It is an exciting time of year in prospect land. A lot of young players are seeing their season come to an end and they are beginning to look ahead to future plans. For some, like Joel Farabee, it involves signing an entry-level contract and joining the pros. For others, such as Wyatt Kalynuk, it’s deciding to stay in college but take on a bigger leadership role. Then, there are the prospects that aren’t quite on the Flyers ELC radar just yet. In this week’s “Flyers Prospects Mailbag”, we discuss all of that jazz and so much more.
Let’s get this party started!
First, I will start off by saying that I am incredibly excited for Joel Farabee and his family. He is one step closer to reaching his ultimate goal and he should feel a great sense of pride. Personally, I’m just “okay” with the decision to sign Farabee to his entry-level contract after just one season with Boston University. Now don’t get me wrong, Farabee did plenty to create a convincing argument that he is ready for professional hockey. His 36 points in 37 games made him a close-to-dominant player in the NCAA. However, my personal philosophy is that a prospect benefits more from spending at least two years in college. Now that Farabee developed a level of comfort in the college game and is familiar with the system, it would have been great to see him truly dominate at BU next season. That being said, that’s not the case and I expect Farabee to spend most, if not all, of next season in Lehigh Valley. He will start in more of a “depth forward” role and move up the depth chart as he earns his keep. I want him to be an established “top-six” to “top-three” guy there before the Flyers call him up. Additionally, I do not want him filling a fourth line role for Philadelphia. It’s better if he receives substantial playing time for the Phantoms.
In regards to German Rubtsov, he suffered a shoulder injury and had to go through season-ending surgery. Expect him to be ready for training camp next year.
This is a fantastic question and the answer is a bit complicated. If we are thinking about the Flyers being more aggressive in pushing their prospects to the NHL compared to the Ron Hextall era, than yes. Though Hextall did a fantastic job stocking the cupboard full of quality prospects, he stunk at utilizing them. His overcautiousness and over-patience did not help the Flyers organization holistically. Now, under the Chuck Fletcher regime, we are seeing the franchise bring up top prospects to prove themselves at the NHL level. Obviously we will see this with more frequency than we are used to under Hextall. However, I do not see Fletcher calling up young players at a ridiculous rate either. His definition of “ready” will just be different than Hextall’s.
Morgan Frost will be the first one to make his debut. He will start next season playing for the Flyers. Both Joel Farabee and Isaac Ratcliffe could see midseason call-ups, however, it would not be shocking to see both of them spend a year in the AHL. Of the two players, Farabee probably has the better shot of being called up first.
In regards to who they will replace, it is tough to say because we are not sure what the NHL roster is going to look like next season. That being said, Frost and Farabee both come with “top-six” potential. Ratcliffe, on the other hand, seems to be more of a “top nine” forward currently. We need to see how his game translates to the pros.
No. I think he’s got one more year in Lehigh Valley, especially if the Flyers plan on having an active offseason. Personally, I do not think this is a bad thing at all. It pays to be patient with a guy like Kase.
Mikhail Vorobyev’s shot to establish himself as somebody worth an NHL roster spot was this season. Whether you feel he deserved a fair opportunity or not, he did nothing to show he belonged in Philadelphia. With all of the promising prospects making their way to the organization, Vorobyev is on the outside looking in. Additionally, I do not believe the Flyers are incredibly invested in him.
Phil, I am actually in the process of creating rankings by position for all of the Flyers prospects. This will translate into some rather in-depth pieces so I’m not going to give too much away here. That being said, my current ranking of the goalie prospects (subject to change) looks like this:
- Felix Sandstrom
- Samuel Ersson
- Kirill Ustimenko
- Ivan Fedotov
- Matej Tomek
I think that Sandstrom, Ersson, and Ustimenko all have to potential to become number-one goalies somewhere in the NHL. Unfortunately for them, Carter Hart has that spot locked up in Philadelphia.
I want to start by saying that my in-depth knowledge of the prospects in Europe is not as strong as the ones in North America. I keep tabs on their progress but accessibility to games is challenging. That being said, you describe Ginning very accurately. The kid is very strong defensively and performs well in his own zone. Ginning has develop an effective first pass which has improved his outlet ability to start the offensive push. Offensive production simply is not part of Ginning’s game right now. With the way he plays defensively, any improvement to his offense will go a long way to Ginning finding his way to North America. Offensive production from defensemen has become such a big part of the pro game that he needs to show a bit more in that area.
Yegor Zamula has the potential to become a legitimate “top-four” blueliner at the NHL level. He’s got great size and can contribute offensively which are two qualities that bode well for the pros. I want to see how his game translates to the professional level before I go all crazy though. Right now, I see him as a future NHL defenseman with a “top four” ceiling and a “bottom pairing” floor.
Great question, Shayne. The latest episode of “Pod Street Bullies” dives deep into this topic so I encourage you to check it out.
Let’s touch on the NCAA prospects first. There was some speculation that Wyatt Kalynuk could sign his ELC but that was put to bed after Wisconsin named him team captain next season. This is the right move for him as there truly is no rush for him to sign. Brendan Warren simply has not done enough to warrant a contract and will go to free agency. The only freshman that may choose to sign is Noah Cates. He’s had a great year and the Farabee decision could sway him to go that route as well. Personally, it would be in his best interest to spend one more year playing in college. The other freshman simply are not ready to move on.
Wyatte Wylie is the lone prospect in the CHL without a contract. Although I think he deserves one, I’m not sure it happens this year. Even if he did sign, he is not eligible to play in the AHL next year. If he did not make the Flyers, which he won’t, he will be sent back to Everett.
Of the European players, I believe Kirill Ustimenko is the only prospect that signs his ELC. Fletcher has stated that he wants to bring him to North America and should do so. The only other player that is even in the ELC conversation is Ersson. Unfortunately, I think that the Ustimenko signing and Sandstrom coming over next season prevents that.
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.
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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.