No one has to remind the Flyers about the importance of a strong development system, as young home-grown stars Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny and Joel Farabee begin to fashion the core of the team’s future.
Flyers assistant GM Brent Flahr, who oversees the scouting staff, appreciates the “build from within’’ approach.
“I think we’ve seen a number of young guys on the big team now,’’ said Flahr. “We’re happy with that. It (developing players) is a big part of the game in the cap era. I believe we have some young players who are going to be Flyers going forward.’’
Here are the Flyers’ top 10 prospects, as chosen by The Hockey News Future Watch edition:
>Cam York, D, 20, 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Lehigh Valley Phantoms: York captained the U.S. national team to the 2021 World Junior Championships gold medal and that speaks to his leadership qualities.
Scouts and coaches with the Flyers are impressed with York’s poise with the puck, which are qualities that harken back to previous Flyers defense stalwarts such as Kimmo Timonen and Matt Niskanen.
“He is such a smooth, smart player with the puck,’’ Flahr said. “Our scouts say that he’s never in a rush. He’s very good on transition. Cam has learned a lot from (former youth coach) Scott Niedermayer (in Anaheim, Calif.). His challenge right now is to get stronger, adjustment to pace to play against bigger, faster guys.”
York, who played for the University of Michigan, was signed to a three-year entry-level contract on Wednesday and will start his pro career with the Phantoms.
How acquired: 2019 draft, 14th overall.
>2. Tyson Foerster, RW, 19, 6-2, 194 pounds, Lehigh Valley Phantoms, AHL: When it comes to self-confidence, Konecny seems to be the standard-bearer others are measured against.
Foerster sounds like he fits right into that profile.
Although he suffered a broken leg in an on-ice collision after just one game with Lehigh Valley, he’s come back with a flourish and on Wednesday night registered a two-goal/four-point game.
“He doesn’t lack confidence, which is what you want to see in goal scorers,’’ Flahr confirmed. “As an 18-year-old in the AHL, he wants the puck, he’s making plays.
“Any concerns with regards to skating are mostly strength-related and will be addressed through physical maturity. He’s not just trying to survive or dip his toe in the water, he wants to be involved.’’ How acquired: 2020 draft, 23rd overall.
>3. Yegor Zamula, D, 20, 6-3, 177 pounds, Lehigh Valley Phantoms, AHL: Having seen the success they’ve had with the signing of one free-agent defenseman by the name of Philippe Myers, the Flyers are hoping for similar production with Russian-born Zamula.
Zamula is coming off his own serious injury, namely a fractured vertebrae in his back. He tried to play through it at 2020 World Juniors, then missed the rest of the season.
Like Foerster, Zamula is pretty sure of himself. That was evident in training camp.
“He’s a very confident kid but not in an arrogant way,’’ Flahr said. “Confident in his abilities. In camp, when he’s out there with NHL players, he’s not in awe. Putting on weight has helped.’’ How acquired: Free agent, signed Sept. 20, 2018.
>4. Wade Allison, RW, 23, 6-2, 205 pounds, Lehigh Valley Phantoms, AHL: Allison had ankle surgery but came back to score six points in his first five games with the Phantoms.
Allison experienced a good training camp and looked comfortable playing with some NHL regulars in scrimmages.
“In camp, playing with the big guys, he didn’t look out of place,’’ Flahr said. “Good speed, hands, really caught the coaches’ eyes.
“I thought he would have to start down below but he certainly made an impression. He put himself in a position to be a call-up.
“He’s a bit older, physically mature. He’s a guy who has unique qualities as far as his size, he has the tools to be a power forward whenever he’s ready.’’ How acquired: 2016 draft, 52nd overall.
>5. Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, 22, 6-6, 200 pounds, Lehigh Valley Phantoms, AHL: Ratcliffe was playing a New Year’s Eve three-on-three game, dove for a puck, compressed a rib or two and suffered a collapsed lung.
After a long recovery, Ratcliffe has played in nine games this season.
“He’s worked real hard,’’ Flahr reported. “He’s put on a lot of weight, gotten significantly stronger over the break. Coming out of junior hockey, I don’t know if he thought the transition would be easier, but it was a challenge for him.
“As a big guy, he knew he had to get somewhat stronger to hold onto pucks, stay on his feet in battles.’’ How acquired: 2017 draft, 35th overall.
>6. Bobby Brink, RW, 19, 5-8, 159 pounds, University of Denver, NCHC: Doesn’t lack confidence. Could use more size but plenty of heart. High hockey IQ. How acquired: 2019 draft, 34th overall.
>7. Tanner Lazcynski, C, 23, 6-1, 190 pounds: Character personality, NHL-ready size. Coming off abdominal surgery. How acquired: 2016 draft, 169th overall.
>8. Emil Andrae, D, 19, 5-9, 181, Vasterviks, Swe-1: Leader on Swedish national team. Skilled, offensive dimension. How acquired: 2020 draft, 54th overall.
>9. Samuel Ersson, G, 21, 6-2, 176, Brynas IF Gavle, SweHL: Bright light on struggling team. Real competitive, athletic. Shows possible NHL promise. How acquired: 2018 draft, 143rd overall.
>10. Jay O’Brien, C, 21, 5-11, 184, Boston University, H-East: After a rocky start at Providence, getting confidence back with Terriers. How acquired: 2018 draft, 19th overall.