Flyers

Flyers 2017 rookie camp: Outlook, projections for 25 players on roster

Flyers 2017 rookie camp: Outlook, projections for 25 players on roster

Sometimes rookie camp features a few prospects with legitimate shots at cracking the Flyers' roster when big camp breaks.

This year's edition is a bit different.

As the Flyers' youth movement picks up a notch, 2017 rookie camp presents five to six players with a conceivable chance to make the big club on opening night or at some point this season.

Those prospects and many others kick things off Monday at Flyers Skate Zone before main training camp opens Friday.

Let's get you set for rookie camp by breaking down the roster, which is comprised of 25 players:

Forwards (16)

Nicolas Aube-Kubel, RW, 5-11/187, No. 62
Outlook: The 21-year-old's prolific junior scoring didn't translate into his first year of AHL competition, which is common for some prospects in Year 1 of the jump. More acclimated and with a bigger role, the 2014 second-round pick is excited for Year 2 in Lehigh Valley.

Projection: Second season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Connor Bunnaman, C, 6-1/207, No. 82
Outlook: Bunnaman, a physical two-way center, had a breakout 2016-17 junior season, scoring 37 goals after posting 16 the year prior. Selected in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, the 19-year-old signed his entry-level contract with the Flyers in April.

Projection: Fourth season with OHL's Kitchener Rangers

Radel Fazleev, C, 6-1/192, No. 65
Outlook: Fazleev, 21, is coming off his first pro season with the Phantoms in which he put up 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 65 games. The 2014 sixth-round pick endured a difficult transition because of a more limited role compared to his days with the WHL's Calgary Hitmen.

Projection: Second season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Morgan Frost, C/LW, 5-11/172, No. 68
Outlook: The Flyers' other first-round pick from this past June, Frost is a smart and skilled facilitator with high offensive upside. The 18-year-old, who wants to prove his well-roundedness in 2017-18, is still growing into his body but may be closer to the NHL than it appears.

Projection: Third season with OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Ivan Kosorenkov, RW, 6-0/181, No. 89
Outlook: As of right now, the Russian winger is the Flyers' only training camp invite. He impressed at development camp after surprisingly going undrafted this summer. A teammate of Flyers prospect Pascal Laberge, the 19-year-old scored 34 goals in the QMJHL last season and will try to earn a contract with the Flyers.

Projection: Second season with QMJHL's Victoriaville Tigres

Pascal Laberge, C, 6-1/162, No. 75
Outlook: Laberge went through a hellish 2016-17 season. He was the victim of a vicious hit, resulting in a bad concussion and mental hurdles thereafter. The 2016 second-round pick possesses excellent makeup and is anxious to be his old self in his 19-year-old season.

Projection: Fourth season with QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres

Oskar Lindblom, LW, 6-1/192, No. 54
Outlook: Once a relatively unknown 2014 fifth-round pick, Lindblom is now on everybody's radar. The 21-year-old Swede has developed into one of the organization's top prospects and will be pushing hard for a roster spot after showing his game in the SHL. Lindblom's size and scoring ability on the wing have many believing he is a building block and soon-to-be difference-maker.

Projection: First season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms or the Flyers

Nolan Patrick, C, 6-2/198, No. 64
Outlook: A training camp headliner, the 2017 No. 2 overall pick will have all eyes on him as he shoots for the Flyers' roster instead of a return to the WHL. Patrick, who turns 19 next week, is a do-it-all talent up the middle but must prove he's ready for the rigors of the NHL after an injury-plagued draft year and June abdominal surgery. It will be hard, though, to send him back to junior hockey — he can help now.

Projection: Either returns to WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings or makes Flyers' roster

Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, 6-5/205, No. 76
Outlook: A big boy, Ratcliffe is strong on his skates and soft with his hands around the net. Some viewed him as a first-round pick in June. The Flyers traded up to snag him in the second round (35th overall). The 18-year-old comes with a tall ceiling and will try to build off a 28-goal, 26-assist junior campaign.

Projection: Third season with OHL's Guelph Storm

German Rubtsov, C, 6-0/187, No. 63
Outlook: The 2016 first-round pick was super impressive at development camp in July and this marks his first rookie/training camp with the Flyers. The 19-year-old owns an advanced game and can do a lot of things. Once the Russian center played with his age group last season, his potential glowed.

Projection: First full season with QMJHL's Chicoutimi Sagueneens or first season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Anthony Salinitri, C, 5-11/170, No. 86
Outlook: Salinitri, 19, made big strides last season with Sarnia, going from 17 goals and 13 assists in 2015-16 to 28 and 30 in 2016-17 — not bad for a 2016 sixth-round pick. A former junior teammate of Travis Konecny, Salinitri exhibits nice speed at the center position.

Projection: Fourth season with OHL's Sarnia Sting

Matthew Strome, LW, 6-3/201, No. 78
Outlook: A ton to like in his size and skill on the wing but Strome is a flawed skater, a reason he dropped to the fourth round this summer. Still, that's a trait an NHL organization can massage and mold with time. The 18-year-old is a good kid and understands hard work.

