Welcome to the 2018 Top Shelf Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2018 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. We will be following the order of the first round of the NHL draft (as if there were no traded draft picks) and you can find all the articles here. Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2018 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed.
What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2018-19 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or is 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.
Philadelphia Flyers Prospects
After missing the playoffs and picking second overall in 2017, the Philadelphia Flyers made some controversial moves. They traded Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues. They also moved Claude Giroux from centre to left wing. The plan to replace their top two centres involved moving Sean Couturier to the top line and playing rookie Nolan Patrick on the second line. As unorthodox as this was, it worked. Giroux put up the best point totals of his career. Couturier became a top line centre and a Selke candidate and Patrick started slowly but came on in the second half of the year. The Flyers season was a roller coaster and included a ten-game losing streak, but the team still managed to make the playoffs. Unfortunately, they fell in the first round to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Flyers off-season has been highlighted by the signing of free agent winger James van Riemsdyk. The team also signed defenceman Christian Folin. Losses included Valtteri Filpulla, Petr Mrazek, Brandon Manning, Matt Read, and Johnny Oduya.
2018 NHL Draft Picks: Joel Farabee, Jay O’Brien, Adam Ginning, John St. Ivany, Wyatte Wylie, Samuel Ersson, Gavin Hain, Marcus Westfalt
Graduations: Nolan Patrick, Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg, Taylor Leier
Top Prospect: Carter Hart
Goalie — shoots Left — Catches Left
Born August 13th, 1998 — Sherwood Park, Alberta
Height 6’2″ — Weight 180 lbs [188 cm / 82 kg]
Drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2nd round, #48 overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft
Hart had an incredible season. He put up a 1.60 goals-against average and 0.947 save percentage in 41 regular season games as well as a 2.40 goals-against average and 0.921 save percentage in 22 playoff games. Hart won the CHL goaltender of the year for the second time and WHL goaltender of the year for the third time. He was also the WHL Player of the year. Hart played for Team Canada at the World Juniors, putting up a 0.930 save percentage and winning the gold medal.
Skating and Talent Analysis
At 6-foot-2, Carter Hart comes in at slightly below average when we look at other highly touted goalie prospects. There has been a move towards drafting and developing bigger goaltenders throughout the league. Hart makes up for his lack of size with his exceptionally fast reflexes. He gets in and out of the butterfly very quickly and takes away the bottom of the net with exceptionally fast legs. He also is an aggressive goalie who makes himself seem bigger by taking full advantage of his ability to come out of the net and cut down angles.
Strong skating, being able to move out and back quickly, as well as a good push and the ability to go side-to-side with ease allow Hart to fully take advantage of a style that sees him really challenge shooters and aggressively play the angles. He also has a quick glove hand.
Carter Hart is extremely athletic in the crease. While his technique is solid and he is almost always square to the shooter, whether it be on a first shot or rebound, when he does get beaten he can make some incredible recoveries and reflex based stops. While most young goalies struggle with rebound control this is a strength of Hart’s game, as he often swallows up pucks or directs them into the corners, minimizing the number of second-chance opportunities that he will face.
One area that Hart can improve upon is his stickhandling. When he travels outside of his crease, he does not play the puck very well. This is something that he will need to continue to improve upon as it has become such an important part the of the modern game.
Hart keeps a cool and calm demeanour in the net. If he does give up a soft goal, which is rare, he does not get rattled and comes back ready to make the next stop.
As with most young goalies, Hart will be a project but if developed correctly, he has the potential to become a franchise goalie. Hart has put his junior career behind him now and heads to the AHL next season. He should immediately challenge for the starting job in the AHL, and it is hoped that he is the Flyers long-term goalie solution.
#2 Prospect: Philippe Myers
Defence — shoots Right
Born January 25th, 1997 — Moncton, New Brunswick
Height 6’5″ — Weight 202 lbs [196 cm / 92 kg]
Signed as an undrafted free agent, October 2014.
Myers played his first pro season with Lehigh Valley. He scored five goals and 21 points in 50 games. He also added three goals and seven points in 13 playoff games.
