When a new GM faces the challenge of maintaining his predecessor’s second-ranked, “A” (The Hockey News, 2018) development system, it helps to have a last name like Fletcher.
Yet it wouldn’t matter if your first name is Chuck or Cliff, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Keeping that high rank will take some work.
Chuck, replacing ex-Flyers GM Ron Hextall, and his assistant, Brent Flahr, have hit the ground running.
“We have a lot of different types of players, which is great,’’ said Flahr. “The volume of prospects is important, it’s just our job now to develop them properly.’’
Here is how The Hockey News ranks the Flyers’ Top 10 for its upcoming Future Watch edition:
- Joel Farabee, LW, 19, 6-1, 170, Boston University, (Hockey East), how acquired: 2018 draft, 14th overall. Farabee seemed to get off to a bit of a slow start in his freshman year at Boston University but a strong performance at World Junior Championships, featuring a hat trick against Kazakhstan, provided a boost to his confidence. “Since late December, he’s really started to go,’’ Flahr said. “The start of the season was a bit of a challenge for him, stepping into college against older guys. He’s a smart offensive player, complements good centers.’’
- Morgan Frost, C, 19, 6-0, 185, Soo Greyhounds (OHL), how acquired: 2017 draft, 27th overall: When the Flyers traded Brayden Schenn to St. Louis at the 2017 draft, they insisted on a first-round pick with Frost in mind, said Hextall at the time. “For a smaller guy, he has all the attributes to make it (to the NHL),’’ Flahr said. “He’s got the hands, the vision, the offensive instincts. He has a lot of offensive tools that you just can’t teach. It’s just a matter of rounding out his game.’’
- Philippe Myers, D, 22, 6-5, 202, Flyers (NHL), how acquired: Signed free agent, Sept. 21, 2015: The fact that Myers went undrafted continues to perplex talent evaluators both inside and outside of the Flyers’ organization. “He’s the type of kid where everyone (scouts) would like to do a do-over,’’ Flahr said. “He’s made the most of it since his draft year. He just worked at his game, got stronger and his game dramatically improved.’’
- Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, 20, 6-6, 204, Guelph (OHL), how acquired: 2017 draft, 35th overall: Ratcliffe has been impressive at Flyers’ development camps, skating quite well for a player his size. He’s averaged better than a point per game for Guelph the past two seasons. “He’s a massive winger,’’ noted Flahr. “He still has a lot of room to fill out, get stronger. But you can’t teach 6-6. He’s got good hands for a big man. And he really shoots the puck. I think his skating is coming. His top-end speed has always been fine.’’
- Wade Allison, RW, 21, 6-2, 205, Western Michigan (NCHC), how acquired: 2016 draft, 52nd overall: The Roland, Manitoba native is a bit of a throwback to the days of Holmgren, Tocchet and Dineen – in other words, a power forward with a visible edge to his game. Has overcome an ACL injury. “He’s a big, strong kid who plays straight lines,’’ Flahr said. “And he can really shoot the puck, drive hard to the net. He’s obviously got power forward potential.’’
- German Rubtsov, C, 20, 6-0, 190, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL), how acquired: 2016 draft, 22nd overall: Out for season (shoulder surgery). Scouts say: Good defense sometimes hinders offense.
- Jay O’Brien, C, 19, 5-10, 174, Providence College (Hockey East), 2018 draft, 19th overall: Flyers like his skill set. Hampered by injuries. Patience required.
- Wyatt Kalynuk, D, 21, 6-1, 180, University of Wisconsin (Big 10), how acquired: 2017 draft, 196th overall. Late bloomer. Needs to add weight. Has flourished in the Badger system.
- Tanner Lacynski, C, 21, 6-1, 191, Ohio State University (Big 10), how acquired: 2016 draft, 169th overall: Flahr likes what he sees. “Big heart, gamer, comes to play. Coachable.’’
- Noah Cates, LW, 20, 6-1, 179, University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCHC), how acquired: 2017 draft, 137th overall: Smart, energetic, character player. Made strong impression at the WJC. Rapid improvement.
>Ironmen one and all
Jake Voracek’s recent streak of 242 consecutive games came within eight of putting him on the Flyers’ Top 10 alltime ironman list a second time, which would be a first for the franchise.
Claude Giroux’s 231 straight (prior to Saturday’s game) now take over the active lead on the Flyers’ roster.
Giroux has a chance to become the first to crack the Top 10, but since there are only 15 games left in the season, that will have to wait until next year.
Here is the Top 10 alltime Flyers’ ironmen:
>1. Rod Brind’Amour, 484.
>2. Wayne Simmonds, 418.
>3. Rick MacLeish, 330.
>4. John LeClair, 317.
>5. (tie) Jake Voracek, Jeff Carter, 286.
>7. Ross Lonsberry, 284.
>8. Bobby Clarke, 276.
>9. Claude Giroux, 252.
>10. Brian Propp, 250.
It should be noted Clarke and MacLeish played their Flyers’ careers without helmets.