Since Ron Hextall’s tenure as General Manager, Philadelphia Flyers fans learned to keep close watch on the organizations prospects. During hard-to-watch moments with the NHL club, they provided hope for the years ahead.
Although players such as Carter Hart, Joel Farabee, and Phil Myers have graduated from prospect status, Philadelphia still boasts a deep farm system. Of course, depth is never a bad thing. A franchise can never go wrong with stocking its prospect pool with young talent that might fill an NHL roster spot one day. However, depth does not always reflect quality. Just because an organization possesses a deep farm system, it does not necessarily translate to possessing one of the best in the league.
It is time to dive deep into Philadelphia’s stock of prospects and assess the potential that truly inhabits it. Today, we begin our journey with the forwards, looking at those that can potentially fill top-six, middle-six, and bottom-six roles in the future. From that, a better picture is painted, determining the true state of the Flyers farm system regarding forwards.
These are the most valuable forwards in the Flyers system, possessing the most upside. Of course, some might reach Philadelphia’s top-line someday but keep in mind there are only three spots there to fill. Regardless, these individuals own a certain skill-set that may translate into them becoming true impact players.
Morgan Frost’s overall talent is no secret. Everyone knows what he is capable of accomplishing with the puck on his stick. The key for Frost is he needs to improve on the more physical aspects of his game. It is what is preventing him from fully thriving in an NHL role. However, if he can make those adjustments, there is no reason he cannot become a consistent point producer for the Flyers.
Bobby Brink is another prospect with a crazy amount of skill. Different from Frost, Brink possesses a little more scoring prowess. There are still some questions regarding his skating but there is no question he is a top-six guy if that gets ironed out.
Tyson Foerster has the most potential from a sheer goal-scoring perspective. His incredible shot, paired with high-level hockey IQ, make him a very valuable asset. However, his skating mechanics need a lot of work if that is ever going to come to fruition.
These prospects have enough offensive skill to keep them off of the fourth line, but not enough to make them a consistent top-line option.
Injuries plagued a lot of Wade Allison’s college career. Still, he brings some quality offensive talent to the table. If he can stay healthy, which is a big if, he may transform into a viable middle-six option.
A lot is left to still determine regarding Jay O’Brien. Chances remain high that he becomes a bust and never reaches the NHL. At the same time, if he can put it all together, he does have the skill to populate a middle-six role.
After a fantastic final year with Guelph, Isaac Ratcliffe experienced a pedestrian rookie season in Lehigh Valley. Patience is the key with Ratcliffe but potential remains for him to become a quality third-line player that can slide up the lineup if need be.
This category inhabits the widest range of talent. Some of these prospects have enough of an offensive upside to place them on the third line potentially. Others are more defensively sound but will struggle to contribute offensively with any real consistency. Either way, their skill sets make them potentially valuable options down the road.
Noah Cates continues to impress more and more with every year at Minnesota-Duluth. In college, he is a defensively sound forward that can produce offensively. The defensive play will translate to the professional level. The question is whether the offense will. Cates could slot in on the third line but will most likely find more of a permanent home on the fourth.
Elliot Desnoyers is turning heads in Halifax this season. Although he lights up the scoresheet in the QMJHL, it is hard to believe that will translate to the professional level. Still, he has the necessary skill to crack the bottom-six.
Gavin Hain makes his living as a shutdown forward for North Dakota. If he makes the NHL, it will be with a similar role.
David Kase might be more of an NHL/AHL inbetweener. It’s unclear whether he has what it takes to stay on an NHL roster. If he does, it will be on the bottom-six.
Starting this season, Tanner Laczynski is an immediate candidate to populate the fourth line for the Flyers. The reality is, there is not much potential to make his way up the depth chart. The Flyers could rely on him to hold a third-line spot for a short time, but his more permanent home on line four.
Olle Lycksell is seeing some early success in the SHL. It’s just hard to imagine him becoming anymore that a solid bottom-six guy in Philadelphia.
Every year, there is a cry for more offensive production from German Rubtsov. It is just never consistent enough to view him as even a viable third-line option at this point. With his certain set of skills, we are looking at another fourth-line forward in the NHL.
Maxim Sushko witnessed a bit of a revival with Lehigh Valley last season. After a disappointing end to his OHL career, year one in the AHL looked good. In the KHL this year, he looks decent. If he keeps this up, a fourth line role in the NHL is totally a possibility.
Zayde Wisdom is the kind of player that is willing to do anything to make the NHL. He has no problem getting into the dirty areas and making the quietly-important plays. His style simply fits that bottom-six mentality.
What we saw from Carsen Twarynski in his 15 NHL games last season is what you can expect from him moving forward.
See Carsen Twarynski.
AHL or Other
This list of gentlemen simply do not have enough to remain at the NHL level for a prolonged period of time. Some might serve as NHL/AHL in-betweeners while others will never get a shot on the NHL roster.
- Bryce Brodzinski
- Pascal Laberge
- Connor McClennon
- Yegor Serdyuk
- Matthew Strome
- Marcus Westfalt
- Linus Sandin
Philadelphia’s farm system is filled with forwards possessing a bottom-six ceiling. The potential middle-six players are filled with uncertainties. With Allison, questions are surrounding his health. With O’Brien and Ratcliffe, there lie concerns with whether they can eventually put it all together. Of course, there is also the trio of prospects with that top-six potential. Frost, Brink, and Foerster all have the talent and skill to become true impact players one day.
If NHL success were built solely on the backs of third and fourth-line players, Philadelphia’s future would be set. Unfortunately, it is not. There is some depth to the level of forward prospects. However, the upside and potential of the group as a whole are limited.
Mandatory Photo Credit: Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire