There were plenty of changes made on the blue line for the Flyers this offseason. Most notably, Ivan Provorov was sent to Columbus in a trade and Tony DeAngelo was bought out. Add in the retirement of Justin Braun, and half of the team’s regular defensive core from a season ago will be different in 2023-24.

While there are veterans that can fill those spots, it leaves room open for competition. As the Flyers have stockpiled at forward with their top draft picks of late, there is one defenseman who should get especially close attention in training camp.

Emil Andrae was the Flyers second-round pick in 2020. At 5’9” and 181 pounds, it can be easy to overlook Andrae as an option, based strictly on size alone. But it’s in his compete level that Andrae has a strong chance to eventually make an NHL roster.

“I feel stronger, more powerful, more explosive,” Andrae said at the start of rookie camp. “I played a couple of games here and got a feel for it. I feel prepared for it.”

Andrae had signed a PTO with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the end of last season. Days later, he had signed his entry-level deal, putting him even more on the radar for the upcoming season.

Andrae had spent his entire career in Sweden, including 51 games in 2022-23 with HV71 where he recorded six goals and 26 points. There can be an adjustment period for players going from European leagues to North America. Very little adjustment was needed from Andrae, who in just 10 AHL games scored two goals and had six points.

“I feel like I’m a smart hockey player. I didn’t feel that much difference,” Andrae said. “I’ve played a couple of tournaments and games on a smaller rink, so I did know what to expect. There were some adjustments in gap control that you don’t think about that’s really important over here. Of course, there’s some adjustment, but not that much.”

The most noticeable quality Andrae has is in his compete level. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in skill, moving the puck with ease and possessing offensive zone qualities that will help his career. But to make the NHL with just 10 AHL games under his belt at age 21, he’s going to have to keep that competitive fire burning.

“I think that’s how I am as a player and as a human being. I don’t want to do anything at half speed,” Andrae said. “Just want to give it all every time I’m out there, otherwise there’s no point being out there. That’s just how I am and how I’m going to still be.”

“That’s his biggest quality: he competes. He’s not a big guy, he’s thick but he’s not tall. Moves the puck well, he’s got a hell of a shot, but his biggest quality is he competes,” Phantoms head coach Ian Laperriere said. “He wants to be the guy. That’s another guy, it’s a huge camp for him. He’s a kid that I’m sure will make a hell of an impression on the Flyers coaching staff.”

Andrae isn’t just looking to make an impression. He’s looking to earn a roster spot. And he’s expressed confidence that he can make the decision on where he plays to start 2023-24 a difficult one.

“I would be stupid if I didn’t have the goal to play in the NHL,” Andrae said. “I’m going to do the best I can in training camp in trying to prove to the coaches that I’m too good to play in the AHL.”

Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN. Follow him on social media @Kevin_Durso.

Philadelphia Flyers Uniforms Through The Years


More From 97.3 ESPN