The Philadelphia Flyers have been much maligned by both commentators and their own fans for their lack of home-grown defensemen and goalie development. The criticism they receive is usually warranted. However, over the past few years, it seems as if the Flyers have re-stocked their defensive prospect pool and seem to have a stable of young promising defensemen. They also have a few formidable goaltending prospects. Here is how a some of those prospects are faring this season:
- Oliver Lauridsen: The huge Danish defenseman made a splash in the NHL last season. He played in 15 games for the Flyers, recorded 2 goals, and averaged 15:08 TOI. This year, with the Flyers regulars back to full health, Lauridsen has returned to the Phantoms. So far, he has 0 goals and 2 assists through 19 games. He is also +7 and playing on the third pairing with Cullen Eddy. Lauridsen is on a one-way contract next year, so he is expected to make the NHL jump soon.
- Mark Alt: The Carolina Hurricane’s 2nd round draft pick in 2010 is now one of the Flyers top defensive prospects. Alt spent three years at the University of Minnesota and is currently in his first year as a professional playing for the Phantoms. In 18 games, Alt has scored 1 goal and added 5 assists. Alt is on the second pairing with Matt Konan. Having spent time playing college hockey, and now spending time in the AHL, has given Alt the time to develop into a more complete defenseman who could be NHL ready in the next year or two.
- Brandon Manning: Over the last 2 seasons Brandon Manning has had his share of NHL experience. In 2011-2012 he played in 4 NHL games and in 2012-2013 he played in the final 6 games of the season. Manning is now on the Phantoms top pairing with Bruno Gervais. Through 19 games he has 2 goals and 6 assists. Manning is playing on a one-year contract and will be an RFA in June.
- Shayne Gostisbehere: The Flyers 3rd round pick in 2012 has made headlines with his solid play so far this season. “Ghost”, as he has been nicknamed, is a puck moving defenseman playing for Union College. Through 11 games, he has 4 goals and 8 assists. He has been featured on NHL Live and he figures to become an integral part of the future of the Flyers blue line.
- Samuel Morin: The Flyers 1st round pick in 2013 was returned to his QMJHL team, Rimouski Oceanic, in September. Since his return he has played in 21 games and has 4 goals and 13 assists. Even though he was tagged as a one-dimensional defensive defenseman on draft day, his offensive game has improved a lot this year. Last season in 46 games he had 4 goals and 12 assists, almost identical numbers to those he has put up in 21 games this season. He participated in the Subway Super Series for team QMJHL and did not figure into any of the scoring for either game. He was +3 for the 2 games of the series.
- Robert Hagg: Hagg was the 41st overall pick by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2013. The 6’2″ Swedish defensman is playing in the Swedish MODO program this season. So far this season Hagg has played in 26 games, recorded 0 goals, and has 4 assists. Although these stats do not look promising, it is important to note that Hagg is in a league in which he is playing against grown men. Both Gostisbehere and Morin are playing against many players younger than them while Hagg is still 18 and facing men in their 20s and 30s.
This list does not include late round draft selections like Terrance Amorosa (5th round, 2013), David Drake (7th round, 2013), Fredrik Larsson (4th round, 2012), Reece Wilcox (5th round, 2012), and Valeri Vasiliev (7th round, 2012).
- Cal Heeter: Last year, Heeter was a rookie for the Phantoms starting in 32 games and going 12-16-3. He had a 2.92 GAA and a .908 SV%. This year, the 25 year old goalie has been splitting time with Yann Dannis for the Phantoms. Through 10 games played, Heeter is 5-5 with a 2.75 GAA and a .913 SV%. Heeter is on the final year of his entry level contract this season.
- Anthony Stolarz: The Flyers 2nd round pick in 2012 is the top goaltending prospect in the Flyers system. Stolarz is 6’5″ and playing for the London Knights of the OHL. Through 21 games played Stolarz is 15-3-1 with a GAA of 2.42 and a SV% of .928. His play has catapulted the London Knights to 4th in the OHL’s Western Conference.
- Merrick Madsen: The Flyers chose Madsen in the 6th round of the 2013 draft. Madsen is a big, athletic goalie in the same mold as Steve Mason and Anthony Stolarz. Madsen is 6’5″ and 177lbs. As a goalie and a 6th round draft pick, it figures to be a long time before Madsen is even in the NHL conversation.
The Flyers are not especially deep in quality goaltender prospects, but if Steve Mason (who is only 25) continues to play at a high level these players will have plenty of time to develop. Thanks for reading!