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Prospects Thread (AHL, KHL, SHL, CHL, NCAA, etc)

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  • #71
    Checking the standings over in the AllSweden division this morning (AIK on top!), Ersson's season really is remaining astoundingly great over the long haul, far from any slow down coming back from the IIHF U20.

    After a shutout in his last start, he's not just leading his division in GAA, SV%, Wins, and Win%, but making his goaltending teammates look very common with their below average stats. (Oh, and for reference, those 2-3 ranked goalies in the division both play for the division's top stingiest defensive-minded team)

    No doubt he's going to be with an SHL team next year, but I have to start considering that it's possible that the SHL team could be his current Västerås should he actually manage to lead them through to promotion. (That would be a long path against tough odds through the maze that is the current promotion/relegation playoffs).


    • #72
      Originally posted by lynchmob450
      Awesome job Strohs! While it's a little disappointing to hear about the lazy returns to the bench on line changes, I'm going to assume this was just one of those nights where he and the team just didn't have it.

      Thus the problem with only seeing a player play once in a season ... that’s all you are left with ... it makes an impression ... so ya although that was disappointing I’m trying not to dwell on it much ... the frustration by the Greyhounds was clearly evident that night ... a lot of cheap slashing, stick slamming, door slamming, throughout the night. His passing, creativity with the puck, and effortless skating all really stood out for me and all were big positives.

      On a funny note

      When I parked my car before the game I parked behind a car with Pennsylvania license plates. So I thought to myself wow that must be some die hard Philly fan, coming up here I. This weather to watch Frost play. Impressive.

      During the second intermission they announced that there was a couple of 15 year old prospects eligible for the 2019 OHL Draft, from the “Pittsburgh Elite Penguins” in attendance at the game ... which likely explained the reason the car with the Pennsylvania plates ...

      My mood instantly turned sour.


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


      • #73
        Originally posted by AIK1891 View Post
        As the title says, "A Conversation About Prospects with Flyers Assistant GM Brent Flahr"
        Really enjoyed reading this article.


        • #74
          Here is Charlie O'Brien's breakdown of the Flyers' top 20 prospects...

          The Athletic Philadelphia’s Top 20 Flyers Prospects — 2019 offseason edition

          1 - Morgan Frost

          Since the Flyers drafted Morgan Frost two summers ago, he has thrived at every level, in every situation. Both of his OHL seasons have been outstanding, and at World Junior Championship last winter, he was one of Canada’s most impactful players. There’s a strong argument to be made that the last time the organization had such a dynamic forward prospect in its ranks was way back in 2008, when a diminutive kid with great stats named Claude Giroux approached NHL readiness.

          Blessed with high-end skating ability, smarts and skill, Frost has best-case-scenario upside to become a legitimate first-line center in the world’s best league. He has a chance to start the 2019-20 season in the NHL in a bottom-six role if he excels in training camp, but if he cannot earn a spot on the big club then, he could still force his way onto the Flyers at some point during the season if he takes apart the AHL as he did Canadian juniors over the past two seasons.

          2 - Joel Farabee

          Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that Joel Farabee defied expectations and chose to leave Boston University after just one very successful freshman season, signing an NHL entry-level contract and turning pro. It was an aggressive decision, especially considering he’s yet to fully fill out physically and will be younger than almost all his opponents in his new league.

          But Farabee’s two biggest strengths have always been his signature attacking mentality as a winger and his high-end hockey sense, so it’s strangely appropriate that he wouldn’t shy from a daunting challenge due to a hunch that if everything breaks right for him, a spot in the NHL lineup might be his for the taking. Farabee reported to development camp at 175 pounds — 13 pounds higher than his weight at the combine last summer — and he plans to hit training camp pushing 180.

          He clearly possesses the skill to become an impact NHL scorer — Farabee was named college hockey rookie of the year after his standout freshman season — and his relentless style of play combined with his natural talent make it likely that even in a worst-case scenario, he’ll still be a quality bottom-sixer at the next level. Farabee is the rare high-floor, high-ceiling prospect.

          3 - Philippe Myers

          Fresh off a year in which the defenseman impressed fans and teammates during a well-earned, late-season NHL call-up — and Team Canada heads as well, considering their decision to invite him to the World Championship in Slovakia — Philippe Myers will aim to build on that success in 2019-20.

          It is rare for a player of his size (6-foot-5) to skate so fluidly and possess the puck skills that seem to come naturally to Myers. Combine that with a booming shot from the point — maybe the heaviest on the Flyers team — crisp passing and a love of jumping into the play, and all the physical ingredients are there for a future top-half-of-the-lineup defenseman. A small question remains about his decision-making at times, one that Myers will try to address in the coming season, as he seeks to lock down a full-time job at Flyers training camp and begin his Calder Trophy-eligible rookie season.

          4 - Cam York

          With the impending graduation of Myers to full-time NHLer status, the Flyers were staring at their first true prospect pool positional gap in years: a defenseman with the talent and smarts, who projects as a probable first- or second-pair defenseman. With the first-round selection of Cam York, they quickly filled that hole.

          While York compared himself to Shayne Gostisbehere on draft night, the 18-year-old’s style is more calm and cerebral than Ghost’s trademark flashiness. York has offensive ability, to be sure, and he can engineer a breakout as well as any prospect in his age group. But it’s his hockey sense that stands out most, both his poise with the puck and smarts without it.

          Combine that with strong skating ability and a high-end work ethic, and it’s not hard to see why the Flyers believe they have a special defenseman on their hands who could supplement their young blueline core at the NHL level in a few seasons, after he gains experience at the University of Michigan and fills out physically.

