The Flyers stink, but it’s not all bad: An update from the farm

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There is not much to be said about last night’s performance that hasn’t been said for the last two years ad infinitum. So in lieu of beating the dead horse, let’s take a step back and look for something nice to talk about today. The lone bright spot of this current Flyers team is their farm system. For the first time in years, the Flyers finally have a future growing and developing in the AHL and Juniors. While far from perfect, the Flyers can boast one of the deepest farm systems in the league.

Let’s start with those closest to the NHL shall we?

Nick Cousins – The young center has enjoyed a nice start to the season in Allentown. Cousins is tied with veteran Chris Conner for the team lead in points with 9 (3G, 6A) only Cousins has managed these totals in 3 fewer games than Conner. That’s certainly a promising stat, certainly in the future, perhaps even as soon as this season we will see him hammer down a role with the big club’s top 6. Due to salary cap implications though, that would mean the Flyers would have to  shed some salary before such a move could come. Cousins is also +5  and has registered 21 shots in his 8 games while only spending 4 minutes in the sin bin. A hardworking disciplined player who can chip in offense is an asset to any team. It’s also worth noting that he is the only player on the team currently to have over a point per game (8GP, 9P).

Petr Straka – The young winger from the Czech Republic is enjoying a solid season early on for the Phantoms. With 8 points in 12 games he is the team’s leading goal scorer with 6 tallies thus far. He’s also added 13 PIMs to that. Always  good to see someone play with an edge and some snarl, obviously he’s had 1 fight this year (only way you can have odd-numbered PIMs) which is not always a characteristic of top 6 wingers. That kind of attitude on the ice will go a long way for him, especially for a guy his size (6′, 185) ,provided he keeps his head about him and doesn’t spin out of control.

Taylor Leier – Personally he is my favorite forward prospect on the Phantoms, not because he’s a game breaking kind of player, but because he’s a firecracker out on the ice. He does everything for the Phantoms. I am excited to see his Scottie Upshall-esque game translate to the 3rd line of the Flyers. In 12 games for the Phantoms he has been a balanced secondary scoring player, notching 3 goals and 4 assists. He’s also ranked 2nd on the team, among forwards, in shots on goal with 32, just one behind Petr Straka (Ghost has 36). Smart players get the puck to the net. Good things happen when you shoot the puck (<3 you Dorny). Players that get the puck to the net not only create opportunities, they also secure a lot of offensive zone draws for their team. There is one thing I can never get mad at, and that is a player who puts the puck toward the net, no matter where he is. Now 3 goals on 32 shots may be a bit alarming and indicate an inability to finish, however, for a player of his type, especially one who projects to be an NHL 3rd liner, finishing is secondary. He’s not supposed to be the next Phil Kessel. Keep firing Taylor.

Danick Martel – The diminutive forward has only appeared in 7 games thus far for the Phantoms, but in those games he has registered 5 points (3G, 2A) and 15 PIMs. Martel still seems to be a bit of an unknown quantity. He certainly has offensive skills and the ability to create offense. But his 15 PIMs also indicate an edge to his game (again odd-numbered PIMs = at least 1 fight). At just 5’8″ he will need to keep that edge to his game sharp if he wants to survive and make the NHL. It’s difficult to say what role he would be thrust into on the big club, a lot of it would depend on the centers on the team at the time. With his speed and skill set and energy he could just as easily slot in alongside stars like Giroux and Voracek and be productive as he could slot in next to Laughton or Couturier and provide energy to a bottom 9 line. Martel is versatile. He will need to hone that versatility if he wants to make the big club in the next 2 years.

Shayne Gostisboner Gostisbehere – One of the last players cut in training camp, under the guise of “needing to work on his play without the puck” (which is a lie), Ghost has been solid, if unspectacular so far. In a league that tends to favor energy and hard-nosed muck and grind style hockey over the speed and finesse of the NHL, it is not exactly surprising that the physical embodiment of finesse in the Flyers system isn’t exactly turning the league on its head. I have said it for 2 years now that he would have been better off developing in the NHL with controlled minutes and being gradually eased into a top 4 role than he is trying to play a style of hockey in the AHL that just doesn’t suit him. That being said, 7 points in 12 games from a defenseman is nothing to scoff at. Over 82 games that equates to roughly 46 points, which is a good season for any defenseman.  Ghost is also a -5, which is worth noting but not reading too much into. +/- is a very misleading stat that tells more about the team’s performance as a whole, than the performance of an individual. Given that the Phantoms are not enjoying the best of seasons so far, not shocking that a defenseman has a negative +/-.

Samuel Morin – In 12 games, the hulking physical presence on the Phantoms blue line has racked up 15 PIMs. We all know Morin likes to fight and play with an angry streak. The prototypical stay at home defenseman; he is going to eat people alive once he gets his game under him in the NHL. Sammy is also deceptively fast. He should have very little trouble adjusting to the speed of the NHL as his long strides and enormous reach should allow him to stay with pretty much anybody as long as his positioning is sound. He may not become a #1, but I couldn’t imagine a better #3 than a kid built like Chris Pronger, that Chris Pronger told Holmgren to draft, who has tailored his game after Chris Pronger’s.  I mean…yeah no-brainer right?

Andrew MacDonald – Lol no just kidding, could you imagine?

Anthony Stolarz – With 6 games played so far, Stolie the Goalie has been lights out, posting a 1.85 GAA and a .925 Sv%. The fact he is only 3-3 is depressing though. Steve Mason and Cole Hamels feel your pain bud. If he keeps up this type of play, it won’t be long until he’s in the NHL.

Stay tuned, tomorrow I’ll go in-depth about the Flyers’ junior and overseas prospects. We all love reading things about Travis’ Konecny and Sanheim and who doesn’t wanna salivate over Ivan Provorov for a little bit right?

Stay strong everyone, the Flyers may be hilarious right now (lmao we’ve got the Caps tomorrow), but the night is darkest before the dawn….the dawn is coming.