When you look at the talent the Philadelphia Flyers have added since the 2012 draft, it’s difficult to narrow the list down to four prospects. Even with Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny out of the picture, the fact remains that the Flyers have an abundance of prospects at every position and their pool is one of, if not the best in the NHL. I recently took a crack at narrowing down their top 10 prospects and the top 4 will be the same, now it’s time to look in depth at those four.
The Luck of Saint Patrick
The Flyers were blessed when they moved up 11 spots in the draft lottery to claim the second-overall pick. This is the kind of pick that could give the Flyers that extra jump. The question was: Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick? Luckily, they didn’t have to make the decision as the New Jersey Devils also moved up in the draft lottery to grasp the first-overall pick. All general manager Ron Hextall had to do was sit back and wait for the Devils to pick.
Obviously, it was more complicated than that, considering Patrick suffered a sports hernia and was limited to only 33 games this past season with the Brandon Wheat Kings. He also had abdominal surgery on June 13th and was sidelined for six weeks, missing the Flyers’ development camp.
Those injuries weren’t enough to keep him out of Hextall’s sights, as he comfortably drafted Patrick second overall. It goes without saying that this pick bolstered the Flyers’ already deep prospect pool. Patrick will be reunited with former What Kings teammate Ivan Provorov, who he claims is the best player he has ever played with.
Nolan Patrick says Ivan Provorov is “the best player I’ve played with by a mile.”
— Dave Isaac (@davegisaac) July 7, 2017
Patrick adds many dangerous elements to the lineup. His game is complete, he can fire the puck, he can see the ice well and his skating, though not the best, is good enough to compete at the NHL level. His 6’2″ frame makes him hard to knock off the puck and he can use that size to beat defenders in decisive fashion.
As a 17-year-old, Patrick tore up the WHL, tallying 102 points in 72 games. He was also a huge contributor for Brandon in the playoffs, recording 31 points in 21 games, earning MVP honors and a WHL title for the Wheat Kings. Bob McKenzie went as far as to say that Patrick has nothing left to learn at the junior level.
Over the past years, it’s been unbearable to watch fans throw Travis Sanheim’s name as potential trade bait. Since being drafted 17th overall back in 2014, Sanheim’s development has been spectacular and I sometimes wonder if Flyers fans forget how good this guy is.
During the 2014-15 WHL season, Sanheim was phenomenal. He was first in the League in scoring among defensemen with 65 points in 67 games and played a solid all-around game. Next season, Sanheim cranked it up a notch despite being injured. In only 52 games, he scored 68 points and still ranked fourth among defensemen in WHL scoring.
His 1.31 points per game was best in the League and fellow Flyers teammate Provorov was first in points. Sanheim also played in the World Juniors but was misused and only managed to pick up one assist. This gave Flyers fans a good idea of what’s to come.
At 6’4″, Sanheim’s skating is great and his ability to see the play developing is outstanding. He played his first pro season in the AHL last year and recorded 37 points in 76 games. Throughout the season, Sanheim’s skill set and hockey IQ were at a high level and it would be difficult to imagine him playing anywhere other than the NHL in the next two to three years.
If you want to look for the potential steal of the 2014 draft, look no further than the fifth round where Oskar Lindblom was selected 138th overall. Lindblom’s last season in Europe was likely 2016-17. After putting up respectable numbers in 2015-16, he made his way over to North America to play with the Flyers’ affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, on the smaller ice surface. Needless to say, he performed well, posting seven points in eight games during his tenure.Lindblom was named SHL Forward of the Year after tallying 47 points in 52 regular season games. In addition, he was a monster during the playoffs, as his Brynas squad made it to the final, eventually losing to HV71. His extra 14 postseason points gave him a total of 61 on the year, tying him with Henrik Sedin for the most combined regular season and playoff points by a player his age or younger in SHL history.
The competition in the SHL has died down over the years, but it doesn’t take any credit away from a 20-year-old who tore up the League against much bigger, stronger and faster opposition. Despite being familiar with the large surface, Lindblom’s game is chiseled perfectly for the North American ice. He can grind the boards, win puck battles and get to the dirty areas.
Myers Under the Radar
It’s not every day that you invite a player to training camp and he winds up being a potential top-pair defenseman. That’s the case with Philippe Myers. Injuries and lack of scoring hurt his Junior career early on and caused him to remain undrafted.
The 6’5″ defenseman for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies was invited by the Flyers to attend a camp and was signed by Hextall in September, three months after being passed on by the 30 NHL teams.
Since then, Myers has stepped up his game and his confidence has skyrocketed. In only one season, Myers’ point totals went from eight to 45. The following season, Myers was invited to Canada’s World Junior team and went from being an outcast to tournament MVP Thomas Chabot’s partner.
He was unable to finish the tournament after taking a brutal hit from Wild prospect Luke Kunin but managed to show what he was capable of in the four games he represented Canada. The hit left Myers with a concussion, forcing him to miss time. He still finished the season at a point-per-game pace and now has his eyes set for the AHL or the NHL.
It’s doubtful that Myers makes the Flyers squad right out of camp, as other defensemen have better chances (Morin, Hagg, Sanheim).
It is very hard to limit the Flyers’ top prospects to just four, so be sure to check out the top 10. But needless to say, the Flyers are in good hands with Hextall and the addition of talent will make the Flyers a threat in the NHL for years to come.