This week’s “Flyers Prospects Mailbag” is jampacked with quality questions. Let’s not waste any time with a fancy introduction and just get this party started.
Truthfully, I do not think Chuck Fletcher has any interest adding to the prospect pipeline. Aside from his top pick in the upcoming draft, Fletcher wants to add NHL-ready talent to this roster to help the Flyers compete in 2019-20. When he looks to sell off assets at the deadline, he will most likely be fine taking draft picks in a package. However, I bet the plan with those picks will be to use them in future trades for roster players. Additionally, I can see Fletcher adding one of Philadelphia’s prospects to a package to get a player with term to return.
Where is Rubstov’s most likely landing place in the NHL? 3rd or 4th line? Center or at wing? Will we be waiting yet another year to see him in NHL due to his season-ending injury?
— Mike Aceto (@Flyer_AF) January 14, 2019
German Rubtsov’s season-ending injury could not have come at a worse time. After being written off as a bust, opinions were beginning to change due to his early success in Lehigh Valley. I do think that the injury holds him back another year from receiving a legitimate shot in the NHL. Right now, I’m picturing Rubtsov eventually on the Flyers third-line, playing on the wing. The depth at center will force him to the wing, and I do believe he can succeed there. Unfortunately, I don’t think the NHL is a guarantee for the former first-rounder. Another injury or a slow start to next season will put him right back in the same boat he found himself in before the start of this season.
Are there any prospects you consider to be underrated by the fans? In the same vein, are there any you think are overrated?
— Tortured Flyers Fan (@boredflyerafan) January 14, 2019
This is a fantastic question. I want to be clear that my answer only reflects my opinion and I’m basing that opinion on the attention I see given, or not given, to particular prospects. I think people tend to underrate Wyatte Wylie. The kid has all the right tools to be a productive offensive-defenseman, and he is solid in his zone as well. We are in an era where there is a ton of value placed on blue-liners that contribute offensively, for a good reason. He still has some developing to do, but Wylie fits that role perfectly. At the same time, I think the fanbase is overrating Yegor Zamula a bit. This is not to say that Zamula is not deserving of attention, I’m just not ready to call him a top-ten prospect. He comes with a fun story, being undrafted and having a strong showing in the WHL for Calgary. However, just because the storyline is similar to Phil Myers, does not make him Phil Myers 2.0. I’m hoping he can be a valuable defenseman in the NHL. I think people need to reel it in a little bit.
The prospect with the best overall speed is Jay O’Brien. The kid is lightning fast. As far as hockey sense, Morgan Frost is the best in this category. Not only is he tops in the Flyers farm system, but he’s also one of the best in the entire league, in regards to prospects. He’s an incredible playmaker that can see the ice like a seasoned veteran. The prospect with the best leadership ability is Carter Hart. The calmness and poise he demonstrates on a nightly basis will translate into the young netminder being a leader on the team very soon.
Which prospects do you expect to make the leap next year and what coach do you think would be the best choice to usher in all the youth coming for both the Flyers and Lehigh Valley?
— Barry (@TheRealCrowhuck) January 15, 2019
I’m sticking with Morgan Frost, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, and Philippe Myers as the three prospects to make the Flyers next year. Honestly, two of those players should already be up with the team. For fun, you can throw Jack Hughes on the list as well. As far as a head coach, I want a proven bench boss that has experience and preferably a winning resume. Hiring another first-time coach would not be beneficial at this point. In Lehigh Valley, I’d love to see the return of Scott Gordon, but I’m not sure how realistic that is.
Will Frosty be in the NHL neat year
— Ed Wardle (@wardle_ed) January 15, 2019
Yes! I think he will make the roster right out of training camp. However, if he does start the year off in the AHL, he will be up with the Flyers by mid-season.
Will ratcliffe make it to the Flyers by mid season?
— Brian – the 🍠 🍾 Fan (@brian_gartside) January 15, 2019
Though I’d love to see Isaac Ratcliffe with the Flyers next season, I’m not sold on it happening. I would not be shocked if he remains with the Phantoms for the entirety of 2019-20 and then makes the team the following year.
Who are your top 10 flyers prospects and what is their projected upside?
— Tim (@5_4FightingFire) January 15, 2019
So I’m going to preface my answer by saying you might not be pleased with my response. I apologize in advance for that. I do not agree with ranking each prospect. They all play for different leagues, and all of these leagues have different styles and levels of competitiveness. That being said, I’m confident in saying that Carter Hart, Morgan Frost, and Phil Myers are the Flyers top three prospects. Joel Farabee and Isaac Ratcliffe fall behind them, and then it becomes a bit fuzzier. This, of course, is not necessarily a bad thing. Philadelphia has one of the deepest prospect pools in the league which is a great problem to have.
Noah Cates showed us something at juniors, what do you think the timeframe is for him getting to the big club and where do you see him fitting in?
— Dawn Wilno 🧡🖤💜 (@DawnWilno) January 15, 2019
I am a big fan of Noah Cates and loved what I say at the WJC. Right now, he’s missing that dynamic offensive ability which limits his ceiling to a bottom-six role in my book. More time to develop can only benefit Cates, and I see the earliest time he cracks the roster is the 2020-21 season. Would not be shocked if it takes a year longer than that though.
Watched Bunnaman play junior in Kitchener. He grew on me and was pleased the Flyers drafted him! Do you think he [email protected] the NHL?
— PhillyMignon (@BrianMi55168761) January 15, 2019
It is indeed not out of the cards. The way I always look at it with prospects is that if a player did not have the potential to play in the NHL, they would not be drafted. That being said, there is a large number of prospects I can see making the NHL over him at this point. He is playing well in Lehigh Valley, and after a few more seasons of development, things can change.
Does Hogberg really have NHL potential?
— Isaiah from @oandbpuck (@isaiah_520) January 15, 2019
I believe that he does. He is succeeding in the very competitive SHL at the age of 20 which is always a good sign. He’s intelligent and can get the puck out of his zone with ease. I have to admit that I’m less knowledgeable about the prospects playing in Europe only because of availability to watching the games. However, from what I’ve seen and read, I can picture Hogberg taking on a second-pairing or bottom-pairing role.
Who has the best NHL ceiling, Zamula or Wylie?
— Shayne Moon (@smoon_shayne) January 15, 2019
I’m probably in the minority here but I’m going to have to go with Wyatte Wylie. I’m impressed with what he can accomplish on offense and think that the current NHL was made for his style of play. Although I like Zamula, I just haven’t seen enough to get a strong grasp on what his ceiling is.
Thank you so much to all of the people who provided questions for Flyers Prospects Mailbag! If you missed out this week, keep an eye on Twitter for my next request for your prospect questions.