The lines and pairings mean little on the first day of training camp, but it was still interesting that two of the Flyers’ prized rookies — center Nolan Patrick and left winger Oskar Lindblom — were inserted with players who could be in the team’s top six this season.
Yes, expectations are high for the highly touted forwards.
“I thought they both looked like they belonged today,” said coach Dave Hakstol, who downplayed the significance of the early line combinations. “As you get to the competitive stage of camp, it’s not going to be the flashy things that help you advance. It’s going to be the solid day-to-day work. I thought they both had real good work days today and looked poised.”
Lindblom was on a line with center Claude Giroux and right winger Travis Konecny, who played mostly at left wing last season. A total of 55 players were on the ice — 27 at the morning session, 28 in the afternoon — as camp opened and had a brisk and grueling pace at the Skate Zone in Voorhees.
Patrick, the No. 2 overall selection in the June draft, centered Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds. It could be a sign of things to come.
Like Patrick, Lindblom, who turned 21 last month and is in his first veteran camp, is expected to land a roster spot.
“You have to play your game and be the player you are,” Lindblom said.
Lindblom, who was strong at both ends of the ice in Wednesday’s rookie game against the New York Islanders, made a good first impression with Giroux.
“We only did a couple of drills, but his hockey sense is pretty high,” Giroux said. “He’s got a good shot and he’s not scared going to the net. We’re going to have a couple more practices here and hopefully a couple of preseason games together, and we’ll see how it goes.”
“He’s awesome,” Konecny said of the 6-foot-1, 198-pound Lindblom. “You give him the puck, he’s going to bury it. Smart player. He’s always in the right spots. I’m sure that will translate to the games and I’m excited to see it.”
Lindblom, playing primarily against men who were much older than him, was named the Swedish Hockey League’s top forward last season after finishing second in goals (22) and fourth in points (47). He had 10 assists in the playoffs, which was tied for No. 1 in the league.
To secure a roster spot, Lindblom must get acclimated to the smaller NHL rinks and “be hard along the boards and just go to the net all the time and try to score some goals and do my thing,” he said.
As for the 6-foot-2, 199-pound Patrick, he liked having Simmonds and Weal as his wingers. Simmonds led the Flyers with 31 goals last season, while Weal scored eight goals in his last 19 games.
“They both had good years and to start camp on a line with those guys is pretty cool,” said Patrick, who turns 19 on Tuesday. “I wasn’t nervous or anything. I skated with some pros in the summer and felt comfortable around them.”
Simmonds said Patrick “seemed real calm with the puck. I know it’s only Day 1, but the sense I got, and from talking to him, he’s got a really high hockey IQ. It really seems like he’s going to pick up things quickly.”