Flyers Mid-Season Prospect Pyramid
While the season for the parent club may not be going so well, Flyers fans can always look back at their bundle of prospects for a positive. Ron Hextall's legacy lives on in the form of these prospects, though Chuck Fletcher is likely going to add to the pool soon with the trade deadline looming large. But a lot has changed since the fall, and with the bye week in effect, it's a good time to re-do the original prospect pyramid made back in September. Before we begin, let's take a look back at how the pyramid looked when the season began:
Tier 1: Hart
Tier 2: Frost, Myers, Farabee
Tier 3: O'Brien, Lindblom, Ratcliffe, Allison, Rubtsov, Sandstrom
Tier 4: Vorobyev, Strome, Aube-Kubel, Morin, Ustimenko, Ginning, Sushko, Friedman, Högberg, Laczynski, St. Ivany, Cates
Tier 5: Stolarz, Laberge, Martel, Bunnaman, Bernhardt, Fedotov, Kalynuk, Lycksell, Wylie
Tier 6: EVERYBODY ELSE!
That's 31 prospects spread out over 5 tiers (tier 6 is pretty self explanatory). The Flyers have added one player eligible for the list - D Jacob Graves, acquired in the Weal trade, but I'll be blunt, he's not gonna make it. There have been a few players that were eligible for the fall edition that are not this go-round. Here's who's been eliminated since September:
LW Oskar Lindblom (25 NHL Games Played)
G Anthony Stolarz (Turned 25)
C Danick Martel (Claimed Off Waivers by TB)
And as one last refresher, here's the rules I used in September:
1. Only players under 25 years old will be considered for this list.
2. Only players eligible with fewer than 25 career NHL regular season games played will be eligible.
3. The list is not necessarily comparing Flyers prospects to each other, but the talent level of each prospect compared to prospects across the NHL landscape. Most teams will not have a single player in Tier 1, and a some may not have anyone in Tier 2 as well. If you're familiar with EA Sports NHL's franchise mode (like myself), think of each tier as a potential level (Tier 1 - Franchise, Tier 2 - Elite, etc).
4. There is no specific order to how players are ranked within a tier; a player on higher on the list is not necessarily better than a player lower on the list within the same tier.
5. Team listed is the one that prospect is currently on.
The only difference from then to now is I'm gonna try to do all 6 tiers in one shot. Let the rankings begin!
G Carter Hart - Philadelphia Flyers (September: 1)
Stats: 6-5-1, .918 SV%, 2.66 GAA
When I asked hockey YouTuber Steve Dangle (the creator of the prospect pyramid, someone you should checkout at @Steve_Dangle) to evaluate my fall pyramid, his one criticism was that Hart in Tier 1 may have been a stretch. I got it - Tier 1 isn't just for your team's best prospects, it's for the very best prospects in the world. My justification was that I felt Hart was the best goalie prospect in the world, an evaluation that his record-breaking WHL stats backed up, but I could see his point.
He may not still be a Tier 1 prospect in the eyes of some, but there was no way I could drop Hart. That looked a real prospect after a slow AHL start that saw him post a .901 SV% in 17 games. But Hart has justified a bold re-call by establishing himself as not just the future, but the present in net for the Flyers. His hockey IQ, incredible poise, and flawless technique have been on display on numerous occasion since his recall. He's had some growing pains for sure - getting pulled less than halfway through a New Year's Eve game against Carolina sure qualifies. But Hart has put his stamp on the Flyers crease, and it's one that won't go away anytime soon.
C Morgan Frost - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (September: 2)
Stats: 38 GP - 30 G, 45 A, 75 P
After a breakout 2017-18 season in the OHL, Frost has rebounded from a meh training camp to truly establish himself as one of the CHL's elite prospects. Frost is currently 3rd in the league in scoring (1st in points per game), and just put up a 5-goal game on Sunday. He led Canada in scoring at the World Juniors with 8 points, including a hat trick. His game is starting to develop some more pace, which along with his great puck skills and lethal wrist shot, could make Frost a special player at the NHL level, possibly as soon as next year.
D Phil Myers - Lehigh Valley Phantoms (September: 2)
Stats: 41 GP - 7 G, 19 A, 26 P
Like Frost, Myers came into training camp with a shot at an NHL job but was unable to impress enough to earn it. However, after a rough start to his 2nd pro season, Myers has proved his top prospect status and is knocking on the door of the NHL. He is the 10th highest scoring defenseman in the AHL, but can also play very well in his own zone and use his 6'5'' frame to his advantage. All Myers needs is a little more consistency and a shot, and just like that he could become the latest young blueliner to make a significant impact on the Flyers defense.
LW Joel Farabee - Boston University (September: 2)
Stats: 20 GP - 6 G, 10 A, 16 P
This has been a disappointing season for the Terriers, but Farabee has been one of the few bright spots. Like Frost, Farabee also put up a hat trick at World Juniors, helping the Americans reach the gold medal game. His hockey IQ is top notch, as while Farabee has a high ceiling, his floor is probably a full-time NHLer as well. Farabee will probably need another full season in college before he'd be ready to go pro, but he still projects as an impact player for the Flyers in the future.
LW Isaac Ratcliffe - Guelph Storm (September: 3)
Stats: 42 GP - 33 G, 18 A, 51 P
The first player to see their tier changed from my rankings in the fall, Isaac Ratcliffe's jump has been enough to bump him up to the 2nd tier. Despite narrowly missing Team Canada, Ratcliffe has taken a nice step forward. He is tied for 5th in goal scoring in the OHL and has taken a step forward in terms of physicality, better using his big frame to his advantage. He's still a bit raw and likely will need some time in the AHL next season, but Ratcliffe has legitimate potential.
C Jay O'Brien - Providence College (September: 3)
Stats: 14 GP - 2 G, 2 A, 4 P
Adjusting to college life has been a bit tougher for the other 2018 1st round pick of the Flyers. Injuries have taken a bit of a toll on O'Brien, who is just now starting to develop consistency in his game. He did have a solid showing at World Juniors, although he failed to score a single point. It seems like O'Brien is close to figuring things out - hopefully that breakthrough comes sooner rather than later.
RW Wade Allison - Western Michigan University (September: 3)
Stats: 8 GP - 2 G, 2 A
Like O'Brien, injuries have prevented Allison from being able to build on a great sophomore season at Western Michigan. Instead, the big junior forward hasn't been able to get going, missing several games for the Broncos this year. I thought about moving him down briefly, but the skillset is still there and I generally don't like moving a prospect down because of injury unless there are legitimate concerns about his durability. Ron Hextall was always very high on Allison, but it will be interesting to see what Chuck Fletcher thinks of the ginger power forward.
C German Rubtsov - Lehigh Valley Phantoms (September: 3)
Stats: 14 GP - 6 G, 4 A, 10 P
After a rough first (and only) full season in the QMJHL, Rubtsov came to Philadelphia with a chip on his shoulder. After a strong training camp, the Germ got off to a great start in his first pro season, showing off his 2-way skills and as well as the offensive talents he struggled to express consistently in junior. Unfortunately, Rubtsov required season-ending surgery after taking a hit into the glass, prematurely ending what looked like a strong campaign for the 2016 1st rounder.
LW Matthew Strome - Hamilton Bulldogs (September: 4)
Stats: 46 GP - 21 G, 31 A, 52 P
It a lot of ways, Strome is very similar to Isaac Ratcliffe. He has a lot of size and an outstanding shot. Strome also has great puck skills and was recently named captain of Hamilton. So why is he a tier lower? To be kind, his skating really needs work. It's gotten better from where it was when he was drafted, but it's still holding him back. If Strome can improve that, he could be a very good player. But until then, you have to take all his other great skills with a grain of salt.
G Felix Sandström - HV71 (September: 3)
Stats: 5-6-0, .909 SV%, 2.17 GAA
Two years ago, Sandström was considered to be one of the Flyers big two goalie prospects (along with Hart). He was regarded for his great athleticism and an earlier jump to the SHL. Unfortunately, Sandström has taken a step back this year. His stats haven't been awful by any means, but after suffering some injuries last season, this year he's lost his starting job to Jonas Gunnarson. This may just be an off year - player development often isn't linear - but he could use a strong end to the season to (likely) lead into his first pro season next year.