Myers skating is very good for his size. He moves quickly in both directions and has very good acceleration. If pressured, he can skate the puck out of danger, and away from forecheckers. He also has very good agility and footwork, making him extremely tough to beat on the rush. Myers is strong on his skates and has very good balance. He uses his size and strength to win battles in the corners and in front of the net.
Myers offence has really improved since signing with the Flyers. While he always had a hard slap shot. he had real trouble getting it on net in the past. Myers corrected that issue and has seen his goal totals increase. His cannon is now a feared weapon on the power play. He also became more poised with the puck, waiting for the play to develop before getting rid of it. He makes smart passes and shows the vision needed to anticipate plays. Myers uses that passing ability both to start the rush, as well as to play the point on the power play.
Myers uses his size to win board battles and to gain leverage in front of the net but he really isn’t a big hitter. If he can develop this aspect of his game, he could become a really intimidating force of the back line. Myers does read the play well with good positioning. He anticipates where the play is going, creating turnovers. Once those turnovers are created he can transition to offence quickly. He uses his long stick to cut down the passing and shooting lanes.
Myers is looking like an absolute steal for the Flyers. He will head to Flyers camp looking to win a job on the blue line. There may not be a position available though, as Christian Folin is a better bet to be the seventh defenceman. If Myers can’t crack the top-six, he is better off playing big minutes in the AHL. He could be a call-up in case of injuries. Myers is not far from being NHL ready. With his size and skill set, if he can continue to refine his game, he could be an excellent NHL defenceman.
#3 Prospect: Morgan Frost
Centre — shoots Left
Born May 14th, 1999 — Aurora, Ontario
Height 6’0″ — Weight 180 lbs [183 cm / 82 kg]
Drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1st round, #27 overall at the 2017 NHL Draft
After being a first-round pick, Frost put up a monster season for Sault Ste. Marie. The Greyhounds were one of the best teams in the CHL all season long, and Frost was a leader in that with 42 goals and 112 points in 67 games. Frost also added 29 points in 24 playoff games, as the Greyhounds reached the OHL Final before losing to the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Frost is a very good skater. He has good top-end speed as well as very good acceleration. His first step is excellent. Frost beats other skaters to loose pucks in the offensive and neutral zones. He can also beat defenders to the outside and cut to the net. Frost’s speed and quickness were on full display at the 2017 Top Prospects Game testing, where he finished first in the 30M sprints both with and without the puck.
Frost’s lateral agility and edgework are also very good. If Frost catches a defender flat-footed, he can cut extremely quickly and attack the open lane created. He has gotten stronger in his lower body and improved his balance. Frost is also stronger on the puck. He can continue to improve these areas before he heads to the pros though.
Frost uses his speed, quickness, and agility to really challenge defenders in one-on-one situations. He is extremely hard to contain off the rush, as he can use his skating to create openings. Frost also recognizes that if a defender is playing a little bit too far off of him; he can slow up. This creates both passing and shooting lanes which he can take advantage of. He sees the ice extremely well and anticipates the movements of his linemates. As such, he makes smart plays with the puck and sets them up for scoring chances. He can also create in the offensive zone, especially on the power play where he is able to quarterback the play from the point.
While Frost is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, he has the soft hands and quick reflexes to finish plays in close to the net. He also has a good accuracy as well as a quick release and can score from the slot. Frost really improved his wrist shot and slap shot last season. By getting stronger, he has added power to his shot.
Frost uses his speed to be a menace on the penalty kill. His ability to read plays and pressure the puck allows him to play a strong game in his own end of the rink. When a turnover is created, Frost transitions quickly from defence to offence. Frost is willing to support defenders down low but really needs to improve his strength to contain bigger forwards on the cycle. He is also good in the face-off circle.
#4 Prospect: Joel Farabee
The Flyers drafted Farabee with the 14th overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Farabee. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.
