Pressure is a part of life for most human beings. Whether it results in motivation or one’s demise, it’s hard to ignore the feeling’s presence. Of course, one may place amounts of pressure themselves. However, the outside world drops its fair share on people as well. For athletes, it’s no different. Even for those still developing into the players they will one day become, pressure is very much a part of their every day. Within the farm system of the Philadelphia Flyers, there are prospects whose shoulders feel heavier than others. They know that every move they make is under a microscope and can determine their future within the organization.
Prospects that remained unsigned face a whole new level of pressure. They do not have the security of a contract to fall back on. Their future, although they are still quite young, is still very much up in the air. Here are the three unsigned Flyers prospects that will feel the most pressure this season.
3. Tanner Laczynski – Ohio State
Tanner Laczynski may not have felt a great deal of pressure when the Flyers drafted him in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Typically, late-round selections don’t come with loads of high expectations. However, as Laczynski progressed through his NCAA career, people began taking notice.
Since his freshman year, the young forward has demonstrated the ability to contribute offensively. Through 102 games with Ohio State, Laczynski has registered 109 points, averaging over a point per game. Now entering his senior season, it’s all about earning that entry-level contract. Many felt like it was deserved after last season. Still, for whatever reason, Laczysnki did not turn pro. With such a deep prospect pool in Philadelphia, Laczysnki risks falling by the wayside if another productive year is not in the cards. Of course, the places his future, in regards to hockey, very much in jeopardy.
2. Wade Allison – Western Michigan
Wade Allison faces a lot of pressure this season for a lot of the same reasons Laczynski does. Also entering his senior year, it’s make-or-break time for the 21-year-old. Of course, his battle with injuries might gather leniency from some. However, the argument can be made that it adds more pressure. The Flyers might not be willing to take a risk on a prospect that is injury prone. If Allison cannot stay healthy this season, Philadelphia may second guess making him a member of the franchise.
The fact that Allison is a former second-round pick does not help either. Getting selected within the first two to three rounds of the drafts brings with it certain expectations. If Allison fails to meet those expectations, he may be looking for a new organization to call home.
1. Jay O’Brien – Penticton Vees
Whether it’s fair or not, there’s no Flyers prospect under more pressure than 2018 first-round pick, Jay O’Brien. After dropping 188 points in 120 games with Thayer Academy, O’Brien’s freshman year at Providence was a complete and total dud. Struggling to remain in the lineup due to injury, the young forward only played in 25 games. Even more disappointing, O’Brien posted a measly two goals and three assists.
After his bumpy year with Providence, O’Brien decided to go through the transfer process, ending up with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. For some, his decision to join a slightly less competitive league caused a few red flags. However, his choice to play in the BCHL was more so he could return to the NCAA, this time for Boston University, in 2020-21. Regardless, O’Brien is now expected to take the BCHL. Averaging less than two points a game may be seen as an underachievement. Labeling O’Brien a bust after one poor season is incredibly premature. However, a sub-par season in Penticton could cause the label to become more warranted.
Mandatory Credit: Alex McIntyre