With playoff hopes all but gone it’s time for the Flyers to sell, sell, sell. General Manager Ron Hextall shouldn’t be afraid to move pieces for picks as there’s already a slew of young prospects waiting to fill the void. The Flyers are now sitting on what’s one of the best stocked prospect pools in the NHL, and a (likely) blown season such as this is as good a time as any for AHL/NHL auditions.
With that in mind, here’s a (somewhat lengthy!) run-down of what that pool of prospects has accomplished in leagues other than the NHL this year.
Defense Prospects Playing Pro Hockey
Flyers Professional Defense Prospects 2017 Trade Deadline
The Flyers should be moving on from Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto, and Nick Schultz on the back end. The big reason for that is the 3 or 4 prospects that could probably step into their roles right now. Maybe not Streit’s role, but definitely the other two, and heck – these young guys are good!
Travis Sanheim via Lehigh Valley Phantoms Hockey (JustSports Photography)
Travis Sanheim is obviously the player with the highest ceiling here. There were many that compared him very favourably to current Flyer Ivan Provorov before this season. Both were over point-per-game defensemen in the WHL just last year. Sanheim doesn’t look quite so polished as he’s a tad gangly at 6’4″, but when he turns it up he can control the play. Watch him straddle the blueline here.. that’s Gostisbehere stuff, but Travis is 5 or 6 inches taller!
Robert Hagg was quietly having a nice rebound year until about a week ago when he busted out for 6 points in 7 games (including a 2-goal night). A couple of points to remember on Hagg; 1. he’s only 22! 2. he’s played 3 seasons for the Phantoms, and the 2 teams prior to this year’s were terrible. It’s pretty tough to blame him for sub-par numbers and the entire team struggling until recently. He’s not a flashy offensive guy, but is probably the most well rounded of the bunch right now.
If When the Flyers make a trade, Hagg will probably be the first call up.
Sam Morin and Reece Willcox occupy a similar role; both are defensive specialists. Big young D who can push people around, and aren’t offensively gifted. The problem for Willcox is that Morin is the younger, bigger, pushier, and more offensively gifted of the two. Willcox will have a tough time cracking the Flyers roster during his career unless something drastic happens. Morin on the other hand looks like he might be ready for an audition in 3rd pairing duties. As long as he can control this type of stuff..
If those 4 prospects (all of whom have a legit NHL aspirations – varying degrees) weren’t enough.. Hextall and the Scouting staff MAY have found a couple late round Swedish gems. Both 5th Rounder – Linus Hogberg (18 years old) and 7th Rounder – David Bernhardt (19 years old) have played meaningful minutes in the Swedish League this year. Though it’s tough to compare to the AHL, the Swedish League is probably slightly higher calibre, but less physical. Impressive for these two teenagers to be playing 27 and 35 games.
Lamarche and Alt are both bit players at this stage in their careers. It’s doubtful either make a significant impact for any NHL team. Nice to see they’ve made some impact when they’ve played for the Phantoms though based on points-per-game. Valeri Vasiliev continues to be that guy that might come over to play pro in North America, but never does. Either way his 10 points in 116 KHL games seems to place him in the same category as Lamarche and Alt – bit players.
Forward Prospects Playing Pro Hockey
Flyers Professional Forward Prospects 2017 Trade Deadline
The forward group in the pro ranks isn’t quite as exciting as the defense, but there are still some useful players here. Especially if we’re looking to replace someone like Pierre-Edouard Bellemare or Chris Vandevelde, both of whom are UFAs after this season and could be desirable 4th line depth options for contenders.
Jordan Weal is with the Flyers right now, and if any forward is moved at the deadline he’ll probably stay there for the remainder of the season. He’s a point-per-game AHLer which means he’s probably talented enough to score 20 goals in the NHL (full season) given the right linemates. No reason not to give him the opportunity right now because no one else can seem to score. He came very close to popping his first NHL goal in the game against Calgary!
Oskar Lindblom is easily the most exciting of the Forward group. This is a 20 year old that’s among the Swedish league leaders in terms of points. He might come over for another late season audition like he did with the Phantoms last year (he had 7 points in 8 AHL games), but he might have ascended past that level at this point. If I were a betting man I’d pencil him into the top-9 for Philadelphia next September. He’s so good that he MIGHT even be the shooting wing that the Flyers need in the top-6 (a big ‘might’ but one can hope).
Aside from those two offensive guys the Flyers also have Leier and Laughton who can both step into bottom six roles any day. They’re gritty-checking-line forwards who play a responsible game and have limited offensive ceilings. Absolutely no reason in my mind that the Flyers should keep parading out stagnating veterans like PEB and VV if they have these two guys waiting in line.
The last interesting forward in this group is Vorobyov. Mikhail’s played 44 games for Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the KHL where he’s had 11 points and played a surprisingly large role! He took time out of his pro schedule to play in the World Juniors at Christmas time where he seemingly set up every goal the Russians scored. He definitely established that he’s a pass-first type of player and there’s nothing wrong with that (even if it’s not exactly what Philly need). He had 10 assists in 7 World Junior games and this head-man feed to Kaprizov showcased that vision.
As for the rest of this group.. it’s not all that strong. It’s too early to tell on guys like Fazleev, Aube-Kubel, and Kase. They’ll need more seasoning to give us a better showing, but all 3 remain good prospects. Danick Martel hasn’t shot the lights out yet, and he’ll need to do that to have a chance at just 5’8″. Cole Bardreau is a checking forward of lesser calibre than Leier or Laughton. Tyrell Goulbourne has 18 points in 35 ECHL games, and it’s a tough climb from the ECHL.