#5 Prospect: Wade Allison
Right Wing — shoots Right
Born October 14th, 1997 — Roland, Manitoba
Height 6’2″ — Weight 205 lbs [188 cm / 93 kg]
Drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2nd round, #52 overall at the 2016 NHL Draft
Allison had an excellent start to the season with 15 goals and 30 points in Western Michigan’s first 22 games. However, a lower-body injury suffered in late January would derail his sophomore campaign and leave Allison on the sidelines for the rest of the campaign.
Allison’s skating is a bit of a work in progress. It has improved since his draft year but more work is necessary. He needs to work on his speed and acceleration, as well as his first step. His agility and edgework is also a bit of a weakness right now. With quicker footwork he could be a better offensive player, getting around defenders; and a better defender, keeping opponents in front of him. Allison is strong on the puck though and has good power and balance. He has the ability to fight through checks and get to the net.
Allison plays a simple game, but a highly physical and highly effective one. He is a budding power forward, willing to throw hits on the forecheck, get involved in battles along the boards, and go to the front of the net. Strong and powerful, Allison uses his well-developed frame to dominate against his peers. He will need a little more muscle to do the same at the next level but is well ahead of most prospects his age. Allison has a strong and powerful wrist shot which he gets off with a quick release. He also finds openings to set himself up for a powerful one-timer. Allison scores goals in close to the net with quick hands and the ability to bury rebounds and get tip-ins.
Allison’s assists come from digging pucks out of the corners and getting them to teammates. However, he has shown improvements in both his passing and stickhandling. Allison now puts passes through tight areas and on a linemates tape. He can also open up bigger passing lanes with his quick changes of direction. He protects the puck with his size in the cycle game. While he can make a move on a defender, Allison is more likely to go through a defender, than try to go around him.
Allison’s defensive game is also a bit of a work in progress. He works hard and is willing to battle in all three zones. Allison needs work on his positioning and can be beaten one-on-one due to his lack of footspeed. There are some things that can be helped with good coaching though. Allison is likely to be a better winger than a centre at the next level as he will have less responsibility in his own end, and less of a requirement to come back as deep to support the defence.
Allison heads into his junior season with Western Michigan hoping that he is fully recovered from the injury that prematurely ended his campaign. If he continues to improve, the Flyers are likely to try to sign him following his junior season, that’s home.
#6 Prospect: Jay O’Brien
The Flyers drafted O’Brien with the 19th overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on O’Brien. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.
#7 Prospect: Samuel Morin
Defence — shoots Left
Born July 12th, 1995 — Lac-Beauport, Quebec
Height 6’6″ — Weight 202 lbs [198 cm / 92 kg]
Drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1st round, #11 overall, at the 2013 NHL Draft
Morin suffered an injury-riddled season in 2017-18. He also spent some time in the Flyers press box. Overall he played just 15 games for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, picking up seven points and just two games for the Flyers.
Morin skates pretty well for a big man, but he does have some areas he needs to work on. His straight line speed is good for his size, and his acceleration is decent enough. His agility is also at a very good level, and this gives him some decent mobility. However, he needs work on his edgework and pivots. Morin has had some trouble dealing with speedy forwards, especially when they make quick cuts around him. He will need to work on this aspect of his game and improve his ability to change directions quickly.
Morin’s offence has greatly improved since his draft year. He is more confident with the puck on his stick and is more willing to wait for an extra second or two to make to make a better play in the offensive zone. Morin has always had a good first pass in his own zone. He could use this ability better in the offensive zone, but this area of his game is improving. One thing that would help is if he keeps his slap shot low to allow his teammates to go for tips and rebounds. He may never be a huge scorer in the NHL, but there is some potential to be a second unit power play guy.
Morin is an imposing physical specimen at the back end. He plays a strong defensive game, using his size and physicality in his own zone. Morin throws big hits and battles hard in front of the net and along the boards. He plays a strong positional game and uses his size and his long stick to cut down passing and shooting lanes.
Morin has even got a bit of a mean streak, he plays very physical, and is often right on the border (and sometimes even over it) on what is legal. His high penalty minute totals can attest that he does have a tendency to sometimes cross that line. Morin is not afraid to drop the gloves either and with his size, it’s no surprise that he has been very successful when doing so.
