• Andrew McGuinness

Flyers Prospect Pyramid - Tier 4

With 13 prospects, no tier on the Flyers Prospect Pyramid has more players, hence the reason it has its own post. The pyramid will conclude tomorrow, so make sure to check out the intro and first three tiers if you haven't yet.

Tier 4:

C Mikhail Vorobyev (AHL - Lehigh Valley Phantoms)

If the Flyers look to solve their 3rd-line center dilemma by calling up a prospect, Vorobyev is probably the most likely player to get the call-up. Vorobyev got on Flyers fans radars when he put up 10 points (all assists) in 7 games at the 2016-17 World Juniors, and put up a respectable first AHL campaign this past year. Vorobyev's upside likely isn't much more than shutdown 3rd line center at the NHL level, but that may be exactly what the Flyers are looking for at camp.

LW Matthew Strome (OHL - Hamilton Bulldogs)

Strome, the brother of Dylan and Ryan, is probably more similar to Oskar Lindblom than his two brothers. While both of them were top 5 picks, Matthew fell to the 4th round in 2017 due to major concerns with his skating. He certainly has the skill to be an NHLer - he put up 68 points with Hamilton and added 17 in 20 playoff games for the OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs. He's done work with Barb Underhill, one of the best skating coaches around, but still has plenty of work to do.

RW Nicolas Aubé-Kubel (AHL - Lehigh Valley Phantoms)

Aubé-Kubel's first pro season with the Phantoms was a disaster, as he recorded just 18 points in 71 games and looked like he may be the first major bust under Ron Hextall. But the 2014 48th pick got his act together last year, recording 46 points, and was one of the AHL's best even strength scorers. His play-driving metrics were also good as well, but if there's one thing Aubé-Kubel needs to improve on, it's discipline. He was suspended three different times last season, which is something he can't afford to do at the NHL level. His chances of making the team were shot with the JVR signing, but he's one one of the closest prospects towards making the big team.

D Sam Morin (AHL - Lehigh Valley Phantoms)

While some Flyers had rough seasons, due to injury or poor play, no one faired worse last year than Sam Morin. After failing to secure a spot on the team out of camp, Morin managed to play in just 15 AHL games and 2 in the NHL due to an assortment of injury, culminating in a torn ACL during the Calder Cup Playoffs. The hulking defenseman may not be the next Chris Pronger like he was once touted, but he could very well still be a solid 3rd pair, penalty-killing defenseman, something the Flyers could need. However, he'll be on NHL IR because of the ACL tear until February, so getting his shot won't come easy.

G Kirill Ustimenko (MHL - MHK Dynamo St. Petersburg)

Your daily reminder that the Bruins gave up a 3rd round pick for Zac Rinaldo. Ustimenko was the result of that 3rd rounder. While the Flyers have a bevy of goalie prospects and it's easy for anyone not named Carter Hart to get lost in the shuffle, Ustimenko dominated the MHL (Russia's best junior league), posting a 1.81 GAA and a .929 SV% (although he struggled in the playoffs). At 6'3'', Ustimenko has both size and athleticism, a dangerous combo for any goalie to have. He'll step up to Dynamo St. Petersburg of the VHL (the KHL's version of the AHL) next year, and it will be interesting to see how he progresses from there.

D Adam Ginning (SHL - Linköping HC)

Hextall has usually made a habit of taking players with high-upside instead of "safer" picks, but he made an exception in Ginning. Shutdown, defensive defensemen rarely play above 4th on a team's defensive depth chart, and that's the kind of player Ginning is. He did score a beautiful goal for his first (and only) tally with Linköping, but is better with the puck than most people give him credit for. The Flyers could certainly see him developing into a solid top-6, maybe even top-4 shutdown defenseman, which are still needed in today's game.

RW Maxim Sushko (OHL - Owen Sound Attack)

The Belarusian forward recorded a good season last year with Owen Sound, finishing the year at a point-per-game rate and captaining Belarus at World Juniors in the winter, putting up an impressive 8 points in 6 games. Sushko was the 7th leading scorer of the tournament and became the highest scoring Belarusian ever in the World Junior Championships. Sushko provides good offensive touch and goal scoring ability, but the Flyers brass will be looking for him to truly have a breakout year in his final season before turning pro.

D Mark Friedman (AHL - Lehigh Valley Phantoms)

Other than Phil Myers, Friedman is probably the most well-known defensive prospect in the Flyers system. I'll let you decide if that's a good or a bad thing. Friedman put up strong play-driving numbers (52.73 Corsi For%, +3.33% relative to teammates), but put up just 16 points and at times struggled in both ends of the ice. Still, several Flyers prospects (Aube-Kubél, Hagg) before him have rebounded from rough first AHL seasons, and Friedman certainly has the work ethic to turn things around and eventually become a regular at the NHL level.

D Linus Högberg (SHL - Växjö Lakers HC)

Similar to Ginning (and another Swedish defenseman David Bernhardt), Högberg doesn't possess a particularly high ceiling, likely no more than a "four" in the NHL. But with 77 games in the SHL under his belt over the last two seasons, the 2016 5th rounder has already carved out a prominent role in one of the best hockey leagues in the world, and there's a good chance he at least becomes an NHL regular.

LW Tanner Laczynski (NCAA - Ohio State Buckeyes)

Laczynski is a guy I admittedly might be a little low on. After all, Laczynski put up 47 points in 41 games last year at Ohio State, certainly strong numbers for the former 6th round pick. It sounds like he's a well rounded player with no major weaknesses (or strengths) in his game. A repeat season could certainly send him up a tier (or maybe even two), but we'll cross that bridge if we get there.

D Jack St. Ivany (NCAA - Yale Bulldogs)

Another college prospect, St. Ivany was recently selected in the 4th round by the Flyers at this year's NHL Draft. A right-handed shot (something every team other than the Jets needs), St. Ivany put up a respectable 36 points at the USHL level last year. We should get a better look at him in his first collegiate season with Yale.

LW Noah Cates (NCAA - Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs)

Everyone has that one prospect they will go to bat for no matter what, and for me, that's Noah Cates. Cates is known mostly for two highlight reel goals, one to win a high school tournament in his draft year and the other a between-the-legs this summer at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. In between the two, he was nearly point-per-game in the USHL and will look to begin his collegiate career this fall. Again, a big year for Cates, but I hope he proves me right.