The Philadelphia Flyers annual Development Camp is well underway, and there have been a bevy of prospects that have displayed great progress and skill throughout the weekend.
There are 24 forwards in camps, and over half of them were worth at least keeping an eye on. Coming into camp I had a list of top ten prospects to watch, and I found several others that caught my eye. It was hard to keep track of all of them, but here are some that I made notes on — whether literal or mental — while watching the young guns go through their workouts and drills.
Here are the standout prospects in camp by position, in alphabetical order.
Connor Bunnaman (Center)
Acquired: 2016 4th Round Pick (109th Overall)
2016-17 Team: Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
2016-17 Stats: 64 GP, 37 G, 15 A, 52 PTS
Connor Bunnaman gets lumped in with the second-tier of Flyers’ forward prospects, but he is making his way towards the top. While he may not be on the level of some of the higher-round picks just yet, he is quietly developing his game. Bunnaman had a very quiet 37 goals with the Kitchener Rangers last season, more than his previous two seasons (10 and 16) combined.
He didn’t jump off the roster of 40 forwards prior to camp, but Bunnaman had a good showing over the weekend. He was with the more experienced forwards and looked like he fit in just fine. He skates well and has a good shot, like his numbers show last season.
Bunnaman signed his entry-level deal with the Flyers recently, but will return to Kitchener for one final season before battling for a roster spot on the Flyers or Phantoms next season.
Morgan Frost (Center)
Acquired: 2017 1st Round Pick (27th Overall)
2016-17 Team: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
2016-17 Stats: 67 GP, 20 G, 42 A, 62 PTS
There were talks that the Flyers reached for Morgan Frost with the 27th pick in last month’s draft, but the speedy center is showing why he was high on the draft board. He was one of the fastest skaters in the draft and the Flyers grabbed him.
Frost showed that speed kills during some drills over the weekend. The first-round pick sped through drills with ease before showing his speed in one-on-one battles.
Frost is a smaller guy, but he has the flash and skills to evade defenders. The Flyers deepened their prospect pool in this year’s draft and Frost is towards the top of that list.
Ivan Kosorenkov (Right Wing)
Acquired: Development Camp Invitee
2016-17 Team: Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
2016-17 Stats: 68 GP, 34 G, 29 A, 63 PTS
The Flyers invited Ivan Kosorenkov to Development Camp after he was undrafted this year, and it’s looking like he really wants to earn a contract with the team.
Kosorenkov was in the less-experienced group with fellow Russians German Rubtsov and Mikhail Vorobyev, and he was one of the standouts. It’s surprising that he went undrafted after a 63 point season, but hopefully the Flyers can capitalize and add another forward prospect to their stable.
Pascal Laberge (Center)
Acquired: 2016 2nd Round Pick (36th Overall)
2016-17 Team: Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
2016-17 Stats: 46 GP, 12 G, 20 A, 32 PTS
From one Tigre to another. In fact, the Flyers keeping tabs on Pascal Laberge in Victoriaville likely opened their eyes to Kosorenkov.
It was a rough season for Laberge, who suffered a concussion after a scary hit early in the season. He had a few setbacks along the way, but still managed 32 points in 46 games.
Laberge was a high second-round pick for a reason, and he was showing that over the weekend. He was sniping shots left and right while displaying plus-skating and stickhandling abilities. The skilled two-way forward is looking for a bounce-back season much like his 68 point campaign two years ago as he returns to Victoriaville for a fourth season.
Oskar Lindblom (Left Wing)
Acquired: 2014 5th Round Pick (138th Overall)
2016-17 Team: Brynas IF (SHL)
2016-17 Stats: 52 GP, 22 G, 25 A, 47 PTS
The SHL Forward of the Year was the top prospect to watch coming into camp, and he showed why over the weekend. Lindblom looked like a seasoned veteran among the rest of the prospects, even in the more experienced group.
The major hole in Lindblom’s game in his draft year was his skating, dropping him all the way down to the fifth round, but he has made amazing strides in his game. He was breezing through drills with ease, from stick-handling to edge work.
Lindblom is now one of the top prospects in the Flyers’ system and should become a top-six winger in the NHL as soon as this season.
Isaac Ratcliffe (Left Wing)
Acquired: 2017 2nd Round Pick (35th Overall)
2016-17 Team: Guelph Storm (OHL)
2016-17 Stats: 67 GP, 28 G, 26 A, 54 PTS
It’s one thing to see a player’s height on paper or even in highlights, but it’s another thing to see the 6’6″ Isaac Ratcliffe in person. Ratcliffe is a tall power forward with the raw skills to become an NHL winger.
Ratcliffe skated surprisingly well for someone his size, and his heavy shot was as advertised. The Flyers made a good decision to trade up and grab the big forward as he fell down the board. It should be fun to watch his game develop as he returns to Guelph where he could become more than a point-per-game player.
German Rubtsov (Center)
Acquired: 2016 1st Round Pick (22nd Overall)
2016-17 Team: Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
2016-17 Stats: 16 GP, 9 G, 13 A, 22 PTS
German Rubtsov had a difficult post-draft year, but his skills are better than ever.
Rubtsov started last season in the MHL, where he was a point-per-game player (15 points in 15 games), but he was unable to get much playing time in the KHL due to his team’s roster and inexperience. Things were looking up when he joined Chicoutimi in the QMJHL in early 2017, but that quickly took a turn for a worse. He was dominating night-in and night-out, but fell victim to injury after just 16 games.
With Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom likely joining the NHL this season, Rubtsov was no longer front of mind. However, he showed off his toolbox in Voorhees this weekend.
It was his first Development Camp after not attending last year due to his KHL contract. He has great stickhandling ability, is a good skater and has proven that he can find the back of the net.
Rubtsov could join the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this season, but will likely go back to the QMJHL where he should dominate.
Matthew Strome (Left Wing)
Acquired: 2017 4th Round Pick (106th Overall)
2016-17 Team: Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
2016-17 Stats: 66 GP, 34 G, 28 A, 62 PTS
Another big-bodied forward that fell down the board for the Flyers is Matthew Strome. Like Ratcliffe, Strome is bigger than you think at 6’3″, but of course lacks the skating of even an average prospect.
Strome’s hands and shot are there, but it’s clear that he’s a step behind the rest in terms of skating. But we’ve seen with prospects that something like that can be rectified quite well, as Lindblom is now one of the best skaters in camp. It was also encouraging to see that Strome seemed receptive to the coaching he was getting, and there were a few great coaches keeping an eye on him all weekend.
If Strome can improve his skating to even an average level, he could prove to be a draft steal.
Mike Vecchione (Center)
Acquired: Signed as College Free Agent (March 2017)
2016-17 Team: Union College (NCAA)
2016-17 Stats: 38 GP, 29 G, 34 A, 63 PTS
The Flyers won the Mike Vecchione sweepstakes back in March, but he only played one game for the club before the end of the season. He wasn’t able to really showcase himself to the fans, but he is taking full advantage of Development Camp.
It almost isn’t fair to lump Vecchione in with the other prospects. The four-year college veteran is 24 years old and has a professional roster spot locked down, whether that be with the Flyers or Phantoms. He is the most developed prospect in camp as well as the most polished.
Vecchione will likely battle for a fourth-line role in training camp, but could easily start as one of the Phantoms’ top-six centers. It’s a shame that the Flyers have so many depth veteran forwards because Vecchione looks like he could play in the NHL right away.
Mikhail Vorobyev (Center)
Drafted: 2015 4th Round (104th Overall)
2016-17 Team: Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)
2016-17 Stats: 44 GP, 3 G, 8 A, 11 PTS
2017 WJC: 7 GP, 10 A, 10 PTS
Vorobyev, previously Vorobyov, placed himself on the map with a tournament-leading 10 assists at the 2017 World Junior Championships and he is following that up with a great Development Camp.
The Russian forward was one of the best players in the less-experienced group as he worked with his fellow countrymen. He’ll have a chance to continue proving himself as one of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ top centermen.
Of the 24 forwards in camp there were more than just these 10 to keep an eye on. Other notable forwards included Wade Allison, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, David Kase, Tanner Lacznyski and Cooper Marody.
Acquired: 2014 4th Round (86th Overall)
2016-17 Team: Bowling Green (NCAA)
2016-17 Stats: 40 GP, 8 G, 18 A, 26 PTS’
Mark Friedman isn’t mentioned among the top defensive prospects, but he’s always right behind them. He would be more highly regarded on a different team, but the big-five take attention away from him.
It looks like Friedman is ready to put a stop to that though. He signed his entry-level contract with the Flyers in April, bypassing his senior year at Bowling Green, and he picked up an assist in his professional debut. He is a smaller guy but has great hustle and always seems to battle well for the puck.
Friedman could turn into the next Hagg-like prospect for the Flyers on someone that’s overlooked to someone that is penciled in for a roster spot come next season. It doesn’t hurt that he’s right-handed either.
Acquired: Signed as Undrafted Free Agent (September 2015)
2016-17 Team: Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
2016-17 Stats: 34 GP, 10 G, 25 A, 35 PTS
Philippe Myers is in his first Development Camp with the Flyers and he’s making the most of it. He missed last year’s while recovering from injuries prior to suffering a concussion this season. He still managed a strong season, however, and is back looking prepared for his first professional season.
Myers stands a 6’5″ tall but you can’t tell from the way he skates. He is quick and fluid, while also possessing great vision and patience with the puck. During shooting drills he seemed to always hit the net from the point, even beating the goalie clean from the blue line a few times.
Myers could make the Flyers this season but it’s more likely that he’ll get some experience with the Phantoms first. Either way, he’s ready.
Acquired: 2014 1st Round Pick (17th Overall)
2016-17 Team: Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
2016-17 Stats: 76 GP, 10 G, 27 A, 37 PTS
Travis Sanheim is in his final Development Camp and looks like he has nothing left to prove. He struggled early on last season but was a no-doubt top pair defenseman for the Phantoms by the end of the season.
Sanheim is just an inch shorter than Myers and also has a great two-way game. His professional experience gives him a leg up on Myers, but he is still behind Robert Hagg and Sam Morin in that department. However, Sanheim still wants that NHL roster spot.
Imagining a top AHL pair of Myers and Sanheim is something to get excited about and would be a great consolation prize if neither of them crack the Flyers out of training camp.
The on-ice drills and workouts are completed, but there is still a 3-on-3 tournament to end the session in Voorhees. It’s always a great showcase of the players’ talents and compete level.
Who have you been most impressed with this weekend? Let us know.
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