He’s increased his strength and added muscle to his frame, but there was still a bit of an adjustment from junior to facing men in the AHL. Morin had to learn that he could not just push people around the way he did in junior and had to work on gaining leverage to be effective. He also had to adjust to the quicker speed of the AHL. He’s been effective in making those adjustments and has improved each year.
Morin was expected to be a full-time member of the Flyers this year. However, he suffered a torn ACL and needed knee surgery at the end of last season. He could be out until the new year. When he comes back, he will need waivers in order to go to the AHL (for more than a conditioning/injury rehab stint). The Flyers will likely choose to keep him on the NHL roster rather than take the chance of losing him.
#8 Prospect: Oskar Lindblom
Left Wing/Right Wing — shoots Left
Born August 15th, 1996 — Gavle, Sweden
Height 6’1″ — Weight 192 lbs [185 cm/87 kg]
Drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the fifth round, #138 overall, at the 2014 NHL Draft
Lindblom bounced between the NHL and AHL last year. He had just two goals and six points in 23 games for the Flyers and did not record a point in four playoff games. He had more offensive success in Lehigh Valley, with 16 goals and 34 points in 54 games and a further four goals and seven points in 11 playoff games.
The main reason that Lindblom fell to the fifth round in the 2014 NHL Draft was concern about his skating. However, he has worked hard over the last few years to really improve on that aspect of his game. His first step quickness is much better. He has also worked to get a longer stride and more speed and acceleration. Lighter on his feet, Lindblom has also improved his agility and edgework. Where this was once a liability of his game, he has improved to the point where he is at an average, or even slightly above average level skater.
Lindblom has always had good balance and been strong on his skates. This helps him to play a power game. He establishes his position in front of the net and works well along the boards.
Lindblom is a big and strong winger who is at his best working the cycle game, battling in corners and getting to the front of the net. He has soft hands and knows how to finish in close to the goal when he gets there. Lindblom has good hand-eye coordination and can pounce quickly on rebounds, bury one-timers, and tip in point shots. As mentioned, he is strong on the puck. Lindblom uses his body positioning and strong puck handling skills to protect it on the cycle. Most of his assists come from digging the puck out of the corners and getting it to a teammate to make a play in the offensive zone.
Lindblom also works well in the defensive zone. He is more than willing to block shots and get his stick into passing lanes. He is smart positionally, covering the point, and knowing when to support the defence down low. Lindblom keeps his feet moving and is a hard worker in all three zones.
Lindblom is looking at a bottom-six role with the Flyers this season. He may never be a huge scorer but can provide a bit of offence along with his hard work and solid defensive play on the lower lines.
#9 Prospect: Isaac Ratcliffe
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born February 15th, 1999 — London, Ontario
Height 6’6″ — Weight 200 lbs [198 cm / 91 kg]
Drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2nd round, #35 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft
Ratcliffe put up a strong post-draft season with a still rebuilding Guelph team. He scored 41 goals and 68 points in 67 games. He also added five goals and nine points in six playoff games but the Storm were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Ratcliffe went to Lehigh Valley and picked up a goal in two games.
Ratcliffe combines great size, with excellent skating ability. He has very good footwork for his size, with a powerful stride that gives him good speed and acceleration. He can drive to the net and creates havoc when he gets there. Ratcliffe has decent edgework and agility, especially given his size. He can be elusive in the offensive zone. He also has very good balance and is difficult to knock off the puck when playing in the cycle or battling for loose pucks in the corners. Ratcliffe is good at establishing his position in front of the net and maintaining that spot.
Ratcliffe protects the puck well and has good stickhandling ability. He is strong down low and works well in the cycle. While he is not a huge playmaker, he does make smart plays with the puck and keeps it moving to open teammates. He could stand to add muscle to his frame and play a more physical game. This would make him even more effective going forward. He is not one to throw a lot of big hits, but he does use his frame to protect the puck and win battles. Ratcliffe does have the hockey sense to find open spaces to take a pass from a teammate on the cycle. If he sees an opportunity, he is willing to take the puck to the net.