C Mikhail Vorobyev - Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Septmeber: 4)
Stats: 29 GP - 5 G, 13 A, 18 P
Mikhail (or Misha) Vorobyev seemed to be the kind of prospect in line for a big jump. Vorobyev won the Flyers 3C battle of camp, then put up a point in each of his first two games. The next thing, he had fallen out of Dave Hakstol's favor and was sent back to Lehigh Valley. To his credit, Vorobyev has gone down to the AHL and produced. His work ethic was called into question a bit at the time of his demotion, but it appears he has quelled those concerns with his work over the last few months. With the Flyers likely to sell at the deadline, Vorobyev could get another shot at the NHL level in about a month. Let's hope he makes good on it.
RW Nicolas Aubé-Kubel - Lehigh Valley Phantoms (September: 4)
Stats: 32 GP - 10 G, 8 A, 18 P
NAK might not have the upside as some of the other guys in this tier, but he is probably the closest Phantoms forward to a recall. He already got a shot in November, and drove play while also being good defensively in 9 pointless games. Aube-Kubel's effort on the forecheck at the NHL level really caught my eye, and he could probably do a great job of taking the spot of Michael Raffl, who is set to become a free agent this year.
D Samuel Morin - Philadelphia Flyers (September: 4)
Stats: 0 GP
Everything that was said about Morin back in September remains true today. He has great size, plays a good defensive game, and could be a beast for the Flyers on the PK one day. His puck skills still need work if he's every going to be more than a 3rd pair defenseman at the NHL level. Morin has been out all season following surgery, but should be back in about a month, and as a former 1st round pick will likely be given every chance possible to show off his once great upside.
D Adam Ginning - Linköping HC (September: 4)
Stats: 30 GP - 1 G, 4 A, 5 P
Morin honestly might not be a bad comparable for Ginning. Both stand tall and play defense oriented games, something that is starting to go out of style in today's NHL. Fortunately, Ginning is a little bit better with the puck than Morin was at this age, and has been trusted to log minutes in the SHL. Combine that with a mediocre World Juniors performance, and Ginning hasn't done much to move the needle either way. It's only his Draft+1 season, but Ginning could sure use a strong second half.
D Mark Friedman - Lehigh Valley Phantoms (September: 4)
Stats: 41 GP - 4 G, 12 A, 16 P
Friedman is an example of player who hasn't done quite enough to move up a tier but has certainly taken a step forward. He has already matched his point total from last year in 24 fewer games, and has a gaudy +25 penalty differential, basically unheard of for a defenseman. The reason he's still here is because I don't think his upside is above 3rd pair defenseman, but Friedman is yet another Phantom knocking on the door of an NHL call up.
D Linus Högberg - Växjö Lakers HC (September: 4)
Stats: 34 GP - 2 G, 3 A, 5 P
Högberg is a fairly good comparable to Ginning - difference is, Högberg doesn't come with the hype of being a 2nd round pick. He's a solid if not unspectacular, decent with the puck but dependable in his own zone, and could become a decent NHL defenseman sometime in the future.
LW Tanner Laczynski - Ohio State University (September: 4)
Stats: 21 GP - 8 G, 17 A, 25 P
After an outstanding sophomore season at the Ohio State, Laczynski is putting another solid campaign, though not quite Hoby Baker levels as some hoped. To be honest, Laczynski could be ranked higher on this list and I wouldn't blink, but since he hasn't taken a big step forward I'm going to keep him here and wait for him to prove me wrong.
D Jack St. Ivany - Yale University (September: 4)
Stats: 15 GP - 2 G, 6 A, 8 P
Only a freshman at Yale, the 2018 4th rounder St. Ivany has had quite the year. He's put up solid numbers at Yale and even earned a surprise spot on Team America for the World Juniors. He may have struggled while there, but the fact that he even made it is a good sign. The Flyers may have a player here.
