As another hockey season approaches, the Philadelphia Flyers still find themselves among the top five farm systems in the NHL. Though a handful of quality young players will jump to the pro’s this season, there is still plenty of promise spread throughout the NCAA, various Junior leagues, and Europe.
Over the next few weeks, we will be taking a look at all of the prospects within the Flyers organization. Today, we will focus our attention on those set to play in college.
Philadelphia is flush with prospects playing in the NCAA next season. Ten prospects will lace their skates for nine different schools across three conferences. The NCHC features the most Flyers youth with five players on four different teams. The Big Ten is close behind the NCHC with Flyers prospects on four separate teams. Finally, one player will be taking the ice in the ECAC.
Wade Allison – Western Michigan
Entering his senior year for WMU, the pressure could not be any higher for the former 2016 second-round pick. After impressive showings in both his freshman year and the beginning to his sophomore season, Allison never returned to full health after his torn ACL injury. Last year was a struggle. Allison only played in 22 games and was clearly hurting all season long.
It makes sense for Allison to return for Western Michigan for his senior season. However, he will be under a microscope. Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers will not only look to see if the young forward can return to pre-injury form, but they will also keep close tabs on whether he can stay healthy. If everything goes as planned, Allison will finally sign his entry-level contract at the end of the season.
Ronnie Attard – Western Michigan
When attempting to paint a picture of what a “boom or bust” prospect looks like, you do not need to look any further than Philadelphia’s third-round pick from this year’s draft. After two quiet seasons for the Tri-City Storm, Attard lit the entire USHL on fire in 2018-19. His 30 goals and 34 assists were enough to earn awards such as USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year, USHL Defenseman of the Year, and USHL Player of the Year. Still, there is some concern that his style of play will not translate well against stronger competition.
Attard is a project with some lethal upside if it pans out. However, he’s going to take some time and will need to be open to all the instruction Andy Murray and the rest of the WMU coaching staff will provide. There will likely be some glimpses of greatness during his freshman year. There will also be plenty of bumps in the road as well.
Bobby Brink – Denver
If Ronnie Attard is considered the “boom or bust” pick of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Bobby Brink might be looked at as the “steal”. After falling into the second round, Chuck Fletcher did not allow the young forward to drop any further, scooping him up 34th-overall.
Similar to Attard, Brink took the USHL by storm in 2018-19. The Minnesota native posted 35 goals and 33 assists in 43 games for the Sioux City Musketeers. Additionally, the USHL crowned Brink the league’s Forward of the Year.
Brink is already equipped with phenomenal offensive abilities. He’s both a dynamic goal-scorer and playmaker and it’s not difficult to picture those skills shining right from the beginning of his freshmen year. However, everyone will be paying close attention to his skating. It is the youngster’s biggest weakness and will need to improve before he can succeed at the professional level.
Noah Cates – Minnesota-Duluth
Cates is a hidden gem in the Flyers prospect pool. He’s transforming into an effective two-way winger that is sound defensively and also has the ability to produce offense. While assuming a primarily defensive role with UMD last season, Cates still recorded nine goals and 14 assists.
Minnesota-Duluth will be looking to three-peat as D1 Men’s Hockey Champions this season. Expect Cates to play a key role in that attempt. If Cates builds off a successful freshman campaign, an ELC at season’s end is not out of the question.
Gavin Hain – North Dakota
Hain is the only Flyers prospect in the NCHC with no buzz surrounding him. The former sixth-round pick had a very quiet freshman season at North Dakota. Playing in 31 games, Hain only managed six goals and three assists. Of course, players develop at different rates and Hain is probably someone that is going to take some time to develop. However, it will imperative that he earns an increased role this season and begins to produce more.
Bryce Brodzinski – Minnesota
Typically excitement surrounding a former seventh-round pick is quite limited. However, Bryce Brodzinski comes with a lot of intriguing qualities. The 196th-overall pick in last year’s draft is a product of Minnesota High School hockey taking his talents to his home state university.
In just 23 games with Blaine High last season, Brodzinski recorded a remarkable 32 goals and 44 assists. His efforts were enough to crown him Mr. Hockey, the award given to the state’s best high school hockey player. Yes, the argument can be made that the young forward played against lesser competition. Still, 76 points in 23 games is nothing to ignore.
Are there areas of his game that are in need of serious improvement? Of course, there are. He would not be such a late-round pick if that was not the case. However, one can’t help but wonder how effective Brodzinski might become if he can put it all together. His freshman year at Minnesota is certainly worth keeping close tabs on.
Wyatt Kalynuk – Wisconsin
Kalynuk is one of the more pleasant surprises currently inhabiting the Flyers prospect pool. The former seventh-round selection has blossomed under Head Coach Tony Granato at Wisconsin. Posting a respectable 25 points in his first two NCAA seasons, Kalynuk will look to increase that production on a very talented roster. Expect the young blueliner to put forth a 2019-20 campaign worthy of an entry-level deal.
Tanner Laczynski – Ohio State
Similar to Wade Allison, this is a “make or break” year for Laczynski. After a junior campaign worthy of an entry-level deal, the young forward is heading back to Ohio State for his senior year. Whether it was his decision to return to college or the Flyers, there’s no denying that extra pressure falls on Laczynski this season. Everything little thing that occurs throughout the year could impact whether he is a part of the Flyers organization moving forward.
Cam York – Michigan
Philadelphia’s selection of York in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft turned a lot of heads. However, there is no denying how highly-skilled the young blueliner is and the potential he brings with him. Though it will take a few games for York to get comfortable, expect him to have an immediate impact for Michigan. He may not be a “one and done” like Joel Farabee but York won’t spend more than two years in the NCAA.
Jack St. Ivany – Yale
St. Ivany sometimes becomes a forgotten prospect in the Flyers deep prospect pool. It’s no fault of his own. There’s just a lot of names to keep track of and he doesn’t play in one of the more talked about conferences in college hockey. Still, St. Ivany put together a very respectable freshman season with Yale and even joined Team USA in the World Juniors.
Look for St. Ivany to continue to move in the right direction this season. There will be an added amount of confidence that can only help move things along. An entry-level contract may not be in the cards after this season. However, when we get to the end of his junior year, it will be a different story.
Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports