Writing about prospects is always endless fun. The Philadelphia Flyers’ pool of young talent has been one of the deepest in the league for years, and even with guys like Provorov, Konecny, Patrick, and co. being promoted to the NHL, it still remains incredibly deep. After The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor and Alexander Appleyard posted their top 20 prospects, it inspired me to make a list of my own for once. So let’s take a look, shall we?
1. Morgan Frost (Soo Greyhounds – OHL)
Biggest attribute: Playmaking ability
I don’t think this is much of a surprise to anyone, Frost has been the #1 prospect for the Flyers for two years now and the fans are eager to see him potentially make his debut in October. And for those wondering about his size, Frost admitted in an interview that he has bulked up to 190 pounds.
Frost dominated the OHL for consecutive seasons, racking up 109 points in 59 games in his final one for the ‘Soo’ Greyhounds while putting on a solid performance for Team Canada at the World Juniors. Frost’s vision and playmaking ability separate him from the pack, as he’s able to execute plays at high speed with ease and accuracy. Lots of scouts wondered if he would be able to maintain this consistency when facing tougher & faster competition (i.e. World Juniors), but Frost managed to show that his elite skill isn’t simply on display against weaker or younger opponents in the OHL, he was phenomenal even against the best.
2. Joel Farabee
Biggest attribute: Hockey sense
Farabee was raved about at the 2018 draft. Scouts absolutely loved him and so did analysts. There were a lot of talented players picked ahead of him, but Farabee was the perfect fit for the Flyers. A solid two-way winger that possesses an elite shot and tremendous defensive instincts. Don’t be fooled though, he has a nose for the net and is an extremely aggressive attacker.
In addition to leading Boston University in points as Freshman, Farabee was also named National Rookie of the Year. After the season concluded, he informed BU that he would be turning pro next year, showing his commitment to the Flyers. Even if he doesn’t end up making the team, the AHL experience will be great for him. He has all the qualities of a high-end player: skating, shooting, smarts, passing and more. You could make a strong case for Farabee being the best prospect in the Flyers system.
3. Philippe Myers
Biggest attribute: Skating
Out of all the Flyers prospects we’ve seen over the years, Phil Myers was probably the biggest longshot to ever make the NHL full time. After being passed over at the draft in 2015 and released from the Calgary Flames camp, Myers is making other teams regret passing on him. His confidence skyrocketed once the Flyers signed him, and he hasn’t looked back since. He played for Team Canada at the World Juniors, developed into a top-pair defenseman in the AHL, got called up to the Flyers this year and then received an invite to play for Team Canada at the World Championships.
When you see Myers play, it’s actually shocking to find out he went undrafted. He’s a 6-foot-5, right-hand defenseman who skates like he is 5-foot-10 and has a cannon of a shot. What’s not to like? After trading Radko Gudas, Chuck Fletcher somewhat hinted that the right side on the third pair was for Myers. His skating and aggressive defending making him a great commodity for the Flyers, and he’s only getting better.
4. Isaac Ratcliffe
Biggest attribute: Size and hands
Ratcliffe is an intriguing prospect. His combination of size and skill is remarkable, and for a 6-foot-6 player, he’s a very good skater. It didn’t surprise me when I found out his favorite player was Rick Nash, as his game looks very similar. Like I said, big body, soft hands, good skater. I’m not saying he’s going to be Rick Nash 2.0, but it’s exciting to see a player with all the tools Ratcliffe has.
He did a lot of damage for the Guelph Storm in his final season, but the acquisitions of Nick Suzuki and MacKenzie Entwistle really helped him elevate his game. He finished the season with 50 goals (fifth-best in the OHL) and 32 assists in 65 games and helped captain his team to an OHL Championship and the Memorial Cup. Ratcliffe is not expected to play for the Flyers next season, but his development will be fun to follow in the AHL and depending on his performance, perhaps a call-up?
5. Cam York
Biggest attribute: Poise
The Flyers have promoted Provorov, Gostisbehere, Sanheim, Myers, Hagg, and Morin to the NHL, who is left? There isn’t really another high-end defense prospect in the Flyers’ system. It was sort of a shock to some that the Flyers selected a defenseman over a high volume shooter in the draft, but in hindsight, it was a great pick.
