Analyzing Flyers’ Third Line Wing Options

With the prospect cupboard about to burst, the young guns of the Philadelphia Flyers will get a real shot at making the big club in the 2019-20 NHL season. In a cruel act of divine fate, newly acquired winger Tyler Pitlick, sustained a wrist injury during offseason workouts which will require surgery, and he will be sidelined for around four weeks.

The Flyers’ training camp officially starts on Sept. 25, and one of their prospects will be expected to step up and earn the third line spot on the wing. Morgan Frost, Joel Farabee, Isaac Ratcliffe, German Rubtsov, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel are expected to compete for the spot and will be granted a full camp to demonstrate their worth. I expect one of these players to slot in next to Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom.

Morgan Frost

Acquired as a draft pick via the Brayden Schenn trade, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds center Morgan Frost will bring his silky hands and coveted scoring touch to the Flyers roster. As one of the team’s top prospects, I expect Frost to not only make the team in the near future but also put up points while doing it. He brings an electric skill set and, although he plays center, would slot in nicely in the third line wing spot.

Morgan Frost, OHL, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Morgan Frost of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

As a 20-year-old, I’m sure new Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault wouldn’t give him the responsibility of playing center with the big club. He will need time to grow and adjust, so having him play wing could act as a pseudo transitional period. I like Frost on Patrick and Lindblom’s wing. He could spark both players and energize the line. Plus Patrick and Lindblom are both defensively responsible, giving Frost a chance to show off his creativity. Frost would be my front-runner to make the club but Joel Farabee exists.

Related: Revisting the Brayden Schenn Trade

Joel Farabee

Joel Farabee, selected 14th overall by the Flyers in 2018, is looking to etch his name onto the opening night roster. After putting up 36 points in 37 games with Boston University last season, he wants to bring his game to the NHL. If you’ve never seen him play, I suggest you take a look at one of his highlight videos. This kid has the stuff; he can put the puck in the net, and he is good in every zone.

He’s responsible with the puck and plays a two-way game that is ready for the NHL. If I had to pick a prospect to take Pitlick’s place, Farabee is the player. He’s offensively gifted enough to chip in while also helping Lindblom and Patrick shutdown other teams. I wouldn’t mind seeing him get some time in the top six either. He’s so good in every zone that his presence could allow other players to focus solely on offense. The only hesitation I have with Farabee is his size. He’s 6-feet and Google lists him at 161 lbs. I imagine he has spent the summer bulking up but his weight is the only knock against him at the moment.

The Other Guys

In terms of Ratcliffe, Rubstov and Aube-Kubel, all are long shots to make the club, but Rubtsov has the best chance to make the Flyers roster on opening night. Ratcliffe is a monster at 6-foot-6 and 201 lbs and he put up 50 goals with the Guelph Storm of the OHL last season. Scouting reports list him as a little irresponsible with the puck, and that his skating needs work. He is a prospect I’m comfortable waiting on; a player with his size and scoring touch needs time to marinate. I’d like him to make the Phantoms team and earn a late season call-up.

Rubtsov, another former first-round pick, has overcame injuries to put up 10 points in 14 games during a shortened stint with the Phantoms last season. He plays a great two-way game and plays center like a much older player. He is most likely to make the team because of how solid he performed after his injuries and he has AHL experience. I see him slotting in as the fourth-line center and bumping Scott Laughton to the third-line wing spot which I isn’t a knock on any of the other prospects. The farm is full of talent, and it isn’t a bad thing if they are knocking each other out of a roster spot.

Aube-Kubel, aside from having the coolest name in the league, is also listed here for the same reason as Rubtsov. He played very well for the Phantoms last season, honing his all-around game. I also expect him to be a late-season/injury call-up. Though his particular skill set is built more for the fourth line, he could could also push Laughton to the third.

Nicholas Aube-Kubel, prospect for the Philadelphia Flyers (Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)

It’s tough that Tyler Pitlick injured his wrist this off-season. He’s a solid bottom-six player who would have helped with the Flyers’ continuous penalty-kill woes. On the bright side, this gives the Flyers’ young prospects a real opportunity to make the big club and show us what they’ve got.

Related: Philadelphia Flyers’ Prospect Round-Up

Seeing any one (or two) of Ratcliffe, Rubtsov, Aube-Kubel, Frost, or Farabee in the orange and black this season would be a real treat. If Pitlick recovers in time and snatches his roster spot back, I won’t be upset. It’s exciting to have this kind of problem: too many good prospects and not enough space.