He gets most of his points in close to the net, as he is willing to get to the tough areas in order to put the puck in the net. Ratcliffe has good hand-eye coordination and can make tip-in plays or bury rebounds in tight to the net. He also has a good wrist shot with a strong release to score from further out. He is not the most creative player but plays an effective North-South game that gets results.
Ratcliffe shows his willingness to battle along the boards in the defensive end as well, supporting his defenders down low and applying back pressure when checking. He also uses his frame well to cut down passing and shooting lanes. Ratcliffe’s defensive game has really improved over the last couple of years and he is one of the more reliable forwards on the Storm, trusted by his coaches in big situations.
Ratcliffe is expected to spend another season in the OHL. Guelph should continue to improve and may be ready to take another step forward this season. However, if they reach the OHL trade deadline and management does not see the team contending, expect to see Ratcliffe moved to an OHL contender to finish the year. He’s at least a couple of years from the NHL, especially with the Flyers depth.
#10 Prospect: Adam Ginning
The Flyers drafted Ginning with the 50th overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Ginning. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.
Sleeper Prospect: Tanner Laczynski
Center — shoots Right
Born June 1st, 1997 — Shorewood, Illinois
Height 6’1″ — Weight 190 lbs [185 cm / 86 kg]
Drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 6th round, #169 overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft
After being a late-round pick of the Flyers in 2016, Laczynski had two solid seasons with Ohio State. He put up 17 goals and 47 points in 41 games. Laczynski led Ohio State to the Frozen Four where they fell in the National Semi-Final to eventual champs Minnesota-Duluth
Laczynski has a long, smooth stride that leads to good speed and quick acceleration. However, he continues to need work on his first few steps, which can be a bit of an issue and can prevent him from getting to loose pucks. He also could be a little better in terms of his edgework and agility. These are things that can be drilled in with a good skating coach.
Laczynski is a strong playmaker, with very good vision and passing skills. Laczynski can fit the puck through tight spaces, or make saucer passes to teammates. He creates space with strong puck handling skills. He can control the play in the offensive zone, protecting the puck and slowing things down for his teammates to get open. Once they do get open he has the vision to see the opportunity and the skill to take advantage of it. Laczynski also has a good release on his shot. He could stand to add a bit more power though, as well as shooting a bit more often though.
Laczynski plays a responsible defensive game, however, he must add some strength. While he is a willing backchecker and supports the defence down low, he can sometimes get overpowered by the stronger opposition. He also could stand to work on his face-off skills going forward. The effort level and the positioning are good though, so again these are areas of his game that should improve in time.
Laczynski remains a project. He will likely return to Ohio State for a junior season and continue to improve his game. At this point, Laczynski is a long-term project for Philadelphia.
Despite the graduations of key prospects like Nolan Patrick, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Travis Konecny, Shayne Gostisbehere, and other in recent years, the Flyers continue to have one of the best prospect groups in the NHL. They have top prospects like Hart, Myers, Farabee and Frost as well as exceptional depth. There are a number of notable prospects who didn’t even make the top 10.
In goal, the Flyers also have Anthony Stolarz and Anthony Lyon in their system. Both could develop into backup goalies in the NHL. Felix Sandstrom is a project.
On defence, the Flyers also have Mark Friedman, Wyatt Kalynuk, and Linus Hogberg. Defence has been a strength of the Flyers system in recent years and they have a number of talented defenders who have graduated. It still remains strong though.
The deepest part of the Flyers system is now the forward group. In addition to players profiled above, the team has German Rubtsov, Noah Cates, Mikhail Vorobyov, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Connor Bunnaman, Pascal Laberge, David Kase, Carsen Twarynski, Matthew Strome, Olle Lycksell, and Maksim Sushko.
EVERETT, WA – JANUARY 20: Everett Silvertips goaltender Carter Hart (70) makes a blocker save during the second period in a game between the Everett Silvertips and the Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday, January 20, 2018, at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, WA. Everett shutout Brandon by a final score of 4-0. (Photo by Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)