          5 - Isaac Ratcliffe

          Isaac Ratcliffe’s physical talent has never been questioned. He can dangle the puck through traffic, snipe shots past shell-shocked goalies and turn the corner on a defenseman on the rush like a 5-foot-10 speedster — except Ratcliffe can do all of these things at 6-foot-6. And with his production now matching his talent — Ratcliffe scored 50 goals in 65 games last season for the OHL’s Guelph Storm — he checks every box of a high-end wing prospect.

          But Ratcliffe isn’t merely a physical freak. His intangibles are off the charts as well; he’s showcased impressive attention to detail on the ice, and leadership abilities off of it, during his time in Canadian junior hockey. Ratcliffe captained a Guelph club that made it to the Memorial Cup last season after bouncing back from 3-0 and 3-1 series deficits in the OHL playoffs, and he takes pride in his ability to read the room and guide a club to success.

          He flashes legitimate potential as a play-driver in addition to his undeniable scoring ability, regularly making smart plays in the neutral zone and opening up space for his linemates. Ratcliffe still needs to work on his first few strides and acceleration (and by his own admission, he could still stand to put on a little more muscle), but he enters his first professional season knowing he’s not terribly far from being NHL-ready.

          6 - Bobby Brink

          In general manager Chuck Fletcher’s eyes, Philadelphia snagged one of the 20 best players in the 2019 draft with a second-round pick (No. 34), and he wasn’t alone in that assessment — the undersized Bobby Brink was expected by many to be gone long before Day 2 began. Instead, he slipped and the Flyers pounced, trading up to ensure they added the Minnesota winger to their prospect pool.

          The only reason Brink was not taken in the top 20 is his skating, which still needs some work. Aside from that concern, Brink possesses a well-rounded offensive skill set, with fantastic hockey IQ, high-end hands, deceptive and accurate passing ability, and an accurate shot that he gets off quickly.

          These strengths — supplemented by a natural tenacity — resulted in Brink scoring at over a point-per-game rate in both the World Junior A Challenge and the under-18 World Championships. He posted a 1.58 point-per-game rate in the USHL, the highest mark of any under-18 player in the league not also part of the U.S. National Team Development Program since Thomas Vanek in 2001-02. If Brink can continue to add power to his skating stride, the sky is the limit for him.

          7 - German Rubtsov

          Before a season-ending shoulder injury in November that required surgery, Rubtsov looked like he might force his way into the NHL over the course of the 2018-19 campaign. He amassed six goals and 10 points in 14 games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in his first professional season in North America. And despite the welcome boost in offense, Rubtsov continued to play well without the puck, proving to be a force on the penalty kill and showcasing the well-rounded, 200-foot game that convinced the Flyers they unearthed a steal in the late first round in 2016.

          With his shoulder now fully healed, Rubtsov will take a run at a spot on the NHL roster out of camp. He could turn into a high-end second liner (at center or wing) one day.

          8 - Wade Allison

          Wade Allison has dropped down Flyers prospect rankings for a few understandable reasons: the prospect pool (especially at wing) grows stronger every season, a disappointing junior season at Western Michigan and, of course, the fact he planned to return to school for his final season of collegiate eligibility, which raised legitimate concerns Allison was hesitant to sign a contract with the organization.

          At development camp in June, both Allison’s off-ice words and on-ice deeds went a long way toward addressing the latter two concerns.

          Allison said his recovery from a January 2018 ACL tear went slower than anticipated, which led to him playing at around 50 percent capacity as a junior. In addition, he strongly hinted he continues to be very interested in joining the Flyers organization — he simply does not want to sign until fully healthy, and still deems himself only about 85 percent of the way back to full strength.

          Obviously, Allison’s slow recovery from injury and yet-to-be-signed status add elements of uncertainty to his projection. While he appears to be trending in the right direction, it’s possible he never returns to peak form. And while Allison may ultimately join the Flyers organization, he could plausibly be tempted by another team as his final year of eligibility nears its end. But the talent is still there. Particularly during the 3-on-3 tournament at development camp, Allison showcased the combination of natural goal-scoring ability and tenacity that made him such an intriguing prospect in the first place. If he can get healthy and does choose to sign with the Flyers, there’s second-line winger upside here.

          9 - Samuel Ersson

          There is an argument to be made that Samuel Ersson, 19, just finished one of the best goaltending seasons in Allsvenskan history. In 36 games, his 0.933 save percentage and 1.95 goals against average dwarfed that of the team’s backup (Marcus Dahlbom), who could only muster a 0.890 save percentage and 3.18 goals against average in a season he largely spent at age 28.

          Ersson was easily worth a goal a game of value to his team, and helped his Västerås side finish third in the second-tier Swedish pro league, when many thought his club would be fighting against relegation. Ersson was awarded both league goalie of the season and player of the season, while also making his senior Swedish national team debut. Ersson also impressed at the world juniors, posting a strong 0.922 save percentage in four appearances. His economy of movement and rapidly improving technique make it reasonable to hope he could develop into an NHL starter in the future.

          10 - Felix Sandström

          Felix Sandström may not have delivered an amazing 2018-19 season on paper, but he played well for HV71 in the SHL after a write-off of a 2017-18 campaign due to a stomach ailment. Sandström’s numbers were also better — albeit marginally — than the team’s veteran starter Jonas Gunnarsson, during his swan song season in Sweden.

          The next chapter of Sandström’s professional career will come in North America. In 2019-20, the naturally talented netminder plans to make the jump to the AHL full time, with hopes of showing his wares and putting himself in position to earn an NHL job. With goalie injuries a constant threat and veteran Brian Elliott signed to a one-year contract, that opportunity could come sooner than most think.

          In the interim, Phantoms fans should be in for a treat with Sandström between the pipes, as he regularly delivers highlight saves due to his high-end athleticism, making seemingly impossible stops at times. Consistency remains the primary concern, but there are not many young goalies with more natural talent than Sandström.


