In this week’s “Flyers Prospects Mailbag”, we tackle topics that have not come up before. We take a look at the difference between playing the Canadian Hockey League and the NCAA, some more projections, a few prospects that are currently a bit overvalued, and prospects that will have an impact in Philadelphia or Lehigh Valley next season.
Let’s get this party started!
A general question for you — what's the difference between developing in Canadian junior hockey and developing in American college hockey? Why would a young hockey player prefer one over the other?
— Brandon Marshall (@BartlettBrando) January 27, 2019
Brandon, this is an excellent question, thank you!
First, let’s have a look at the difference between the two leagues. The most obvious discrepancy is with the age of eligibility. A player is eligible to participate in the Canadien Hockey League between the ages of 16 and 20. There are individuals granted ‘exceptional status” allowing them eligibility at 15-years-old, but this is not the common case. Obviously, to play American college hockey, you must be old enough to attend college. Typically, the NCAA game is more physical and hard-hitting. Younger college players face-off against athletes in their early to mid-’20s. Over the past few years, the college game has been more closely compared to the professional style. Of course, this has led to increased popularity in taking this route.
Now to the second part of your question. There are benefits to both playing in the CHL and playing in the NCAA. For a player going the CHL route, the hockey world is generally exposed to your hockey abilities sooner. At 16-years-old, you are given the opportunity to play on national television, making you a more household name if your talents warrant it. The USHL is increasing its popularity and credibility but is not at the level of the three CHL leagues. Unless you are a member of the USNTDP, you are not viewed with the same level of intrigue as you are if you play in the CHL. So for draft purposes, the CHL may help your overall standing. Again, this is becoming less of reality as the years pass by because of the improved development programs and leagues in the United States. As I mentioned before, the college game models the professional game more. This clearly places some prospects at an advantage. However, prospects are typically drafted before they are NCAA-eligible so playing college hockey does not usually affect one’s draft stock.
1)With Frost most likely playing with Flyers next season. When would you think Farabee makes the roster?
2) As well as Rattcliffe?
— Craig Bowen (@Craig68005756) January 27, 2019
Thank you for the questions, Craig. It’s no secret that I strongly believe Morgan Frost makes the Flyers straight out of camp next season. Of the other two prospects you mentioned, Isaac Ratcliffe is the only one that might see ice-time in Philadelphia next year. I think that he starts off his first professional hockey season in Lehigh Valley; however, I’m not ruling out a midseason call-up. I believe that Joel Farabee will play one more year at Boston University. He will join the Flyers organization the following year, 2020-21, and has a chance of cracking the professional roster. Honestly, a lot of that depends on what the makeup of the Flyers roster is at that point.
any overvalued prospects?
— Anthony Zanghi (@Flyersfan113) January 28, 2019
Thank you for the question, Anthony. I’m going to approach this question through the lens of which prospects do I think are overvalued by the media and the fanbase. There are three individuals come to mind and two of them make this list simply because of limited sample size.
First, we are moving too quickly on our expectations of Yegor Zamula. Yes, his showing in the WHL has been solid this year. Still, I’m hesitant to dub him a future top-four defenseman after a strong few months. People love the undrafted storyline and are expecting Zamula to become the next Philippe Myers. Of course, I’m hopeful that this happens but I’m not ready to go that far.
Second, I’m not sold on Jay O’Brien yet. This is simply because I have not seen enough. Does he have the skillset to become a top-six forward at the NHL-level? Sure he does, but so have a lot of others that never quite lived up to those expectations. I just want to see more from him in his sophomore year at Providence before I singing high praises.
The last player to make this list for me is recent Flyers call-up, Mikhail Vorobyev. A lot of people are high on him and were disappointed when he did not remain with the Flyers early on in the year. Honestly, I do not think he is more than a fourth-line center at the NHL level. With the current depth at the center position, he does not stand out to me as someone that will make a serious impact on the Flyers.
Hi man. Who of the upcoming prospects could have a big impact on either Phantoms or flyers in your opinion? #LetsGoFlyers
— FlyersFan (@OrangeBlack12) January 28, 2019
Thank you for the question. I am assuming you are talking about which prospects could have an impact on the Flyers or Phantoms next season but please don’t hesitate to reach out if I’m incorrect. In regards to the Flyers, two names come to my mind almost immediately. Philippe Myers better be on the NHL roster permanently next season. He’s more than proved what he needed to at the AHL level and I think he will make a positive impact in Philadelphia. Additionally, I have not been shy about my feelings about Morgan Frost making the Flyers out of camp next season. I believe that he is going to have an immediate impact on this roster. If there is any doubt that his impact will be limited, it would not be absurd to see him sent down the Lehigh Valley where he can assume a larger role.
Now, let’s move to the AHL and the Phantoms. If German Rubtsov can stay healthy, he will play a big part in Lehigh Valley’s success. I expect him to be one of the leaders on the team in scoring and making a case to get promoted by midseason. Another prospect that will make his presence known on the Phantoms is Isaac Ratcliffe. Similar to Rubtsov, he will be determined to gain consideration for a call up at some point in the season.
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.
Photo Credit: Alex Mclntyre
John Gove is a full-time elementary educator with a passion for sports media. He has covered various aspects of hockey and basketball for various outlets over the past five years. Currently, he serves as a contributor and editor for Philly Sports Network focussing on prospects within the Philadelphia Flyers farm system and Villanova Men’s Basketball. John also serves as a co-host of Pod Street Bullies, PSN’s flagship Flyers podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @PodStreetGove.