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  • Andrew McGuinness

Flyers 2019-20 Midseason Prospect Pyramid: Tier 4-6


Prospects. The path to hope for even the most depressing franchises. No matter how good or bad an NHL team's season may be going, better days are ahead when their top youngsters are ready to take the ice (or at least that's what fans tell themselves).

Fortunately, the Flyers have a lot of great prospects that make this potential scenario seem less like a dream and more like a potential reality. Ron Hextall's GM tenure did not end well, to say the least, but he did an outstanding job of building up the Flyers farm system, turning it into one of the best in the NHL.

Now, with some of the former top members of that system graduating to the NHL, the fourth installment of the Flyers prospect pyramid may not seem as strong as it has been in the past, even though it's probably still better than most of the league. The Flyers still boast outstanding young talent up front, on the back end, and between the pipes.

This exercise, just like previously, will take a look at all members of the Flyers organization under the age of 25 and with fewer than 25 NHL games played, which are the requirements to be eligible for the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year. That means Joel Farabee, Phil Myers, and Mikhail Vorobyev, who had fewer than 25 NHL games when I last updated these rankings over the summer, won't be eligible going forward.

The prospect pyramid, created in 2016 by popular YouTuber and die-hard Maple Leafs fan Steve Dangle, ranks prospects in a six-tier pyramid, ranging from tier 1, which is the best of the best, to tier 6, which is just everybody else. Steve has done this for the Leafs each of the last four seasons, and for the fourth time in the last two years, it's time to make another one for the Orange and the Black.

Some final ground rules before we get to the good stuff. Players are listed with their current team and all statistics come from Elite Prospects (unless otherwise stated). Where they ranked in the last pyramid is also included. There is NO specific order as to how the players are listed within the tier. After all, Steve created this to alleviate the frustration of ranking players one-by-one, which is why it's such a great system. Make sure to check out part one of this winter's pyramid to see where the brightest players in the Flyers pipeline rank.

Tier 4

C Jay O'Brien (Penticton Vees)

BCHL: 38 GP - 20 G, 35 A, 55 PTS

Acquired: 19th Pick in 2018 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 3

O'Brien's surface numbers look great, but as a former 1st round pick, it was expected that O'Brien would be dominant, perhaps even more so than he has been so far. O'Brien has a good skill set and can play a solid two-way game, but next year will be critical as he returns to the NCAA at Boston University. We will know a lot about his true upside by this time next year.

LW Matthew Strome (Lehigh Valley Phantoms)

AHL: 19 GP - 2 G, 2 A, 4 PTS; ECHL - 8 GP - 3 G, 1 A, 4 PTS

Acquired: 106th Pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 3

If it weren't for one area, Matt Strome might be an impact player in the NHL right now. Maybe that's a little bit of a stretch, but the younger brother of the Rangers' Ryan Strome and the Blackhawks' Dylan Strome has a tremendous skill set, great shot, and can throw the body to win battles. But man is his skating an issue. In this new NHL, speed is paramount, and if Strome cannot become a better skater, he will likely never be a NHLer. That's not an impossible task, but it's probably easier said than done. Strome remains a project prospect.

G Felix Sandström (Reading Royals)

ECHL: 15 GP - 3.78 GAA, .877 SV%

Acquired: 70th Pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 3

It seems crazy just a few years ago we mentioned this kid in the same breath as Carter Hart. The gap between them now is more a testament to how amazing Hart is, but Sandström hasn't had a first pro season to remember after dealing with injury problems and a lack of playing time his final two years in the SHL. His amazing athleticism is a valuable asset, but he'll have to become more technically sound. Reading's defense has dealt with more turnover due to injuries with the Phantoms, but that doesn't fully excuse Sandström's struggles.

