The Flyers' other top goalie prospect is back

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Tom Dougherty | NBCSP

The Flyers' other top goalie prospect is back

Before this week begins, it’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

Felix Sandstrom, G, 21, 6-2/102, Brynäs IF (SHL)
With as much noise as Carter Hart is making this season, it’s easy to forget about the other highly touted goaltending prospect in the Flyers’ pipeline. Sandstrom has not been featured much in this season’s Future Flyers Report, and it’s not because he’s fallen off.

Sandstrom, who turned 21 this past Friday, returned to game action last week after missing a few months with an injury. Sandstrom, loaned to IK Oskarshamn of the Allsvenskan as a plan to ease him back in,  allowed four goals on 60 shots in two games last week.

The plan, coming into the year, was for Sandstrom to spend one more season in Sweden before jumping overseas in 2018-19. Now because of injuries, one has to wonder if Sandstrom will re-up for one more season with Brynäs IF or stay on course.

Wade Allison, RW, 20, 6-2/205, Western Michigan (NCAA)
The Broncos returned to action last week after the winter break, and the stoppage didn’t slow down Allison. The sophomore continued his breakout season at Western Michigan, picking up two assists Friday as the No. 12 Broncos upset No. 2 St. Cloud State, 7-5.

On Saturday, Allison suffered a lower-body injury in the first period of WMU’s match with St. Cloud State and did not return, ending his four-game point streak.

Allison is one of three prospects tearing up the NCAA, joining Tanner Laczynski (Ohio State) and Cooper Marody (Michigan). The trio is among the nation’s top scorers. Laczynski’s 34 points are second, Marody is tied for third with 31 and Allison with 30.

Of the three, Allison has the highest NHL ceiling. Allison is one of three 2016 second-round picks, with Hart and Pascal Laberge being the other two. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Flyers try to convince Allison into leaving college early after this season.

Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, 18, 6-6/205, Guelph (OHL)
Ratcliffe has battled inconsistency during his draft plus-1 season with the Storm, but Friday night, he showed why Flyers GM Ron Hextall traded up in last June's draft to select him.

The 6-foot-6 winger potted two goals in Guelph's 4-2 win over Kingston. His first goal tied the game at 2-2, and he then won it with a shorthanded marker at 14:52 in the third period. On his first goal, Ratcliffe showed an incredible ability to score from in tight. The second goal, he displayed surprisingly quick speed for a player of his size.

In 41 games this year, Ratcliffe has 21 goals and 36 points with a minus-13 rating. He’s been a streaky player, either scoring in bunches or going games without scoring. That’s part of the maturation process, but you’d like to see a little more consistency from him.

Morgan Frost, C, 18, 5-11/172, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
As Frost continues to rake in the OHL, we’ll continue to feature him in this report. Frost extended his point streak to 20 games Saturday. He had six points in three games last week. He has 45 points during his 20-game point streak. He leads the OHL in points (71), assists (44), plus/minus (50) and fifth in goals (27). Read more about Frost here.

Quick hits
• Laczynski had a five-point weekend — one goal, four assists — against Penn State.

• Marody had a goal in each of Michigan’s two games against Minnesota. His teammate and fellow Flyers prospect, Brendan Warren, had three goals vs. the Golden Gophers.

• Hart stopped 31 of 33 shots in his first start for Everett on Saturday night in his first game since returning from the world juniors. Hart stopped 24 of 27 shots Sunday night to extend his WHL winning streak to 10 games.

• In five games since returning from the world juniors, German Rubtsov has three goals, including a two-goal game Sunday, and three assists for Acadie-Bathurst.

• It was a big week for Kelowna's Carsen Twarynski, who had two goals and four assists in three games. He’s up to 49 points in 40 games this season.

• Kitchener captain Connor Bunnaman ended a six-game pointless streak Sunday with an assist against London.

Anthony Salinitri had two goals and an assist in two games last week for Sarnia.

Eagles get exactly what they wished for

Eagles get exactly what they wished for

The Eagles asked for it … and, well, they've got their wish.

After the second-seeded Vikings shocked the fourth-seeded Saints on a 61-yard walk-off Stefon Diggs touchdown, the top-seeded Eagles will host Minnesota at 6:40 p.m. next Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field (see story).

And once more, the Birds will be underdogs.

The early betting line pegs the Vikings as a 3½-point favorite over the Eagles.

Per Bovada, the Eagles' odds to win the Super Bowl are 5/1, behind the Patriots and Vikings and ahead of Jaguars.

That's OK with the Eagles. This is what they wanted.

After beating the sixth-seeded Falcons, 15-10, Saturday night, the Eagles pointed to their underdog mentality as extra motivation. Brandon Graham wanted Vegas to do it again.

"Hey, do it again next week," Graham said at his locker Saturday night.

Graham asked and he received. The Eagles, the NFL's best record and all, will again be underdogs. This time, as they host the NFC Championship Game.

Let it be known, Vegas let these dogs out.

When could we see Carter Hart with Flyers?

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AP Images

When could we see Carter Hart with Flyers?

This story accompanies this week's Future Flyers Report, which you can find here.

We're going to look at six of the NHL's top goaltenders and their timelines before reaching the NHL. Flyers GM Ron Hextall appears to be more conservative with his prospects than we thought, but in the attempt of an honest breakdown, we'll attempt to draw up a potential timeline for when Carter Hart could be minding the net for the Flyers. 

The six goalies are Carey Price, Matt Murray, Jonathan Quick, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Cory Schneider and Tuukka Rask. All were drafted and only Rask made his NHL debut with another team. This isn't 100 percent scientific but a glimpse at other goalies' timelines.

Hart is 19 years old and in his final season of junior. He'll turn pro next year at 20. How long he stays in Lehigh Valley is the question. Some goalies take longer than others, and we won't know with Hart until he hits the pro ranks.

There’s the long-term development route such as Schneider. Schneider spent three full seasons in the AHL before becoming a full-time NHLer, though Vancouver had a bona fide No. 1 in Roberto Luongo blocking him.

Then there’s the almost immediate jump from junior to the NHL. For example, Price. Price began the 2007-08 season with Hamilton but found his way to the Canadiens after 10 games in the AHL.

We can look at Quick and Murray, both Stanley Cup-winning goalies who spent at least one season in the AHL before making the jump. With Quick, he spent a year between the ECHL and AHL before leaping to the NHL full-time in December 2008. Murray spent one year in the AHL before joining the Pens in 2015-16 and helping Pittsburgh win its first of back-to-back Cups as a 21-year-old.

Price made the NHL full-time at 20, while Murray, Vasilevskiy and Quick made the jump when they were 21 — Quick was called up one month before turning 22. Rask became a full-timer as a 22-year-old, and Schneider was 24. The average age comes out to 21.5 years.

If we use Price as an outlier, then we can aim for 2019-20 as a starting point for when we could see Hart with the Flyers full-time. It also aligns with the Flyers’ current goalie situation, as both Brian Elliott’s and Michal Neuvirth’s contracts expire after 2018-19.

Hart will be 21 when the 2019-20 campaign begins with one year of AHL experience, and the fact the Flyers currently have no goalies signed for that season, it’s a safe bet that could be the year Hextall is targeting for one of his goalie prospects to make the jump.

An educated guess? We’ll see Hart full-time as a Flyer at some point during the 2019-20 season. Whether that’s at the start or sometime midseason remains to be seen.