          • #75
            11 - Jay O’Brien

            Jay O’Brien essentially had the Draft+1 year from hell.

            Two injuries, including a concussion. A limited role for Team USA at the world juniors. And most importantly, a failure to establish himself at the collegiate level as a freshman at Providence, scoring just five points in 25 games — extremely disappointing numbers for a first-round pick, circumstances aside.

            His goal for 2019-20 is to execute a hard reset. The expectation is that O’Brien will spend the season with the Penticton Vees in the BCHL, dropping to a lower-quality league in order to retain his collegiate eligibility. The hope, of course, is that O’Brien will tear up the league in his Draft+2 season, before heading to Boston University to restart his college career.

            O’Brien remains a tenacious, talented forward prospect — at development camp, he showed the skills that impressed so much last summer have not disappeared. But the disappointing 2018-19 campaign pushes back his NHL timeline dramatically and puts him in a position where he has to excel in Penticton to prove he should still be considered a high-end prospect.

            12 - Mikhail Vorobyev

            After a fantastic preseason last September that resulted in him earning a place on the Flyers’ roster, Mikhail Vorobyev faded quickly, appearing out of his element and a step behind NHL competition. He returned to the AHL and continued to progress, from 0.50 points per game in 2017-18 to 0.619 in his second season with the Phantoms. Vorobyev should be hungry to return to the NHL to start the 2019-20 campaign.

            While his ceiling might be “just” as a good third-line pivot, Vorobyev remains one of the best passers in the organization. He plays a well-rounded game, priding himself on solid defense. Some have doubted his intensity and foot speed at times. Improving his shift-over-shift and game-over-game consistency would go a long way toward resolving those perceived issues. If Vorobyev can make strides in that area of his game, he’ll contribute in the NHL.

            13 - Nicolas Aube-Kubel

            Nicolas Aube-Kubel is rapidly approaching a crossroads in his professional career. After a breakout 2017-18 campaign with the Phantoms in which he established himself as a high-end play-driver and 5-on-5 scorer at the AHL level, he appeared poised for a promotion to the Flyers. But Aube-Kubel failed to earn a spot with the big club out of training camp last year, and even though he did earn a call-up in late October, he failed to score a point in nine games with the Flyers before returning to the minors.

            That said, Aube-Kubel’s NHL minutes were kept to a minimum, and he did carry over his play-driving ability (56.9% Corsi For and 57.5% xG For Percentages, per Corsica.Hockey) to the higher level. But questions remain regarding his offensive upside — Will he be able to translate enough of his offensive ability to score even at a reasonable bottom-sixer level? — and his shift-over-shift consistency.

            Aube-Kubel enters 2019-20 lacking waiver-exempt status, meaning that if he doesn’t make the Flyers out of camp, he’ll need to be exposed to every other team in order to return to the Phantoms. Considering his minimal NHL experience, it’s possible he’d clear. But his status turns this camp into an especially important one. He should make a big push to earn a spot with the big club as a bottom-of-the-lineup forward, but the onus is ultimately on the 23-year-old to convince a new front office and new coaching staff that he’s worthy of a place on the Flyers.

            14 - Linus Högberg

            Linus Högberg was one of the better defensemen inside his own red line last season in the SHL. Mainly tasked with matching up against opponents’ best players on a shift-to-shift basis, the mobile young blueliner handled the job with aplomb, finishing the year with a 56.2% Corsi For Percentage at 5-on-5 while receiving more than 16 minutes at even strength per night.

            Offensively, he was snakebitten to start the year, and while his 10 points in 52 games might not seem especially impressive, it was good for second-most on the Växjö defense. He has all the skills to be a valuable No. 4 or No. 5 defenseman in the modern NHL, and assuming the organization chooses to sign him to an entry-level contract — their rights to exclusively negotiate with Högberg expire next summer — he could be a dark horse to push for a spot with the big club, considering his extensive professional experience in Sweden.

            15 - Mark Friedman

            Mark Friedman had an interesting 2018-19 season. After struggling to earn the confidence of his AHL coaches during his first professional campaign, the defenseman proved to be one of the most impressive blueline prospects at Flyers training camp, lasting even longer than blue-chipper Myers. It appeared that Friedman had reasserted himself on the organizational depth chart — and then the organization was completely restructured after the dismissal of general manager Ron Hextall. Friedman lost a coach who had slowly learned to trust him in Scott Gordon, and had to continue his second professional season not knowing where he stood with an entirely new group of decision-makers.

            However, Friedman did earn a recall for the final game of the regular season, making his NHL debut versus the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 82. That implies the new brain trust values his skill set. At the same time, with the offseason acquisitions of Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun, there is no longer a clear spot in the NHL lineup for a right-handed shooting defenseman such as Friedman. For now, he sits in the minors as a potential injury call-up, where he can aim to improve his consistency and hope to eventually earn an extended chance to prove himself at the highest level of hockey.

            16 - Yegor Zamula

            After he went unselected in his first year of eligibility at the 2018 NHL Draft, Yegor Zamula quickly justified the Flyers’ decision to sign him to an entry-level contract. Fifty-six points in 61 games is impressive for any Draft+1 defenseman in the CHL (for comparison, Travis Sanheim scored 65 points in 67 games in his post-draft season), but for such a season to come from an undrafted free agent, it validated the shrewdness of Philadelphia’s signing.

            That said, Zamula is far from a sure thing. Like most of the prospect pool, Zamula’s hockey sense is strong, but he remains rail-thin and his skating lacks power. He’s still an exciting prospect because the plausible upside exists for him to become a top-four NHL defenseman, but he absolutely qualifies as a project. He has a long way to go before he can be viewed as a potential impact blueliner at the NHL level, but there is a path for him to achieve that status.