LW Noah Cates - University of Minnesota Duluth (September: 4)
Stats: 20 GP - 6 G, 4 A, 10 P
Back in the fall I had Cates here as a bit of stretch, not necessarily based on play but more on a gut feeling. Turns out my gut was pretty good. Cates has shined on the international stage, putting up a strong effort at a tournament over the summer and then playing an impact role for Team U.S.A. at World Juniors. His versatility and good two-way instincts were on full display - Cates could wind up being a good bottom-6 forward someday.
D Wyatt Kalynuk - University of Wisconsin (September: 5)
Stats: 22 GP - 7 G, 9 A, 16 P
A year and a half ago, Kalynuk was just a typical 7th round pick for the Flyers. He was coming off a decent season in the USHL, but figured to fade away behind the glutton of talented young blueliners ahead of him. But after a strong freshman season at Wisconsin, Kalynuk has built on that performance enough to bump him up a tier. He has the puck skills necessary to become something more than a 5th or 6th defenseman in the NHL, but he's got time before he's ready.
G Ivan Fedotov - Toros Neftekamsk (September: 5)
Stats: 21 GP - .923 SV%, 1.69 GAA
The Flyers certainly have their fair share of goalie prospects, so it's no surprise that there's a bit of shakeup amongst them in this second pyramid. Fedotov has been excellent in both the VHL (the KHL's minor league, which is where his stats are from) and the KHL itself, where he is a .933 SV% in 3 games. The Flyers have a glutton of goalie prospects, but Fedotov has done a nice job establishing his game this year.
LW Olle Lycksell - Linköping HC (September: 5)
Stats: 34 GP - 2 G, 7 A, 9 P
I may not be the biggest Lycksell fan out there, but I certainly appreciate a 19-year old establishing himself as a full-time SHL player. Lycksell can play all 3 forward positions, and is known for his playmaking and hands. At 5'11'', 176 lbs, he'll need to bulk up some more, but Lycksell (like Cates) could be a solid NHLer one day.
D Wyatte Wylie - Everett Silvertips (September: 5)
Stats: 47 GP - 7 G, 27 A, 34 P
Looking to prove he's more than just a really fun name to say, Wylie has taken a big step offensively this year (last season - 31 points in 72 games). He's already had good skills in his own zone, and seems like the kind of player that could maybe be a low-end top-4 NHL defenseman. He'll need to show that in the AHL next year to improve his ranking any higher, but Wylie is certainly on the rise.
G Samuel Ersson - Västerâs IK (September: 6)
Stats: 18-4-0, .938 SV%, 1.81 GAA
The first prospect from Tier 6 from September to climb up the pyramid, Ersson has lept into the spotlight with a tremendous year in Allsvenskan (the SHL's minor leagues). He was also the starting goalie for Sweden in the World Juniors this year, and played extremely well there too. Ersson is one of the highest risers in the Flyers pipeline this season, and may be in danger of leaping Sandström as the most hyped goalie prospect by fall (once Hart loses his eligibility).
D Yegor Zamula - Calgary Hitman (September: 6)
Stats: 44 GP - 9 G, 30 A, 39 P
Flyers fans hardly knew the scrawny, 18-year old's name when I made the first pyramid. But it's amazing what a few months can do. Zamula is well on his way to becoming the next Phil Myers (undrafted FA fails to earn ELC in Calgary's camp, does in Philly) with a breakout season - he only had 18 points in 69 WHL games last year. His puck-moving skills are great, setting him apart from a lot of the other defenseman in this tier. I don't want to put him any higher yet since he came out of nowhere, but Zamula may be a sweet parting gift for the Flyers from ex-GM Ron Hextall.
C Pascal Laberge - Lehigh Valley Phantoms (September: 5)
Stats: 0 GP
Like Sam Morin, Laberge has been out the entire season due to injury, and so he stays at the same tier as he started. Hopefully when Laberge comes back he shows his the puck skills that made him a 2nd round pick. I'm not ready to give up on Laberge just yet.
C Connor Bunnaman - Lehigh Valley Phantoms (September: 5)
Stats: 32 GP - 12 G, 6 A, 18 P
Like a lot of the Phantoms rookies, Bunnaman is having a very solid first pro season. His strong numbers combined with his excellent hockey IQ and leadership skills (he was the captain of the Kitchner Rangers last year) make Bunnaman an ideal future bottom-6 forward, though he probably lacks the true skill to be much more.
