The Philadelphia Flyers’ annual Development Camp is here once again. It started on Wednesday afternoon with the Trial on the Isle, and now the prospects begin their on-ice activities that will continue through the weekend.
I took an overview of both the forwards to watch as well the defensemen and goaltenders to watch in camp, but let’s take a closer look at the top ten prospects overall to watch at Flyers Development Camp.
These aren’t necessarily the top prospects in the system, although some of them definitely are, but rather the prospects who are rising, have something to prove, have something to gain, or various other factors.
10. Tanner Laczynski (Center)
Drafted: 2016 6th Round (169th Overall)
2017-18 Team: Ohio State Buckeyes (NCAA)
2017-18 Stats: 41 GP, 17 G, 30 A, 47 PTS, +18
Tanner Laczynski has been under the radar a bit, but has turned into a legit prospect after being a sixth round pick in the 2016 draft
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.
Laczynski will head back to college for his junior season. This will be his third Development Camp since being drafted in 2016 and a big season this year with Ohio State could propel him into the professional ranks next year.
9. Mikhail Vorobyev (Center)
Drafted: 2015 5th Round (104th Overall)
2017-18 Team: Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
2017-18 Stats: 58 GP, 9 G, 20 A, 29 PTS, +2
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.
8. Felix Sandstrom (Goalie)
Drafted: 2015 3rd Round (70th Overall)
2017-18 Team: Brynas/IK Oskarshamn/HV71 (SHL/Allsvenskan)
Felix Sandstrom was neck-and-neck with Hart in terms of prospect rankings for some time after last year’s Development Camp, but that has changed a bit. An up-and-down season for Sandstrom hurt his stock, but hopefully it won’t hamper his development too much.
Sandstrom was out of the lineup for months due to an abdominal injury early in the season, then he signed a contract with a new team (HV71), and was kind of put on the back burner. He will return to HV71 in the SHL this season, but did dress for a game with the Phantoms in March.
Sandstrom is a more experienced goaltender than Hart, and he’s a year older. He’s likely to start for the Phantoms in 2019-20 after hopefully getting back on track in the SHL this season. Hopefully some offseason training with the Flyers will help him do just that.
7. German Rubtsov (Forward)
Drafted: 2016 1st Round (22nd Overall)
2017-18 Team: Chicoutimi Sagueneens/Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
2017-18 Stats: 49 GP, 15 G, 28 A, 43 PTS, +7
Some of these prospects are on this list due to their future potential, and some of them are on the list because of their status being up in the air. German Rubtsov is one of the latter.
While some of the Flyers prospects had exciting years in the past few seasons, 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.
6. Wade Allison (Right Wing)
Drafted: 2016 2nd Round (52nd Overall)
2017-18 Team: Western Michigan University Broncos (NCAA)
2017-18 Stats: 22 GP, 15 G, 15 A, 30 PTS, +7
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.
5. Jay O’Brien (Center)
Drafted: 2018 1st Round (19th Overall)
2017-18 Team: Thayer Academy (USHS)
2017-18 Stats: 30 GP, 43 G, 37 A, 80 PTS
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.
He 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.
This will be O’Brien’s first chance to show what he can do in orange and black. He has the raw talent and hockey sense, he just needs to develop.
4. Joel Farabee (Left Wing)
Drafted: 2018 1st Round (14th Overall)
2017-18 Team: USNTDP Juniors (USHL) / U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)
2017-18 Stats: 62 GP, 33 G, 43 A, 76 PTS (USDP)
26 GP, 15 G, 25 A, 40 PTS, +26 (USHL)
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.
3. Carter Hart (Goalie)
Drafted: 2016 2nd Round (48th Overall)
2017-18 Team: Everett Silvertips (WHL)
2017-18 Stats: 31-6-1-3, .947 SV%, 1.60 GAA, 7 SO (WHL)
5-0-1, .930 SV%, 1.81 GAA, 1 SO (WJC)
Carter Hart. The goalie of the future.
This will be Hart’s third Development Camp and it could potentially be his last depending how he performs this season. The highly touted prospect is slated to be the Flyers’ goalie of the future, but how soon that future might be is uncertain. He is moving up to the professional ranks this season after a historic WHL career, but you never want to rush a goalie.
Hart has a very refined game already and is positionally sound in the crease. He is one of the best goalie prospects in quite some time and that’s due to his skillset, preparation, and sense in the crease.
He’ll start the season with the Phantoms, likely splitting time with at least one of Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz, but if the Flyers need a goalie and Hart is playing well, who knows what could happen. The Flyers have two goalies under contract for one more season, opening up the crease for Hart in 2019 if he’s ready.
If you make it to the Skate Zone in Voorhees this weekend, be sure to check out Carter Hart during the goalie workouts. His goaltending is a thing of art.
2. Philippe Myers (Defenseman)
Drafted: Signed as undrafted free agent (September 2015)
2017-18 Team: Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
2017-18 Stats: 50 GP, 5 G, 16 A, 21 PTS, +12
Philippe Myers is the lone defenseman on this list, and for good reason.
For all intents and purposes this is Myers’ time to shine. He has all the makings of a top-four, if not top-pair, defenseman. He is tall, skates well, has great vision, shoots the puck well, and is a right-handed shot. Myers was the Phantoms’ best defenseman for most of last season. He had 21 points and a +12 rating in 50 games in his first AHL season.
This is the year that Myers could make it to the NHL. Hextall and the Flyers have moved slowly with other defensemen, however, giving them at least a year and a half if not two years in the AHL before promotion, but Myers could be a special case. The 21-year old defenseman plays a professional game and is good in all situations.
Last year Myers had Sanheim in Development Camp with him to share the spotlight. This year it’s all eyes on Myers when the defensemen are on the ice.
1. Morgan Frost (Center)
Drafted: 2017 1st Round Pick (27th Overall)
2017-18 Team: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
2017-18 Stats: 67 GP, 42 G, 70 A, 112 PTS, +70
Morgan Frost is the prospect 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.
Frost is the top prospect to watch, and the top forward prospect in the Flyers system.
Photos by Heather Barry/Sons of Penn
Be sure to follow Ryan Gilbert and Sons of Penn on Twitter and Facebook for analysis, insight, GIFs and more regarding your Philadelphia Flyers.
Join us on our Facebook pages to connect with us and continue the discussion. We can be found at Sons of Penn and The Orange Update. Until next time, friends.