Over the last few years, the Philadelphia Flyers management team has drafted well enough to have a ton of prospects waiting in the system for their shot at cracking the National Hockey League lineup. Some of these prospects have a solid shot at seeing action in the NHL by the end of the season, but that will not come easy.
With Flyers currently sitting at fifth in the powerful MassMutual East Division, there is no telling where they will end up by the end of the season. With the New York Rangers hot on their tail, the team could be in serious trouble of missing the playoffs, especially after the embarrassing losses over the last 10 games. At what point do the Flyers turn towards their young talent for help?
With the fifth-best record (10-3-2) in the American Hockey League (AHL), the Lehigh Valley Phantoms have been on a roll since beginning the season. With a roster full of young talents like Wade Allison, Zayde Wisdom, Tanner Laczynski, and Tyson Foerster, it is only a matter of time before one of these guys gets their shot at the NHL. The Phantoms are one of the youngest and most talented teams in the AHL, but with college and junior seasons ending, there is no better place for the prospects to gain much experience.
With an already talented young core of Travis Konecny, Joel Farabee, Ivan Provorov, and Carter Hart, the Flyers are set to be one of the best teams in the NHL over the next couple of seasons. The unfortunate side of having such a young roster is the growing pains, which the team is currently going through. Some of the prospects currently in the system would complement the current lineup nicely, but age and experience might be the biggest factor.
For now, no decisions have been made about the current future of the Flyer lineup, but the bright future of the list of talented prospects provides hope. A hope that the Flyers have been wanting and waiting for over the last couple of seasons. The team is in need of something fresh and new to provide a spark to a seemingly lifeless lineup.
The most likely Phantoms forward that could see action in the NHL by the end of the year, Tanner Laczynski. The 23-year-old, 2016 sixth-round selection finished a strong four-year career at Ohio State University, where he posted 143 points (48 goals, 95 assists) in 138 games played. He was loaned to the Phantoms at the beginning of the season, where he has since remained.
The versatile 6-foot-1, 205-pound forward started warming up over the last couple of weeks. In his last four games played, he scored six goals, including a spectacular shorthanded goal for a hat trick. Fans would be shocked if he doesn’t get called up before the end of the season.
The big, aggressive forward has torn up the AHL since making his debut earlier in the month. Allison, who wrapped up a fantastic career at Western Michigan last year due to the pandemic, was expected to have a solid chance at making the Flyers lineup at the beginning of the season, but an injury sidelined that opportunity. After rehabbing and working hard, he was given the chance to step back on the ice and make an impact.
Now that Allison is healthy, he should see the NHL before the end of the season, but will spend time in the AHL with the Phantoms until the team feels like he is ready to get some games in with the Flyers. He currently has six points (three goals, three assists) in five games played. His style of play matches up nicely with Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny, so he would be a great addition to that current line.
The 18-year-old has turned heads since arriving in Lehigh Valley at the beginning of the 2020-21 season. The Flyers’ 2020 fourth-round pick was expected to start the season with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), but COVID-19 had other plans. With the OHL season being pushed back, the Flyers did not want the young and talented Wisdom sitting dormant.
In 16 games played in the AHL, Wisdom had put up 11 points (seven goals, four assists) so far this season. It would not be a surprise to anyone if he gets called up to the Flyers by the end of the season with how well he has been playing. He would be a solid addition to the bottom-six forwards, and could even provide pop to the second power-play unit.
Of the least likely players to be called up by the end of the season, Foerster has made a name for himself with the Phantoms so far. The 23rd-overall selection of the 2020 Draft, he was not expected to see professional action for at least another season. Similar to Wisdom, the delay of the OHL season forced the young prospect into the AHL, but he has not had trouble adjusting.
In 10 games played this season, the 19-year-old forward has five points (two goals, three assists) with the Phantoms. He will continue growing and developing in the AHL while making use of the opportunity to earn time with a professional team.
Although he is not currently signed to the Flyers, Cam York is expected to sign an entry-level contract (ELC) any day. After Michigan pulled out of the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament due to COVID-19 protocols, York’s sophomore season was ended. Although it is likely the end of his collegiate career, he could return next season if he does not sign an ELC.
York was drafted by the Flyers in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft, 14th overall. The young defenseman is expected to be the future of the defensive front along with Provorov. York would more than likely spend time with the Phantoms before getting a shot at the NHL, but at this point anything is possible.
With the current state of the Flyers being so uncertain, it would not be surprising to see some of the young prospects get a shot at the NHL. For now, they will develop and grow in the AHL until they are ready for action. The future of the Flyers is surly bright, but patience is needed to allow the prospects time to develop.
Bobby Bader is a freelance journalist from Philadelphia, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers since the start of the 2020-21 National Hockey League Season. He currently works with the Hershey Cubs Hockey Club (USPHL) as the team’s media coordinator as the team prepares for its inaugural season. For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Bobby on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo on articles like this one.