In the Ron Hextall era, the Flyers have adopted the build through the draft approach. Initial returns have been slow as the Flyers have not been a playoff contender for several years now. That may well be all part of the plan if the Flyers have grown weary of making the playoffs but never winning it all or really being much of a threat.
With the commitment to drafting and developing pretty soon the worm will turn for the Flyers as they have some fully stocked cupboards of elite prospects starting on the back end.
Philadelphia has also longed for a legitimate starting goalie since now GM Ron Hextall left the Flyers crease. Now with Hextall as GM it is about to come full circle as the Flyers have several promising goalie prospects.
Top 10 Philadelphia Flyers Prospects
1. Ivan Provorov, Defence
2015-16: Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Drafted: seventh overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by Philadelphia
The Flyers could have rushed Provorov into the lineup after his draft year, but wisely elected to return him to Brandon where he dominated posting over a point per game and shining in both the World Junior, and the Memorial Cup. This year he gave the Flyers little choice but to graduate him straight to the NHL roster, where as a rookie he is having a very strong season on a struggling Flyers team.
Provorov is an excellent skater who is strong on his edges, pivots and turns well, skates backwards as well as forwards and has a strong stride giving him acceleration and a high top gear. His puck skills are also strong as he has a strong shot, makes crisp accurate passes and carries the puck well.
Perhaps his greatest strength is his hockey IQ, he reads plays very well on both sides of the puck, allowing him to make incredible outlet passes, and intercept passes and create turnovers. Provorov is the Flyers future number one and franchise defenceman, and the future is now.
2. Travis Konecny, Center/RW
2015-16: Ottawa/Sarnia (OHL)
Drafted: 24th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by Philadelphia
The Flyers second first round pick in the 2015 draft for the Flyers. They traded up to draft Travis Konecny, and he’s having a good rookie season. Konecny made such a strong impression in training camp that he forced his way onto the roster rather than be sent back to Sarnia for another season. Konecny started the season strong, but has cooled off as the season wore on and has been a healthy scratch at times.
Konecny is a highly skilled and undersized player but he plays a big game and does not shy away from throwing hits, parking himself in front of the net or diving into the corner to fight for pucks. He has leadership qualities and could easily wear the “C” for the Flyers in the future. Injuries have been a concern in his career to date as a result of his size and aggressive style, but it is what makes him an effective player.
3. Philippe Myers, Defence
2016-16: Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
Drafted: Undrafted, signed as a free agent ‘15
Signed as a free agent, the Flyers basically added another first round pick to their prospect pool as Myers has had a meteoric ascension up the depth chart since signing in 2015. His combination of size, skating and hockey IQ have been a well-kept secret for some time.
He began his coming out with Team Canada at the World Junior as the team’s second best defenceman after Thomas Chabot before a concussion ended his tournament. His breakout really started just after his signing last year in the Q when he posted 45 points and helped lead his team to the Memorial Cup.
Myers will turn pro next year and will push for a spot on the NHL roster but with all the Flyers defence prospects he will likely play a season or two in the AHL learning the pro game.
4. German Rubtsov, Center
2015-16: Team Russia (MHL)
Drafted: 22nd overall in the first round of the 2016 draft by Philadelphia
German Rubtsov moved to the QMJHL mid-season to join the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and made the adjustment to North America. The transition has been great as he has produced 22 points in his first 16 games. Robtsov played for Russia in the Super Series and the World Junior and at times dominated the play.
Rubtsov is a dynamic two-way center with elite playmaking skills who can drive offence, as well as playing a shutdown role. Rubtsov projects to be a top-six forward for the Flyers in the not too distant future. He should play another junior season and possibly some AHL development time before he joins the Flyers in the NHL.
5. Travis Sanheim, Defence
2015-16: Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
Drafted: 17th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by Philadelphia
In his rookie pro season in the AHL with the Phantoms, Sanheim has made a quick adjustment and is one of the team’s top pairing defencemen. He’s recorded 26 points in his first 56 games and a plus -6.
