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.
In this edition, we’ll try to make sense of a highly-touted prospect not living up to his hype … and try to answer the question if we, the media, built him up too much.
Oskar Lindblom, LW, 21, 6-1/192, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
I think it’s a fair time to reflect on this question, because coming into this season, there was a ton of noise surrounding Lindblom’s move to North America. Many, including myself, expected Lindblom to crack the Flyers’ lineup immediately and he didn’t.
With prospects, it’s easy to get carried away sometimes. Especially when they dominate their respective leagues, and in Lindblom’s case, he dictated the SHL as a 20-year-old.
Through seven games with the Phantoms, Lindblom's offense has yet to blossom. He scooped up his first assist in the Phantoms' 4-3 win Saturday over Binghamton.
"He's playing hard," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said of Lindblom last Thursday. "Is he to the level that he can play? No, he's not but that's going to come. …
"Everybody's talking about him. He comes here, there's all this hype. It's unfair, quite frankly, the expectations that some of these kids come in with."
Lindblom came overseas after he scored 61 points in 72 games, including postseason, last season with Brynäs IF. Add in international play, it was even more impressive.
There was a ton of interest around Lindblom during development camp in July. It was clear then he was strong enough to play in the NHL, even in a non-competitive camp. Then came the rookie camp. The strength was there, the compete level was there.
Then came training camp and preseason. Lindblom started strong but fizzled out. The scoring didn't come as naturally as expected and while his skating was visibly improved, there were still times you could see additional work was needed in this atmosphere.
"Oskar did some good things (in preseason)," Hextall said. "Probably not quite at the level that we want him to get to or that he's hoping to. It was pretty obvious — not early, but as we got along, that he wasn't quite ready for this level. That's OK. He didn't fail.”
As easy as it is to get carried away with prospects, it’s just as easy to overreact. Lindblom hasn’t quite performed as projected yet, but it’s easy to dismiss the rink and speed adjustment from playing in Sweden to North America. He remains a top prospect.
And on Saturday against the Devils, Lindblom started to show signs of the player people expected to see. He created chances, rung some posts and was strong on the puck.
Did we overhype Lindblom? I don’t think so. Did we place unfair expectations on him?
Yeah, perhaps we did.
2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series
Last week, Teams WHL, QMJHL and OHL revealed their rosters for this year’s series, which begins Nov. 6 and ends Nov. 16. Team Russia has yet to announce its roster.
Three Flyers prospects are confirmed for the series: Carter Hart (Everett, Team WHL), Pascal Laberge (Victoriaville, Team QMJHL) and Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie, Team OHL). German Rubtsov is not on Team QMJHl but should be on Team Russia.
Hart remains out of action because of mono but appears to be getting closer to a return.
Laberge is enjoying a solid start to his 2017-18 campaign. In three games last week, Laberge, 19, had two assists. He now has 10 points in 10 games this season.
Rubtsov had a goal and two assists last week for Chicoutimi and has six points during his current six-game point streak. He scored his first of the season Saturday night.
Frost, the Flyers’ second 2017 first-round pick, continued to produce for the Greyhounds last week with a goal and three assists in three games. He has 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 14 games this season and is a plus-11.
• Mike Vecchione added two more assists last week with the Phantoms. He’s on a four-game assist streak and is a point-per-game play thus far (seven in seven).
• Philippe Myers suffered an injury in the second period of the Phantoms’ 5-2 win over Bridgeport Friday night and missed Saturday’s game. There is no update on his status.
• Nicolas Aube-Kubel had a two-point weekend, picking up an assist Friday and scoring Saturday night. He’s on a three-game point streak and has five in seven games.
• Samuel Morin stuffed the stat sheet on Saturday night, with a goal, assist, three shots and six penalty minutes. He had an assist Friday and has points in three straight. Morin appears in line to be called up to the Flyers after Andrew MacDonald's injury.
• Though not considered a high-end prospect by any means, Danick Martel, 22, is worth mentioning. The 5-foot-8 winger is off to a torrid start with the Phantoms.
Martel had two goals and an assist Friday against Bridgeport. He has seven goals and 10 points in seven games, with three multi-point games, 23 shots and a plus-10 rating.
• Wade Allison had a two-assist night in Western Michigan’s 6-4 loss to Michigan State. He has seven assists and nine points, with three multi-point games, in seven games.
• It was a big weekend for sophomore Tanner Laczynski, who had an assist Friday and three assists Saturday night as Ohio State swept Massachusetts.
• Carsen Twarynski had a hat trick Saturday night in Kelowna’s 7-2 win over Portland. Watch all three goals here. Twarynski has six goals and 11 points in nine games.
• Guelph winger Isaac Ratcliffe had a two-goal game Saturday night in the Storm’s 2-1 win over Saginaw. He was pointless in two other games last week.
• Maksim Sushko followed up a monster six-point weekend with a goal and an assist this past weekend for Owen Sound.
• Wyatt Kalynuk recorded his first collegiate point, an assist, in No. 6 Wisconsin’s 4-0 win over Northern Michigan on Saturday night. Kalynuk has one point in seven games.
• Matej Tomek stopped 20 of 21 shots in USHL Waterloo’s 4-1 win over Sioux City.
• A rare clunker from Felix Sandstrom last week. Sandstrom allowed five goals on 36 shots in Brynäs IF’s 5-4 loss to Rögle BK on Thursday.
• Olle Lycksell had two goals last week for Linköping HC J20. He has five goals and 10 points in 13 games, one more point in the league than he had in 29 games last season.