            17 - Tanner Laczynski

            Tanner Laczynski isn’t far away from taking a real run at being a useful NHL player. Strength-wise, he could likely hold his own. And purely from a skill-set standpoint, Laczynski remains one of the more well-rounded forwards in college hockey — despite injury issues, he exceeded point-per-game pace as a junior with the Buckeyes.

            For the Flyers, the big question is whether he has a future in their organization. Like Allison, Laczynski chose to return to college for his senior season, meaning that he’ll either sign with the club at the end of his last year of eligibility or hit free agency and become a target for every team in the NHL. The talent is there for him to be a versatile NHL bottom-sixer with middle-sixer upside, even if his skating will likely never approach high-end levels. But the possibility that he might look to achieve that upside with another organization cannot be discounted.

            18 - Samuel Morin

            The big blueliner has effectively missed two straight seasons due to injury, playing only 27 games since the start of 2017-18. When Samuel Morin has been fortunate enough to appear in AHL contests, he has impressed, and he hasn’t looked especially out of place in his seven scattered NHL games over that period, either. But playing in only 27 competitive hockey games across two key developmental years is obviously less than ideal.

            Now healthy and waiver eligible, Morin is in his best position in two years to establish himself as a full-time Flyer. His upside may not be much more than a unique No. 4 or No. 5 defenseman at this stage, but he skates exceptionally well for his size, has a big shot and has steadily improved his puck skills since the team drafted him 11th overall back in 2013.

            If he can avoid injury, it’s not hard to see him carving out a depth role in Philadelphia during the 2019-20 season, even if he’d likely begin the year as an observer from the press box, considering the additions to the NHL blueline corps made by Fletcher this offseason.

            19 - Noah Cates

            Noah Cates is the epitome of an under-the-radar prospect highly regarded in scouting circles. His skill set has long been praised by those in the game, and his ability to prove a useful cog as a freshman for a Minnesota-Duluth team that won the NCAA national championship did not go ignored across the league. Assistant general manager Brent Flahr even acknowledged during development camp that Cates was a player he wished he had selected while helping to drive the Minnesota Wild’s drafts (Cates is a Minnesota native). For a player ranked 19th in a team’s prospect pool, Cates in more well known than fans might think.

            Most observers agree that Cates possesses NHL upside; the question is just how high that upside stretches. Cates himself envisions a future as a middle-sixer who can win puck battles and create space for more dynamic players, though he hopes to improve his skating ability to the point where he can become one of those dynamic forwards himself. Others see him more as a quality bottom-sixer who can chip in here and there with points. The good news is that Cates seems to improve every year, and he’s already proven to be solid value as a fifth-round pick. His development as a skater will ultimately decide his NHL potential, though.

            20 - Wyatt Kalynuk

            Playing for a Wisconsin team that has flown a bit under the radar in college hockey circles the past few seasons, Wyatt Kalynuk can fall through the cracks when Flyers fans are discussing the organization’s top blueline prospects. The fact he still has the “seventh-round draft pick” tag doesn’t help matters, either. But back-to-back seasons of 25 points in 37 games and a Badgers MVP team award last season underline his credentials for an NHL future.

            Kalynuk’s style could be a solid match in head coach Alain Vigneault’s system, where defensemen jump into the play and are active at the blueline, and he has the puck skills to back up his fast — though at times choppy — skating. He’ll return to the Badgers as team captain for what could be his final college year.

            And with top-tier prospects Alex Turcotte, Cole Caufield and Dylan Holloway (projected top-20 pick in 2020) joining Kalynuk and Rangers prospect K’Andre Miller in Madison, the suddenly exciting club might not stay under the radar much longer. With a strong junior campaign, Kalynuk could firmly establish himself as a young blueliner with at least bottom-of-the-lineup NHL potential.


            • #76
              Here is some commentary from assistant general manager Brent Flahr on the top 20 prospects.

              1 - Morgan Frost

              You mentioned at development camp that Frost needs to prove at training camp that he’s physically ready to make the jump to the NHL, if he wants to make the big club. But speaking strictly in terms of skill set, what boxes does he need to check at camp in order to make the strongest possible case? What aspects of his game do you most need to see translate in preseason games, in practices?

              Well, we certainly don’t want to change him. Obviously, he’s blessed with great skills and vision and offensive instincts. But the things in his game that he’ll need to clean up is, (No.) 1, the pace, and (No.) 2, just managing the puck. A lot of the cute little plays, lateral plays that you get away with in junior hockey, aren’t going to work at the pro level.

              He’s a smart enough player, he does understand that. But he likes to make cute plays. He likes to be creative and do some things. When he gets up there with the big guys, and playing at the pace of the NHL, he’ll figure it out. It’ll take a little time, but he’s a smart player. We’re confident he’ll get there.

              With the signing of Kevin Hayes, you now have the top three center positions seemingly filled for the foreseeable future with Sean Couturier, Hayes and Nolan Patrick. So presumably when Frost makes the jump, it will probably be at wing, at least to start. Is that the position where you think his skill set might best translate to the next level?

              I think he can play both (wing and center). I’ve seen him play both, and I’ve seen him play very well at both. I think playing center is much harder for a young offensive player to come in and contribute right away. That’s up to the coaches, obviously, when it does happen. But I think being able to create while being able to manage the defensive side of the game, I think it’s a little easier on the wing.

              I hope he’s a center at the end of the day. … We’ll certainly develop him at center as much as we can.

              Let’s say a guy has to start his career at wing at the NHL level. How do you go about continuing to develop the type of skill set that would allow him to — maybe a year, two years down the road — slide over to the middle?

