After stocking up their prospect pool once more, the Philadelphia Flyers appear to have a much brighter future ahead of them.
It feels like it wasn’t that long ago that the Flyers were looked at as having one of the best and deepest prospect pools in the league. Forward prospects such as Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick were the marquee names up front. Sam Morin and Robert Hagg were vying for full-time NHL play. Travis Sanheim was coming off an impressive first season with the Phantoms while Phil Myers was looking like one of the top blue liners in the CHL. In goal, Anthony Stolarz had made his NHL debut while Alex Lyon had enjoyed a solid first professional season. Carter Hart was still in the WHL, playing like a top goaltender.
There was a lot to like about what the Flyers were adding. They had climbed in the rankings, going from 29th to the top spot of Corey Pronman’s rankings in just five years. Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov were the big names, having graduated from prospects to full-time NHL players. Shayne Gostisbehere had already come onto the scene and would end up having a breakout season. As the years go on, the success or failure of a prospect group largely has to do with development. Whether that is how the team sees it or the player themselves. It’s fair for a prospect pool to dip as players graduate to NHL players.
The Flyers dipped in the rankings as the years went on, largely due to the former statement. However, a large amount of the players on those lists didn’t pan out. Not every prospect is going to hit, but when a large majority don’t turn into contributors in some way or another, there could be some issues at hand. Out of the players listed above, only Hart, Konecny, and Sanheim remain. That alone shows how barren the Flyers’ prospect pool has become. And even those three have seen their fair share of issues. Hart, behind a struggling defensive team, has shown the toll it can take on a young goaltender. Konecny, who broke out this past season, struggled the previous few before. And Sanheim, after signing a lengthy extension, had consistency issues.
As the Flyers enter a rebuilding period, they are once again working to build up an area that was once considered one of the best in the league. The 2023 NHL Draft was one place to start as Philadelphia hit a homerun on almost all of their picks. Having Matvei Michkov drop to seventh was the biggest of them all. Despite the fact that he is not expected to make his debut for potentially three seasons, his potential game-breaking talent made his the best non-Bedard prospect in the entire draft. After previously debuting in the KHL, Michkov has already had success in the preseason and appears to be in line for a big season as he appears full time for SKA.
Oliver Bonk has the potential to be a solid NHL defenseman and the Flyers have already shown their excitement by inking him to his entry-level contract. He is expected to spend the next two seasons further developing with the London Knights. After a strong season, Bonk’s role will only continue to grow. The Flyers also continued to stock up on goaltenders, grabbing both Carson Bjarnason and Yegor Zavragin. Sam Ersson was recently signed to an extension as well as Alexei Kolosov signing his ELC. And if Ivan Fedotov is able to make his way over to North America, Philadelphia has plenty of options in net.
On to prospects who are knocking on the door, Cutter Gauthier’s name is one of those who is highly regarded. He will be heading back to Boston for his sophomore season, but more than likely will make his professional debut after. While he had a successful freshman year, it was his play at Men’s Worlds that really showed others what he is capable of. Tyson Foerster should challenge for an NHL role this season. His small stint toward the end of the year was enough to have John Torotrella tempering his excitement due to the team looking more towards development in the minors rather than playing in meaningless games in the NHL.
Other players that earned some time at the NHL level last season included Elliot Desnoyers and Olle Lycksell, two players who could earn NHL call-ups during the season. Bobby Brink returned from hip surgery and could be a dark horse candidate to challenge for some time as well. There are plenty of defensemen looking for time as well such as Emil Andrae and Ronnie Attard. The Flyers are at a point where they have a number of prospects knocking on the door. This season, and likely the next, should be about giving those players as much playing time as possible in order to figure out who can be a part of the future and who the team may have to move on from. In order to build back into a competitive team, the Flyers will have to turn their up and coming prospect pool into NHL talent.