RW Nicolas Aubé-Kubel (Philadelphia Flyers)

NHL: 17 GP - 2 G, 2 A, 4 PTS; AHL - 26 GP - 5 G, 3 A, 8 PTS

Acquired: 48th Pick in 2014 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 4

The one bright spot out of the plague of injuries that the Flyers faced in mid-December was that Nicolas Aube-Kubel got a shot in the NHL again. NAK played 9 NHL games in 18-19, not scoring a point despite driving play. It didn't seem that the Fletcher regime thought of him as a legitimate NHL option, but when given the chance, Aubé-Kubel ran with it. NAK is a solid bottom-sixer with a bit of skill and great tenacity that make him tough for any defenseman to deal with. This stint hasn't necessarily raised his ceiling, but Aube-Kubel has already exceeded his floor as a prospect.

D Adam Ginning (Linköping HC)

SHL: 13 GP - 1 G; Allsvenskan: 17 GP - 4 A; WJ: 7 GP - 3 A

Acquired: 50th Pick in 2018 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 4

Ginning was a very high-floor, low-ceiling selection, and his career has played out about as expected. He played big minutes for Team Sweden in World Juniors, but struggled enough with his SHL team that he was sent to down Allsvenskan, the SHL's top minor league. Ginning is still a defensive defenseman who can handle his own physically and could be a nice number five d-man someday, but he'll need to be better with the puck if he ever wants to be more than that.

D Mark Friedman (Lehigh Valley Phantoms)

AHL: 31 GP - 2 G, 8 A, 10 PTS; NHL: 5 GP - 0 G, 1 A, 1 PTS

Acquired: 86th Pick in 2014 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 4

The 24-year old defenseman is the midst of another solid season for the Phantoms. The highlight of his season was a five-game call-up thanks to injuries on the Flyers blueline, where Friedman held his own and even recorded his first NHL point on a seeing-eye shot that was tipped in by someone else in this tier. What Friedman lacks in high-end skill he makes up for with good hockey sense and the helpful ability to never make the "big" mistake. He remains a solid prospect with third-pair upside.

D John St. Ivany (University of Yale Bulldogs)

NCAA: 17 GP - 1 G, 9 A, 10 PTS

Acquired: 112th Pick in 2018 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 4

St. Ivany is the midst of a solid season for Yale one year after a season where he took a step forward, playing for Team USA at last year's World Juniors. This may be a little high on the pyramid, if for no reason other than that he doesn't have tremendous upside. But he hasn't done anything to get him demoted, so he can stay for now. St. Ivany remains a potential third-pair defenseman.

D Wyatt Kalynuk (University of Wisconsin)

NCAA: 24 GP - 6 G, 14 A, 20 PTS

Acquired: 196th Pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 4

After consecutive 25-point seasons (not too shabby for a defenseman), Kalynuk is taking a step forward this season. That's in part due to an improved Badgers team that now features Alex Turcotte and coulda-shoulda-woulda been Flyer Cole Caufield (but York is good too!) that can now fill the net with the best of them. Kalynuk has been a benefactor, but he's carried the load a bit himself with his nice offensive instincts. Look for the Flyers to push for the junior defenseman to sign his ELC this summer.

D Wyatte Wylie (Everett Silvertips)

WHL: 45 GP - 11 G, 31 A, 42 PTS

Acquired: 127th Pick in 2018 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 4

It's been a banner year for Wylie this year, as he's nearly eclipsed his previous career high of 47 points - it took him 67 games a year ago to reach that mark. My favorite name among the Flyers prospects is making one for himself this season. I don't have him higher because I don't think he has as much upside as a guy like Zamula - Wylie doesn't have a ton of high-end skill, but he's a very solid two-way defensemen. The fact that he shoots right-handed is an added bonus.

C Connor Bunnaman (Lehigh Valley Phantoms)

AHL: 24 GP - 4 G, 1 A, 5 PTS; NHL: 9 GP - 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS

Acquired: 109th Pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 4

Bunnaman's second NHL stint is certainly going better than the first. After making the team out of camp, Bunnaman looked overwhelmed and was sent down after two weeks in the NHL. His underwhelming scoring numbers in the AHL are a minor concern, but Bunny's also been more of a two-way, defensive center, and it's not like he's the only Phantom to underachieve this year.

