A quick reminder that all top 10 candidates must be no more than 25 years old as of October 7, 2015. The lists consider all skaters in that age group who have played in fewer than 40 NHL regular season games, with 25 games being the cut-off among netminders.
The Philadelphia Flyers added two elite pieces in 2015. Having two first round picks in a draft considered by many to be one of the best since 2003 helps deepen the prospect pool. Unlike some teams with multiple first round picks – ahem, Boston – the Flyers took advantage of both picks. Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny instantly become the top players aiming to dawn an orange jersey in the future. One aspect of the Flyers prospects that shows up repeatedly is growth, both statistically and physically.
- Ivan Provorov, D, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) 6-0”, 201. 7th overall, 2015
- Travis Konecny C, Ottawa 67’s (OHL) 5-10”, 175. 24th overall, 2015
- Scott Laughton, C, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) 6-1”, 190. 20th overall, 2012
- Samuel Morin, D, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) 6-7”, 225. 11th overall , 2013
- Travis Sanheim, D, Calgary Hitmen (WHL) 6-3”, 184. 17th overall, 2014
- Robert Hagg, D, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) 6-2”, 203. 41st overall, 2013
- Nicolas Aube-Kubel, RW, Val d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL) 5-11”, 196. 48th overall, 2014
- Nick Cousins, C, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) 5-10”, 169. 68th overall, 2011
- Felix Sandstrom, G, Brynas IF Gavle (SHL) 6-2”, 192. 70th overall 2015
- Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) 5-11”, 170. 78th overall 2012
Players likely to lose eligibility
1.Samuel Dove-McFalls C, St. John Sea Dogs (QMJHL) 6-2”, 207. 98th overall 2015
2.Taylor Leier, LW, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) 5-11”,177. 117th overall, 2012
3. Mark Alt, D, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) 6-4”, 201. Trade: Jan. 13, 2013. Originally: 53rd overall, 2010 (Carolina)
Top prospect Ivan Provorov flew up the draft ranking boards after an outstanding performance at the 2014-2015 WJC. Many scouts had Provorov ranked above Carolina Hurricanes first round selection, Noah Hanifin. Provorov continued his fantastic play in helping the Brandon Wheat Kings reach the WHL final vs the Kelowna Rockets. Baseball scouts would describe Provorov as a five tool player. A great skater who has the ability to carry the puck up the ice at any time; his ability to see the play develop and find passing lanes, or get pucks through traffic and on net is better than most. He has a shot that accurately and quickly gets the puck on target. His offensive skills are elite and his defensive game is not far behind. Provorov plays at a high pace and rarely lacks effort when attempting to gain possession back from the attacking team. Oh, and in the old school, just fun to watch category, he can hit. Some of the most impressive open ice hits in the past season came off the shoulder and hip of Provorov. It would not be shocking to see Provorov make such an impression at Flyers camp that he gets the nine game trial with the Flyers. This is a true number one defensemen, and probably within two years.
Travis Konecny caused many debates amongst scouts. “Too small” and “he’s going to be hurt all the time”, were common phrases heard by the anti-Konecny side of the debate. Concerns over his poor production in the first half of the 2014-2015 season were also raised. All of this began to change in January. Konecny’s production jumped almost one point per game; he won MVP at the BMO Top Prospects Game in Niagara. Konecny showed that despite being smaller in stature he possess very good strength, testing very well during the off ice drills during the NHL scouting combine. Konecny will be a productive top six winger for the Flyers. He has the ability to play center as well, but he is better suited to the wing at the NHL level. The scouting report on Konecny tells the tale of his award winning skating (voted best skater in the OHL eastern conference), his elite level puck skills, and lethal snap shot. Konecny has elite level hockey I.Q which shows up in both the defensive and offensive zones. Expect Konecny back with the Ottawa 67’s for the upcoming season, but it will most likely be his last at the junior level.
Scott Laughton is a Broad Street Bully style player. Never one to shy away from throwing is body or fists around the ice, Laughton brings a high energy game to the orange and black. He has average speed and agility. The former Oshawa General showed a tremendous increase in production from 2012-2013 to 2013-2014, increasing his goal total from 23 to 40 and his point total from 56 to 87. Renowned for his ability to lead on and off the ice, Laughton will have a role in the Flyers organization for years to come. Expect to see Laughton in one of the bottom two lines, and spending several minutes each game killing off penalties.
Samuel Morin probably heard the Chris Pronger comparison far too often once he was selected by the Flyers in 2013. He is a huge player whose two best attributes are his ability to skate and his effective passes when exiting the defensive zone. For a player his size he surprisingly lacks a big shot from the point. Morin saw his offensive production jump from .57 points per game to .84 in 2014-2015. Morin, like all other players that require sticks that can’t be found on the shelf at Pro Hockey Life, will take time to mature into his frame. Morin suffered a broken jaw early on last season and returned in November. He made an instant impact in his return and used that to earn a spot on Canada’s WJC roster and to help the team earn its first gold since 2009. Morin will take more time than the prospects that are ranked ahead of him to earn a spot on the Flyers full time roster. Once his physical development and on ice development are complete, he will be a very good NHL player. Morin has a chance to be a number four defender seeing time on the penalty kill and second powerplay unit.
