Yes, the Philadelphia Flyers are currently riding a nine-game losing streak. Yes, fans are already chanting for Dave Hakstol to be fired. Yes, fans are starting to question Ron Hextall.
Needless to say, it’s not pretty in Flyerland right now. BUT! I’d like to bring some positivity and discuss how the team’s prospects are tearing it up around their respective leagues. Since the big club is in a bad spot right now, let’s take some time to look at some positive things that will be coming the Flyers’ way.
In this past year’s NHL Entry Draft, the Flyers took three high value prospects in the first two rounds: Nolan Patrick, Morgan Frost and Isaac Ratcliffe. We all know Patrick is making his presence felt with the Flyers right now playing in a second line center role, but what about the other guys?
Morgan Frost, who was picked with the St. Louis Blues’ pick after the Brayden Schenn trade, is absolutely crushing it in the OHL for the Greyhounds. Last season, which was his draft year, he had 62 points in 67 games. This year, he has 36 points [12 goals, 24 assists] in 25 games. Frost has incredible speed and could be a huge steal for the Flyers out of the late first round. Frost is a natural center but chances are he will move to the wing with the log jam up the middle as he pushes to make the big club.
The Flyers are hoping that Isaac Ratcliffe will turn into Wayne Simmonds 2.0, as he is only 18 but already 6’5″ and 203 lbs. Ratcliffe is a hulking left winger who has 12 goals and 9 assists in 24 games this year playing for the Guelph Storm. Ratcliffe was the Flyers’ second-round pick this year and still has some refining to do on his skating but he could be Simmonds’ net front replacement in the not so distant future. Especially if the Flyers decide to trade him.
The Flyers were also able to snag Matthew Strome in the fourth round of this year and he could be the steal of the entire draft. And I’m talking the entire NHL Entry Draft, not just the Flyers’ draft. Strome has 13 goals and 11 assists in 23 games and just scored the goal of the year for the Hamilton Bulldogs on a sick lacrosse-like goal. Strome’s biggest knock is his skating but he has a ridiculous shot and could be a huge asset for the Flyers if he can get his skating up to NHL level.
WATCH THIS: @Mstrome16 are you kidding me 😱
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) November 26, 2017
Some other players the Flyers have waiting in the wings are German Rubstov and Oskar Lindblom. Rubstov is still in Juniors this year playing for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan’s after starting the season with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens and he has 19 points in 19 games between the two teams. Rubstov plays a complete two-way game and was a top 10 talent in his draft year in 2016, but fell to the Flyers at 22 due to a doping scandal surrounding the Russian Juniors team. Rubstov has a chance to be a great third line center for the Flyers with some more seasoning.
Oskar Lindblom is finally getting his chance on North American ice playing with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this year. After being the best forward in the SHL last season, he has four goals and eight assists in his first 20 games with the Phantoms. Lindblom needs some time to get used to the smaller ice surface on this side on the pond, but once he does he will be a force to be reckoned with. I would expect him to make a strong run to make the NHL roster next year.
Finally, the most intriguing and most important prospect for me is Carter Hart. After dealing with an offseason injury, Hart has played 12 games and has a 1.63 GAA and a .951 save percentage. That is insane. After starting 51 games last year, he had a GAA of 1.99 and a save percentage of .927, and was a finalist for WHL Goalie of the Year after winning it the year before. Despite not winning the award, Hart had the best overall stats for the entire WHL and he is the most important prospect for the Flyers moving forward.
While the Flyers are having a tough stretch, there is still hope with the amount of success their prospects are having in Juniors and for the Phantoms, in addition to these players highlighted in this article there are plenty more who will end up being great depth guys and some shining stars who have not begun to show their potential just yet.
So, yes, the Flyers are currently mired in a nine-game losing streak. But there’s light – even if it’s a little dim – at the end of the tunnel.