Flyers Prospects Mailbag: A closer look at College Hockey & Goalies not named Carter Hart

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In this edition of “Flyers Prospects Mailbag”, we discuss questions involving goalie prospects not named Carter Hart, German Rubtsov, Morgan Frost, Mikhail Vorobyev, and college hockey.

Let’s get this party started!

Let me start the answer by saying that projecting a goaltenders future. So many factors play into whether a particular goalie prospect will experience success in the National Hockey League. Kirill Ustimenko is having another fantastic season in the MHL playing for MHK Dynamo St. Petersburg. However, we must take into account the level of competition he is facing. The MHL is Russia’s junior league. Ustimenko was hoping he could move up to the VHL, which is Russia’s top men’s minor league. Unfortunately, things did not work out that way and he was reassigned to the MHL. The 19-year-old should certainly be on all of our radars at this point. Still, it is very challenging to predict what his ceiling truly is.

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When a player records 112 points in a season, he sets the bar very for the upcoming year. Looking at Morgan Frost’s numbers, this season look like it’s more of “Frost being Frost.” However, there has been an improvement to his overall game since last season. Frost made it a point this season to improve his play away from the puck and he is making steady progress in that area. What stands out the most for me is his maturity and desire to improve on all aspects of the game. After having a year like the one he had last year, a player can get into his own head, convincing himself there is no more room for improvement. Frost does not approach the game in that way. He understands the league he is playing in and knows he has to continue to work in order to have a successful professional hockey career. Another positive is that last season was not a fluke. Frost is on pace to have another remarkable year in terms of scoring.

I am a big fan of Mikhail Vorobyev as well. I do believe that sending him back down to Lehigh Valley was the right move for the organization to make. Whether it was his doing or poor player management, things were not working out in Philadelphia and he needed some more time to work on his game with the Phantoms. Could he return to Philadelphia at some point this season? Well, of course, he can. However, I do not think it will happen until he starts making an impact with the Phantoms consistently.

Regarding German Rubtsov, I do not think the NHL is in the cards for him this season. Obviously, anything can happen, but I believe that Ron Hextall would prefer keeping him in the AHL for the full year. Hextall does not rush his prospects and I don’t expect that ideology to change for Rubtsov. Besides, spending the year with Lehigh Valley will only help Rubtsov in his development.

Ivan Fedotov is another one of those promising goalie prospects in the Flyers farm system. He is currently playing very well in the VHL for Toros Neftekamsk. Similar to Ustimenko, we need to keep in mind the league he is playing in. The VHL is similar to North America’s AHL. Fedotov played one game in the KHL last season and put forth a mediocre effort. I do think that he could serve as a serviceable NHL backup at some point but I hesitate going as far as saying he has what it takes to be a starter for Philadelphia. Luckily, the Flyers have a handful of netminders in the same boat as Fedotov. The future in net looks good for Philadelphia.

This is a very good question and it is challenging to provide a concrete answer. I always hesitate to predict how a particular prospect is going to fit into the NHL roster because anything can happen during a player’s journey to the NHL. Additionally, a prospect can be on track to play a certain role with a team and then that team can go and make a move to fill that role. Still, I can tell you that the college game is much more comparable to the AHL than the junior game. In my recent interview with Gavin Hain, explained playing in the NCAA really well. He said “It’s a hard heavy style of hockey, similar to pro. With so many less games than a junior schedule, everybody gives it their all every single day just like in pro hockey.” So when you watch prospects in Lehigh Valley and compare them to prospects in college, you can get a good idea of what kind of attributes they bring to the table. With that being said, there is nobody at the college level that I can say he will be playing for the Flyers as soon as next season. That statement does not go for every player with the Phantoms. 

Thank you so much to all of the people who provided questions for this week’s mailbag! If you missed out this week, keep an eye on Twitter for my next request for your prospect questions.

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