Tortorella, Drysdale just fine with all of the text messages

Tortorella, Drysdale just fine with all of the text messages originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

VOORHEES, N.J. — Jamie Drysdale said his phone blew up when the news broke that he had been traded to the Flyers.

John Tortorella’s phone did, too.

The head coach didn’t mind the messages.

“I got texts all night long about the character of this kid,” Tortorella said Tuesday after practice, “so he’s going to fit in just right with this group.”

The next — and unexpected — chapter of the organization’s rebuild will officially commence Wednesday when Drysdale makes his Flyers debut in Philadelphia against the Canadiens (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Two days ago, the Flyers had to pivot from Cutter Gauthier, a top prospect who looked like a significant foundation piece but is now property of the Ducks. General manager Danny Briere traded the 2022 fifth overall draft pick Monday night to Anaheim in exchange for Drysdale and a 2025 second-round selection.

Turns out, going back to last May, Gauthier decided he was never going to play for the Flyers.

Unhappy with but accepting of the development, the Flyers have now moved on and are excited about Drysdale.

“The locker room is thrilled that he’s here,” Tortorella said. “I think some players have voiced their thoughts on the deal.”

The defenseman is only 21 years old, now the youngest player on the Flyers’ roster. His position is arguably the toughest in the game, requiring the most patience when it comes to translating to the NHL level.

But he already has 123 career NHL games under his belt. The 2020 sixth overall draft pick is considered to be a plus skater and puck mover. He’ll quarterback one of the Flyers’ power play units and Tortorella is going to push him to play to his offensive strengths.

Drysdale had already known a handful of the Flyers’ players, one being Scott Laughton. The two are from the Toronto area and train together every summer.

“It’s great to have him here,” Laughton said Tuesday. “I texted him right away when I found last night. Pretty exciting for him and for us, definitely. I think he adds a big element to this group and it’s exciting to have.”

What’s the scouting report on Drysdale?

“He’s an unbelievable skater, can shoot the puck, thinks the game well,” Laughton said. “He’s a pretty driven kid. It’s fun to watch in the summertime, him wheel around out there. I can’t wait to see him get into game action.”

Drysdale said his “mind was kind of in a blender” Monday night when he was told he had been traded.

“I didn’t see it coming at all,” he said.

He hopped on a 5:45 a.m. flight Tuesday to Philadelphia for his first practice. He was happy to have such a familiar face in Laughton when he arrived.

“It was funny, I think if you told us in the summer that we’d be playing together, I don’t know if we would have believed you,” Drysdale said Tuesday. “It’s exciting. He’s an unbelievable guy, I’m sure you guys know. Unbelievable guy, great player, great guy to be around. I gave him a big hug when we got here. He’s definitely a guy that will be in my ear and helping me out.”

Drysdale appreciated the Flyers welcoming him amid the chaos Monday night.

“I feel like probably right after their game was over last night, my phone blew up with texts, kind of welcoming me here and saying they were excited to have me,” he said. “That’s always real nice to here when you’re coming to a new team.”

A key for Drysdale will be staying healthy. He missed the majority of last season because of a torn labrum in his left shoulder and has been limited to 10 games this season because of a lower-body injury.

“I’m good to play,” Drysdale said. “That’s where my head’s at, just making sure I’m ready for the games, everything’s feeling good. It’s just good to be back on the ice. I’m looking to stay in as long as I can and play as many consecutive games as possible. I feel good and I don’t plan on changing that.”

While many are wondering why Gauthier didn’t want to play in Philadelphia, Drysdale has gotten good feedback on the Flyers.

“Literally the second I heard about it, my phone blew up from just people around the hockey world saying it’s an unbelievable place, first-class organization, a lot of great guys on the team, great team,” he said. “Not one bad thing to be said across the board.”

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