G Kirill Ustimenko (Reading Royals)

ECHL: 28 GP - 2.56 GAA, .912 SV%

Acquired: 80th Pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 4

You could make the argument that Ustimenko is having the best season of any Flyers goalie prospect. He'll always be known for being selected with the 3rd round pick the Flyers acquired from Boston for Zac Rinaldo, but Ustimenko has put up good numbers in Reading and may pass Felix Sandstrom on the organizational depth chart if both players keep trending in their current directions.

D Ronnie Attard (University of Western Michigan Broncos)

NCAA: 18 GP - 6 G, 3 A, 9 PTS

Acquired: 72nd Pick in 2019 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 4

The 6 foot 3 right-handed defenseman has followed up a breakout year in the USHL last season with a solid start to his college career. Attard has good offensive instincts, highlighted by a nice shot, but his skating still needs to improve. In fact, asked what was the hardest about practice during dev camp, Attard said, "Skating. I'm not very good at it." He'll need to fix that, but he's got time.

RW Maxim Sushko (Lehigh Valley Phantoms)

AHL: 39 GP - 7 G, 8 A, 15 PTS

Acquired: 107th Pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 5

After taking enough of a step back in the points department in the OHL last year to fall a tier, Sushko has climbed back up to tier four with a solid first pro campaign. Sushko is a sneaky good offensive player with a little bit of tenacity to his game as well. He's got the toolset to be a nice third liner someday.

LW David Kase (Lehigh Valley Phantoms)

AHL: 34 GP - 4 G, 8 A, 12 PTS; NHL - 6 GP - 1 G, 0 A, 1 PTS

Acquired: 128th Pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 5

He might not be scoring quite as much as he did last year in the AHL (then again, no one on the Phantoms is), but Kase impressed me in his first NHL stint. Kase blew fans away with his tenacity and instincts, both of which are already NHL ready. If he can just work out some of the other kinks of his game and use his skill more often, Kase could be a nice middle-sixer.

G Ivan Fedotov (Traktor Chelyabinsk)

KHL: 26 GP - 2.28 GAA, .926 SV%; VHL: 3 GP - 2.69 GAA, .900 SV%

Acquired: 188th Pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 5

If there's anyone who can challenge Ustimenko for "best goalie prospect" of 2019-20, it's Fedotov. Wow, those numbers. A .926 save percentage in the second best league in the world is nothing to scoff at. In a year where Fedotov easily could have been jumped in the pecking order, his outstanding play has thrust his name to the forefront and thrust him up a tier in these rankings.

LW Olle Lycksell (Linköping HC)

SHL: 36 GP - 6 G, 11 A, 17 PTS

Acquired: 168th Pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 5

Scoring at nearly half a point per game pace is impressive for a 20-year old in the SHL, probably the third best professional hockey league in the world. Lycksell may be small, but he's got plenty of skill, more than enough to be a nice middle-six piece for the Flyers in a couple years.

Tier 5

D Sam Morin (Philadelphia Flyers)

NHL: 1 GP - 0 PTS, AHL: 3 GP - 0 PTS

Acquired: 11th Pick in 2013 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 4

It's a testament to the plague of setbacks the Flyers organization has dealt with that Sam Morin's season is the most heartbreaking of any player. For the second time in 30 months, Morin suffered a torn ACL, ending his season in November. The hulking blue-liner's game doesn't really fit well in the modern NHL, and the Flyers depth chart on "d" is dangerously close to passing him by, if it hasn't already. I feel so bad for the kid. Hopefully he comes back and makes a heck of a third-pair shutdown guy for another team.

D David Bernhardt (SaiPa)

Liiga: 20 GP - 1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS; SHL: 9 GP - 0 PTS

Acquired: 199th Pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 4

Bernhardt isn't anything spectacular - he's not a flashy guy, and he's never scored a ton of points. But he's not a total liability with the puck, and Bernhardt is a solid defensive defenseman. I've viewed him as a potential third-pair defenseman for a while, and nothing has changed.

