The Philadelphia Flyers have another strong group of prospects participating in this year’s Development Camp. Ron Hextall has done a great job over the past few years of restocking the farm system and giving the Flyers a pipeline full of prospects at every position.
Several key members on the current roster made their start in Development Camp in recent years, including Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, and Nolan Patrick, who made his Flyers “debut” during last year’s developmental session. This year might not seem as exciting as last, but there are plenty of prospects worth keeping your eye on.
The Flyers have 33 players on their announced Development Camp roster, with a few more potentially trickling in via camp invite. Of those 43, just over half (17) are forwards, ten are defensemen, and six are goalies.
Among the 17 forwards in camp, there are several to keep an eye on. Morgan Frost headlines the group as last year’s first round pick – Joel Farabee will be in high demand as well as this year’s first rounder – but there are a handful worth watching that might not come to mind immediately.
Let’s take a look at the forwards to watch at Flyers Development Camp 2018.
#80 – Wade Allison (2016 2nd Round Pick)
Wade Allison burst onto the scene last season in his sophomore year at Western Michigan University. After putting up a very respectable 29 points (12 goals, 27 assists) in 39 games during his freshman year, Allison had 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists) in just 22 games before a knee injury in January ended his season prematurely. Prior to the injury, Allison was among the NCAA leaders and a candidate for the Hobey Baker Award.
This season will be a big one for Allison. There was talk of him potentially going pro and joining the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, but after his injury he’ll go back for his junior year at WMU. Either way, Allison is a offensively talented forward that has the ability to become a scoring winger at the NHL level.
Unfortunately Allison is still rehabbing his injury and will not partake in on-ice drills at Development Camp.
#60 – Joel Farabee (2018 1st Round Pick)
Joel Farabee is one of the newest Flyers after last weekend’s NHL Draft in Dallas. Ron Hextall got his guy and made a smart pick to land Farabee, who was arguably the best player available at the 14th slot. Farabee, originally from Philadelphia, wanted to go to the Flyers all along and it seems like it could be a great fit.
Farabee is touted as having a g great two-way game, but don’t mistake that for a lack of an offensive game. He had 76 points (33 goals, 43 assists) in 62 games as the U.S. National U18 Team’s Captain this year, and 40 points (15 goals, 25 assists) in 26 USHL games as well. He was also over a point per game (eight points in seven games) at the Under-18 World Junior Championships.
The hockey-smart winger instantly jumps to near the top of the list of Flyers forward prospects, possibly jumping over Allison as the best winger. He’ll be headed to Boston University to play his collegiate hockey. This weekend will be your first chance to see Farabee as a Flyer.
#68 – Morgan Frost (2017 1st Round Pick)
Morgan Frost is the forward to watch at this year’s Development Camp. He was in the shadows a bit last year with Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom making headlines among forwards, but Frost is rightfully front and center after a fantastic season. Frost was one of the best players in the Ontario Hockey League, showing why the Flyers “reached” to draft him with the 27th pick last year.
Frost had an impressive 112 points (42 goals, 70 assists) in 67 games last season. He added 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) in 24 playoff games as well.
Frost is a playmaking center with speed to burn. When he’s not making plays, he is either finishing them or stopping the opposition from making plays of their own as he is responsible in all three zones and a great penalty killer as well.
It’s still up in the air where Frost plays next season, but he only has two options: the OHL or the NHL. The 19-year old isn’t eligible for the AHL just yet, and this summer will decide where he plays. He is a smaller forward and needs to put weight on, but Hextall has shown that he’ll let players play their way onto the roster in the fall. Development Camp is for learning, not evaluating, but Frost can at least make a great impression and put work in towards his ultimate goal.
#85 – Tanner Laczynski (2016 6th Round Pick)
Tanner Laczynski takes us back under the radar a bit. The sixth round pick is looking like he could be a late steal after a few solid seasons in the NCAA with Ohio State. The two-way center has blossomed into a legit prospect.
He was one of Ohio State’s leading scorers as a freshman with 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) and a +20 rating in 34 games, and won a gold medal with Team USA as a checking-line center in 2017 as well. He turned that up a notch with 47 points (17 goals, 30 assists) in 41 games during his sophomore year to lead Ohio State in scoring last season.