Flyers Goaltender Prospects 2017 Trade Deadline
With the Expansion draft looming it makes sense for Philadelphia to move on from Mason or Neuvirth. Both have proven they’re decent goaltenders, Mason has even posted elite Even Strength numbers at times, but not this season. Whatever the market is, one of these goalies should be gone in the next day or two.
It seems like only yesterday we had Paul Holmgren throwing darts at 6th Round goalie talent. A philosophy of ‘Goalies Are Voodoo’ was the main theme in Philly, and there were no goaltending prospects worth watching for years. With Hextall at the helm the Flyers now have 4 legitimate goaltending prospects and another 3 that are still relative unknowns.
Every night there’s another Carter Hart highlight from Everett. He’s mopping the floor with the WHL and the Silvertips aren’t a superpowered team. A lot of the time goalies stats get boosted when they play for really good Junior teams, but that’s not the case here. Everett are led by Patrick Bajkov and Dominic Zwerger.. two undrafted guys I’d wager you’ve never heard of; in fact their top 6 scorers are undrafted. What Hart is doing is kind of crazy, crazy enough that he got the nod for Team Canada at the World Juniors.
Hart is still a few years away from making a professional impact, goalies take time, which is fine for the Flyers because they already have Anthony Stolarz and Alex Lyon. Stolarz has gotten a taste of the NHL as a back-up (2-0-0, 0.938) and looked good doing it. He played well enough in the AHL to deserve that taste, but he hasn’t been dominate for the Phantoms (high goals against / low save percentage).
Lyon has now taken over the starting role by default because of Stolarz being called up to the NHL for long periods, and he’s basically played to Stolarz’s exact standard. Both need to spend some time in the AHL, but either would be a serviceable back-up for 20 or so NHL starts in a year.
Having those 3 goalies would be more than enough to make me happy. Then you look down the board and see that the Flyers got Swedish World Junior starting goalie Felix Sandstrom with a 70th overall pick back in 2015! Very similar numbers to Stolarz/Lyon in the Swedish League which is way more open because of the big ice. He may have some difficulty when it comes time to switch to the North American rink, but that’s nothing to worry about if he’s actually this good.
Again, after that core group, there’s just more honey! Merrick Madsen is kind of an afterthought going 22-5-2 with Harvard, not dissimilar (but slightly less dominant) to what Alex Lyon did for Yale just 1 year ago. There’s also Ivan Fedotov who’s bounced around KHL Nizhnekamsk’s farm teams. He’s put up some great numbers in the Russian U-20 league and in the KHL’s farm league (VHL) which I would assume is of similar talent level to the ECHL. Finally there’s Matej Tomek who’s in his 2nd year at UND and just hasn’t had a chance to play yet. He also got shelled as the Slovak netminder during the World Juniors.
Flyers Junior Prospects 2017 Trade Deadline
Are you still reading? My God you’re a true fan.
Do the Flyers have enough prospects yet? Nope. Here’s a bunch more.
After getting absolutely no ice time in the KHL for Vityaz, German Rubtsov was banished to the Russian minor leagues and wasn’t happy about it. He called his agent, got a deal done with Chicoutimi of the QMJHL (who held his import rights), and fled mother Russia under the cover of darkness. He’s been a star for the Sags with 19 points in 13 games, he doesn’t score on this series of dangles, but since he’s known as a two-way forward it’s nice to know he has some hands.
It speaks to Tanner Laczynski’s effort level that he was picked instead of more highly touted players like DeBrincat for the American World Junior team. The team won gold so clearly they did something right. Tanner’s role was relatively small, but he didn’t look out of place. He’s had 30 points in 27 games for Ohio State who are a fairly strong offensive team, but he could be another later round steal by Philadelphia.
Yet another 6th Round no-name pick that might turn into something, Anthony Salinitri has some finish. He and the rest of his Sting teammates are being trawled along by Blues 2nd Rounder Jordan Kyrou (83 points in 58 games), but Salinitri has been good with 48 points of his own. Worth keeping an eye on because of goals like this that he makes look easy.
Wade Allison and Cooper Marody are both projects that may develop into NHL talent. They have lots of time to develop in the NCAA behind the stack of prospects already mentioned. Which is good for Marody who was academically ineligible for the first semester due to flunking a class last season. He’s had a decent 14 games for Michigan in the second half though, and the team REALLY needed it. Allison clearly has the better offensive instincts of the two as he has 24 points through 30 games with Western Michigan as a rookie.
All of Samuel Dove-McFalls, Connor Bunnaman, Pascal Laberge, and Carsen Twarynski will need time to develop. Laberge is the more notable name here of course as a 2nd Round pick, but he’s had health issues that have hampered what should have been a break out campaign. All 4 are years away from making an impact.
Finally there are 3 NCAA defensemen also in the pipeline. A hulking 6’6″ David Drake might not pan out. He’s been the victim of playing on a terrible UConn team, but hasn’t really separated himself from the herd. Terrance Amorosa gradually played himself into a starring role on Clarkson’s blueline last year, but hasn’t taken that next step this season.
The best of the group (and a solid note to finish on) is Mark Friedman. A 2014 3rd Rounder, Friedman has improved in each of his 3 NCAA seasons. He had 19 points as a rookie, 23 points last year, and already has 23 points this season in just 35 games. He’s undersized at 5’10”, but has shown solid offensive growth along with shrinking penalty totals. Both signs that he’s been working to polish the finer areas of his game.