LW Carsen Twarynski (Lehigh Valley Phantoms)

AHL: 20 G - 2 G, 5 A, 7 PTS; 15 GP - 1 G, 0 A, 1 PTS

Acquired: 82nd Pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 5

Other than impressing in training camp for the second straight season and making the Flyers out of camp, this has been a pretty ordinary season for Twarynski. He was decent for the Flyers when needed, and he's been solid with the Phantoms once again. He's never going to score a lot, but Twarynski could be a nice fourth liner when it's all said and done.

D Mason Millman (Saginaw Spirit)

OHL: 103rd Pick in 2019 NHL Draft

Acquired: 43 GP - 12 G, 18 A, 30 PTS Previous Tier: 5

Millman has already exceeded his 18-19 point total in a more than respectable start to his draft plus one season. Millman is a smooth skater that can hold his own with the puck on his stick. There's a small part of me that thinks he could make a jump next year, but until that happens, he's right at home in tier 5.

C Pascal Laberge (Lehigh Valley Phantoms)

AHL: 23 GP - 3 G, 7 A, 10 PTS; ECHL: 14 GP - 6 G, 6 A, 12 PTS

Acquired: 36th Pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 6

I'm pleasantly surprised that Laberge finds himself on this pyramid at all. The 2016 second round pick's career was devastated by a brutal head injury on a dirty hit. He's missed a ton of games and seen his numbers go down since. However, Laberge has had himself a nice little season with the Phantoms thus far. At 21 years old, Laberge is still young, and before the injury, he had some nice hands and a good skillset - he was a 2nd round pick for a reason.

D Linus Hogberg (Växjö Lakers)

SHL: 37 GP - 4 G, 7 A, 11 PTS

Acquired: 139th Pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 6

These last two players weren't in tier six because I didn't believe in them - I kinda just overlooked them back in the summer. Hogberg has been in the pyramid before - he's long been a solid d-man in the SHL, capable of producing a little bit of offensive while being reliable in his own zone. Hogberg will be a UFA at the end of this season if the Flyers don't sign him however, so hopefully the Swede will be with the Phantoms this time next year.

RW Yegor Serdyuk (Victoriaville Tigers) QMJHL: 36 GP - 13 G, 17 A, 30 PTS

Acquired: 165th Pick in 2019 NHL Draft

Previous Tier: 6

Again, Serdyuk probably should've been here in the summer. Serdyuk is a nice sniper in the QMJHL, and though he's scoring at a slightly lower rate than last season, his skillset is still solid. He'll have to work hard to overcome his 5'10'' frame, but he's got the tool-kit to do it.

Tier 6

EVERYBODY ELSE!

If you are a Flyers prospect and haven't been mentioned yet, this is where you belong. There's no shame in being in tier 6 - it just means you currently don't stand out to me as having NHL potential. But my voice is the farthest thing from the end all, be all. Odds are, someone from this tier will become a solid prospect soon, if not a good NHLer. But for now, they rest here.

Final Rankings

Tier 1: Nobody

Tier 2: C Morgan Frost, D Cam York (2)

Tier 3: RW Wade Allison, C German Rubtsov, G Samuel Ersson, LW Tanner Laczynski, RW Bobby Brink, D Yegor Zamula, LW Noah Cates (7)

Tier 4: C Jay O'Brien, LW Matt Strome, G Felix Sandström, RW Nicolas Aubé-Kubel, D Adam Ginning, D Mark Friedman, D John St. Ivany, D Wyatt Kalynuk, D Wyatte Wylie, C Connor Bunnaman, G Kirill Ustimenko, D Ronnie Attard, RW Maxim Sushko, LW David Kase, G Ivan Fedotov, LW Olle Lycksell (16)

Tier 5: D Sam Morin, D David Bernhardt, LW Carsen Twarynski, D Mason Millman, C Pascal Laberge, D Linus Hogberg, RW Yegor Serdyuk (7)

Tier 6: EVERYBODY ELSE!

Total Players Ranked: 32

Key

Player has fallen one tier since summer rankings

Player has risen one tier since summer rankings

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