As the Flyer’s season goes into full swing, it becomes easier and easier to forget about the prospects and the future. While the Flyers are playing, why worry about their prospects? Why worry about the future of the team, while the present is going on? There are a couple of reasons why it can still be beneficial. Staying up to date on the different names within the Flyers organization will help shed light on current roster decisions. Also, if all goes wrong with the Flyers this season, at least fans can find solace in the success of the top prospects while waiting to see what they will do at the NHL level.
Periodically throughout this season I will be giving updates on the Flyers top prospects. In this first edition, I will tackle the top three picks by the Flyers in the past two NHL Drafts:
- Sam Morin: 11th overall 2013 Draft, 6’6” 202lb, (L) Defenseman. After being cut from Flyers training camp and loaned back to his junior team, Rimouski Oceanic, on September 18th Morin played in just two regular season games. He had 0 goals, 0 assists, was -2, and had 4 PIM. In the second game he suffered a minor injury that that kept him out for about two weeks. Since his return, he has played in 6 games and has recorded 2 goals and 3 assists with +/- 0. The Flyers were criticized by many for drafting Moring because of the projection that he would be another big, shut-down defenseman. He is beginning to show some potential on the offensive side of the puck and his point totals so far should be encouraging to Flyers fans and to the Flyers management. In his last 14 junior games (playoffs and regular season) Morin has 12 points, 3 goals and 9 assists.
- Robert Hagg: 41st overall 2013 Draft, 6’2” 204lbs, (L) Defenseman. Hagg spent half of last season playing for MODO Jr (a U18 league) and was a man playing among boys, registering 24 points in 28 games. He spent the other half of the season playing 27 games for MODO (a club within the Swedish Hockey League), in which he played amongst grown men and only tallied 1 point. Through 15 games this season Hagg has 0 goals, 4 assists, is +2, and has 4 PIM. He has played on the first pairing this season, but has shifted throughout the line-up. He said after he was drafted that he would spend one or two years in Europe before coming to North America. Although it is very early in the season, that prediction is looking more and more realistic. He is a good prospect who needs more seasoning playing against grown men.
- Tyrell Goulbourne: 72nd overall 2013 Draft, 5’11” 195lbs, (L) Left Wing. Goulbourne was among the first cuts at Flyers training camp, being sent back to his junior team, the Kelowna Rockets. Through 11 games he has 2 goals, 4 assists, is +2, and has 14 PIM. The 19 year old is coming off of two straight years with 100+ PIM so it will be interesting to see how that number grows throughout the season. His point totals show modest growth from previous seasons, but not nearly enough to ever expect Goulbourne to be an offensive producer in the NHL.
- Scott Laughton: 20th overall 2012 Draft, 6’1” 194lbs, (L) Center. Laughton was sent back to his junior team, the Oshawa Generals, on October 3rd. Since returning he has done exactly what every Flyers fan hoped that he would do, dominate. Through 8 games he has recorded 10 goals, and 7 assists, while going +6 and receiving 12 minutes in penalties. The ability to thoroughly dominate the competition should give Laughton the chance to hone his offensive skills. His stats should be encouraging to Flyers fans and management, but they are not proof that he should be on the Flyers right now. Observers must keep in mind that Laughton is a 20 year old man playing against 17-19 year olds. The only reason he is not playing for the Phantoms is because of the AHL age rule. Either way, his stats are encouraging and remind me of a certain someone who had a monster year during his final junior season (this person had 106 pts in 55 games as a 20 year old in juniors).
- Anthony Stolarz: 45th overall 2012 Draft, 6’5”210lbs, Goalie. Stolarz was returned to his junior team, the London Knights, in the first round of cuts of Flyers training camp. Since his return, the organizations’ top goaltending prospect has played very solid. He has started 10 games and has a 7-2-1 record. His SV% is .929 and his GAA is 2.42. He has also recorded 2 shutouts. His performances have been encouraging, but it may still be a few years until he is ready for the NHL. It is not uncommon for goalies to take a little bit longer to develop.
- Shayne Gostisbbehere: 78th overall 2012 Draft, 5’11” 177lbs, (L) Defenseman. Gostisbehere, or “Ghost”, is one of the top puck-moving defensive prospects in the Flyers system. He was not at Flyers training camp because he has committed to play for Union College. Last year, he had 26 points (8goals and 18 assists) in 36 games while racking up 39 penalty minutes. Having played 5 games so far this season he has 1 goal and 3 assists, going -3, and earning 6 PIM. Ghost is one of the few speedy, puck-movers the Flyers have drafted in recent years and his development is coming along relatively nicely.
These prospects represent the future of the Flyers. Hopefully each of these players will go on to have along NHL career, but it is much too early to tell. So far, the Flyers prospects are developing at the expected rate. However, it is crucial to be patient with each player during his development process, especially the defensemen.
I will be doing my best to keep you updated on the prospects during the season. But for now, let’s see the Flyers go out there and get a win against the Islanders!