The Philadelphia Flyers’ voluntary practice group is growing every day. This week, it even included an unexpected visit from forward Oskar Lindblom.

This week, the NHL adjusted its Phase 2 protocols. Twelve skaters at a time are now allowed on the ice for voluntary workouts at team practice facilities. That suits the Flyers just fine. Forward Nate Thompson is the latest to arrive at the Flyers SkateZone in Voorhees, N.J., the 11th player to join the group.

Here’s who has been in attendance, as of June 25:
  • Main Roster: forwards Sean Couturier, Joel Farabee, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Nate Thompson; defensemen Ivan Provorov and Philippe Myers and goaltender Carter Hart
  • Black Aces: defenseman Yegor Zamula and Mark Friedman and goaltender Alex Lyon
  • Injured Reserve: Oskar Lindblom (June 23)

#OskarStrong

Flyers players, managers and fans got an emotional boost on Tuesday when Oskar Lindblom hit the ice with his teammates.

Six and a half months ago, Lindblom’s third NHL season came to an abrupt halt. He was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.

Lindblom has been ruled out for this summer’s playoff tournament, which the NHL is hoping to get underway around the end of July. He was thrilled just to get a chance to skate with his teammates, with the full approval of his doctors.

“The only thing I’m waiting for now is to get done with my chemo and get back with the team and play some hockey,” said the 23-year-old Swede. “That would be unreal, to get back to real life again and have fun.”

“It was great to see him out there,” added Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher. “It is remarkable to think that with all the treatments that he has had, he was able to go out there today and still show the skill and still have the stamina to skate for about 35-40 minutes. It’s a great sign for him.”

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Myers & Thompson Join Practice Group

Though their health issues were not nearly as serious as Lindblom’s, Myers and Thompson are also returning from the injured list. Both were sidelined just before the season was paused.

Myers was expected to miss four weeks after suffering a fractured patella on his right knee when he blocked a shot against Buffalo on March 7. He joined the group on the ice in Voorhees last week, on June 19.

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“It’s good to be back, see some of the boys and sort of get back to the routine,” the 23-year-old New Brunswick native told the Flyers’ senior director of communications, Zack Hill.

“I’ve been rehabbing while I was at home, working hard and working out. I’ve just got to get back to skating now, because I hadn’t skated much at home. I never needed surgery or anything, so it was a smooth recovery.”

Thompson suffered a sprained knee in the Flyers’ final game against Boston on March 10. He was expected to be out at least two weeks.

“It’s good to be back with the rest of the guys,” Thompson told Hill on Thursday, after his return from his home in Southern California.

As for his knee? “It feels great,” said the 35-year-old. He was acquired from the Montreal Canadiens at the trade deadline in February, to provide additional depth at center for a playoff run.

“In a way, you can say when the break started, it was good for me to rest my knee,” Thompson added. “I had some time to heal up and relax, and at the same time, spend some quality time with the wife and the family. All in all, the knee feels good. I got some rest and I’m feeling pretty good on the ice.”

Other Injuries

Though he’s not yet back with his teammates, new father James van Riemsdyk is also ready to go. He fractured his hand against the Washington Capitals on March 4. That leaves just two other players still on the injured list with Lindblom.

Back in April, Chuck Fletcher told reporters that oft-injured defenseman Samuel Morin is targeting a return for the 2020-21 season. He underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL back in November. As for center Nolan Patrick, who missed the entire 2019-20 season with migraine disorder, “Nolan continues to work out daily,” Fletcher also said in April. “He has not been cleared for contact.”

The NHL continues to work toward finalizing its return-to-play plan, which will need to be approved by a players’ vote. The final plan will likely include some type of extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. That will be meant to address the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As things stand, it’s hoped that mandatory training camps will open in NHL home cities on Friday, July 10.

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