL star Dick Gamble on Monday. Gavurnik found it with a metal detector in Canandaigua Lake over the Fourth of July weekend.

The 88-year-old Canadian-born Gamble starred for the AHL's Rochester Americans and retired early in the 1969-70 season. He was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2007.

Instead of wearing the ring, though, he gave it to his son, Craig, who wore it every day for seven years before losing it in the lake. He never told his dad and ordered a replacement.