Flyers sign defenseman Stephen Wood to ATO

By Al Alven

The Philadelphia Flyers today signed defenseman Stephen Wood to an amateur tryout contract.

The undrafted 22-year-old is expected to be assigned to the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League for the remainder of the season. He will then attend training camp with the Flyers in September.

Wood was a four-year star at Providence College. His collegiate career ended earlier this month, when the Friars were eliminated in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs by New Hampshire.

At 6’3”, 210 lbs., Wood fits the Flyers’ mold as a defenseman with size and skill. As a senior, he was named to the Hockey East All-Star First Team after leading all conference defensemen in scoring with 20 points (9 goals, 11 assists) in 24 games.

Wood also finished third on Providence this season with 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) and led the team with 6 powerplay goals, 2 shorthanded markers, a plus-19 rating and 66 PIMs in 37 total games.

In his NCAA career, the Sudbury, Massachusetts native totaled 88 points (28 goals, 60 assists) and 260 PIMs in 143 games. He led the Friars in scoring in each of the past three seasons, and was named to the Hockey East All-Star Second Team in 2002-03.

“Wood is an offensive-minded defenseman,” said assistant general manager Paul Holmgren, in a statement released by the team. “He’s a big kid who we think is a good prospect and someone that we wanted to get in the organization. He’s going to come in for the rest of the year and be with the Phantoms.

“The contract doesn’t start until next year, but he’s going to come in as a tryout right now and be around the team. He may get in some games here down the stretch for the Phantoms. Next year, he’ll come to training camp with the big team.”

The acquisition of Wood continues the Flyers’ recent trend of signing undrafted collegiate players. This past summer, the organization inked defensemen Randy Jones (Clarkson University), Freddy Meyer (Boston University) and James Laux (Colorado College), and forward Nick Deschenes (Yale University) to entry-level deals.

Jones and Meyer became immediate contributors on the Phantoms’ blueline, and have both appeared in games with the Flyers this season. Laux and Deschenes have battled injuries and split time between the Phantoms and Trenton Titans (ECHL) as professional rookies.