York is an immense talent. He was praised for his stability and composure on the blueline. He’s an excellent skater and uses that mobility to close the gap in the neutral and defensive zone. While York did play on a stacked USNDP team, he is still a high-end prospect with the potential to become a top 4 defenseman.
6. Bobby Brink
Biggest attribute: Creativity
When I went to watch Bobby Brink highlights after the Flyers drafted him, my initial reaction was “Wow.” Some may argue that the pick made up for passing on Caufield, as the Flyers scored two top 20 players in the draft, one being a very creative and skilled forward.
His skating was criticized by many, but he has plenty of time to work on that. He was named USHL Forward of the Year after putting up 68 points in 43 games, including a few highlight reels. Brink is an exciting prospect. He has that Travis Konecny flash with his incredible hands, he just needs to brush up on his skating a little. All in all, a great prospect.
7. Wade Allison
Biggest attribute: Dynamic style of play
Allison and Samuel Morin should share ownership of the “Just can’t catch a break” award. When he was drafted in the second round in 2016, the hopes were that Allison would build his NCAA resume and sign with the Flyers. And he did well, before injuries struck. Now, there are doubts that he will even sign with the Flyers. He only played 22 games in each of his past two seasons, putting a halt on his progress.
In an interview at Flyers Development Camp, Allison admitted to only being 85%, and he still looked very good. If he can get a healthy season in, Allison could be back on track. He has a lot of skill, a great shot and a lot of energy to his game. He could be a prime power forward for the Orange & Black.
8. German Rubtsov
Biggest attribute: Two-way play
Rubtsov has had a somewhat rocky development. He started off in Russia, where he barely touched the ice, came over to play in the QMJHL and struggled in his first full season and when he finally started to produce offensively in the AHL, he suffered a season-ending injury. Ouch.
However, there is still hope for Rubtsov. In my opinion, he could be an outstanding fourth-liner capable of playing on the penalty kill. When he’s on his game, he can do it all. If he returns to form and picks up where he left off in the AHL, maybe he will be called up.
9. Mikhail Vorobyev
Biggest attribute: Passing
Vorobyev got his shot last season after his incredible preseason. He played extremely well in all facets of the game and really showed off his vision and distribution. He is an extremely intelligent player, but when he finally made the NHL, he seemed to lack the killer instinct and willingness to compete on multiple occasions.
He played 15 games for the Flyers last year but spent most of his time in the AHL, where he played 46 games and tallied 26 points. He doesn’t have much flash to his game, but Vorobyev’s intelligence will help him in the long run. Once he starts playing with NHL pace, he’ll be a good player.
10. Samuel Ersson
Biggest attribute: Positioning
Ersson really came onto the scene this year. He played lights out in Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second-best pro league, posting a .933 save percentage and a 1.95 GAA. Those numbers earned him MVP, Goalie of the Year and Rookie of the year honors. Quite impressive for a 19-year-old.
He was equally impressive at the World Juniors, which is when a lot of fans started noticing him. I think it’s safe to say that Felix Sandstrom has passed the baton to Ersson as top goalie prospect for the Flyers. He is turning heads among the fanbase and they will be keeping a very close eye on him next season.
11. Felix Sandstrom
Biggest attribute: Athleticism
As I mentioned previously, it’s fair to say that Sandstrom is now #2 on the Flyers goaltender prospects list, but that isn’t to say he won’t be good. He didn’t win the starters’ job for HV71, but still had great numbers. Needless to say, the talent is there for Sandstrom.
Over the years, we’ve seen quite a few highlight-reel saves from him, his athleticism is simply outstanding and he will be looking to have a big year for the Phantoms in 2019-20. If injury ever strikes on the big club, we may even see him start a few games.
12. Jay O’Brien
Biggest attribute: Hands
It’s hard to admit, but O’Brien’s first season in the NCAA was a disaster. Due to an early concussion, it seems like he never found his footing, only tallying five points in 25 games. He was a risky pick for the Flyers in the first round, but it’s easy to see the speed, skill & creativity in his game. He obliterated his competition in the USHS and really flashed at the 2018 Summer Showcase.
In what feels like a step back, O’Brien chose to play in the BCHL in 2019-20. But this isn’t the end of the line for him. He’s 19 years old and simply coming off a down year. If he can rediscover his game for Penticton, he will be back on schedule. Let’s give the kid a chance.
13. Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Biggest attribute: Chippiness
Aube-Kubel was a prolific scorer for Val-d’Or in the QMJHL, but that skill has yet to translate to the pros. He’s been a good player for the Phantoms but failed to capitalize on his opportunity with the Flyers.
‘NAK’ isn’t the biggest guy, but he battles every shift for every puck and always his foot on the gas pedal. Unfortunately, he will be waiver eligible this season, so he will have something to prove at camp to win a spot on the fourth line and prove he can play in the bigs.
14. Yegor Zamula
Biggest attribute: Patience
Zamula really wasn’t a player that intrigued many one year ago. But he earned himself an entry-level contract in September and took great strides with the Calgary Hitmen in 2018-19.
For a 6-foot-3 defenseman, Yegor is a smooth skater. He is very deceptive with the puck, holding onto it until he can make the best play possible. He jumped from two goals and 16 assists to 10 goals and 46 assists this past season, gaining a lot more confidence, kind of like Philippe Myers. Ah, the wonders of an ELC. While I don’t want to get my hopes up, I am rooting for ‘Big Z’ to continue his progression and eventually make it to the NHL.
15. Linus Högberg
Biggest attribute: Mobility
It’s still mesmerizing that the Flyers have yet to sign Högberg to an entry-level deal, as he’s been a steady defenseman in the SHL for three seasons now. He would give a good boost the Phantoms defense corps while adjusting to North-American ice.
Regardless, Högberg projects as third pair defender with shutdown potential. He’s not known to really rack up points, but he played a big role for Växjö, often playing top minutes. The maturity in his game is remarkable for a 20-year-old and he often gets lost in the Flyers pipeline, but who knows where his development will take him.
Side note: Finding his highlights are very difficult.
16. Mark Friedman
Biggest attribute: Work ethic
Friedman got the call-up on the last game of the season last year, but his position on the Flyers depth chart is abundantly clear after the summer acquisitions and the transition of Phil Myers to the NHL. Still, he is knocking on the door and could very well see some time with the Flyers if injury strikes on the blue line.
He has taken steps in his pro game, becoming a more well-rounded d-man, but there is still a lot of work to put in. At age 23, it’s unlikely that Friedman becomes a full-time NHLer, but he still has the potential and will need a huge season to turn some heads within the organization.
17. Noah Cates
Biggest attribute: Well-rounded game
Cates is an extremely interesting dark-horse prospect for the Flyers. His game is stellar in every facet of the ice. His team won the NCAA title and many experts claim that he has bottom-six potential, but needs to improve on his skating.
Cates seems to be able to mix in wherever the coach sees fit. He saw some time with Jack Hughes at the World Juniors and played a solid all-around game for the University of Minnesota-Duluth, tallying 23 points in 40 games.
18. Samuel Morin
Biggest attribute: Physicality
Unfortunately for Morin, he really fell off the radar with all his injuries and the overload of young defenseman in the system over the years.
As everyone knows, Morin isn’t the most offensively gifted guys, but he uses his massive frame in the defensive zone to crush his opponents and win battles in the corners and in front of the net. It’s been a long and arduous process and there is still a big hill to climb for Big Sam, but there is still hope that he will establish himself as a full-time NHLer.
19. Kirill Ustimenko
Biggest attribute: Aggressiveness
Ustimenko hasn’t really appeared in other lists I’ve seen, and I personally like him as a goalie, but the odds of him making the NHL are incredibly low due to Hart, Sandstrom, and Ersson. His aggressive style of goaltending is fun to watch but can sometimes work against him. He slumped early last year.
That being said, he absolutely dominated the second half of the MHL season last year. In his 46 games, he posted a .927 save percentage, a 1.78 GAA and recorded 12 shutouts (that is not a typo).
Side note: Ustimenko highlights are nearly impossible to find.
20. Tanner Laczynski
Biggest attribute: Versatility
Injuries sidelined Laczynski last year, as he was looking to build off his 47-point campaign in 2017-18, but he still remained over a point-per-game in the NCAA for Ohio State. He might have the physical maturity to play in the NHL, but he opted to return to the NCAA for his senior season, meaning the Flyers will need to act fast when his college career wraps up.
Like Cates and Högberg, Laczynski is one of those “dark horse to make the NHL” kind of players. He seems to do everything well, but not at a superstar level. Another guy to keep a close eye on next season.