Gone are the days when the Flyers would go for the quick fix, even if it meant trading away valuable draft picks.
General manager Ron Hextall has stuck to his guns, remained patient and basically gone about stockpiling “future’’ assets, rather than try to patch holes with aging veterans.
So it came as little surprise recently when The Hockey News “Future Watch” issue (dated April 2) gave the team’s development system a big, bright “A’’ grading and rated it No. 2 in the National Hockey League.
That’s right, No. 2. Can’t remember the last time the Flyers were anywhere close to that high.
Only the Toronto Maple Leafs were rated higher.
Hextall credits his staff for all this hockey acumen.
“Our staff,’’ he wrote in an email, “from the amateur scouts, to our development team and our minor league coaches, has done an outstanding job with a critical part of our organization.’’
Here are the top 10 Flyers prospects listed by The Hockey News:
>1. Carter Hart, G, Everett (WHL).
>2. Philippe Myers, D, Phantoms (AHL).
>3. Morgan Frost, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL).
>4. German Rubtsov, C, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL).
>5. Samuel Morin, D, Phantoms (AHL).
>6. Felix Sandstrom, G, Brynas (Sweden).
>7. Oskar Lindblom, LW, Flyers-Phantoms (NHL/AHL).
>8. Wade Allison, RW, Western Michigan (NCHC).
>9. Cooper Marody, RW, Michigan (Big Ten).
>10. Tanner Laczynski, C, Ohio State (Big Ten).
The Flyers already have five players 21-and-under on their roster: Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Nolan Patrick, Travis Sanheim and Lindblom.
So if you put the whole package together, the Flyers’ future would appear to be quite bright.
Morgan Frost, a first-round pick in last year’s draft, epitomizes what the Flyers are trying to develop.
He’s lit up the OHL this season and Hextall’s staff deserves credit for finding this diamond in the rough. He was originally projected as a middle of the second rounder but the Flyers took him in the first.
“He has special abilities, special vision,’’ Hextall says. “He’s fast and he’s taken his game to another level.’’
Of course, much of the attention in the Philadelphia area home community is being paid to the two jewels at the goaltending position: Hart and Sandstrom.
Hart is coming off a gold medal in the 2018 World Junior Championships for Canada and seems to get better with each passing month.
At 19, he’s probably still a year or two away from the NHL but the Flyers believe they might just have the franchise goaltender they’ve been looking for since the ‘90s.
“He’s a prime example of how you want your players to get better,’’ Hextall says. “He’s worked at his game every year and he’s gotten better every year.’’
The Flyers have veterans Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth signed for one more year and potential unrestricted free agent Petr Mrazek to consider.
But the consensus in the Flyers’ front office is it’s just a matter of time before Hart takes over the reins.
By then, many of the Flyers’ other prospects should be ready to make their mark in the NHL, too.
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