Flyers Farm System Boosted By 4 Entry-Level Signings

In the nearly three months since the 2019-20 NHL season paused due to the coronavirus, the Philadelphia Flyers have stayed busy. While they remained ready for the continuation of the season, they also made sure they were well prepared for the 2020-21 season as well.

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During the hiatus, general manager Chuck Fletcher and the organization signed four players, three were drafted by the Flyers, and one was a free agent: Tanner Laczynski, Wade Allison, Linus Sandin, and Linus Högberg. All but Sandin were signed to a two-year, entry-level contract (ELC) beginning next season.

Each player brings something different to the table and most look to be close to NHL-ready. It could be some time, though, before we see them suit up in the orange and black. As the Lehigh Valley Phantoms get ready to welcome them with open arms, let’s get to know these players a little more.

The Flyers Signees

Tanner Laczynski

The first to earn an entry-level deal was forward Tanner Lacyznski. The 22-year-old was selected by the Flyers in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL Draft and can play both center and on the wing. He has a good reputation for his solid 200-foot game and incredible shot.

Laczynski has spent the past four years with the Ohio State Buckeyes and earned a spot on USA’s gold-medal-winning roster at the 2017 World Junior Championships.

Tanner Laczynski Philadelphia Flyers
Tanner Laczynski, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Posting just over a point-per-game average (143 points in 138 games) throughout his collegiate career, Laczynski earned second-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten honors during his sophomore season. After leading his team in scoring in two of his four years (he finished second in 2018-19), expectations are high as he begins his professional career.

Wade Allison

Four days after signing Laczynski, the Flyers locked up forward Wade Allison. Chosen three rounds before Laczynski in the 2016 Draft, the Western Michigan forward was one of the Flyers’ most highly-regarded prospects before suffering an ACL tear in 2018.

As he battled the injury, Allison played abbreviated sophomore and junior seasons. However, he still managed to put up 45 points in 44 games in those two years.

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He could bring a lot to the Flyers lineup. He’s a sizable forward at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds with an excellent knack for feeding the puck, solid speed, and a terrific shot with the ability to consistently capitalize on scoring opportunities. He rounded out his collegiate career with 97 points in 106 games.

Linus Sandin

Towards the end of April, the Flyers finally struck a deal with free-agent winger Linus Sandin. The brother of Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Rasmus, Sandin has played the past three seasons in the SHL, Sweden’s top division, for both Rögle BK and HV71.

During his time in the SHL, Sandin totaled 66 points in 143 games. He finally decided to make the move to join his younger brother in the NHL and signed a one-year, entry-level deal with the Flyers on April 29.

Sandin is a strong skater, earns plenty of minutes on both the penalty kill and power play, and has a terrific ability to finish. He’s a big forward who makes a living in tight around the net, making his presence felt and capitalizing when an offensive opportunity presents itself.

Linus Högberg

On May 30, the Flyers signed Swedish defenseman Linus Högberg. Since 2014, Högberg has been with the Växjö Lakers Hockey Club, first with the J18 and J20 teams and finally with the club’s top and official team since 2016. His offensive numbers don’t stand out, but that’s not what defines his game.

He’s an excellent skater who moves the puck well and shows glimpses of offensive prowess while playing sound defense. As a fifth-round pick in the 2016 Draft, the Flyers have stewed over Högberg for awhile.

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Assistant general manager Brent Flahr noted that although Högberg’s play is consistent and his skating abilities and defensive mindedness are all up to par, the Flyers believe his game would significantly improve if he focuses on adding strength.

Odds of Making the 2020-21 Roster

With their ELCs signed, these players still have to earn their way onto the roster and, heading into next season, the Flyers aren’t going to look very different.

Considering only five players (three forwards, one defenseman, one goaltender) on the Flyers roster will be unrestricted free agents this offseason, there won’t be much room for new names to crack the lineup. With Nolan Patrick set to rejoin the lineup and Morgan Frost, among others, still competing for a role on the team, there will even less availablspace.

Alain Vigneault Michel Therrien Philadelphia Flyers
Alain Vigneault and Michel Therrien, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

However, three of the four are wingers, which bodes well for them as that will be the most open position next season. Of the three, Laczynski has the best odds of cracking the lineup, but there’s no way to predict who will stand out during training camp.

Realistically, they’re all headed to Lehigh Valley. The Flyers roster is deeper than it’s been in years, and management’s strong drafting through the 2010s is finally starting to pay off. However, that also means that this next wave of rookies will have to earn their way to the pros through the AHL.

The addition of these four players will be a huge boost for the Phantoms and should help the team gain some traction in the loaded Atlantic Division. Some of them may get their chance with the Flyers over the course of next season, due to injuries and/or other roster moves, but we probably won’t see them in a Flyers uniform on opening night.

Who’s Next in Line

The pandemic has pushed everything back on the schedule which, not surprisingly, includes the deadline to sign players to ELCs. Now that the deadline has been moved back a month from its original June 1 end date, teams around the league still have some time.

The only player still on the fence for an ELC is 2017 seventh-round pick Wyatt Kalynuk. The 6-foot-1, 23-year-old defenseman has played the past three seasons with the Wisconsin Badgers, captaining the team in his junior season. Head coach Tony Granato confirmed that Kalynuk isn’t set to return to Wisconsin next year and is looking to sign his first pro contract.

Fletcher hasn’t made it clear whether or not they plan on inking Kalynuk before next season, but if they are going to offer anyone else their first pro deal, he is the likely recipient.

The Flyers have done a fantastic job of staying busy to secure the team’s future. They’ve also done great work in making sure their AHL club is competitive and stacked with talent ready to be called up at a moment’s notice.

While these four players might not see their NHL careers officially begin for some time, they’ll make fine additions to the Phantoms and hopefully, one day, the Flyers.