              When you’re down in Lehigh Valley, you’re obviously working at your game. If you’re up top, you’re watching to see what Sean Couturier does every day. The little details in his game, how he defends, how he manages the puck and how he manages the game. Obviously, (Frost is) going to be able to play with good players eventually, we think. It’s just learning the little things in the game, which all these young players have to do.

              2 - Joel Farabee

              One thing that’s stood out to me when I watch him, is that Farabee tends to play with the kind of relentlessness you usually see in bottom-sixers, but then he also has the skill to make some high-end offensive plays as well, which makes him a really intriguing type of player. Now that he’s spent a year playing against collegiate competition and is turning pro, do you have a better idea of what kind of forward Joel Farabee will be at the NHL level? I’m talking both stylistically and in terms of role. It seems like he could theoretically do a lot of different things.

              Yeah, obviously he’s skilled, but (he’s a) very smart player. Obviously, we hope he’s going to be in our top-six for sure, and a guy that’s going to complement a skilled center and generate offense. But he’s a smart player, and can be used in a lot of different areas of the game. As he fills out and gets stronger and feels comfortable out there, he’s gonna challenge (for an NHL spot), maybe sooner rather than later.

              3 - Philippe Myers

              When a young player takes that next step in terms of moving from one league to the next, you always learn a little bit more about him and his strengths and weaknesses. What did Phil Myers’ end-of-season stint at the NHL level tell you about him as a player?

              Well, first of all, it was more for him than for us. We’ve seen his improvement over the last couple years, and we knew he was an exciting prospect. For him to get that taste of the NHL, and play important minutes, playing some hard games and hard matchups, it was great for his confidence level, so he understands that he’s an NHL player and he understands that he still has work to do.

              I think it should pay big dividends when it comes to camp. He should feel comfortable walking in that dressing room and knowing that he’s a part of the team. He works so hard off the ice that we know he’s not going to take it for granted, and he’ll come ready.

              Chuck Fletcher made it pretty clear that one of the reasons why he felt comfortable trading Radko Gudas was because third-pair right-handed defenseman was Radko’s spot and he felt bullish on Myers’ ability to step into that role. What gives you and Chuck that level of confidence in Myers?

              Well, firstly, he has the size, the range, the skating ability. You check all of the boxes as far as his physical tools. He’s got an offensive dimension, he’s got a big shot, he’s long, he can defend.

              I think by bringing him in and forcing him into your top four, or wherever up your lineup, I don’t know if that’s smart long-term. I think bringing him in, allowing him to start in your bottom pair and grow his game and keep improving, it’s probably smart (developmentally) for a young defenseman.

              Unfortunately, with him and Radko being at the same position, it just … I wouldn’t say it made the one player expendable, but just two guys in the same position, for our long-term future here, Phil is the guy that we have there (now).

              4 - Cam York

              We’ve talked a lot about Cam York over the last few weeks, but I wanted to ask about development curves. The defense in Philadelphia is chock full of young, talented blueliners; it’s clearly an organizational strength. Does the fact you have guys like Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Shayne Gostisbehere at the NHL level, all left-handed shots, make it more likely you’ll be willing to “take it slow” with Cam?

              Because on one hand, he needs to develop physically, but he does play a really mature game already, like Farabee did, and Farabee turned pro after one year. Does the NHL depth inform decisions about his next step in terms of development, or is it ignored and it’s only what feels like is right for the player?

              With a player like Cam, I think, obviously, he has the time. We’ll give him all the time that he needs to develop properly. But he’s the type of guy, and he has the skill set, where his game could escalate pretty quickly. He’s a very intelligent player, terrific skater, terrific head for the game and the poise he shows with the puck is pretty high-end.

              He’s a guy that should fit in playing with quality players right away, so it’s just whether he’s physically and mentally ready to handle it. We’ll see where it goes. Whether it’s one year, two years, three years at Michigan, we’ll see. But his play, and where he’s at mentally, will dictate that.

              The way the cap era is, we plan these things out three or four years, and you look three or four years back, and what our plan was … it changes all the time. So to say that a player is boxed out is really just not realistic, unfortunately, with the cap era. Things change quickly.

              5 - Isaac Ratcliffe

              Everyone understandably always talks about Ratcliffe’s physical gifts. But he’s also a guy who captained his junior team to the OHL title, and when you talk to him, he seems like someone who could establish himself as a locker room leader as a pro. Is that something you’d agree with?

              Yeah, I think anybody you talk to, I think he’s really grown into that role in Guelph. He went through a couple tougher years there, but he steadily got better.

              He’s really worked at his game, on and off the ice. For a tall guy like him, it takes some time, and it takes a lot of time in the gym to get stronger and put weight on. He’s a pro already, the way he handles himself and carries himself on and off the ice. As for younger players in Guelph who were watching him, I’m sure he was a big help to their coaching staff there.

              With his size, the skill set, his ability to score goals — he’s a really exciting prospect for us. I think he’ll need some time to round out his game, but you can’t teach size, and you can’t teach his ability to score, so it’s a great combination to have.

              6 - Bobby Brink

              Obviously, you’ve been watching Bobby Brink for quite a while, there’s the Minnesota connection. But at what point in his development did he really start to solidify himself in your mind as a true high-end prospect in his year? I know you said he was top 20 on your board.

              Yeah, you see him in high school, and he’s been a very, very good high school player for years. And then, when he stepped into Sioux City this year in the USHL, and not only found his way, but he was tearing it up to start the season. He was scheduled to go back to Minnetonka for his final season there in high school, and I think he was over two points per game at the time, and obviously was more than comfortable playing at that level (laughs).

              When he decided to stay, and he continued his scoring and dominating the game offensively at that level — which is hard to do for first-year guys — he caught everybody’s attention. Just with his smarts and his skill set. He jumped out at you, and obviously he’s a good prospect that we have a lot of high hopes for.

