The Philadelphia Flyers have a number of prospects, some that may be past their prime years to make the jump to the NHL, some who need more development, and others who are at the perfect age and the timelines line up for them to take the next step to become an NHL-regular.
As the Flyers appear to be generally through making moves from the free agent crop, we are going to look ahead at three players they have in their system who could crack the lineup in 2022-23. Some players like Ronnie Attard may have gotten the short end of the stick with how the Flyers handled their defense, but mismanagement may have also given a goaltending prospect the shot he needs now. Let’s go through the three candidates and where they should play as well.
I don’t think it’s even a question whether Bobby Brink will crack the opening night roster. He came out of college on a mission and even though he only recorded four assists in 10 games for one of the worst teams in the league, he played a middle-six role right away. He should slot in there again out of training camp this season considering the Flyers didn’t add any significant point producers this offseason.
Over the course of three seasons at the University of Denver, Brink proved he could score and put up points. It is a big jump to the NHL, but the Flyers are hopeful with a new coach and a healthier squad that chemistry will form and they will be able to produce some more offense. He is younger than a few of the others trying to find their game at the NHL level, but it would do him more good to play alongside Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny on a line to begin the season and get valuable experience there. Konecny has proven he’s a goal-scorer in the past and Hayes has a strong two-way game. Together they may just form an underrated line that can cover all the bases.
Related: 3 Free Agents the Flyers Missed Out On Signing
Brink is a highly-touted prospect and is ahead of most in the organization development-wise. The faster the Flyers can get him to the NHL, the better. We will see just how his offensive game transfers over, but it wasn’t a horrible start by any means at the end of last season when the Flyers were just hoping the season would end. Look for Brink to make an impact in a middle-six role next season, especially with Joel Farabee expected to miss some time to begin the campaign. If Brink can get healthy himself in time for training camp and not be set back too far, he’ll be a great fit with the Flyers.
Noah Cates was very impressive in his short time with the Flyers last season and has definitely earned high consideration for a spot in the middle-six as well. He too came right out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he was actually less impactful offensively than Brink, but transitioned easier to the pace of the NHL. In 16 games, Cates scored five goals and nine points, on, as I’ve stated, a very poor offensive team.
Cates played third-line minutes and worked very well with Morgan Frost and Owen Tippett last season in limited time together. As both of those players are expected to get expanded roles this season, it’s possible that the rookie joins them in having more of an impact in the game and forming a solid third line. He has already shown more offensive potential than either of them and is getting to the age where he has to get his feet under him in the NHL. Again, the Flyers need all the help they can get internally to add offense, and he is one of the players who can provide that in a third-line role.
The goaltending situation is all messed up in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, the one the team expected to slot in as the backup, Ivan Fedotov, will be spending next season in Russia instead of coming over to North America and competing for a spot on the Flyers after he signed his entry-level contract. The Flyers didn’t go out and add anyone significant in net either, so next up is Felix Sandstrom who would have also been competing alongside Fedotov for a spot as Carter Hart’s backup.
Sandstrom got a bit of NHL experience last season when he started five games near the end of the season. Despite his play posting a .910 save percentage, he went 0-4-1. He also had a 3.23 goals against average, but the team was largely outplayed and peppered with shots while he was in goal. As far as save percentage goes, he posted the best of the three goaltenders to play for the Flyers last season, though it was a smaller sample size. The Flyers will likely throw him right in as the backup, but all goaltending stats should improve under John Tortorella by the way he coaches and the fact that his teams are always focused on good team defense.
Sandstrom has an opportunity to prove himself out of training camp and solidify his name as an NHL goaltender. Sometimes it takes years for goalies to get their shot, and whether he has a future with the Flyers or not, his name will be out there this season playing as Hart’s backup.
There are young prospects each year that come in and make an impact. The contenders always have players on entry-level deals or great contracts contributing, so the hope is that the Flyers have the same thing in 2022-23.
What do you think? If there is anyone you would like to add to the group, let me know in the comments below.