The Philadelphia Flyers development camp is underway and the fans finally get to watch the young talent battle it out. Unfortunately, second overall pick Nolan Patrick will not attend due to his recovery from a recent abdominal surgery, but there is still plenty of talent to keep an eye on. With the camp underway and the draft complete, it’s time for an updated ranking of the Flyers top prospects.
When speaking about the Flyers in 2017, everything revolves around their unbelievable crop of youth. The talent they’ve added on the blue line is without a doubt the best prospect blue line a GM could possibly ask for, and over the years Ron Hextall has assessed the needs up front and between the pipes.
The entire future relies on these young guns, which makes their development imperative to the Flyers success in the next few years. The core is slowly getting older and the window for a Stanley Cup is going to be closed within five years. We’ve already seen improvement with the additions of Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny in the last two seasons, but that is only the beginning.
10. Isaac Ratcliffe (LW)
Projection: 2nd/3rd line left wing
The Flyers’ most recent second round selection at the 2017 NHL draft. Ratcliffe was ranked as a first round prospect, but for some reason dropped to #35. The Flyers decided to trade three of their picks (#44, #75 and #108) in order to move up and select him. Hextall must have seen something he liked to give up so much, and Ratcliffe’s 6-foot-6 frame probably played a large role in that decision.
Ratcliffe admitted he needed to add muscle, but he is a big body presence at all times, is very good in tight and can skate well for a player his size. His addition gives the Flyers system a much needed left winger.
9. Morgan Frost (C)
Projection: 2nd/3rd line center
One of the two first round picks the Flyers received in the Brayden Schenn trade. Frost is a little undersized to be a center but plays a strong two-way game and is regarded as one of the fastest players in the draft. Frost is also a very smart player, he has the ability to find his teammates and the open seams to create scoring opportunities. He tallied 62 points in 67 games last season for Sault Ste. Marie as a 17-year-old and only turned 18 in May. This next season could be a massive one for Frost.
8. Samuel Morin (D)
Projection: Top-4 defenseman
The 11th overall selection back in 2013 is poised to reach the NHL soon. Morin was always considered a long-term project and is finally coming into his own after seasoning in the AHL for two years.
Morin is not a flashy point-producing defenseman but plays a solid shutdown style game and can break up plays with his long reach. At 6-foot-7, 227 pounds, Morin isn’t afraid to be physical either, he can clear out the front of the net and take out opponents with his big frame. His puck handling and agility could still use some work, but the NHL is very close for the big man.
7. Robert Hagg (D)
Projection: Top-4 defenseman
Hagg fell out of the first round in his draft year. Expected to be in the top-30, Hagg was selected 41st overall and is the definition of a two-way defenseman. His offensive numbers are not the best, but he is smart and knows when to jump in the play. His 2015-16 season was one to be forgotten, but he made up for his last year by playing great in every zone. He was rewarded with a call-up late in the Flyers season and played a great game, leading fans to believe he is the next youngster in the Flyers system to make the jump to the NHL.
6. German Rubtsov (C)
Projection: 2nd line center
After averaging six minutes of time on ice per game in the KHL, Rubtsov finally got a chance to show his worth when he came over to the QMJHL to play for Chicoutimi. The young Russian center plays a very good two-way game and managed to demonstrate his offensive side by posting 22 points in 16 games.
Unfortunately for Rubtsov, he was injured near the end of the season and didn’t have a chance to join Chicoutimi in the playoffs. In a full healthy season in 2017-18, we could see Rubtsov explode.
5. Carter Hart (G)
Projection: Starting goalie
Goalies are always hard to predict, but Carter Hart has made it somewhat easier with his stellar play in Everett. After collecting the WHL Goalie of the Year award in back-to-back seasons, including CHL Goalie of the Year honors last year, Hart is making a strong case to become an elite goaltender at the NHL level.
Consistency is always a factor and goalies tend to develop a lot later than players, but Hart seems to have all right boxes checked. His play in the 2016-17 world juniors was shaky at times, but he managed to come through and help Canada win the silver medal. Hart is still eligible for juniors next season and could very well help lead Canada to a gold medal and potentially help Everett to a WHL title. His statistics are better than those of Carey Price when he was in junior. Obviously, this isn’t a sign that Hart is the next Price, but it’s definitely encouraging considering all the trouble the Flyers have had with goaltending over the years.
4. Philippe Myers (D)
Projection: Top-pair defenseman
Myers had little to no confidence going back a few years. He was undrafted and no team wanted him. The Flyers sent him an invitation to their development camp to see what he had and were impressed with him. Since then, Myers has completely turned his game around with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and his upside is enormous. A 6-foot-5, smooth skating defenseman who has the ability to make a good first pass or skate the puck out of trouble when need be.
Myers was not really expected to make Canada’s under-20 WJC team, but he quickly shot up the ranks and established himself on the top pair with Senators prospect Thomas Chabot for four games. Unfortunately, his tournament was cut short after taking a devastating hit from Wild prospect Luke Kunin. That being said, Myers was still a point per game player in the QMJHL and adds a much needed right-hand shot defenseman on the Flyers blue line.
3. Oskar Lindblom (LW)
Projection: Top-6 left wing
Nothing was expected of Lindblom when he was first drafted in 2014, just a fifth-round pick that plays in Europe and has a noticeable skating weakness. Here we are, three years later, and Lindblom is the latest SHL Forward of the Year at only 20 years of age. The young Swedish forward has a lot of grit and skill in his game, he can beat you along the boards or with his quick shot.
Lindblom has gotten better every year and has become a very well rounded player. He can put up numbers offensively, plays great in his own zone and isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas. The expectations for Lindblom have obviously changed, but fans will need to set realistic goals for him in the future. Lindblom isn’t a lock to make the team out of camp, but the work ethic and desire to play in the NHL are there.
2. Travis Sanheim (D)
Projection: Top-pair defenseman
Back in 2014, Sanheim was kind of a high-risk high-reward type of player. He was coming off a 29 point season with the Calgary Hitmen and not many saw the value in him. But over the years, Sanheim dominated the WHL despite being injured and really came into his own. Another towering defenseman at 6-foot-4, he can also skate very fluidly and his offensive instincts are off the charts. Sanheim is going to be an excellent puck mover in the future and we could see him in the NHL next season. His development in the AHL has been great and his upside is equally impressive, Sanheim has a vast repertoire of skill to help him become a legitimate top-2 defenseman.
1. Nolan Patrick (C)
Projection: Elite center
Everyone is questioning Patrick’s skill and health due to his recent injuries, but the fact remains that the Flyers were more than comfortable selecting him with the second overall pick. Patrick has all the tools necessary to become an elite center at the NHL level, his hockey IQ is off the charts, his shot is a cannon and he can play great at both ends of the ice.
Patrick was the WHL playoffs MVP in 2015-16 after coming off a 100 point season as a 17-year-old. Last season, Patrick had nearly identical point-per-game numbers on a depleted Brandon squad. Not to mention, Patrick said he was never really 100 percent during that season. In a completely healthy season, Patrick potentially could have hit the 110-plus point mark.
There is nothing to worry about, Flyers fans. Hextall has this team in good shape and there are virtually no weaknesses in this prospect pool. Once the youth movement gets going, this team is going to be a scary one.