              7 - German Rubtsov

              Both you and Chuck have said that German Rubtsov is one of the guys who could potentially have a chance of making the big club come September. But he’s a little different from some of the other guys in that race, in that he can theoretically play a lot of different potential roles in that bottom six. I imagine someone like Frost, for example, would only make the team if he can play in a scoring role. But Rubtsov you could plausibly see on a third line, or even in a more defensive role on a fourth line. Do you think it would be OK to start out on a fourth line, considering how sound he is defensively? Obviously, there’s a worry about ice time, but new head coach Alain Vigneault has historically used his fourth lines quite a bit.

              That’s something that we’ll talk about. Obviously, he missed considerable time last year, which is not ideal for any young player. But his game hasn’t changed much over the years. He’s always been a very responsible player. He has a very good skill set, but the defensive side of things is always first. He’s more than capable of generating offense, which he was showing in Lehigh Valley before he got hurt.

              He’s another one of those players that I think coaches sometimes really appreciate right away, just because of the details in his game. I think that’s going to give him a chance to show well in camp, if he continues to have a good summer, if he comes in physically ready — which it appears he will.

              8 - Wade Allison

              The primary focus right now with Wade Allison is obviously trying to get him back to 100 percent health. But even before the injury, it’s not like he was a finished product developmentally. What aspects of his game does he most need to work on — setting aside the injury — in order to hit his ceiling?

              Well, maybe some of his quickness, agility. He’s a powerful skater, he’s a very good skater (in a) straight line. He powers his way to the net, he’s a big body, strong, he’s got good hands, he can really shoot it. So the quickness, quick feet, turns — in order for (him) to be a power forward, some of the movements to get away from defenders and create space for yourself is probably one of the things. And part of that is obviously health, with his knee as well.

              How hard is it to work on that when you’re trying to just get healthy in the first place?

              Oh, it’s certainly been a challenge for him. I think, this summer, part of it’s been rest, part of it’s been training. But I think he’s feeling better and better, and we’re hoping he’s 100 percent here to start the season, and obviously build on what he’s done in the past. And just for his own mind, just to be coming into the season healthy, he should be able to have a big, big year for (Western Michigan).

              9 - Samuel Ersson

              Ersson had the breakout in Sweden last season, a strong performance at the world juniors as well. Now he’s poised to get real playing time in the SHL before he even turns 20. He was a fifth-round pick last summer, but is he the kind of guy where, if they redraft that class, he’s probably going in the top two or three rounds?

              Yeah, I would think so. He had a very good year. One thing that makes him is his compete level. He obviously tracks the puck very well, he anticipates the play very well, but it’s battle level that really separates him from a lot of guys.

              He came on the scene, had a very good year this year, had a good run at the world juniors, which was a testament to how his game has developed. He’s going to a good Swedish program (Brynäs) that has produced goalies (in) the past. He’s a guy that we’ll help out in whatever way we can, and there’s no rush for goaltending, but he’s in a good place to develop there.

              10 - Felix Sandström

              Chuck mentioned on July 1 that the plan is to make sure Felix Sandström gets a lot of games in his first season in North America. But Alex Lyon is still under contract, Jean-François Bérubé was signed for depth and Kirill Ustimenko is coming over as well. So how does Sandström get all of those games? Is the expectation that he’s going to lead the group in Lehigh Valley, like Hart did last season, prior to his call-up?

              Well, we’ll see if he’s really ready, he can certainly challenge there. But for him, he hasn’t played a ton of hockey over the last few years. He’s a guy that we want to play, not just sit and back up. So whether he’s in Lehigh Valley or if he’s in Reading, whatever the situation is, we want him playing.

              Goalies are obviously different. American Hockey Leagues schedules are a little light in the first half of the season typically, so we’ll manage it as we go here, but we certainly wanted to protect ourselves and make sure we’re doing the right thing for him and his development.

              11 - Jay O’Brien

              With him making the decision to transfer, it’s undeniable that even in a best-case-scenario, Jay O’Brien pushed his NHL timeline back a bit. Even if he excels in the BCHL, transfers to Boston University and does great, you’re talking about adding a couple more years to his timeline. Some organizations might not love that idea, but it seems like you guys are totally on board. Why the willingness to be extra patient with him?

              First of all, it’s for the player and his own happiness. He was not happy (at Providence College) from the start. There’s a lot of different things that were involved there, but as a hockey player, he’s a terrific kid. It’s a big, big jump for a lot of high schoolers to college hockey, and he’s figured that out. So he’s going a different path here, and it’ll take him a little extra time.

              But I think the extra time to get stronger, get quicker, faster and regain his confidence, it’s just going to help him. And again, he’s going to a good program — not that Providence wasn’t — but he’ll be more ready to handle it at the time. And whenever he gets there, the timeline … we’ll figure that out as it goes. He is an asset to our organization, a guy that has the potential to be a good pro.

              12 - Mikhail Vorobyev

              Chuck named Vorobyev a few weeks ago as a guy who will remain in the mix for an NHL roster spot. Obviously, last year didn’t go as he hoped the two times he was up with the Flyers. I know you weren’t here for his first stint, but you and Chuck were for the second. What was missing in his game from what you saw?

              That’s a tough one to see. You watch him play in Lehigh, and he was playing with a lot of confidence and doing things on both sides of the puck. And then he got up here, and it just seemed he couldn’t quite get over the hump. Sometimes, it takes players three or four times to get up, to establish (themselves).

              He’s a smart player, he has the skill set to play. It’s just finding his role, and being able to contribute when he gets that chance. Obviously, you’ve got a new coaching staff here and a clean slate, but he has a lot of intriguing qualities that our coaches will certainly like.

