It’s not a secret that the Philadelphia Flyers are known for having one of the best prospect pools in the league. It was evident this past season with the likes of Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny. There are other young players that will be looking to make their mark. Jordan Weal has shown he has what it takes. Nolan Patrick looks to do the same.
With Flyers rookie camp underway this week, the team will get a chance to evaluate the talent it has. For some, this is their first experience in such a camp. For others, however, this is their opportunity to show that they are ready for the NHL.
Youth Movement Hitting Philadelphia Flyers
Jordan Weal is not among those who will be participating. He already saw his time in these camps when he was with the Los Angeles Kings. But he is a part of the youth movement the team is striving for. Weal has a spot in the NHL lineup, barring any surprises come training camp and the preseason. In fact, that’s part of the reason Weal decided to take the Flyers two-year offer to remain in Philadelphia.
Weal isn’t the beginning of the youth movement, Provorov and Konecny are given that honor. But he does play a role in what the Flyers are trying to do. The team is looking to keep most of their core together while adding in some of their talented youth.
The young forward came to the Flyers in a deal that sent Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn to the Kings. While getting Lecavalier’s money off the books was a big part of the deal, getting Weal as a return turned out to be even better. At the time, Weal was known for his AHL MVP status as he helped the Manchester Monarchs capture the Calder Cup. And with little NHL experience to his name, it was tough to figure out what he could be.
Fast forward to now and the Flyers could see a player who is ready to break out. Weal continued to prove his worth as he posted 47 points in 43 games for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last season. When he was given extended NHL minutes, he made them count. In 23 games Weal posted eight goals and four assists. Those numbers may not scream breakout, but they do prove that he’s got the talent to be in the league.
And he’s not the only young player looking to make their mark on the Flyers roster.
A Handful Of Youth Looking To Make The Jump
While Weal isn’t taking part in rookie camp, there are a handful of players that are looking to show the coaching staff that they are ready. There are at least five players who have a solid chance at wearing a Flyers jersey come October.
When you’re drafted second overall, it’s almost certain that you will be on an NHL team that season. But general manager Ron Hextall has shown that he’s not afraid to send a young player back to juniors. He did the same with both Provorov and Konecny in their first years at camp.
For Patrick, he has to prove that he is over the abdominal injuries that followed him last season. Despite this, he put up 20 goals and 26 assists in 33 games. Due to his second surgery this past summer, Patrick was unable to participate in the team’s development camp. But the team knew what they were getting when they took him in the draft.
Now healthy, Patrick will get the chance he didn’t have back in July. And that goal is to compete and prove that he deserves a spot on this team.
“That’s my goal coming in. Just going to compete as hard as I can, and do everything I can to earn a spot.” Patrick said after the first day of rookie camp. “The main thing for me is competing every day and playing as hard as I can.”
Another young player with a high chance of making the squad is Oskar Lindblom. He comes into a different situation than Patrick. Lindblom has been playing overseas in the SHL and will be making the jump to North America this season. The difference with Lindblom is that he could be sent down to the AHL if he doesn’t make the Flyers.
Playing in the SHL gives Lindblom a bit of a head start over most of the younger players in camp. And his dominance in the SHL proves that he has been able to play against tough competition. In 52 games for Brynas IF, Lindblom posted 22 goals and 25 assists. He was named the Swedish Forward of the Year.
In Brynas playoff run, Lindblom continued his play with four goals and 10 assists in 20 games. Lindblom also had a chance to test his game out in North America when he joined the Phantoms late in 2016. He racked up two goals and five assists in eight games.
Lindblom has shown that he is ready to make the jump, whether he makes the NHL squad or heads back to the Phantoms to start the season.
“I know where I have to be, in the area around the net and be strong along the boards,” Lindblom said. “They want a guy like that and I’ll hopefully make the team if I’m good enough. I have to do that every game.”
Before moving to the defensive prospects, Robert Haag will not be at rookie camp this year. While he has one of the best shots to crack the lineup, he is not mentioned on this list due to his absence in camp. He has appeared in enough AHL games where Hextall feels he does not need to participate.
Morin has a bit of a leg up as well when it comes to making the team. Along with fellow defensemen Haag, the two made their NHL debuts on April 4th. Morin would lead both teams with seven hits in almost 18 minutes of ice time. He impressed his partner on the ice, Shayne Gostisbehere, with his play.
“We work off each other. He is definitely going to win battles down low. I can jump a little more.” Gostisbehere said after the game. He’s making great plays out there with good reads and has a big stick. He’s a big body, takes up a lot room and can break things up.”
Morin’s size sets him apart physically from most of the other Flyers blueliners. Coming in at 6’7″ and 227 pounds, he is the largest defensive prospect. But with that comes penalty trouble as Morin led the Phantoms last season with 129 penalty minutes.
There are a few things that Morin will have to work on, though, if he wants to crack the NHL lineup. Picking his battles will be a huge factor as players are bigger and stronger at the pro level. While Morin did hold his own in his debut, it’s a small sample size.
But it may just be enough to earn him a spot on the team when the Flyers open the season October 4th.
Sanheim doesn’t have the experience of guys like Morin and Haag, but he is coming off an impressive first professional season with the Phantoms. While Morin is known for his defensive style of play, Sanheim is more of an offensive spark plug.
In his first season with the Phantoms, Sanheim showed his offensive game as he contributed with 10 goals and 27 assists in 76 games. His 37 points put him in the top 30 in the AHL among defensemen. His age is what makes those numbers even more impressive. Sanheim comes in at just 21 years of age.
While Sanheim has shown that he has the offensive tools, he will also need to prove that his defensive game can stand up at the NHL level. Hextall noticed an improvement in Sanheim’s game during his season with the Phantoms
“He did a really good job last year from start to finish — got a lot better,” he said. “The adjustment on the first month, month and a half, where he was going too much up ice, a little bit irresponsible and all of a sudden, a month, month and a half in, figured that part out. That was a huge step for him.”
It’s that adjustment that Sanheim needed to make that can help him secure a spot on the team that he’s coming to camp for.
Myers is a dark horse candidate to make the team. But like Lindblom, he will be turning pro this season no matter the outcome. At 20 years of age, Myers junior days are behind him. He will either be with the Flyers or Phantoms this upcoming season.
It’s the lack of professional experience that makes Myers a longshot to make the roster out of training camp. He is no stranger to proving people wrong, however. Myers was undrafted when the Flyers signed him as a free agent in 2015. Prior to signing with the team, he had recorded just 12 points in 106 QMJHL games.
Fast forward to now and Myers recorded 27 goals and 53 assists in his final two seasons with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. This included a breakout season in 2015-16, 17 goals and 28 assists, as he was one of the best defensemen on his team. Battling through concussions last season, he still managed 10 goals and 25 assists in 34 regular season games. He also added nine points in 13 playoff games.
While this has no major bearing on his chances, Bob McKenzie did have high praise for Myers based on what he saw at the World Junior Classic
Based on what I saw at WJC, Philippe Myers looks NHL ready, or close to it: https://t.co/y38vVRSQee
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 12, 2017
Given the depth of defensemen in front of him, it’s likely that Lehigh Valley will be his destination come the fall. And Myers knows that no matter where he ends up this season, he trusts that the organization will put him in a place to succeed.
Youth Is Coming, One Way Or Another
No matter what players make the Flyers out of training camp, the youth movement in Philadelphia is coming full speed ahead. Provorov and Konecny were proof of that last season. And Weal continued that trend. Now guys like Nolan Patrick look to make their mark.
It’ll be up to them, and others, to show that the youth movement in Philadelphia is for real.