Are the Flyers Giving Up on Defensive Prospects?

Have the Flyers reached the end of the line with some of their defensive prospects?
Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils
Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The funny thing about prospects is that they always bring hope for the future of a franchise. Sometimes they are worth the hype. Sometimes not. As a Phillies phan, I can avidly remember how the team would be turned around once Maikel Franco, Cody Asche, Aaron Altherr, and Scott Kingery took over. How many of you are shuddering now? Remember the hype around Spencer Howard? He lasted 17 games as a Phillie. Or in 2011, we were told of a squad of pitchers called "the Baby Aces' Who here can honestly remember Brody Colvin, Jonathan Pettibone, Trevor May, Jarred Cosart, and Julio Rodriguez? Likewise, we've been told how great Mitch Abel and Andrew Painter are going to be and it appears that they could be trade bait now.

So, I bring this up because, for years now, we Flyers fans have been told about how the team has been stockpiling a youthful squad of young defenders who will patrol the blueline for years to come. Funny thing, I heard this song before.

Go back to 10 years ago. If you check out the roster for the 2014-15 Phantoms, you will see a whole cavalcade of "future stars" for the Flyers. We have 6'4" Mark Alt, 6'1" Robert Hagg, 6'4" Adam Comrie, and 6'1" Brandon Manning. That doesn't include the hulking 6'7" that was Sam Morin. When added to Ivan Provorov, drafted in 2015, and Travis Sanheim, in 2014, the future looked good. Morin was compared, often, to Chris Pronger. The others were big and bruising.

So what happened? Morin couldn't stay healthy. Provorov had some good seasons here in Philly, but never became the full-fledged star he could've been. Sanheim seems to be coming into his own now. Alt became one of those guys who is a great AHL player, but his skills never translated to the NHL level. Hagg was traded for Rasmus Ristolainen and has since bounced around the NHL and AHL levels. Comrie is retired after bouncing around the AHL and two seasons in Austria. Manning has been playing in Sweden after not cutting it in the NHL.

The funny thing is the one man who did succeed out of that 2014 Phantoms team was Shayne Gostisbehere. He became a fan favorite and is now back in the Metro with Carolina.

The Current Crop of Prospects

Ok, so that was 10 years ago. What about the current young players? Cam York has played well but has yet to set the world on fire. The good news for him is that he is just 23 and may still get there. Egor Zamula has taken a lot of steps forward and seems to have the confidence of the Flyers front office for now. The team also seems to like Jamie Drysdale but hope the kid can stay healthy long enough to get some playing time. The Flyers also just re-signed Adam Ginning to a two-year deal, so they like his skill set.

However, with Ristolainen and Nick Seeler still under contract, and the Flyers having just re-signed veteran Erik Johnson, it makes you wonder about the others. Emil Andrae got to play a little bit at the beginning of the season but didn't do enough to secure a spot. Ronnie Attard is probably playing on his last dime as he has yet to make the jump. Helge Grans never was called up. Last year's first-rounder, Oliver Bonk, looks as if he could be ready for the AHL.

Adding fuel to the fire has been some of the rumors swirling around the team lately. Regardless of who is getting dealt, they have been tied to Ottawa's Thomas Chabot and/or Jakob Chychrun. The latter was recently traded to Washington. Some have suggested that the Flyers try to reunite with Sean Walker after his successful season in Philly before being traded at the deadline. He has now signed in Carolina. All of this seems to suggest that the Flyers' management seems to desire someone who can play at the NHL level now rather than wait a few more years for these guys to possibly develop

Some of these prospects have been in the system for a while now. If they haven't impressed team management enough yet, they may have to sell them off while they can still get anything for these once-touted prospects. If they aren't part of the future for the Flyers, they need to be dealt away.

That's the thing about prospects. They can make you feel that a bright future is ahead, but until they play at the big-time level, they are nothing more than a distant mirage.