              I think the pace of his game is something that’s gonna have to continue to improve, but he’s aware of that, and he’s supposedly working hard this summer to make sure he’s in the best shape he can be to challenge for a spot here. For him, it’s Year 3 (in North America), and it’s a big year for him.

              13 - Nicolas Aube-Kubel

              Is Aubé-Kubel a player who enters camp realistically in the mix for a roster spot? We’re talking about a guy who spent some time with the big club last year, and I believe is no longer waiver-exempt come September. Where does he factor into the race?

              Well, we’re hoping he’s challenging (for a spot). He’s a guy that, when he’s playing the right way — playing with energy and with an edge — he has a chance to be a useful player. He can play on both sides of the puck. He can chip in offensively, but the big part of his game is going to be his energy and being able to be responsible defensively and kill penalties in order for his coaches to trust him.

              He’s got the tools to play, and whether he’s ready to go, we’ll find out. But he’s a guy that’s been around for a couple years, and his time is now, for sure.

              14 - Linus Högberg

              Högberg has already spent a significant amount of time in the SHL at a young age, but he didn’t come over to North America this summer. Is he a guy who still needs to make adjustments to his game to prove he deserves that shot in North America, or was it a case of feeling like he was best served spending one more year over there before coming over next summer?

              Yeah, we thought he needed more time. There’s no rush to bring him over (when he’s) playing in a quality league. For him, he needed to get stronger still, he needed to play more. He’s going to have a bigger role this year, and we think that’s better for his development than coming over here and potentially struggling at the pro game in North America. We’re confident where he’s at, and where he’s developing, in a good program there. We’ll work with developing him here this year again, and hopefully he’ll come over next year.

              15 - Mark Friedman

              Friedman earned that recall at the end of last season, and made his NHL debut. But with the additions of Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun this offseason, and then Myers there as well, you guys are pretty much locked in on the right side to start 2019-20 at the NHL level. What does Friedman need to do to push himself into that picture, aside from being around in case of potential injuries?

              First of all, I think he worked hard at his game last year. I think there’s a lot of pressure, with Myers coming through (the system). But the one thing with him is he’s got great mobility. He’s a highly competitive guy that plays with an edge, and it’s just simplifying the game (that’s important for him). I think he was trying maybe to do too much at times with the puck, and even on the defensive side of things, with his compete level.

              But I think he’s settled down, and when he even got his call-up, which probably happened later than we would have liked — just with the bodies we had here, we weren’t able to give him a call-up sooner — I think he played very well. I think the game was easier for him. He was “quieter,” if you want to use that word, but he was more efficient and showed well for himself.

              We have a new coaching staff here, we’ve got all new people here, and it’ll be interesting to see where he’s at in camp.

              16 - Yegor Zamula

              Zamula obviously broke out in a big way offensively last season in the WHL with the Calgary Hitmen, but is it fair to consider him a more long-term project of a prospect? He obviously needs to put a lot of weight on.

              Yeah, and that’s what he’s missing. But you see him play in Calgary, you saw him play in development camp, and he looks like a quality prospect. He has the size, the length, the range. He’s good with the puck. He plays with confidence. There’s a lot of really interesting qualities to his game.

              For him, it’s going to take time to put some weight on, fill out, get stronger, in order to compete and be able to handle NHL forwards defensively. Obviously for a tryout, getting a player of this caliber is great. He’s a very good prospect, and a guy that we’re excited to have.

              17 - Tanner Laczynski

              When I spoke with Flyers development coach Kjell Samuelsson in Januaryabout Tanner Laczynski, he noted that he felt that — at least from a physical standpoint — Tanner was pretty close to NHL-ready. Obviously, he chose to go back to school for his senior year. Is there confidence on the organization’s part that he’s ultimately going to sign an entry-level deal with the Flyers?

              We hope so. We’ve talked to his agent, we’ve talked to him throughout the seasons. Obviously, we would have signed him at the end of this year, we think he’s more than ready physically and mentally to handle the pro game, and he could have challenged for a spot. But he wanted to go back for his senior year, graduate, which is an honorable thing to do. We’ll deal with the contract at season’s end.

              18 - Samuel Morin

              Right now, Sam Morin’s in a bit of an odd position on the depth chart, as there are seven other defensemen in the organization projected to be NHLers in 2019-20 who played more NHL games than he did last season. What is his path to consistent ice time next year? He’s no longer waiver-exempt, so trying to get him back down to the AHL comes with obvious risk, but he’s a guy who seemingly needs to play competitive hockey considering he unfortunately hasn’t done a lot of it over the past two seasons, and there’s not necessarily a clear path to nightly playing time at the NHL to start next season.

              Yeah, it’s a unique situation for Sam. Unfortunately, he’s been injured for two years. But you see the size, the mobility, the physical package that he brings. He’s extremely intriguing, and extremely intriguing to our new coaching staff. Obviously, he brings a toughness element that … there aren’t many of these guys on the back end that (have) what he has.

              He’s a great kid. He works so hard every day, on and off the ice. He’s here all summer. He’s going to get every chance to challenge for a spot and get in there. Whether it’s right away, or whether it’s partway through the season or he has to wait for an injury, I don’t know. His play will have to dictate that.

              But we’re certainly here to help work with him, and when he gets his chance, hopefully he can stick.

              Is he the kind of guy that — considering the intriguing situation — you would feel comfortable having him be in the NHL but be in more of a seventh defenseman role? Or do you feel it’s imperative for him to get regular, nightly ice time?

              That would be nice, but sometimes you have to break in slowly. He’s missed a lot of time, and I assume he’s going to get a lot of ice time in the preseason to try to help speed things up, and I guess we’ll see where he’s at at the end of camp. Again, he’s a guy that, internally, we still have a lot of high hopes for.

