With the Flyers season considered by most to be a “wash,” now is a good time to check-in with current Flyers prospects. At the beginning of the season, I made a top 10 list of Flyers prospects. Here is an update on each of these prospects, plus a few honorable mention candidates.
Hart had a bit of a rough start to his AHL career and struggled early. However, he had a good stretch run beginning in late November where he began putting up decent numbers. This, along with a ton of Flyers injuries, led to a call-up. Since joining the Flyers, Hart has looked very comfortable for a 20-year-old. He has also brought life to a fan-base that is in much need of hope. As long as the Flyers struggle with injuries and Hart keeps winning, he may find himself as a permanent NHL regular in the not too distant future.
Beginning year projection: Future NHL starter.
Mid-point projection: Future NHL starter.
Prospect Season Grade: A-
Similarly to other Flyers prospects, Farabee had a slow start to his NCAA career. He struggled to score early on, and he was noticeably frustrated in the early goings of the season. However, he seems to have adjusted positively over the last month or so. Farabee has 11 points in 16 games playing for Boston University, which isn’t terrible for a freshman. He is also far from the only freshmen who was drafted last season struggling to transition from the U.S. Nation Development Program to the NHL (see Oliver Wahlstrom of the Islanders who has been rumored to leave Boston College because of it).
Farabee was named to the U.S. World Junior team, unsurprisingly, and put up a hat-trick yesterday versus a below mediocre Kazakhstan team. Farabee has a strong skill set, but many scouts are still torn over his upside. His inconsistent start has not helped this matter. The Flyers likely have a top-6 forward on their hands here, but he may need more time developing than previously expected.
Beginning year projection: Top 6 forward.
Mid-point projection: Top 6 forward.
Prospect Season Grade: B-
If I were to do my prospect rankings over, I would bump Frost ahead of Farabee. Frost led the OHL in primary points last season, and once again, he is tearing up the OHL. He has 58 points in only 32 games this season, which is an incredible pace. Frost was also named to Team Canada for the World Junior Championship. In his first game, he scored 3 goals and had 2 assists.
What stands out most about Frost’s game is both his creativity and hockey sense. Frost has a knack for finding open time and space, leading to scoring chances. His work ethic has constantly been lauded and that hasn’t changed this season. Canada has used Frost on the wing, and on the point on the power-play, which has shown Frost’s overall versatility. Going into the season, I had Frost listed as a potential two-way, second-line center. This season has bumped him up for me, as a potential number one center with strong offensive upside.
Beginning year projection: Second-line center.
Mid-point year projection: First-line center.
Prospect Mid-point grade: A
O’Brien has struggled with injuries this season. He has also struggled immensely with the transition from high school hockey to NCAA. Currently, O’Brien has 2 points in 10 games for Providence College of Hockey East. Thankfully, U.S. hockey saw enough in his game to name him to their World Junior team. O’Brien has looked okay but not spectacular in the tournament so far. It was expected that O’Brien would need some time developing (possibly as many as four years before making the NHL), and that projection seems likely. Hopefully, O’Brien can use the World Juniors as a confidence boost and finish the year out strong.
Beginning year projection: #2 Center.
Mid-point year projection: #2 Center.
Prospect Mid-point grade: C
Rubtsov was putting up points in the AHL before a season-ending surgery. Flyers brass was impressed with his overall game, and he was showing why many had him penciled in the Flyers lineup as soon as next season. Flyers fans can hope that Rubtsov recovers fully from his injury. Look for Rubtsov to start next season in the AHL again, but he may find himself as an NHL regular by the end of next season.
Beginning year projection: #2 center.
Mid-point year projection: #2 center.
Prospect Mid-point Grade: B+
Myers is the first defenseman to pop up on this list. He has been a consistent offensive threat in the AHL with 22 points so far this season (on pace for over 40 points). Myers has also improved defensive consistency. A call-up is likely in his future. Look for him to make the Flyers next season.
Beginning year projection: Top 4 defender.
Mid-point year projection: Top 4 defender.
