Zayde Wisdom might not get a chance with the Philadelphia Flyers right away, but his future looks bright for the Orange and Black after an impressive training camp this January.
Wisdom, an 18-year-old center, was one of the bright spots in Sunday’s Flyers scrimmage, a 4-2 winning result for Team Orange. The 2020 fourth-round draft pick has been included in the Flyers training camp ahead of the 2021 National Hockey League season opener on Wednesday and hasn’t looked out of step in Alain Vigneault’s team.
He got to line up against some of the Flyers’ big guns on Sunday night at the Wells Fargo Center and impressed a few people along the way.
“I’ve been impressed by him [Wisdom],” Vigneault said. “His skating ability, his feistiness in one on one battles. We saw a lot of that tonight. I liked what this young man has brought on the ice every time. Obviously very young player. He has come here and worked extremely hard and is competing.”
Wisdom has played the last two seasons with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and has seen his production increase majorly over that time. After registering only 10 points in 60 games played in 2018-19, Wisdom exploded for 29 goals and 59 points last season in 62 games played.
The aggressive, but skillful center is in a tough situation though due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced many of the top minor hockey leagues to get put on hold for the time being. Wisdom was included in camp along with many other young players in order to not only stay in shape, but to get a first crack with their NHL teammates.
Wisdom for now remains with the Flyers and got the praise of veteran center Kevin Hayes who he teamed up with on Sunday night.
“Yeah, obviously, the OHL and NHL are two different leagues,” Hayes said about Wisdom. “I don’t want to speak for Zayde. I thought he looked great out there. He works hard. You know what he brings. He brings a heavy game and I thought he looked totally normal.”
Wisdom is likely to return to Canada for the OHL season unless the Flyers move him to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He also could be included on the team’s taxi squad (4-6 players), which was created by the NHL this season in order to have additional players ready in case COVID-19 cases force roster changes to be made.
The team for now is continuing its preparations for Wednesday’s home clash with the Pittsburgh Penguins in South Philadelphia, the first of 56 regular season games over the next few months.
“There is no doubt that we are no different than anyone else,” Vigneault said. “Everyone has scrimmaged a little bit, had one or two inter-squad games like we have had tonight, and depending on your philosophy, you have your team ready to the best of your and their capabilities. I think considering the format, come the 13th, 5:30, we are going to be prepared, we are going to be ready and we are going to go out there and compete. That is what I expect this team to do every night.”