One of the most intriguing players at the Flyers’ prospect camp in Voorhees is a defenseman who has already played 45 games in the NHL, Marc-Andre Bourdon.
Bourdon’s 2012-13 season with the AHL Phantoms was cut short by a concussion, and he is skating with the prospects to get in shape _ and hopes to be cleared for contact in about a week.
“I’m not there yet, but I’m getting there,” Bourdon said. “I’m much better and moving in the right direction. The doctors are optimistic.”
Bourdon said his headaches have gone away and that his eyesight is improving. He said he has some blurred vision “maybe 10 percent” of the time, but that it has improved dramatically from when he was injured.
This is a big season for the Bourdon, who will turn 24 during the Flyers’ training camp in September at the Wells Fargo Center. He was impressive as a Flyers rookie, appearing in a little over half the games, collecting four goals and 54 penalty minutes, posting a plus-four rating and showing the ability to clear bodies in front of the net.
After they sign restricted free agent Erik Gustafsson, the Flyers will have nine defensemen competing for seven roster spots _ assuming Andrej Meszaros and Bourdon are medically cleared to play.
Complicating matters is that Bourdon has a one-way contract, meaning he must clear waivers before being sent down to the AHL Phantoms. If the Flyers tried to demote him, would another team make a claim or would it be scared off by his concussion history?
As for Gustafsson, he has a qualifying offer and a two-way contract on the bargaining table.
Barring a trade, the defense will include Kimmo Timonen, Luke Schenn, Braydon Coburn, Mark Streit, Nick Grossmann and Meszaros (if healthy). That leaves Bourdon, Gustafsson and Bruno Gervais battling for a roster spot.
“I just want to make sure I’m 100 percent” before returning, said Bourdon, who is also skating every day with assistant Joe Mullen and the coach’s son, Pat. “I’m pretty confident I’ll be ready for camp.”
Straka in plans? Right winger Petr Straka, a 6-foot, 195-pounder who signed as a free agent, has the size and speed to compete for a job with the Flyers in September.
“Who knows? We’ll have a better assessment after seeing him in camp,” said Chris Pryor, the Flyers’ director of hockey operations.
Straka, 20, had 82 points, including 41 goals, in the QMJHL last season.
Laughton bulks up. Center Scott Laughton said he had bulked up from 180 to 194 pounds since getting crushed in a board battle last year by Flyers defenseman Nick Grossmann.
Quotable. Shayne Gostisbehere on fellow defenseman Sam Morin, a 6-6, 203-pounder who was the Flyers’ No. 1 draft pick last week: “He’s definitely a big guy. During all the testing, he knocked everything out of the park.”
Morin excelled in the sprint and high jump, among other events.
Quotable II. Gostisbehere, a Union (N.Y.) College defenseman who is a Florida native: “I’m an offensive defenseman, but I’m not a slouch on defense, either. I have that little snot _ as everyone says, a little Flyer in me. Everyone knows in World Juniors I stuck a kid in the groin….My stick just floated up there.”
Breakaways. Robert Hagg, the 6-2, 205-pound defenseman taken in the second round, may be more advanced that Morin. He has a quick release and has played against better competition than Morin….The Flyers have six goalies at their developmental camp: Cal Heeter, Carsen Chubak _ two players who were free agents when signed _ Anthony Stolarz (second-round pick in 2012), Merrick Madsen (fifth-round pick this year) and invitees Ryan McKay from Miami of Ohio and Matt Skoff from Penn State.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.