Prospect Mid-point grade: B+
Allison is a tougher prospect to evaluate this season. He has played few games after recovering from a torn ACL last season. Allison does have 4 points in 6 games, which is an okay pace considering how significant an injury he is recovering from. If all goes according to plan, Allison may finish the season in the NHL or the AHL if his NCAA season ends early.
Beginning year projection: Bottom 6 winger.
Mid-point year projection: Bottom 6 winger.
Prospect Mid-point grade: B
Laczynski is in his junior year at Ohio State. He is scoring at his usual pace (a point per game). Laczynski has been lauded for his leadership this season and two-way play. If all goes according to plan, look for Laczynski to sign a contract with the Flyers and finish the season in either the NHL or AHL. He is likely to start in the AHL regularly next season.
Beginning year projection: Middle six forward
Mid-point year projection: Middle six forward.
Prospect Mid-point grade: B
Ginning is the second defenseman on this list. He has excelled playing regular minutes in Sweden’s top league. Going into the season, Ginning was considered more of a two-way defender, but he may be more of a modern defensive defenseman (good speed, defensive instincts and positioning, low offensive numbers). Ginning made Sweden’s world junior team and is playing a depth role. Look for Ginning to return to Sweden next season and continuing honing his game.
Beginning year projection: Bottom 6 defender
Mid-point year projection: Bottom 6 defender
Mid-point prospect grade: B
Sandstrom is having almost an identical season to last year. His statistics are virtually the same. He is also still a backup and not a starter. This isn’t unheard of for a young goaltender, but I’m sure Flyers brass would love to see him get into more games. Sandstrom may find himself in the AHL next season, which would likely do leaps and bounds for his development if he could gain more playing time.
Beginning year projection: Potential NHL starter.
Mid-point year projection: Potential NHL goalie (not necessarily starter).
Mid-point prospect grade: B-
New Prospects on the Scene to Keep an Eye On
G Samuel Ersson
Ersson has bumped himself above Sandstrom in my books this season as the second best goalie prospect in the organization behind Carter Hart. Ersson is currently playing one level below the top league in Sweden and has a steller .941 save percentage. He is currently his team’s starting goalie and thriving in the role at just 19 years of age. Ersson is also the starter for Sweden at the World Junior championship. With Hart’s immediate impact, the Flyers can be patient with Ersson and let him develop. Look for him to continue honing his game in Sweden.
W Matthew Strome
Strome is somewhat of a polarizing prospect. Going into his draft year in 2017, Strome was considered by many to be a first round prospect. However, concerns surrounding his skating and potential offensive upside dropped him to the fourth round where the Flyers were happy to nab him. Strome put up decent numbers last season and is doing so again this year, with 39 points in 35 games. Listed at 6’4″, 206 lbs, Strome uses his frame well and has proven to show up in big games in the OHL. Strome has seen improvement in his skating as well. He may turn into a decent bottom-six forward with more development.
D John St. Ivany
St. Ivany suprisingly made the U.S. World Junior team in his inaugural season at Yale. St. Ivany boasts an impressive frame and has put up decent numbers his freshman year. St. Ivany will likely spend the next few seasons at Yale. With continued success, he may find himself approaching the Flyers’ top-10 prospects list.
W Isaac Ratcliffe
Ratcliffe is another potential power forward for the Flyers. Boasting a 6’6″ frame, Ratcliffe currently has 20 goals in only 34 games in the OHL this season. Similar to Strome, Ratcliffe’s skating has been questioned at times. However, his goal scoring abilities have not been questioned. Ratcliffe was a late cut from Canada’s World Junior team, a good sign that he was considered to be one of the best 30 or so junior-aged players that Canada had available in a year they are the favorites. Look for Ratcliffe to make a push for the Flyers roster next season, but he will likely begin in the AHL.
Overall, the Flyers have a plethora of decent prospects. Even in the midst of a year of struggles, the near future is bright! Look for a handful of these prospects to begin making an impact as soon as next season.