Adding to the stable of defensemen in the organization are Travis Sanheim and Shayne Gostisbehere. Sanheim is an offensive defenseman who can often be found using great timing to jump up into the rush and create a scoring opportunity. Skating, passing, and vision continue to be attributes of the Flyers recent draft picks. Sanheim is another prospect continuing the theme of progression and improvement with Philadelphia’s prospects. He saw his point totals increase by 36 points over the last season even though he played 67 games in both 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. A prototype defensemen at 6-3” with top skating skill, great passing and vision, Sanheim will pencil in nicely along with Provorov and Morin in the Flyers lineup come 2017. Gostisbehere is another highly skilled defender who possesses better pure puck skills than Sanheim but not the same prototype frame. Gostisbehere has the ability to create offence from the back end with a creative and flashy set of dekes available to get past forecheckers. It will take a big adjustment to get away from his high risk mentality to become a Philadelphia Flyer. Gostisbehere showed good offensive numbers at Union College, posting .69 points per game during his time in the NCAA. It is a long shot for Gostisbehere to see the NHL on a full time basis in the coming season.
Robert Hagg is the opposite style of Sanheim and Gostisbehere. A defensive and physical player, Hagg aims to slot into the sixth to seventh position on the defensive depth chart. His skating style is upright and stiff. Hagg lacks any high level skill outside of his physical play. Defensive zone positioning is also becoming a challenge for him to learn. If his skating does not improve it will be difficult for Hagg to find ice time with all of the future blueline coming up the system.
Speed and energy, are the best two words to describe the seventh best Flyers’ prospect. Nicolas Aube Kubel has the attributes to fit into several different roles on a hockey team. Similar to Konecny, Aube Kubel saw a dramatic increase in point production over the final half of the QMJHL season. He is short in stature but he carries good weight on his frame. He is strong enough that his play is not hindered by his size. Aube-Kubel is not a dynamic offensive threat. His best offensive season was the most recent, scoring 38 goals and adding 42 assists in 61 games. He could be an effective energy winger in the Flyers’ bottom six. He will need to ensure he maintains his good work ethic and lets his speed be a factor on each shift in order to find success.
Even though a full NHL campaign is not likely for Nick Cousins in 2015-2016, chances are he will see 30 more games and lose his rookie status. The former Soo Greyhound played in 11 games with the Flyers last season. In his first full professional season Cousins tallied 47 points at a pace of 0.39 points per game. This past season – his second pro season – he increased his total to 73 points at a 1.14 points per game pace. Cousins’ improvement showed Ron Hextall and the rest of the Flyers management that he is ready to make the leap. The 2011third rounder is a good skater with average NHL puck skills. He has above average hockey sense and plays well away from the puck. He will struggle to put up more than ten goals per year. The release of his shot is slow, which gives defenders and goalies time to adjust. The extra time that he had to shoot in the OHL and AHL will not exist when he is seeing fourth line minutes at center for the Flyers. Similar to Laughton, Cousins has a feisty side to him. Not afraid to take the five minute major or get under the skin of opposing players, Cousins has the ability to play different roles on a team.
Steve Mason is coming off a very good year for the Flyers, but still shows signs of inconsistency and carries questions about his legitimacy as a number one goalie. Felix Sandstrom becomes the next goalie in the Flyers never ending search for a “franchise” netminder. Sandstrom has the look and the movement of a potential number one goalie. He is a smart goalie who positions himself well and tracks the puck with ease. Inconsistency and injuries were a major concern for some scouts during Sandstorm’s evaluation. While he is more than likely not the long term answer in goal for the Flyers, Mason is young enough that Sandstrom has the time to develop.
Three players who may show up on the top ten list in years to come are Samuel Dove-McFalls, Taylor Leier, and Mark Alt. Dove-McFalls will be a key piece in the St. John Sea Dogs’ quest for a QMJHL Championship in the upcoming season. He is a strong technical skater who shows good burst when ready to attack. He is patient and methodical when on the ice, thinking safe and defensive first. Dove-McFalls will be a good fourth line center and penalty killer in the future. If teams can look past the lack of offensive production, they will find a good player in his future. Leier is a skilled forward who has not produced as expected in the AHL. The Flyers are hoping to see a significant increase from the 31 points in 73 AHL games in 2014. Alt is an athletically gifted player who struggles with positioning and mental aspects of the game. Don’t expect to see Alt in the NHL anytime soon. With years of learning how to play the game his athleticism may be able to shine through.
The Flyers are trending in the right direction, with multiple prospects only two years away from prime time. If the players keep showing physical and statistical growth, Claude Giroux may get another shot at winning before his peak years come to an end.