Flyers Prospect Recap: Cam York, Bobby Brink and Team USA’s Loss to Russia

Team USA has high expectations heading into the 2021 World Junior Championship, with a loaded roster and a need to redeem last year’s poor performance; Cam York is evidently important as the team’s de-facto top defenseman and captain, while Bobby Brink looks to prove that he’s taken steps forward to improve his game and deserve more minutes against quality competition. There’s a lot to watch with these Flyers prospects (arguably two of the organization’s five best players not in the NHL), but I want to attempt to bring coverage of every game they play with stat tracking and tape analysis to ensure you, the fan are as informed as possible. Today, I’ll be breaking down Team USA’s 5-3 loss to Team Russia on Christmas night, but more specifically, I’ll be diving into how Cam York and Bobby Brink performed.

Cam York

Controlled Entry % (all situations)Controlled Exit % (all situations)CF% (even strength)
75%87.5%40%
York’s stats (via my own tracking)

Cam York had an exciting game, but I wouldn’t exactly call his performance one to remember. While the captain managed to notch a goal and an assist (earning him Team USA’s player of the game award), he clearly wasn’t at his best from a gap control or puck support standpoint. His scouting report reads as follows:

The Good

  • Cam York possessed solid confidence in quarterbacking the powerplay and effectively moving the puck, and pushing shots through traffic, especially when looking to create rebounds.
  • Most effective American with zone exits; was opportunistic and rarely turned the puck over when taking a controlled approach to transition.
  • Good stickwork along the boards helped create key takeaways and halt opposing entries on numerous occasions.

Needs Work

  • Poor reception of passes, both by body positioning and the actual act of receiving. Saw several crisp passes end up behind him because of poor read of the play or lack of preparedness to receive.
  • Occasionally weak defensive coverage, especially when it came to leverage on track to the net in a one-on-one situation; lacks the top-end speed to get away with some of his puck watching habits.
  • Reluctance to be an assertive playmaker often causes a tendency to pass up on scoring chances; could stand to be up in the zone more often and looking to take the puck to the net given age, skating ability, and general offensive tools.

Rough Stuff

  • Caught floating in the offensive zone occasionally, but the entire American defense looked like this, so it’s difficult to be too hard on him.

Final Verdict

York was one of the more effective defenders for the U.S. last night, but that really isn’t saying all that much given that unit’s performance (poor puck support, periodically awful coverage in the high danger areas, general lack of effort). I’d really like to see him play a bit more aggressively and stop relying on others as much on a team where he should be a driving factor; he too often deferred to others when there was a play to be made that could have changed the game. I loved his approach to shooting from the point, but I’d prefer that he make that less of an emphasis in his game and focus on trying to take the puck to the net (something the U.S. did really well later in the game). His ability to get the Americans out of their own zone was crucial on a team that showed very little creativity in that department (albeit in a chip ‘n charge system), so that was encouraging as well. The one goal he got burned on was really more of a “great pass, awesome effort by the forward to make it happen” than a “bad play,” but if he had been more focused on his man rather than the puck, he probably could’ve impeded his path to the net more effectively. Overall, I felt that York was…. adequate, but as you can see from the shot attempt totals, he and the American elites need to be better.

Bobby Brink

Controlled Entry % (all situations)Controlled Exit % (all situations)CF% (even strength)
80%50%71.4%
Brink’s stats (via my own tracking)

Bobby Brink isn’t going to get a whole lot of credit for this game because of his one glaring mistake, but all the same, I felt he was one of the better skaters for either team. Brink fared well in limited deployment, and while he didn’t really wow me with any particular plays, he did a lot of things right and showed that if some of the more talented forwards in the lineup continue to look a bit lost (Alex Turcotte, for example), he’d be a fine choice to get some more ice time.

The Good

  • Had excellent chemistry with his linemates and was great in puck support in the offensive zone; always in a good position to either attack the net or facilitate from down low.
  • Generated a few scoring chances and had a really nice, crisp pass that started a scoring sequence (2nd U.S. goal).
  • Good with controlled entries in a system that didn’t give much opportunity to execute them; was key in setting up a pair of quality powerplay cycles.
  • Drew a few penalties and played a very clean game.

Needs Work

  • Whiffed on a goal that could have changed the game. Everything about his read of the play was perfect, but Brink needs to at the very least put the shot on goal rather than completely missing. There were another two moments where him having a more decisive reaction to a pass could have resulted in a goal.
  • Skating still looks a bit slow after the first few strides, which hinders his forechecking ability despite a clearly good effort.
  • Would like to see a bit more of the skill we know he has, but I can understand playing a very fundamental game given his status in the lineup.

Rough Stuff

  • Not really anything to put here.

Final Verdict

I liked what I saw from Brink yesterday in almost every phase of play, and I really think he deserved some more ice time. Obviously, the aforementioned whiff is frustrating, but his consistent ability to be in the right place to produce threatening shots or passes was a trait that many of the U.S. forwards seemingly didn’t have. If he sustains this play level, I wouldn’t be shocked if Brink explodes in the next few games against some slightly weaker opponents (Austria, Czech Republic, etc.). I still see a few issues with his skating that need a good deal of work, and I’d like him to be more aggressive with attempting zone entries and exits, but those aren’t really qualities that I’m focused on when evaluating him in this tournament. Brink has all the makings of a good middle-six player, and I’m very excited by his potential.

Photo by Dan Hamilton/Icon Sportswire

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