Wes Herrmann The Hockey Writers
Flyers Prospects Contributing Everywhere
While the Philadelphia Flyers continue to make a playoff push, many of their prospects have had excellent seasons this year. For the Flyers, and in the case of many NHL teams, those prospects are contributing all over the globe and in different leagues.
From Russia to Canada and from the Swedish Hockey League to the AHL, Philadelphia has prospects everywhere. The following list isn’t a run-down of necessarily best ones, but a look at Flyers’ prospects contributions all over the world.
Flyers’ Forward Prospects
German Rubtsov, Chicoutimi Saguenéens, QMJHL (2016, 1st round)
The latest Flyers first-round pick has rebounded from a lackluster start in Russia to an over-point-a-game pace in Canadian Juniors. He’s also scored some highlight reel goals including this one last week:
"Germaaaaaan Ruuuuubtsov, for the Flyers fans! Wow, what a goal by German Rubtsov!" pic.twitter.com/8M0PmU2vCR
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) March 1, 2017
Rubtsov, though, started the season overseas playing for his KHL team, Vityaz Podolsk, where he was getting less than 10 minutes of ice time in some games and splitting time with their MHL affiliate, Russkie Vityazi Chekhov. The center was held pointless in the KHL in 15 games but contributed a point-per-game in the MHL with 15 points in the same amount of matches.
Following a mediocre World Junior Championship that saw the 18-year-old contribute in a fourth-line role, Rubtsov made the jump to the Saguenéens. Last Friday, Philadelphia signed him to an entry-level contract.
Because Rubtsov was drafted while playing in Europe, he can join the Lehigh Valley Phantoms as early as this year.
Oskar Lindblom, Brynäs IF, Swedish Hockey League (2014, 5th round)
He is maybe the prospect Flyers fans are most excited about and teammates of Lindblom are already saying that he is ready for a job in the NHL. With a Philadelphia playoff push, that’s unlikely to happen already, but it’s easy to see why some believe the 20-year-old could be in the NHL.
In 51 games this season, the left winger has 47 points, good for third in the league. The two players in front of him are Joakim Lindstrom and Broc Little, 33 and 28-year-old veterans, respectively. His 22 goals are second only to his linemate Kevin Clark among the whole SHL.
It’s not common for players of Lindblom’s age to do so well in the SHL. In fact, his scoring pace puts him among some of the best players to come out of Sweden:
Most SHL Fwd PPG age 20 & under since 1994 (25+gp):
H. Sedin: 0.94
D. Sedin: 0.90
Bäckström: 0.89 #Flyers
— Alexander Appleyard (@avappleyard) March 7, 2017
Although Lindblom has not signed an ELC yet, most Flyers fans are penciling him into the lineup for next season. As soon as he does, those predictions may come to fruition.
Mikhail Vorobyov, Salavet Yulaev Ufa, KHL (2015, Fourth Round)
Unlike Rubtsov, Vorobyov has remained in Russia and hasn’t had any issues earning playing time and contributing on offense. In 44 games, the 20-year-old has 11 points. While not breathtaking numbers, Vorobyov is a sold secondary producer.
Where he made his mark in the offensive category was at this year’s World Junior Championships. Playing with his Salavet linemate, Karill Kaprizov, Vorobyov contributed 10 points, all assists, in seven games. Before this season, the center split time with Salavat and their MHL affiliate where he put up 23 points in 21 games for Tolpar Ufa. The 2016 WJC was his first.
Vorobyov has not signed an ELC yet, but as soon as he does, he could join the Phantoms. Since Lehigh Valley plans on making the playoffs, it’s possible he comes to North America before the season’s over.
Wade Allison, Western Michigan Broncos, NCAA (2016, 2nd round)
For the first time in three seasons, Western Michigan has a winning percentage higher than .500. Allison, a freshman with the Broncos, has played a big part in that.
The team is not a high-scoring one and relies on scoring by committee to get the job done. The 19-year-old has firmly put himself in that committee with 26 points, 11 of them goals, in 32 games this year, good for fourth on the team.
Coming out of the USHL last year, Allison was praised for his heavy goal-scoring, where he put up nearly half-a-goal a game with the Tri-City Storm. That earned him attention from scouts, who also were impressed with his size (6-foot-2) and work ethic.