Projection: Third season with OHL's Hamilton Bulldogs

Maksim Sushko, RW, 6-0/179, No. 90
Outlook: The Flyers' 2017 fourth-round pick from Belarus is a fast skater and polished with his stick. Only 18 years old, don't be surprised to see a considerable increase in offensive production for his second junior campaign.

Projection: Second season with OHL's Owen Sound Attack

Carsen Twarynski, LW, 6-2/201, No. 81
Outlook: Traded from the Calgary Hitmen during the 2016-17 season, Twarynski was strong with the Kelowna Rockets, totaling 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 28 games with a plus-19 rating. The 2016 third-round pick is a tough-minded forward with good size. Set for his fourth junior season, he turns 20 years old in November.

Projection: First full season with WHL's Kelowna Rockets

Mike Vecchione, RW, 5-10/194, No. 74
Outlook: Far from inexperienced, Vecchione was a four-year standout at Union College, signed with the Flyers at the end of March and made his NHL debut in April. An intelligent and dedicated player, the 24-year-old will be fighting for a job in a forwards group brimming with competition.

Projection: First season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms or the Flyers

Mikhail Vorobyev, C, 6-2/207, No. 46
Outlook: The 20-year-old Russian played in the KHL last season and opened eyes at the world juniors with a tournament-leading 10 assists in seven games. The 2015 fourth-round pick enjoys creating behind the net and will be a player to watch at Lehigh Valley.

Projection: First season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Defensemen (7)

James de Haas, D, 6-4/209, No. 85
Outlook: Another big blueliner, de Haas, 23, signed with the Phantoms in August after four years with Clarkson University. As a captain last season, de Haas tallied 29 points — most by a Clarkson defenseman in 14 years — on seven goals and 22 assists in 37 games.

Projection: First season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Mark Friedman, D, 5-10/191, No. 59
Outlook: A bit under the radar given the rich amount of defensive prospects in the Flyers' system, Friedman goes all out and has two years of USHL experience along with three years of college (Bowling Green State). Don't forget about the 2014 third-round pick at Lehigh Valley.

Projection: First season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Frank Hora, D, 6-1/203, No. 77
Outlook: The 21-year-old signed with the Phantoms in July after playing four years with the OHL's Kitchener Rangers. More of a stay-at-home defenseman, Hora registered a career-high 33 points in his second junior campaign.

Projection: First season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Sam Morin, D, 6-6/227, No. 50
Outlook: This should be the season the 2013 first-round pick makes the jump to join the Flyers' youthful blue line. Morin, 22, has had plenty of seasoning. Strong along the boards and in his own end, he looked the part in his NHL debut last April.

Projection: Third season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms or first season with Flyers

Phil Myers, D, 6-5/209, No. 61
Outlook: With a full summer of good health and training, the 20-year-old is stronger and could be a dark horse to make the Flyers out of camp. Myers looks like an absolute steal as an undrafted free agent the Flyers snagged in 2015. A true two-way defenseman, Myers is getting much closer to making an impact in orange and black. 

Projection: First season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Travis Sanheim, D, 6-4/199, No. 57
Outlook: If not out of camp, Sanheim very well could be with the Flyers at some point in 2017-18. The 2014 first-round pick is the Flyers' most talented defensive prospect. Only 21 years old, Sanheim has come a long way physically and in his own end, while his offense is already there. Despite facing a bit of a numbers crunch this season, he's "coming to make the Flyers," he said.

Projection: Second season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Reece Willcox, D, 6-3/183, No. 60
Outlook: The 2012 fifth-round pick played 48 games last season with the Phantoms, his first at the AHL level. The Cornell product is a complementary defenseman and the 23-year-old will want to see more action in 2017-18.

Projection: Second season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Goalies (2)

Carter Hart, G, 6-1/177, No. 79
Outlook: Mature beyond his years, Hart is a mentally sound goalie with a precocious game. The 19-year-old has been superb at the junior level and it'll be intriguing to see how much he dominates that competition in 2017-18. Many view the 2016 second-round pick as the Flyers' goalie of the future.

Projection: Fourth season with WHL's Everett Silvertips

Alex Lyon, G, 6-1/201, No. 49
Outlook: Lyon will be the guy at Lehigh Valley this season after the injury to Anthony Stolarz. Following a stellar career at Yale, Lyon was solid in Year 1 with the Phantoms, posting a 2.74 goals-against average and .912 save percentage. He turns 25 years old in December and may see the Flyers if an injury hits the big club's goalie tandem of Michal Neuvirth and Brian Elliott.

Projection: Second season with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Ding dong, the Flyers-Penguins rivalry is gone

Ding dong, the Flyers-Penguins rivalry is gone

Michal Neuvirth stood by his locker Wednesday night dejected, like the rest of his teammates, after the Flyers’ latest blunder, an embarrassing 5-0 loss on home ice to the Penguins in Game 4.

The Flyers are on the brink of elimination to the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, and Wednesday's defeat was the latest reminder of their current state of affairs.

