Andrew MacDonald's injury has given Phil Myers a great opportunity to win a spot on the Flyers' opening-night roster, and the 6-foot-5, 220-pound defenseman will try to open eyes in training camp.
Myers, 21, was one of 22 players in Voorhees for the start of the Flyers' three-day rookie camp Monday. The main camp will begin Friday, and Myers will get a long look before the Flyers decide who will replace MacDonald, who is expected to miss the first two weeks of the season because of an undisclosed injury suffered while training two weeks ago.
"Obviously, it's an opportunity. There's a spot open, but that doesn't mean anything, by all means," Myers said after Monday's session. "I still have to work my butt off and try to earn that spot, and for now that's my goal."
In his first season with the Phantoms, the righthanded-shooting Myers had five goals, 21 points, and a plus-12 rating in 50 games and was impressive in the playoffs as Lehigh Valley reached the AHL semifinals in the spring.
Myers said he feels more comfortable than in previous training camps.
"I know the guys a lot better. I know the coaching staff and management a lot better," he said. "I think I covered a lot of ground with my game last year, getting a lot of experience with my first pro year. I'm really excited coming into camp. I feel more confident. Last year, I got a lot of experience in the playoffs. Played a five-overtime game and that was huge and good for development."
Myers played a staggering 66 minutes in that 2-1, five-overtime win over Charlotte in the longest game in AHL history.
"I'm just going to take all that experience and bring it into camp with me," he said, adding he didn't notice how tired he felt in the marathon game because "I had so much adrenaline going on. I only noticed it the next day. It sort of hit me like a wall when I woke up."
"Obviously, the guys are a lot bigger and a lot faster, so it was a little bit of an adjustment," Myers said of his first year in the AHL, one in which he overcame groin and foot injuries. "It's about not hanging onto the puck too long and not trying to complicate things and do the fancy play. The simple play is always the best play."
T.J. Brennan, the pride of Moorestown, and Reece Willcox are also defensemen in the mix to earn a roster spot.