Contrary to popular belief, the Philadelphia Flyers actually have quite a few players in the system worth getting excited about. Though not all of the players are quite ready for their jump to the NHL just yet. Between a main roster still crowded with washed up veterans and a few players still preparing their jump to the professional level, not all are expected to be Flyers staples just yet. So which players can we expect to see in the NHL this season?
Bobby Brink’s hip surgery is going to stall any progress he was going to make this year, but he’s still one of the more intriguing prospects the Flyers possess. His ceiling is rather high, and his work ethic and ability to play the game “the right way” has always been praised dating back to his time in college, so hopefully he can recover to 100% from the surgery. Though because of the setback, there’s a good chance he spends some time with the Phantoms upon his return on conditioning, and how his play reacts to that will determine his return to the NHL.
Cates was by far one of the biggest bright spots at the end of the 2021-22 season when he made the jump from college and looks poised to be a hard-nosed, middle-six winger. If he can keep up the intensity through camp and the preseason, there’s no reason to think he won’t be on the opening night roster for the Flyers.
The massive pros and cons to Attard’s game were on full display late in the 2021-22 campaign. His offensive ability seems strong, and he has one hell of a shot from the point, but the defense side of his game just wasn’t up to snuff. The fact that he is a right-shot defenseman bodes well for his future with the club, as he more than likely passes Wyatte Wylie as their top RHD prospect, but until the defensive side of his game evens out, he probably spends at least a bit of time with the Phantoms to hone his skills.
Even though the left side of the defense is still locked down with Prorovov and Sanheim, at least for this season, the third pair LHD spot is open and has Cam York’s name all over it. They re-signed Justin Braun to proved a veteran presence to show York the ropes, and provided that pair can stay together, it will set York up nicely to move up the lineup in the future. He didn’t look out of place in the NHL last season, but he doesn’t seem like a guy immediately ready for top pair minutes yet either.
Zamula is currently the odd man out on the current Flyers’ blueline, but he’s the first on to receive the call if injury strikes. He looked progressively better as the Phantoms season went on, and didn’t look out of place in his 10 NHL games in April. A few more months of seasoning in the AHL won’t hurt, especially considering he’s only 22, but it sure seems like he’ll be on the cusp of an NHL recall provided his play stays strong.
It may be difficult to get excited by prospects these days, but Foerster seems to possess all the tools worth getting excited about. He’s listed at 6’2 200’bs, and has one hell of a shot, potentially lethal Ovechkin-like presence on the powerplay. The sky is the limit for Foerster, but unfortunately, he missed most of last season with a shoulder injury, so he more or less has to start from scratch, completely wasting the two years of bonus AHL time he had thanks to the pandemic. That means he’ll more than likely start with the Phantoms to get his legs back under him, but if he dominates early, and the Flyers play as bad as they look on paper, it may not be long before he gets a recall to provide a spark to the main roster.
Desnoyers’ stock has risen tremendously since being drafted in the fifth round of the 2020 draft, and now that his professional debut is on the horizon, it’s time to see if he can carry his swagger to the AHL level. He scored 63 goals and 137 points in 98 games since his draft year in the QMJHL and if he can produce offense in the AHL, he may be one of the best value draft picks in recent Flyers history.
Wade Allison seems to be a split decision from the fanbase. Those that have only seen him for brief stretches between injuries in the NHL are ready to write him off as an injury-riddled bust, but those that keep up with the Phantoms know exactly the kind of star this kid can be. He has the potential to be a scoring machine, both from the net front role and as a flat out sniper. He is great with the fans and brings an energy level unmatched on the current roster. Provided his injury troubles, which appear to be a bit overblown, are behind him, there’s no reason to think he won’t start with the Flyers next season.
Tanner Laczynski’s got something going for him that nobody else on this list does- he’s a natural center. The organization is starved for center talent, thus meaning there’s a good chance Laczynski could make the roster based off of sheer necessity. He had two hip surgeries that ended his 2020-21 season prematurely, and ended his 2021-22 season before it started. He did manage to play 28 games for the Phantoms, scoring seven goals and 17 points before a wrist injury forced him out of the last few games of the season. His ceiling doesn’t seem as high as it once was, but he seems like a solid bottom-six option with an offensive upside that he may be able to unlock with consistent ice time that it won’t be derailed with injuries.
For a majority of his tenure in Philly, Isaac Ratcliffe has been one of the most disappointing players to emerge from the Ron Hextall era of drafting. He never put his 6’6 200lb frame to good use and scored just 19 goals in his last 134 AHL games. But an NHL recall in late January sparked something within the hulking forward and he was on a tear, both in the NHL and AHL for the rest of the season. He signed a one-year extension with the Flyers and will probably spend a majority of next season in the AHL thanks to a projected crowed bottom six in the NHL, but if he continues to play motivated, it’s not impossible he gets another look at the NHL level.
It came as a bit of a surprise that Sandstrom re-signed with the club after the way he was treated toward the end of the 2021-22 campaign. But now that Ivan Fedotov is in the Russian gulag, Ustimenko left in free agency, Ersson isn’t fully recovered from his hip surgery last season, and Troy Grosenick only has four games of NHL experience to his name, it seems like a guarantee that Sandstrom is backup up Carter Hart this season.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com