Over the past few years, the Philadelphia Flyers have solidified their prospect pool as one of the best across the NHL. Most rankings have them as a top-10 system in the league heading into the upcoming season.
Their loaded prospect group is undoubtedly led by a robust defensive core they’ve reinforced significantly through the past few drafts. The 2019 NHL Draft was arguably their best in terms of bolstering that defensive prospect group with additions like Cam York and Ronnie Attard.
The third of the Flyers’ defensive choices in that draft, and the first prospect from the 2019 class to sign with the team, was 103rd-overall pick, Mason Millman.
Last week, Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers took the next step in the former fourth-rounder’s path to the NHL, inking him to a three-year, entry-level (ELC) deal.
Millman’s Junior Career
In the past two years with the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Saginaw Spirit, Millman’s junior career has gotten off to a healthy start. His time with Saginaw began in the 2017-18 year where he spent most of the season with the St. Thomas Stars of the GOJHL (Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League) before playing six games with the Spirit.
Millman’s first full season with the Spirit in 2018-19 gave a solid sense of the 6-foot-1 Canadian’s strong suits. Through 66 games that year, his 25 points finished second among the team’s defensemen as did his 22 assists and plus-22 rating.
That year, New York Islander’s 2018 second-round pick Bode Wilde was the clear defensive standout, posting 70 points in 62 games, finishing second behind the team’s leading scorer, Cole Perfetti.
Last year, however, Wilde only appeared in 11 games for the Spirit, leading to a fairly significant jump in Millman’s production. During what would become an abbreviated season, he appeared in 58 games, tallying 44 points along the way. His 44 points led the team’s defensemen, and his impressive plus-31 finished second among Saginaw’s blue line group and fifth among all OHL defensemen.
More recently, Millman was included on Team Canada’s invitational roster for the World Junior Championship but saw his opportunity cut short before the tournament began.
Overall, the early stages of Millman’s junior career have been solid. With 69 points and a commendable plus-51 combined rating in 130 games with the Spirit, Millman has shown what he’s capable of and the skillset he can bring to a defensive group.
Millman’s Positional Strengths
In the course of three years in the OHL, Millman has established himself as an offensive-minded defenseman. He shows no fear of getting involved in the offensive zone and has a solid sense for getting valuable shots on goal.
As a left-handed shot, he’s able to find shooting lanes from anywhere on the ice and shows a knack for sniffing out loose pucks from the slot to the front of the net.
Millman has a strong hockey IQ that’s more than apparent in his ability to move and distribute the puck. His assist totals over the past several seasons prove that he’s just as willing to make plays for those around him as he is getting the puck directly on net.
He definitely has some work to do in the development of his defensive game, and at 6-foot-1 he isn’t exactly a player who can rely solely on his size to help him on the back end. However, his speed and offensive skill set make him a valuable addition to the Flyers’ defensive prospect group and one that seems ready and willing to grow his game.
Millman’s Fit in the Flyers System
Millman being the first member of the Flyers’ 2019 draft class to sign an ELC actually comes as a bit of surprise.
Most probably expected the headliners of that draft like Cam York and Bobby Brink to be the first of their class to officially join the Flyers, but that doesn’t take anything away from the value Millman adds to the system.
He joins an incredible group of defensive prospects alongside the likes of York, Attard, Egor Zamula, Linus Högberg, Emil Andrae, and many others. Obviously, he has his work cut out for him in regards to making his way to the Flyers roster.
Along with several other guys on that list, Millman definitely has at least another year or two of work ahead of him before he’s truly in contention to join the team. Still set to spend the upcoming season back with the Spirit, the only real potential development we’ll see from Millman would come in the form of joining the Lehigh Valley Phantoms or perhaps even as a longshot member of the “Taxi Squad.”
Clearly, Millman has a lot of work ahead of him before he’s finally suited up in orange and black. Regardless, he’s a strong addition to an already loaded prospect group and an excellent signing by Fletcher and the Flyers.
As a lifelong hockey player and diehard Philadelphia Flyers fanatic, I’ve always dreamed of covering the team I grew up watching. In my work, I try to combine my knowledge of the sport’s intricate and statistical details with my perspective as a passionate fan. Bringing my love for Flyers hockey to The Hockey Writers one article at a time.