D David Bernhardt - Växjö Lakers HC (September: 5)
Stats: 19 GP - 0 G, 1 A, 1 P
Now a teammate of Högberg, Bernhardt has a lot of the traits as some of the other guys in tier 4 - good defensively, puck moving skills not bad but needing improvement.He's only got one point and was in danger of becoming a consistent healthy scratch with his old team before being traded to Växj. I'm just not sold on the guy - to be fair, I've never seen him play, but he's in danger of getting leapfrogged by a lot of the other defensemen on this list as he's going through a bit of rough season.
G Kirill Ustimenko - MHK Dynamo St. Petersburg (September: 4)
Stats: 35 GP - .925 SV%, 1.82 GAA
This year hasn't gone quite as planned for Kirill "the Rinaldo pick" Ustimenko. He was unable to make the jump in preseason from the MHL to the VHL (the next level of minor leagues in the KHL), and then struggled early on. As a result, he missed out on World Juniors, where he had put up stellar numbers in 2 games last year. Fortunately, Ustimenko has turned things around, and his MHL numbers look pretty darn similar to last year. But prospects age fast, and so Ustimenko's rough start has him down a tier. For now.
LW Maxim Sushko - Owen Sound Attack (September: 4)
Stats: 41 GP - 9 G, 21 A, 30 P
There are always going to be prospects within an organization that take a step back, and Sushko is one of them for the Flyers. After a point-per-game draft+1 season, Sushko's scoring has dried up a bit. He still possesses great speed, but he may have more of a future as a bottom-6, PK guy rather than someone a bit more skilled in the top-9.
LW David Kase - Lehigh Valley Phantoms (September: 6)
Stats: 20 GP - 4 G, 9 A, 13 P
Similarly to Bunnaman, Kase is another Phantoms rookie with good two-way instincts and a tenacious play style that is putting up good numbers in the AHL. Coming off a 23-point season in the SHL, Kase was an oversight on my part in September, but has definitely solidified a spot in the pyramid with a strong beginning to his pro career.
LW Carsen Twarynski - Lehigh Valley Phantoms (September: 6)
Stats: 39 GP - 5 G, 8 A - 13 P
Another oversight of mine in the fall, Twarynski made his presence felt within the organization with a strong preseason. However, with Ron Hextall now gone, how much that preseason matters in terms of his future is in question. He doesn't have the same scoring numbers as some of the other Phantoms rookies, but his tenacious style of play and the fact he can play both sides gives him a good chance to be a bottom-6 forward one day.
EVERYBODY ELSE! All other Flyers prospects belong in this tier.
Tier 1: C. Hart (G - NHL)
Tier 2: M. Frost (C - OHL), P. Myers (D - AHL), J. Farabee (LW - NCAA), I. Ratcliffe (LW - OHL)
Tier 3: J. O'Brien (C - NCAA), W. Allison (RW - NCAA), G. Rubtsov (C - AHL), M. Strome (LW - OHL)
Tier 4: F. Sandström (G - SHL), M. Vorobyev (C - AHL), N. Aube-Kubel (RW - AHL), S. Morin (D - NHL), A. Ginning (D - SHL), M. Friedman (D - AHL), L. Högberg (D - SHL), T. Lacyznski (LW - NCAA), J. St. Ivany (D - NCAA), N. Cates (LW - NCAA), W. Kalynuk (D - NCAA), I. Fedotov (G - VHL), O. Lycksell (LW - SHL), W. Wylie (D - WHL), S. Ersson (G - SHL), Y. Zamula (D - WHL)
Tier 5: P. Laberge (C - AHL), C. Bunnaman (C - AHL), D. Bernhardt (D - SHL), K. Ustimenko (G - MHL), M. Sushko (LW - OHL), D. Kase (LW - AHL), C. Twarynski (LW - AHL)
Tier 6: Come on you remember, it wasn't that long ago.
All underlined prospects have dropped one tier since September (no one dropped two or more).
All bolded prospects have jumped one to two tiers since September (no one jumped three or more).
*All stats from eliteprospects.com