It’s easy to see why Philadelphia was attracted to a big, scoring winger, an area that has been lacking in quite some time. But there’s no rush for Allison to jump to the NHL or AHL. He and his Broncos teammates are hoping for an NCAA bid this year and Allison will probably get more opportunities at Western Michigan over the next couple of seasons.
Flyers’ Defense Prospects
Philippe Myers, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, QMJHL (Undrafted Free Agent)
Myers may not have been drafted, but no one is treating him as such. Instead, most have lauded the Flyers for signing the defenseman following the 2015 draft and adding another impressive prospect to their cupboard.
After a 45-point season last year, Myers has 26 points in 29 games with the Huskies but, more importantly, he was a part of Team Canada’s first pairing at this year’s WJC. He suffered a concussion in the preliminary stages, but if he hadn’t it’s possible that the Canadian would have a gold medal instead of the Americans.
Despite only playing four games in the tournament, Myers made a huge impression on Bob McKenzie:
Based on what I saw at WJC, Philippe Myers looks NHL ready, or close to it: https://t.co/y38vVRSQee
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 12, 2017
Myers can join the Phantoms as early as this season and next year he could be a Flyer, but with a few defensive prospects waiting the odds may be against him. Either way, his stellar all-around play he will most likely be on the Flyers eventually.
Travis Sanheim, Lehigh Valley Phantoms, AHL (1st round, 2014)
One of three defensive prospects on the Phantoms, Sanheim will be the offensive weapon for Philly in the near future. After a slow start in the AHL, he’s begun to turn the corner for the Phantoms.
In the middle of January, Sanheim had 18 points. Now, in 58 games he has 26 points on a stacked Lehigh Valley blue line.
The 20-year-old has also been paired with fellow first-round pick, Sam Morin, which should bode well when the pair makes the jump to the NHL. The time spent in the minors has also allowed him to work on his defensive game.
With Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere already on the Flyers, Sanheim will add another offensive catalyst for the blue line.
David Bernhardt, Djuargårdens If, SHL (7th round, 2016)
Bernhardt isn’t a household name among Flyers prospects — that’s what happens when you’re a seventh-round pick — but he’s still having an impressive season in Sweden. The 19-year-old is a third-pairing defenseman for Djuargårdens If, something that shouldn’t be frowned upon for a player of his age. In fact, he’s still contributing when he gets in the lineup with seven points and a plus-4 in 27 games.
Bernhardt also caught the eye of the Swedish brass when he was included on the team’s 2017 WJC roster. At the tournament, he contributed three assists in seven contests and the country finished fourth.
The Phantoms have plenty of depth at defense but there shouldn’t be any reason for the Flyers brass not to get Bernhardt over to North America. It may not happen this offseason, but could in coming years.
Flyers’ Goalie Prospects
Carter Hart, Everett Silvertips, WHL (2nd round, 2016)
In an undervalued goalie prospect pool, Hart is the cream of the crop. With Everett, the Alberta native has 29 wins, only nine losses and a .928 save percentage.
Hart earned his way onto Canada’s WJC roster, which is impressive for an 18-year-old, but he also played hero for the Canadians in the Semifinal game over Sweden. With two goals allowed on just three shots, Connor Ingram was replaced by Hart early in the game.
Hart didn’t allow another goal as Canada won 5-2 and was named the starter for the Finals. He and the Canadians didn’t get the job done, but Hart’s value was clear.
Goalies typically take longer to develop, so don’t expect him to be wearing a Flyers jersey soon but expect more great things from him in the WJC, the WHL and the AHL.
Felix Sandstrom, Brynäs If, SHL (2015, 3rd Round)
Across the ice from Hart’s Semifinal win was Sandstrom, who despite a 41-save effort, could not will his team to victory. However, he did earn the Best Goaltender Award for the tournament.
In league play, Sandstrom is a teammate of Lindblom’s at Brynäs If, though he splits the net with veteran David Rautio. In 22 games, Sandstrom has 14 wins and a 2.31 goals-against-average.
Although Hart is considered the better prospect, it’s possible Sandstrom is wearing a Phantoms jersey before him. The 20-year-old is older and with a possible vacancy in Lehigh Valley next year now could be the best time to get Sandstrom overseas.
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