"Definitely good to get in the mix," said Neuvirth, who replaced Brian Elliott in the second period for his first game action since March 28. "But tough outcome tonight. We lost it to a better team tonight."

With that, Neuvirth perfectly encapsulated exactly where the Flyers stand in this first-round playoff series with Pittsburgh. It's definitely good to be in the mix, and they lost to the better team.

We've heard that before and we'll hear it again, but it doesn't make it any easier to swallow. This Flyers team isn't quite there yet, to compete with the Penguins or in the playoffs.

There are encouraging signs. The postseason experience will pay off in the long run — it's better than not being there. Nolan Patrick, 19, has perhaps been the Flyers' most consistent forward in the series. He was the only player who competed Wednesday.

But goaltending remains an eyesore and rookie mistakes are consistently being made by veterans, and some appear immune to accountability. Game 4 was as ugly as it gets (see story), and that's counting a series that included a 7-0 loss in Game 1.

The Flyers were never really in Wednesday's game outside of about a two-minute stretch in the first period, when they were buzzing in the Pittsburgh zone until a Scott Laughton centering pass turned into a Penguins odd-man rush.

Bang, 2-0 Pittsburgh. Ballgame.

"From our standpoint," Dave Hakstol said, "we have to look from within. There's going to be momentum swings, there are going to be pushes, but we haven't been able to reestablish our game quick enough to give ourselves an opportunity."

Wednesday served as another grim reminder. This Flyers-Penguins rivalry, well, isn't much of a rivalry and hasn't been one in quite some time now.

Coming into this series, we heard the old storylines, about how much these two teams hate each other, how close games are, but the hate hasn't been there for a while and the games, they haven't been close, either.

The Penguins have dominated the Flyers, this season especially. With the 5-0 win Wednesday, the Pens have outscored the Flyers, 38-17, in eight total games and 20-4 in games played at the Wells Fargo Center.

The hype machine was on full blast and we all bought into it. It's the playoffs, different animal, but some things never change no matter the environment.

At some point, it's time to bury the hatchet.

It was fun while it lasted, but for now, the Flyers-Penguins rivalry is no more.

Another home nightmare has Flyers walking the plank

Another home nightmare has Flyers walking the plank

BOX SCORE

After watching what transpired over the last two games, there’s a strong feeling the Flyers played their final game on South Broad Street this season.

And for those who forked over postseason prices for Stanley Cup Playoff hockey, those fans certainly didn’t receive face value for what they paid.

For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Flyers dropped Games 3 and 4 on home ice, and neither game was even remotely competitive. After the Flyers lost, 5-1, in Game 3, the Penguins dimmed the lights at the Wells Fargo Center and shut off any electricity the crowd was hoping to generate in Game 4 with a 5-0 shutout (see observations).

Simply put, the Flyers looked deflated and dejected knowing they would be forced to play without Sean Couturier, who was a game-time decision but officially ruled out 40 minutes before the opening faceoff.

“They came out hard,” Andrew MacDonald said. “We kind of looked a bit flustered and I don’t know if it was attributed to the lines or what, but it certainly wasn’t a great start for us.”

Whatever rivalry existed between the Flyers and Penguins coming into this season was hardly recognizable in the four games played in Philadelphia (two regular season, two playoff), where the home team was outscored 20-4 (see story).

Just the mere presence of the Penguins in this building is expected to bring out the best in the Flyers. Instead, we saw them at their worst, and nothing irks Flyers fans more than watching Sidney Crosby walk out of the City of Brotherly Love with six points and two victories in a pair of playoff games. 

“It’s disappointing,” Dave Hakstol said. “You take that upon yourself. Bluntly, we’re not happy about it. It wasn’t good enough.”

The Flyers may have fed off the home crowd for one period on Sunday afternoon, but even as they barraged the Penguins with constant pressure, they still found themselves down 1-0 after the opening 20 minutes. After a slew of penalties in the second period, the Flyers were never the same.

Disapproval poured down Wednesday when the Flyers flopped on their power play, which finished 0 for 10 in the two games on home ice, and the crowd of 19,644 booed unmercifully as the horn sounded after each period.

With the Wells Fargo Center half empty midway through the third period, the postseason frenzy felt more like a preseason yawner. 

“Fire Hakstol” chants could be heard from the upper deck — the first time that phrase echoed throughout the building since the 10-game winless streak in November.

Prior to this week, the lasting memory of a playoff series against Pittsburgh was Claude Giroux decking Crosby on the opening shift of Game 6 in 2012 and then proceeding to score the first goal as the Flyers eliminated their cross-state rival.

For whatever reason, the Flyers never evolved into a dominant team on home ice this season. The Flyers' 22 wins were the fewest of the 16 teams to reach the postseason and even three non-playoff teams finished with better records at home.  

At times, the Flyers played too cute or tried to execute too perfectly in their building, but in this series, it was just too ugly.

“Earn Tomorrow” was the Flyers' playoff slogan coming into this series.

After what the Wells Fargo Center witnessed this week, a chance at tomorrow may be too much to bear.