Samuel Morin, Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, and Travis Sanheim. They have already been nicknamed “The Big Four.” It is a great thing for Philadelphia Flyers fans. The club has four high quality defense prospects who can all skate well, pass well, and each seems to have a bright future. This is something that this organization has not had in years.
However, one of the coolest things about the Flyers recent stockpiling of defense prospects is not just the quality of the prospects (although that is, and should be, paramount), but also the quantity of prospects. Once promising “young” players like Brandon Manning and Oliver Lauridsen are now little more than an afterthought.
In addition to the “Big Four” the Flyers now have a second tier of defense prospects. Young guys who may not get as much press as the monstrous Morin or the flashy Gostisbehere, but are nonetheless promising prospects. Let’s take a look at the next four.
1. Mark Friedman
86th overall pick in 2014 Draft – 5″11′ – 185lbs – 18 years old – right-handed
Friedman was the Flyers third round pick in the draft this past summer. The pick suspiciously resembles that of Shayne Gostisbehere in 2012. Friedman was 4th in the USHL last season in points by defensemen, with 40 in 51 games. Much like Gostisbehere, he is a skilled defenseman who likes to join the rush. Not only were his point totals respectable, but what he did at even strength against those older than him was very impressive. He will attend Bowling Green next season, giving the Flyers plenty of time to let him develop.
2. Reece Wilcox
141st overall pick in 2012 Draft – 6″3′ – 184lbs – 20 years old – right-handed
The tall, skinny, right-handed defenseman may never be a point producing machine. However, his size, mobility, passing, and all-around poise make him stand out as a good long-term prospect. In the summer immediately following his draft year, Bill Meltzer and others were singing his praises. Now through two seasons at Cornell, Wilcox has two goals and 10 assists through 66 games, is +6, and seems to have put on some weight. He has been getting top four minutes since his arrival at Cornell and his role should grow even more next season.
3. Jesper Pettersson
198th overall pick in 2014 Draft – 5″9′ – 187lbs – 20 years old – right-handed
The tiny Swede who has been nicknamed “Pitbull” will be a Phantom during the 2014-2015 season. He was passed over in both the 2012 and 2013 drafts, but he developed steadily to the point that the Flyers wanted to grab him in the 7th round this past summer. Pettersson is primarily a stay-at-home defenseman, which is a bit strange for a guy with his small frame, but he has the tenacity and aggressiveness to be effective. He spent last season in the SHL playing against grown men, so he should have a relatively smooth transition into the pro game.
4. Mark Alt
53rd overall pick in 2010 Draft (CAR) – 6″4′ – 201lbs – 22 years old – right-handed
Mark Alt is possibly the Flyers most “NHL-ready” prospect. After spending three seasons at the University of Minnesota, Alt spent the entirety of last season with the Adirondack Phantoms. He had an up and down season recording 26 (4G, 22A) points in 75 games. Alt has been described by the Hockey News as a “jack of all trades, master of none.” He is a big, solid player who is very mobile for his size. Having been predominantly a second pairing AHL player last season, Alt will likely be on the Phantoms top pair to start the season and may be the first defenseman to be called up (especially if the organization does not wish to rush Hagg or Gostisbehere).
Not only does the Flyers farm system have quality, be they also have quantity. All of four of the players listed above have NHL potential. They may all be NHLers, or they may all be busts. Either way, it is nice to have an abundance of prospects in the system.