Like with Allison, Laczynski will head back to college for his junior season. The Flyers will have a handful of talented prospects to keep an eye on in the NCAA this season, and you can see them this weekend at Development Camp.
#62 – Jay O’Brien (2018 1st Round Pick)
Jay O’Brien, the other first round pick, will need to impress in the coming years. He wasn’t the safe pick of a well-known name that some had hoped for, but Hextall said he’s “never been one to be safe” and trusted his scouts to draft the high school standout.
O’Brien is a speedy center from Thayer Academy who will head to Providence College for his next level of hockey. He can score as well, with an insane 80 points (43 goals, 37 assists) in just 30 games last season.
The two first-round picks from this year have great hockey sense and IQ, and can put the puck in the net as well.
#76 – Isaac Ratcliffe (2017 2nd Round Pick)
The big-bodied Isaac Ratcliffe impressed last season after being drafted by the Flyers. He was tied for sixth in the OHL in goals with 41, one behind Frost, which showed off his scoring ability. He uses his size to his advantage in front of the net, but can also score off the rush and make plays in the zone.
Ratcliffe was a bit lean last summer, but after another season in the OHL it’ll be interesting to see how he’s grown into his body. Bigger players usually take longer to develop, but Ratcliffe seems to be doing just fine. He even scored his first professional goal during a two-game stint with the Phantoms after his OHL season ended.
The Flyers may have found two pretty good second-round picks in back-to-back years in Allison and Ratcliffe.
#63 German Rubtsov (2016 1st Round Pick)
While some of the Flyers prospects had exciting years in the past few seasons, German Rubtsov hasn’t quite done that. In fact, he has disappointed a bit in terms of offensive production and his projection may have been altered inside the organization – it definitely has throughout some of the fanbase.
Rubtsov’s transition from Russia to North America has been a rocky one. He had 22 points in 16 games with the Chicoutimi Sagueenens at the end of the 2017 season before getting hurt, and he hasn’t quite found that form since. He had 43 points (15 goals, 28 assists) in 49 games last season. He added 10 points in 19 playoff games for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
The positive to take out of Rubtsov’s down year is that his calling card can still be his defensive game. He is a strong, two-way center that scored well when placed in a role to do so. He’ll make the jump to the AHL this season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
#78 – Matthew Strome (2017 4th Round Pick)
Matthew Strome is another big-bodied winger, like Ratcliffe, who impressed last season. The knock on him is his skating, but he can score with the best of ’em.
The Flyers grabbed him when he fell down to the fourth round last year, and it was deemed to be a steal for his upside. He showed that upside with Hamilton last year. He had 68 points (37 goals, 31 assists) in 65 regular season games and 18 points in 20 playoff games as well.
Strome has the hands, shot, and hockey sense of a great player, but his skating could knock him down a peg. The Flyers believe they can fix that with certain players, and it has worked in a few cases. If they can do that with Strome, it could work wonders for his overall game.
#46 – Mikhail Vorobyev
This will be Mikhail Vorobyev’s last Development Camp, and it could be the start of his last summer outside of the NHL as well. The Russian center transitioned well to the Phantoms last season and has the skillset of a bottom-six center in the NHL. He could definitely fit in and likely improve the Flyers’ fourth line, it’s just a matter of how much more his game can grown.
Vorobyev will be one of the most experienced forwards in camp, and hopefully that will show. The 21-year old will likely end up spending more time in the AHL this coming season, but remember his name when the Flyers are considering improving their bottom-six with in-house options.
There are a few other players to keep an eye on as well. Pascal Laberge, Maksim Sushko, and others are still working their way through the system and fans will get their first look at Marcus Westfalt, who seems pretty skilled for a seventh round pick.
Be sure to check out the defensemen and goaltenders to watch at Development Camp as well.
The Flyers prospects will be on the ice from Thursday through Sunday for drills before a 3-on-3 tournament ends Development Camp on Monday afternoon.
Photos via Getty Images & James Egan (James Egan’s Sports Photography)
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