Several Flyers Prospects Are Ready To Hit The Ice
With another season in the books, the core group of Flyers players are likely training back home or partying in Sea Isle City. The Flyers prospects, however, are gearing up for what could be the most important off-season of their careers. Going into next season, we should expect to see several of the Flyers prospects crack the opening-night lineup.
General Manager Ron Hextall has been forward about his intentions with several players from this past year’s roster. Unrestricted free agents Matt Read, Johnny Oduya, and Brandon Manning will not be brought back next season. This opens up the door for some younger players to step in. According to Hextall, he has some interest in resigning Valtteri Filppula, but it depends on how things go moving forward.
“Things can change because we don’t know what happens over the summer. Fil is the one guys where we have interest, so we’re going to see what happens here.” Hextall explained during his exit interview.
So what can we expect to see the roster look like next season? Of course, there is a chance the Flyers make a major trade during the off-season. They could also potentially trade up in the draft to get some serious talent. There are also a few free agents the team could look to go after (#TavaresWatch), however here I will dive into what I believe the roster will look like without any major moves. Which Flyers prospects will crack the roster?
Bottom Six On Offense Could See New Faces
The Flyers prospect that I foresee having the biggest immediate impact on offense is Morgan Frost. Acquired in the Brayden Schenn-Jori Lehtera trade, the first round draft pick has been phenomenal for the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. This regular season, Frost accomplished 112 points in 67 games played, and so far has accounted for 22 points in 18 games in the postseason. The 6’0 center has been voted Best Playmaker, Smartest Player, and Best Stickhandler by the OHL coaches.
— xyz Soo Greyhounds (@OHLHoundPower) March 25, 2018
Frost will turn 19 on May 14th, and the lefty center could make the Flyers lineup. Though most analysts foresee him staying in the Juniors one more season, it is my belief that he will be wearing Orange and Black come October. Weighing only 170 pounds, the 18-year-old will absolutely have to bulk up during the offseason, but we’ve seen it done before. A successful postseason for his Greyhound’s junior team will inspire Frost to improve his game enough to play in the big league.
— Flyers Prospects (@futureofphilly) June 24, 2017
Another player who makes the opening night lineup is Nicolas Aube-Kubel. The winger has played two full seasons with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and has made a major increase in production as he’s developed. Drafted in the second round, #48 overall, he has turned into the type of player the Flyers have hoped for. His style of play is similar to the way Danny Briere played, but a lot more physical. Although he is only 5’11 and 187 pounds, the Flyer prospect throws his body around and plays gritty. His 86 penalty minutes in the regular season led the Phantoms team.
Nic Aube-Kubel began the comeback by scoring the second goal last night and then completed it by scoring the game-winning seventh goal in the #LVPhantoms 7-6 win over Hershey.
What a well-rounded dude. 🔄
— LehighValleyPhantoms (@LVPhantoms) March 3, 2018
In 2016-17, Aube-Kubel had only 18 points in 71 games played, with nine goals and nine assists. During the 2017-18 regular season, he increased that production to 46 points in 72 games, according to theahl.com. That number was good for third on the Phantoms. It is also worth noting that he led the team with a +24, showcasing his two-way style of play on the ice.
Lastly, on offense, another Flyers prospect who will compete for a starting position is Isaac Ratcliffe. The 19-year-old lefty is a whopping 6’6, weighing in at 203 pounds. Ratcliffe can give the Flyers bottom six some much-needed size. The London, Ontario native had 68 points in 67 regular-season games played with the Guelph Storm. He also accounted for five goals and four assists in nine playoff games. For a player of his size, its worth noting that he has smooth hands, with both great stickhandling and also a nice shot. A player of his size and skill in front of the net could be dangerous, especially against opponents third and fourth lines.
— Rob Smith (@Robsmith210) February 9, 2018
Defending The Blue Line
With Brandon Manning off of the roster, one of the Flyers prospects in the deep pool of defenseman will get a chance to step up. We saw this season that both Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg are good players, and with some polishing, both can potentially be great defenseman going forward. Radko Gudas had a sub-par season and could end up riding the bus for portions of the year in the AHL. In steps a player named Phillipe Myers.
Myers, who is 21, went undrafted coming into the league. The Flyers picked him up in 2015, hoping to turn him into a shutdown defenseman. He is offensively-minded, can skate, shoot well, and can keep bodies off the puck. Standing at 6’5, 210 pounds, Myers will be a guy that players are hesitant to battle with against the boards. It is also worth noting that the 21-year-old is the only other right-handed shot in the Flyers prospect pool. With a good summer spent training and weight lifting, he could absolutely find time on the Flyers.
The other defenseman I envision seeing in Orange and Black next season is Samuel Morin. Though it feels like we’ve been waiting a decade, and some have given up hope on this kid, this will be the year Morin makes the lineup. Morin turns 23 this offseason and has been developing in the system since the Flyers drafted him #11 overall in 2011. The 22-year-old has had several injuries knock his development off track. But, when Morin is healthy, he is an absolute warrior on the ice. Towering at a height of 6’7, weighing 230 pounds, this guy has drawn comparisons to former Flyer Chris Pronger. He plays a complete shut-down style of hockey and can become the Penalty Kill specialist that the Flyers need.
Where Will We Fit All Of These Players?
With such a deep pool of Flyers Prospects, the Flyers are facing a good problem to have: finding landing spots for all of their players. The franchise has so much talent coming up from the minors and juniors. And it can only motivate guys like Michael Raffl, Taylor Leier, and Jordan Weal to be their best this offseason to earn extensions and keep their roster positions. Of course, injuries happen, and opportunity presents itself. So whether or not my picks are correct on opening night, I’d imagine all of these players see ice time throughout the season. Barring any major free agent pickups, draft trades, or anything of the sort, this is my (hopeful) guess as to what the lineup will look like:
Giroux – Couturier – Konecny
Lindblom – Patrick – Voracek
Raffl – Filppula – Simmonds
Ratcliffe – Frost – Aube-Kubel
Provorov – Ghost
Hagg – Macdonald/Sanheim
Morin – Gudas/Myers
For more information, visit @PSN_Philly
Featured image: hartmantori via Flickr