Mikhail Vorobyev has a chance to surprise the league

Flyers rookie Vorobyev has a chance to turn some heads

After a lackluster 4-4 preseason for the Flyers, there were certainly some bright spots. Goalie-of-the-future Carter Hart posted the best stats of all the goalies. Shayne Gostisbehere looked to be in mid-season form. And now Mikhail Vorobyev has a chance with some serious talent centering the third line.

Though most fans throughout the league don’t know the name Vorobyev yet, they likely will in just a few weeks. He will be surrounded with talent on opening night, with James van Riemsdyk playing on his left wing and Wayne Simmonds on the right.

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Strong camp and preseason paid off

Though Vorobyev did have a strong season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last season, that isn’t why he got a spot. He did everything right during both summer camp and the preseason. Enough to impress GM Ron Hextall enough to give him a shot with the third line.

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“He’s been the best player in that position, it’s as simple as that,” claims Hextall. The 21-year-old center led the Flyers in points throughout the preseason, with two goals and five assists in seven games. As with most new players in the preseason, Vorobyev saw time on multiple lines with different wingers.

“He seemed to have chemistry with whoever he played with,” said the GM. “He makes plays, smart plays, he’s hard on pucks.” And those kinds of smart plays are exactly what earned him his spot on the third line. And truthfully, Vorobyev was already set up for success when paired with Simmonds. And now, the opening night roster also includes power-forward van Riemsdyk. Vorobyev has a chance to seriously showcase his talent with these linemates.

Finally a formidable third line in Philadelphia

Throughout the last few seasons, the Flyers have mainly been top-six heavy. That’s not to say there wasn’t ever talented players trickling down the lineup, but this third line has serious potential to be dangerous.

Simmonds, who finished last season with a variety of injuries, will be healthy again to start the season. Last season, even with multiple broken bones, he managed to put up 46 points in 75 games played. And being in a contract year, you know he will have a fire under his you-know-what as soon as the puck is dropped on Thursday.

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On the other side, you have van Riemsdyk. The 29-year-old is coming off of his career-high season in goals with 36 and could get even more opportunities in Philadelphia going up against opponent’s third lines. My expectations for van Riemsdyk this season are extremely high, and Vorobyev could certainly have a major part in that.

With an average height of over 6’2″, these three players all have decent size. They also each possess a unique skill set from each other. You essentially have three power forwards who can also put the puck in the net, and have a great on-ice vision. Some of the passing between this trio could be a nightmare for defenses and goalies.

Flyers scouting is paying off

We’ve already seen the success of Gostisbehere, Travis Konecny, and Ivan Provorov in these last several seasons. Nolan Patrick, a gift from the Lottery Gods, developed his game and exploded in the second half of last season. Fans fully expect Hart to shine between the pipes in Lehigh Valley while waiting for his call-up, and Morgan Frost will likely be top-five in the OHL in points again this season.

The Flyers scouting staff has something to be proud of. And on Thursday night, Oskar Lindblom starts just his 29th game with the Flyers, he will be on a line with Patrick and Jakub Voracek, with an amazing opportunity to put up points. But Vorobyev has a chance that similar, and likely against weaker defenders.

What expectations should Flyers fans have?

Truthfully, every hour that inches closer to game time, I believe the new rookie center will succeed more than the last. Having two linemates that have put up 60-point-seasons, Vorobyev has a chance to gain chemistry with his line and become effective immediately.

But it’s not all about his linemates. The fourth-round draft pick has always been a hard worker. He will battle in the dirty areas and isn’t afraid to shoot the puck. He has a confidence in his game that hopefully translates to the big club.

Thinking realistically, assuming that Vorobyev stays healthy and is consistently on the third line, it’s not out of the question for him to truly breakout during his rookie season. That’s not to say I expect to see the Calder trophy in his arms next off-season. But if things go well, I’d expect to see Vorobyev with 10-13 goals, and hover around 30-33 points. Not bad for a guy that wasn’t much expected to have landed this role.

For more information, visit @PSN_Philly
Stats from nhl.com
Featured image courtesy of @HartfordWolfPack via Flickr

 

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