              19 - Noah Cates

              Cates seems like a guy who people “in the know” in the game tend to be a lot higher on than the average fan might be. What do you think is it about his skill set that is so exciting to people who really follow the game closely?

              I think it’s his hockey sense. He’s a competitive kid, the details of his game are very good, (he’s) very responsible. He’s a guy that a coach will pick out of a practice or pick out of a game, and really appreciate the small things in the game that he does.

              He continues to get bigger, stronger. The skating’s coming. He’s a very good college player already. With the added strength and weight, he’s going to be a top college player, and hopefully a pro for us very soon.

              20 - Wyatt Kalynuk

              Was there ever any thought to pushing for Wyatt Kalynuk to turn pro this season? I know he ultimately decided to go back to Wisconsin — and considering the talent that team is adding, it’s tough to blame him — but even at development camp, he seemed like someone who doesn’t look terribly far off from being pro-ready, and obviously he’s a little older than the average drafted college junior as well.

              Yeah, we spoke to his representatives all year. He was a guy that probably was more than capable of turning pro this year. He felt like he needed one more year to build up his strength and grow into his body, (so) when he’s ready to turn pro, he’s comfortable he can handle the rigors of the pro game.

              We obviously would have been happy to sign him, (but) we’re happy that he’s staying there. (Wisconsin head coach) Tony (Granato) does a great job there, and obviously they’re going to have a good program. We’re confident that he’ll be ready at the end of the season.


              • #77
                I know a lot of people are tired of hearing about the loaded pipeline the Flyers have...but i am really eager to see how these kids make their mark. And for sure, some will be complete failures...others will step up higher than anyone expected...and others will be used as trade pieces. Watching Fletcher use this talent pool will be one of the things i am most interested in for grading his performance as the Flyers GM.

                One guy i am still REALLY hopeful for, while many have written him off, is Big Sam Morin. There is a part of me that is hoping for Ghost to be dealt just to allow this kid to get a chance. Personally, i see Morin being more impactful for the Flyers in the 3rd pairing role than Ghost, especially when you figure the return you should get for Ghost. I think the Flyers will be a better team if they find a way to improve their top 9 while allowing their 3rd d-pairing to be more difficult to play against. Some will question who takes that PP1 point position...i see Sanheim being the guy and thriving in that role.

                As for the other prospects in the list, another kid who i am keeping a keen eye on is Noah Cates. Not sure how his game will translate in the NHL, but i look forward to seeing his development this season.


                • #78
                  I’m surprised Matt Strome doesn’t crack the top 20.


                  • #79
                    Strome's skating must have been really bad for the issue still to be an issue. And its been a few years of working with Barbara Underhill, yet there doesn't seem to be any chatter of improvement. Not sure what that means (is it an issue where the student really can't improve?).


                    • #80
                      I thought I might use this thread to get current opinions on NHL/AHL players at the approximate mid-point of 2019-20. (meaning players that played any AHL time this year so far, no matter what roster they are currently on). The AHL performance has been a train wreck this year (for many reasons) and surprisingly, the team just won two in a row … … by two different goalies posting two different shutouts while the rest of the team got horrifically outshot and barely threatened any offense.

                      So, just in a random order that they popped into my head:

                      Vorobyev - seems to have talent (hands & vision, and even defensive awareness), and one of the few offensive standouts for the AHL squad; but only average skater who does not show the energy/drive to give it his all every shift, so is likely fading out of an NHL future with the Flyers?

                      Rubtsov - smaller version of Vorobyev with maybe better skill & less vision; apparently the drive that Vorobyev lacks (and already transitioned to a defensive 2-way game en route to Mem. Cup championship?) Started the AHL as a leading team scorer; since promotion/reassignment, offense has tremendously vanished with 8- & 7-game pointless streaks broken up by only a pair of assists in two games(?!?)

                      Aubé-Kubel - offensive output decreased in each AHL season while getting basically zilch AHL advantageous icetime (despite being an offensive plus 2-way player in Q) ... has now developed into fast energy player maybe the Flyers wanted (with maybe some added skill?)

                      Farabee - growing pains as a young rookie needing to develop strength to go with skill ... but already in NHL and showing glimpses?

                      Frost - merely needs time to develop all around, but already can hang in NHL and excel in AHL?

                      Friedman - he’s injury-free and ready now as a competent 5-7 NHL defenseman as a good skater, ability in transition to forwards on breakout, not tall, but solid-built with some edge for his size?

                      Ratcliffe - “big men take time” right? And the Phantoms have become a complete total mess this year for reasons no one expected ... ...

                      Laberge - lately, since recall from ECHL, has been one of the few Phantoms showing any offensive threat to AHL competition during this long suck-streak they’ve been on? Are injuries finally behind him and he’s now working with building on the skill that made him a 2nd-rounder?

                      Kašse - another player who’s AHL offensive production has seemed to show decline (is that because such players are learning to play the “right” way to make it to the NHL?) ... and has been rewarded with another NHL recall. With natural size/skill what they are, will need to always keep feet moving and go at 100% to make the most of NHL recalls as a bottom-3/6?

                      Twarynski - less skilled than a player like Kašse, but more size. Likely another bottom-6 (13th) utility player to fill in where/when needed. Not showing much offense in Lehigh, but none of the team is, and anyway it seems that players with NHL potential go to Lehigh to get the offense learned out of them.

                      Bunnaman - was going absolutely nowhere offensively in the AHL (1g-0a in first 17gp) … then hit a mini hot streak, & now a recall; biggest of the Kašse-Twarynski-Bunnaman bottom-6/13th options.

                      Strome - ECHL demoted.

                      … anyone I’m forgetting?
                      Any strong updates/opinions on the AHL prospects?
                      Last edited by AIK1891; 01-12-2020, 09:24 PM.