May 24, 2024

Brink has something to prove with Flyers

Bobby Brink needed a break from hockey in order to better prepare himself for this season.

The Philadelphia Flyers forward prospect had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip July 26, 2022, which caused him to miss the first three months of last season. And although he returned with Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League in January, he said it wasn’t until development camp this month that he started feeling like the player he was before the injury.

“Just missing so much time, I wasn’t feeling great when I first got back,” Brink said. “It’s tough coming back from an injury like that. I’m honestly feeling my best kind of right now after taking some time off this summer and just letting everything kind of settle down.”

Brink got off to a hot start with Lehigh Valley last season, scoring a goal in each of his first two games and putting up 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in his first 15 games. However, he faded a bit after that, getting four points (one goal, three assists) in his next 15 games, though he finished strong down the stretch with 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his final 11.

Despite those ups and downs, the 22-year-old put on an impressive performance at development camp, including during a scrimmage that closed the week.

“He’s having fun again. You can tell,” Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said. “He was really frustrated last year. Even when he came back, he wasn’t … you’re always thinking about the hip. It took him a while to get going. He was one of our better players in the (AHL) playoffs and down the stretch. That injury takes a long time to get going. This summer has been great for him. Hopefully he finishes strong and gets back to where he was, or gets past where he was, because he’s free to work out with no restraints anymore.”

Brink (5-foot-8, 166 pounds) said one of the few benefits to being out as long as he was was his off-ice development. That included getting stronger, which has helped improve his skating.

“I think I’m better than where I was pre-injury,” he said. “I think every year I’ve improved my skating as well as other aspects of the game. I know that’s a big talking point in my game, but I think that I’m feeling good out there. I’m feeling fast. I feel quick [and] I think it’s only going to keep getting better. The staff here has helped me a lot in the weight room, and I feel quick. I think that’s probably the most important thing in my skating, is to be quick.”

Brink had four assists in 10 games with the Flyers to end 2021-22 season after finishing a strong collegiate career at the University of Denver, where he was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award after getting 57 points (14 goals, 43 assists) in 41 games as a junior.

But he lost the chance to build on that momentum because of the hip injury.

Training camp will give him a chance to showcase how far he’s come, but the competition for a roster spot will be fierce among a young group of forwards that includes Tyson Foerster (21), Elliot Desnoyers (21) and Olle Lycksell (23), who each earned a stint with the Flyers last season.

Brink, though, is ready to prove himself all over again.

“I think everyone’s probably got to do that all the time,” he said. “In this business you’re only as good as kind of how you’ve been playing recently. I wouldn’t say I’m at step one. I think a lot of these guys have seen me play in the past. But yeah, there’s always something to prove.

“I think everyone’s goal is to make the Flyers. No one’s going in there trying to make the AHL team. My goal … is to be an NHL player.”

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