Competition for NHL jobs with the Flyers will be fierce considering the quality of prospects in the system. There are only two expiring contracts which the Flyers may look to fill with prospects and Sanheim has to be at the top of the list to graduate to the NHL.
He has size, skating and plays the two-way game. In junior he was more of an offensive player. He has developed his all-around game this year and that will be key to his making the NHL as players like Shane Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov will be looked at to provide the primary offence. Sanheim will fit in nicely in a long time giving the Flyers excellent depth on the blue line.
6. Samuel Morin, Defence
2015-16: Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
Drafted: 11th overall in the first round of the 2013 draft by Philadelphia
The hulking defender is in his second season in the AHL and has been developing his game slowly but surely. Offence will never be a part of his game as he is a defensive defenceman and a physical force. The NHL is clearly leaning towards skating, and skill overall and specifically in defence it favors two-way, strong skating defenders that can create transition offence.
For Morin, the defensive side of the game is where he excels. Skating is not a problem for the big man either, but when the puck is on his stick he lacks the skill and vision for creative offence. He has made some strides in that aspect in the AHL, but don’t expect that to translate at the NHL level. However there is still a role for an intimidating, defensive player on a NHL blue line and if paired with a player like his AHL partner Sanheim, he can be a very valuable and effective player.
7. Anthony Stolarz, Goalie
2015-16: Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
Drafted: 45th overall in the second round of the 2012 draft by Philadelphia
The former London Knights starter is now in his third season in the AHL and has had a cup of coffee in the NHL, posting an impressive 1.79 GAA and .938 save percent in four games with the Flyers. With his massive frame he gives shooters little to look at and his agility makes him more than an adequate shot blocker.
The Flyers have only one goalie on their roster under contract next year and with NHL expansion there is uncertainty in who will be the Flyers goaltending tandem next year. But the Flyers have a bevy of promising goalie prospects, and of the bunch Stolarz is the most NHL ready.
8. Carter Hart, Goalie
2015-16: Everett Silvertips (WHL)
Drafted: 48th overall in the second round of the 2016 draft by Philadelphia
Perhaps the Flyers best goaltending prospect is Carter Hart. Hart is having a breakout season for Everett and took over the starting job for Canada in the World Junior with his cold as ice play under pressure.
That is what sets Hart apart from other goalie prospects, his calm under pressure style of play that exudes confidence. The difference between good goalies and great goalies is mental toughness, the confidence to shake off a bad goal or untimely goal and Hart can do that. Goalies often need about five years to develop from draft to NHL but Hart could be the exception to the rule.
9. Oskar Lindblom, LW/RW
2015-16: Brynas IF (SHL)
Drafted: 138th overall in the fifth round of the 2014 draft by Philadelphia
Oskar Lindblom finished last year in the AHL where he had some success, scoring two goals and seven points in eight games. This year he is back in the SHL and playing for Brynas again where his offensive game has developed with 21 goals and 44 points in 49 games.
Lindblom has NHL size and has been playing pro hockey against men for three seasons now. Lindblom has played well internationally for Sweden as well with 15 points in 14 games at two World Junior tournaments.
Skating has been the knock on Lindblom since his draft year and caused him to fall down draft day. From his showing in the AHL last year and from training camp this year, his skating concerns have been ironed out of his game. Look for Lindblom to sign his ELC and move to North America full time next season. The question is will it be in the AHL or the NHL to start?
10. Alex Lyon, Goalie
2015-16: Yale (NCAA)
Drafted: Undrafted, signed as a free agent by Philadelphia in 2016
After a dominant senior year with Yale, the Flyers signed Lyon as a college free agent to bolster their already rich goalie prospect pool. Lyon has shared starting time as a AHL rookie with Lehigh and acquitted himself well posting a 2.67 GAA to date.
Lyon will need to continue to develop as he is in the middle of Stolarz, who is ahead of him, and Hart who is ranked higher here but is a few years away. The competition in goal doesn’t end there as the Flyers also have Felix Sandstrom, Merrick Madsen, and Matej Tomek.
All of these prospects show promise and the answer to the Flyers long standing starting goalie question will finally be answered from within with one of these prospects.