Fresh off of his promotion to GM Ron Hextall said he ‘likes young players’ and he ‘likes draft picks.’ Hextall encourages building from within. This means a greater effort will go into developing the Flyers prospects.
Flyers fans have reason to be excited about the young talent who could potentially don the orange and black within the next few years. Several of their draft picks from the last two years have put together solid campaigns in their respective leagues, including Samuel Morin, Shayne Gostisbehere and Scott Laughton. Other prospects have flown under the radar but have still put together impressive numbers over the past season. Here is a look at the Flyers prospects who are garnering the most attention.
Class of 2013
During the 2013 Draft in Newark, N.J., the Flyers set out to strengthen their defensive crop. With the 11th overall pick, the Flyers selected Samuel Morin, a mammoth defenseman who is still growing into his body. Morin is six-feet, seven inches tall and weighs 210 pounds. He made headlines going into the 2013 draft with a meteoric rise in his development throughout the 2012-13 season. Morin has continued to grow, almost doubling his production from last season. During the 2012-13 campaign, he notched four goals and 12 assists for 16 points in 46 regular season games. This past season, Morin scored seven goals and totaled 31 points in 54 games.
One aspect of his game he could improve on is cutting down on his penalty minutes. During the last two seasons, Morin has totaled 238 minutes in the box. He did make some improvement during the 2013-14 season. While his penalty minutes did increase from 117 to 121, Morin played in eight more games than his previous season.
Morin has seen postseason action during his last three years with Rimouski, Oceanic, his junior team. The playoffs are a large indicator of whether or not a player will raise his game when his team needs it. During the 2014 playoffs, Morin scored four goals and had eight points in 11 games. The previous season, he scored seven points – one goal, six assists – in six games.
Morin will turn 19 on July 12 and unless he sticks out in training camp, Hextall will send him back to the QMJHL for another season.
With their second pick in the draft, the Flyers snatched Robert Hagg in the second round. Hagg was considered to be a top-10 pick by one expert, but his lack of consistency may have scared off some teams. Hagg turned 19 back on Feb. 5 and could be on the Flyers blueline come October. Hagg is well-built for his age – 6’2″, 207 lbs – and has great two-way ability on the ice. He played a defensive for the Swedish National Team during the World Junior Championships. During the last two seasons with MODO of the Swedish Hockey League, Hagg did not exhibit much offensive production, registering seven points in 77 games.
Hagg signed an amateur tryout with the Adirondack Phantoms after his season ended in Sweden. Hagg was on an amateur tryout contract and is entry-level deal will kick in once the 2014-15 season begins. In 10 games with the Phantoms, Hagg scored one goal and totaled four points.
Class of 2012.
Stop me if you’ve heard that name before this post. Laughton is the Flyers most talked about forward since he played five games with the big club during the lockout-shortened season. Despite not registering a single point, Laughton impressed as an 18-year-old. Laughton made the Flyers once again but was sent back down to the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League. Laughton played top-line minutes and scored 87 points – 40 goals, 47 assists – in 54 games. This was a huge jump in numbers from the 2012-13 season, where he scored 56 points in 49 games. Keep in mind though, that Laughton was 19 years old playing against competition that was two, sometimes three years his junior.
In the playoffs, Laughton shined. He scored four goals and totaled 11 points in nine games for the Generals. There is a strong chance Laughton will make the Flyers team out of training camp, but he could benefit from a year in the AHL. He would get more playing time with the Phantoms, which will only develop his game even further.
The Flyers second-round pick in the 2012 draft has grown into a fascinating prospect. Stolarz is a big man at 6’6″, 220 pounds.
He put together a strong 2013-14 season for the London Knights of the OHL. Stolarz went 25-5-1-1 (wins, losses, overtime losses, shootout losses) and had four shutouts. He posted a 2.52 goals against average with a .926 save percentage. These numbers were a slight increase from his 2012-13 season where he posted a 2.29 goals against with a .920 save percentage and went 13-3-1-1 with one shutout.
He only played three games in the playoffs, going 3-0 with a 2.00 goals against and a .933 save percentage.
Stolarz, now 20 years old, is said to play with the Phantoms next season.
That name sound familiar? Ever since his performance at the Frozen Four, Gostisbehere’s name has been circulated as the next prospect to crack the Flyers’ lineup. Gostisbehere’s offensive skills are something to marvel. He possesses a smooth and effortless stride, which makes him a threat whenever he is on the ice. “Ghost” has a great shot, but his size – 5’11”, 170 lbs – holds him back a little. He does not play a physical game but rounds off that edge with a great stick check.
A third-round selection, Ghost became one of the most electrifying players in college hockey. He posted 34 points in 42 games during his final year at Union College and won a national championship. Ghost played two games with the Phantoms and did not register a point but did impress. He may start out the 2014-15 season with the Phantoms and then make the jump to the pros if he adjusts his game.
A fourth-round pick, Leier has become one of the rising Flyers prospects. Leier stands at 5’11” 177 pounds. He turned 20 years old back in February and is playing for the WHL championship this week. Leier scored 37 goals and registered 79 points in 62 games this season with the Portland Winterhawks. During the championship series, which is a best of seven, Leier has two points in five games and is a +4. He has 23 points through 19 playoff games.
Leier has improved his numbers every year in the WHL. During his rookie year, he notched 37 points in 72 games. The next season, 62 points in 64 games. Leier will likely make the jump to the AHL when the Winterhawks season is over.
UPDATE: Leier notched two assists Sunday night to help the Winterhawks force Game 7. Leier now has 24 points in 20 playoff games.