Flyers Prospect Pyramid - Tier 2-3
Yesterday, I unveiled the Flyers prospect pyramid, the best way of ranking any teams, including the best teams (the Flyers, obviously), courtesy of Steve Dangle. Today, we march on, with Tier 2-3. Make sure to check out yesterday's post if you haven't already.
C Morgan Frost (OHL - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Frost was a curious choice at #27 in the 2017 NHL draft, taken with the first of two first round picks acquired in the Brayden Schenn trade. Projected to go in the 2nd round, most Flyers fans weren't thrilled with the pick, especially since the NBC broadcast thought the Flyers had taken Eeli Tolvanen, who fit one of the Flyers biggest prospect needs - a high-volume shooting winger. But what a difference a year makes. Frost finished 2nd in the OHL in scoring with a 112-point season, filled with tons of flash and tremendous offensive upside. Despite bulking up over the summer, and my season preview article, Frost is probably a long shot to make the team out of camp, especially after a middling performance the Hlinka Gretzky Cup this month. Still, in no less than 13 months, Frost should be ready to make an NHL impact.
D Phil Myers (AHL - Lehigh Valley Phantoms)
Ron Hextall has done a great job at drafting and developing talent, especially with late round picks, but his biggest steal may be the big undrafted defenseman Phil Myers. Myers jumped from 8 points in 60 games in 2014-15 with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL to 45 the following season, and then posted 35 points in just 34 games in his final junior year. Myers put a solid first pro year with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and is by far the Flyers best defensive prospect. Injury concerns and the roster crunch, even with Sam Morin out until February, hurt Myers' odds of making the team out of camp, but there's a good chance he sees NHL time at some point this season. And like Shayne Gostisbehere, there's a good chance once he does, he will never go back down.
LW Joel Farabee (NCAA - Providence Friars)
Wondering what that other first round pick acquired for Brayden Schenn turned into? Farabee put up great numbers in the US Development Program this past year, good enough to make him an easy choice for the Flyers to take at #14 in the 2018 NHL Draft. Farabee was the guy I was hoping the Flyers would take when it became evident they were going to trade up to try and get a defensemen like Evan Bouchard or Noah Dobson, so I'm happy they got him. Farabee projects as a top-6 winger with great offensive touch and a 200-foot game, but will need to bulk up more before he will be ready for the grueling NHL schedule.
C Jay O'Brien (NCAA - Boston Terriers)
Similar to Frost, O'Brien's selection at #19 in the 2018 Draft was considered a bit of surprise, although some reports sounded like O'Brien may not have fallen much further. O'Brien put up a gaudy 80 points in just 30 games at Thayer Academy, but it's important to note the weak quality of competition at that level. It's often hard to gauge a player's true potential when playing at a low level, but Flyers scouts like O'Brien enough to take a chance on him. Like Farabee, O'Brien possess good scoring touch and hockey IQ. The reason he's a tier lower is because his floor is lower than Farabee's, who seems like a surefire NHL at least in a bottom-6 role. But a strong year at Boston University could make Ron Hextall and company look like geniuses once again.
LW Oskar Lindblom (AHL - Lehigh Valley Phantoms)
It may be surprising to see Lindblom on this list, since to most of us it feels like Lindblom was up long enough to disqualify himself from this list. Yet at only 23 NHL regular season games (the 4 in the playoffs don't technically count towards Calder eligibility), Lindblom makes this list. A lot of Flyers fans thought the reigning Swedish forward of the year would be able to crack the team out of camp. But after struggling to carve out a role on the Flyers top power play unit, Lindblom found himself in the AHL at the beginning of the year. To Lindblom's credit, after going pointless in his first 6 games, he put up 34 points in 54 AHL regular season games, good enough for an all-star selection. Lindblom's first crack at the NHL, caused by an injury to Wayne Simmonds, was similar to his start at the AHL, as despite great underlying metrics, Lindblom went pointless in his first 11 NHL games. Finally, Lindblom broke through scoring 6 points over his next 13 games and looking great on a line with Nolan Patrick and Jakub Voracek. Unfortunately, Lindblom fizzled out in the playoffs, likely due to playing over 20 more games than any other prior season in his hockey career and was a healthy scratch for the Flyers final 2 playoff games before returning to the AHL to help the Phantoms with their playoff run. Lindblom is all but a lock for the NHL this fall, and although his skating will likely hold him back from becoming an elite player, Lindblom certainly possesses top-6 upside that can score and plays sound in his own zone.
LW Isaac Ratcliffe (OHL - Guelph Storm)
Ron Hextall traded up to select Ratcliffe 35th in the 2017 NHL Draft, and so far, the 6'6'' forward has rewarded that decision. Ratcliffe learned how to use his size to his advantage better last season, but also possess a good shot and all-around offensive skills, evident by his 68 points in 67 games for the OHL’s Guelph Storm, who he will captain next year.
RW Wade Allison (NCAA - Western Michigan Broncos)
Allison's breakout year was cut last year due to a torn ACL, limiting him to just 22 games in his sophomore season. Still, Allison recorded 30 points in those games, and is the closest thing to a pure goal-scorer in the Flyers system. Ron Hextall and company wanted to see Allison turn pro this summer, but Allison decided to stay in Western Michigan for his junior year. While some, notably The Athletic's Corey Pronman, are low on Allison, I feel he has legit top-6 upside and could feel a need for the Flyers.
C German Rubtsov (QMJHL - Acadie-Bathurst Titan)
Unfortunately, the 22nd pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, who Hextall traded down to select, struggled in his first full season in North America. After recording 22 points in 16 games with Chicoutimi following a move from the KHL, Rubtsov was traded 11 games into last season, and never really got going. He only finished with 43 points in 49 games last year, and things will only get harder in his first year in the AHL. Rubtsov certainly has the tools - great hockey IQ, hands, and 200-foot game - to be a successful middle-6 NHL center. But this will be a critical year for his development.
G Felix Sandström (SHL - HV71)
At this time last year, you could make a legitimate argument that Felix Sandström was the best goalie in the Flyers system. The Swedish netminder has constantly flashed outstanding athleticism playing in the SHL. However, last year was a season from hell for Sandström, as he battled abdominal issues that sidelined him for a large chunk of the season, while Hart blew past him, as well as every other goalie prospect in the NHL. Still, Sandström does have the ability to one day become a starting goalie in the NHL. This will likely be Sandstrom's last season in the SHL, so he'll need to make it count to prove his doubters wrong.