For this week’s “Flyers Prospects Mailbag”, I challenged all of you to go beyond the popular 3RW debate. While we will still touch on it this time around, we will also chat about some topics new to the segment.
Without any further ado, let’s start this party!
I have a few. It all depends on what Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault decide to do with the 3RW spot. The popular train of thought is that a prospect will play right wing on the third line next year. However, it is not the only possibility. What if Fletcher and Vigneault decide to place Michael Raffl or Tyler Pitlick there? Not saying it’s the right move but it’s certainly a possibility. Things can get interesting if you factor that in.
First, let’s assume the 3RW is going to go to a prospect. The most popular names to take that position are Morgan Frost or Joel Farabee. Still, they are not the only prospects in the running. Expect Isaac Ratcliffe to do everything he can to earn that roster spot and he may have what it takes. Another name to look out for is German Rubtsov. I believe he will spend all of next season in the AHL. However, we can’t rule out the possibility of him making the Flyers out of camp.
Now, let’s move to if someone like Raffl or Pitlick grab the 3RW spot. That makes a fourth-line wing open. Two players come to mind when I think of who might surprise some folks and grab that position. The first one is Nic Aube-Kubel. We’ve been waiting for this kid to be given a real opportunity in the NHL. Maybe this will be his chance. The second name that comes to mind is Kurtis Gabriel. He doesn’t have much NHL experience, however, his skill set would fit into the fourth line well. He also brings an enforcer mentality that could prove to be useful.
The slide rule will certainly make things interesting. If Joel Farabee plays less than 10 NHL games this upcoming season, his contract will not start up until the 2020-21 season. Essentially, the Flyers could get fours years of professional hockey out of Farabee for the price of three.
If there is any sort of question as to whether Farabee can stay in Philadelphia for the entirety of next season. Fletcher may decide it’s best to just keep in Lehigh Valley and not burn a year of his entry-level contract. However, if Farabee stands out and proves he’s NHL ready, Fletcher will not worry about the slide rule. Farabee will remain with the Flyers after training camp and the preseason if he earns a spot.
With Morgan Frost, those odds are very high. I still believe that he is the prospect that wins that 3RW spot. Isaac Ratcliffe, on the other hand, will have to do a lot to pass Frost and Farabee for that wing spot on the third line. Ratcliffe is a very special player with a great future ahead of him. However, I believe he will benefit from one season in Lehigh Valley.
If either of them claims a roster spot midseason, I believe it will be for good. Frost and Ratcliffe will not be the players the Flyers call up because somebody is injured. That will go to someone further along in their development. If Fletcher calls up either of them at any point in the year, it’s because he believes they can remain in the NHL.
Morgan Frost. He’s my 1A option. Joel Farabee is my 1B option. Frost’s tenure in the OHL is not something to take lightly. He currently has a little more meat on his bones than Farabee as well. There is a concern because his natural position is a center. However, he’s proven he can play wing and will most likely have to continue doing so throughout his NHL career.
It’s a toss-up between Ersson and Ustimenko for me. I like what both of them have accomplished to this point. I might give Ersson the slight edge because he has more experience against tougher competition right now. However, Ustimenko might receive his shot at the NHL before Ersson because he’s already in North America.
This is tough because Matt Strome is further along in his development and has had more time to work on his skating. Looking back at scouting reports from his draft year, it seems as though scouts were confident that Strome could improve. They are a lot more critical about Bobby Brink’s skating ability and whether it can become a non-issue. I do believe that Brink will be fine. For now, though, I have to say that Strome is the better skater.
As far as the best skater, I going to go with Morgan Frost. He’s agile with incredible edge work. Also, his intelligence, reaction time, and overall skill improve his skating ability.
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: Derrik Bobb