Gearing up for this week’s edition of “Pod Street Prospects Journal,” I started to think about all of the young talent unable to play due to the pandemic. Yes, some leagues have been lucky. However, a lot have not. Look at the WHL and OHL. Neither league has been able to play any hockey at all this season. That is a lot of players whose development has essentially been placed on pause.
Then I got to thinking of a plan that I briefly discussed on Pod Street Bullies‘ latest episode. In a normal year, signed prospects in the CHL would not be eligible to play in the AHL until their over-age season. To jump to the pros earlier, they would need to make the NHL roster outright. However, for just this season, I say they amend that rule. Players such as Tyson Foerster, Mason Millman, and the rest should be allowed to play in Lehigh Valley instead of seeing a year of development go to waste. I’m not sure it would happen, but it is a move that makes a great deal of sense to me.
Anyways, let’s get rolling.
Pod Street Prospects Journal: Entry Three
Regarding Roddy Ross
Kirill Ustimenko’s injury and the Taxi Squad wrinkle in the NHL make the goaltending picture in Lehigh Valley unclear. With Alex Lyon likely making Philadelphia’s Taxi Squad, the Phantoms only have one netminder. Felix Sandstrom will receive a lot of the workload. This is a fantastic chance for the young goalie to bounce back and prove that earlier praises towards his potential are still warranted. The only other “in-house” option for Lehigh Valley is Roddy Ross. Ross is currently not signed and will need to be presented with an entry-level contract to play in the AHL this year.
Personally, under normal circumstances, I would shy away from signing Ross. He still has not done enough for me to feel confident in stating he deserves a contract. A final year in the WHL would be the perfect opportunity to prove he deserves a shot at the next level. However, we are living far from normal circumstances. The WHL season may not even occur, and Philadelphia needs another netminder in the organization. Fletcher really does not have any other options at this point unless he wants to go out and sign a veteran. For Ross, this will be a trial by fire of sorts. Of course, it can go one of two ways. If he fails, it really won’t affect the franchise long-term. If he can answer the call and succeed in the AHL, Philadelphia has another quality goalie prospect on their hands.
Regarding the World Juniors
Another World Junior Championship is now in the books. I would be lying if I said I was not surprised by Team USA winning Gold. Truthfully, I did not think any team was going to dethrone Canada this year. The roster appeared way too deep. Much to my pleasure, the United States was able to do just that. Overall, I was pretty impressed with what Bobby Brink and Cam York accomplished on an individual level. Of course, there is always room to nitpick. I find it hard to do so with such a small sample size. The World Juniors is not the time to fall in love or out of favor with any prospect. It rarely is an accurate measuring stick for a young player’s long-term career.
Regarding Bobby Brink
I did want to throw a little extra appreciation to Bobby Brink. Of the three Flyers prospects, I was most impressed with his performance during the World Juniors. On a forward unit flush with talent, Brink still found a way to stand out. He fought hard deep in the offensive zone and made plays that won’t necessarily flood highlight reels but were effective nonetheless. I felt like I saw a side of Brink I don’t always see with Denver, and that demonstrated his versatility. In college, he shows his top-six upside. However, in this tournament, I saw a player who can also assume a third-line assignment.
Regarding Elliot Desnoyers
Remember that name and the hype around it in November? Just under two months ago, Elliot Desnoyers was all Flyers fans and writers wanted to discuss. Now, I know that the QMJHL is on pause due to reasons outside their control. For all we know, Desnoyers could still be lighting things up in Halifax. Still, I question whether the extra attention dedicated to him was simply a product of very little else taking place in the hockey world. I wonder if, during a regular year, we’d acknowledge his hot start instead of crowning him the draft steal of the century. Either way, it is too bad we could not see if he could maintain his success throughout the season’s entirety.
Well, in less than a week, NHL hockey will be back. I wish we could say the same about more of the developmental leagues. For now, for the sake of prospect coverage, one can only hope that Morgan Frost makes the opening night roster. Hopefully, the AHL will keep to their February start date, and things continue to move in the right direction. Enjoy the hockey we have, and until the next “Pod Street Prospects Journal,” cheers!