Development camp: 5 players to watch for Flyers

An abundance of talent at Flyers development camp

Starting with last Wednesday’s Trial on the Isle, the 2018 Flyers development camp is underway this weekend in Vorhees, New Jersey. Since Ron Hextall has taken over as GM, Flyers fans have been impatiently waiting to see the talent he’s acquired through the draft. With development camp in full effect, let’s take a look at five players who could make an impact on the Flyers in the near future.

The stars of development camp

The Flyers drafted a goalie in 2016 named Carter Hart, have you heard of him? The supposed savior of the franchise is coming off his best career year. Posting a 31-6-3 record including seven shutouts earned Hart his WHL “Top Goalie” award. Playing for the Everett Silvertips, the 19-year-old managed a 1.6 GAA and .947 save percentage.

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For Hart, this will be his third and hopefully last development camp with the Flyers. His focus, work ethic, and form in the crease have earned him a spot on the Phantoms, at the very least. No Flyers prospect has had this amount of expectation in a long time.

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“I love coming to Philly whenever that is for development camp or training camp and I want to be a Philadelphia Flyer next year — that’s my goal.” Hart proclaimed in an interview.

Prediction: Hart continues to impress during development camp. Though I believe he starts the season in Lehigh Valley with the Phantoms. The Flyers do however have an injury-prone netminder in Michal Neuvirth. This could lead to an opportunity in Philadelphia for Hart. I don’t believe we see him start a game in Philadelphia, but we will see him on the bench.

Flyers future at center

In addition to Hart, another player who will be gathering crowds this weekend is Morgan Frost. The Flyers 2017 first-round pick lit up the OHL this season, coming in second in the points race. With 42 goals and 112 points in 67  games, the 19-year-old managed 1.67 points per game for the Greyhounds.

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This is the Ontario native’s second development camp with the Flyers. Last year his performance was slightly overshadowed by the number two overall pick Nolan Patrick. This year, it’s Frost’s turn to showcase his talent to the staff and fans.

There have been concerns about his size, coming in at 5’11 and 170 lbs at the draft. Recent reports indicate that he has put on weight up to a possible 185 lbs in the last year.  If he can continue to add strength, his chances of making this team grow with every pound.

Frost plays an impressive two-way game. He is an elite playmaker and can shoot with the best of them. It is hard to predict at this point where he will be next season. His only options are to make the NHL or stay in the OHL, being that he is not AHL eligible.

With another upcoming expansion team coming from Seattle, it might be wise of Hextall to leave him in the OHL to avoid having to protect him. But with his work ethic and a shallow free agent pool at center, Frost might have what it takes to be the Flyers third-line center.

Much needed size on the blue line

One player to keep an eye on in development camp is Philippe Myers. Standing at 6’5 and 210 lbs, the 21-year-old possesses some size that the Flyers could use on the back end. The current blue-line averages around 6’1 in height.

Myers had an impressive year with the Phantoms, going 5-16-21 with a +12 in 50 games played. As one of the Phantoms best defenseman, the Canadian prospect saw a lot of ice time, playing in most situations. He has the upside of being a top-pair guy.

Myers is very noticeable while on the ice. He can quarterback the play starting behind his net, find the open man, or carry it himself. He has a great shot from the point, and it is also worth noting that he is a right-handed player, which would be very helpful for the Flyers on the blue line.

Considering the fact that Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg are already seeing NHL minutes, Myers will be in the spotlight this weekend at development camp. My prediction: he starts the season on the Phantoms. Injury or other reasons could get him a promotion to the big club, where his impressive play keeps him for the remainder of the year.

Is there a possible surprise??

Philadelphia needs help at left wing, there is no arguing that.  Oskar Lindblom proved last year he could be close to a break-out but hasn’t quite hit his stride yet. Though it’s a major long-shot, left winger Isaac Ratcliffe could possibly step up in the near future.

Playing last season in the OHL with the Guelph Storm, Ratcliffe racked up 41 goals and 68 points in 67 games. He was the Storm’s point-leader, also getting nine points in six playoff games. Though he finished the season with a +/- of -28, most of that was due to poor goaltending. He plays a responsible game on both ends of the ice.

Measuring at a whopping 6’6 and around 200 pounds, the 19-year-old knows how to throw his body around.  He likes to hit and can set the tone for a physical game soon after the puck drops. For a player of his size, the Ontario-native has fantastic puck skills. He can use both his hands and his body to get the puck around defenders.

Prediction: though I don’t believe Ratcliffe makes the Flyers this season, look for him to have another big season in the OHL. A strong development camp will earn him a top-six spot on the Phantoms in 2019-20, where he continues to strengthen his game.

A dark-horse to watch

Often times there is one player who stays under the radar and in this case, it’s defenseman Mark Friedman. Coming off of his first year with the Phantoms, he had an impressive year, though the numbers aren’t flashy.  2 goals and 16 points in 65 games isn’t something to jump at, but throughout the season his play got significantly better.

While in college at Bowling Green University, Friedman scored 8 goals and 26 total points in 40 games, which is impressive for a defenseman. At 22 years old, he is a bit older than some other prospects. But that age difference could very well turn into a leadership role, which would certainly help him as a player.

A skill that sticks out about Friedman is his ability to play bigger than his size. At 5’11, weighing in at 185 lbs, the Toronto-native likes to use his body against opponents. He isn’t afraid to hit and can line players up at open-ice. He also possesses a very calm nature, giving him the ability to draw penalties without taking them.

Prediction: Friedman plays another full season with the Phantoms, He will likely keep growing into a bigger role on the team, and will take a major step in his career. I could see him eventually becoming a bottom six defenseman on the Flyers in 2019-20 or beyond.

How will it all play out?

A lot can change over the course of the offseason. But development camp gives the fans and coaching staff a chance to watch the prospects in action, all together. It will be interesting to see how things unfold. Preseason will certainly be interesting this season.

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Featured image credit @hartmantori via Flickr