Anthony Salinitri

Future Flyers Report: Is it time for Samuel Morin, Mike Vecchione call-ups?

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Future Flyers Report: Is it time for Samuel Morin, Mike Vecchione call-ups?

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.

Samuel Morin, D, 21, 6-7/202, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
After Radko Gudas was slapped with a 10-game suspension Sunday, many pointed to Morin as a call-up option to replace Gudas. Here's why that won't happen.

Morin returned just last week after missing a few weeks with an injury. That's one reason. Another is, Andrew MacDonald is nearing a return from his lower-body injury. He could return as early as Tuesday. Mark Alt has played adequately, and if MacDonald is ready to return, the Flyers would need an extra body, not a regular on the blue line.

The Flyers are not going to have Morin sit in the press box. That much is clear. When MacDonald suffered his injury, the Flyers wanted to call Morin up. They announced it but later found Morin was injured himself. Hence the Alt call-up. Tough luck for Morin.

Many believed Morin showed enough to make the Flyers in the preseason. I was among them. I still would like to see the Flyers have Morin with Robert Hagg and Travis Sanheim here. But the Flyers were and are not comfortable with three rookies on defense, and the blue line hasn't been the team's wart.

So Morin will have to stay patient for his opportunity. It will come. Unfortunately, Morin's best route to the NHL this season is a long-term injury to a defenseman already here.

As for what Morin did last week. Morin returned Wednesday and had a rough showing in the Phantoms' 6-2 loss to Belleville. But it wasn't a strong game for any Phantom. On Friday night, Morin had an assist and a fight in Lehigh Valley's 5-2 win over Laval.

Mike Vecchione, C, 24, 5-10/194, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
As the Flyers’ scoring woes outside of their top line continue, the noise for shaking up the roster will continue to get louder and louder, and rightfully so. Many are calling for Danick Martel, who is scoring at a ridiculous clip with the Phantoms. But the more realistic call-up is Vecchione, who had yet another big week as he's banging on the NHL's doorstep.

Vecchione had a pair of two-goal games, including a three-point night, in two games. He accounted for both goals Wednesday in the Phantoms’ 6-2 loss to Belleville and then three points in Friday’s 5-2 win over Laval. After collecting five points in two games last week, Vecchione now leads AHL rookies with 18 points. He ranks second on the Phantoms in goals (6), assists (12), points (18) and points-per-game (1.06).

Now comes the question: Could we see Vecchione in a Flyers uniform soon? It’s a fair question to ask, especially considering the Flyers’ scoring imbalance. I’d like to see Vecchione come up because I think he would be an instant upgrade over Dale Weise, a Ron Hextall signing and a player the Flyers continue to put in a top-nine role.

Vecchione is producing at the AHL level, and he appears physically ready for the NHL too. At some point, the Flyers have to try something. It's still early in the season, but there are enough warning signs that this scoring imbalance could be a problem all year long. Vecchione is an in-house option that could provide an offensive spark to this team.

I doubt we'll see Vecchione get a call-up anytime soon, though. The Flyers are committed to Weise. They have Jori Lehtera and Matt Read in the press box. It doesn't seem like they're open to bringing Vecchione, or anyone else, up yet. That could change soon.

It should.

Connor Bunnaman, C, 19, 6-1/207, Kitchener (OHL)
Bunnaman’s four-game goal streak ended last Tuesday, but it was still a productive week for the Rangers’ captain. Bunnaman recorded three goals and three assists in a four-game week. He had a tally in Kitchener’s 7-5 win Friday over Guelph, scored the game-winner and added an assist in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Barrie and then a goal and an assist Sunday in a 4-1 win over Peterborough.

Bunnaman, in his fourth OHL season, leads the Rangers with 14 goals and ranks second with 20 points. During his current 10-game point binge, Bunnaman has nine goals and 12 points, failing to register a point in just one game.

Anthony Salinitri, C, 19, 5-11/170, Sarnia (OHL)
Salinitri continued to ride an offensive wave last week for the Sting, collecting his first hat trick of the season while his point streak reached four games before ending Sunday.

On Friday night, Salinitri led Sarnia to a 6-3 win over Windsor with his first hat trick of the season and his third of his OHL career. He scored the game’s first goal, broke a 2-2 tie and then scored the game-winner. All three of his goals had an impact. Salinitri had an assist Thursday in Sarnia’s 5-3 loss to Flint. During his four-game point streak, Salinitri had six goals and eight points. He has 23 points in 23 games this season.

Quick Hits
Cooper Marody had two more multi-point games for Michigan. Marody now has eight straight multi-point games, compiling 19 points over that span.

• A big week for Carter Hart, who recorded his 21st career WHL shutout last Wednesday, tying him with Leland Irving for Everett’s franchise record.

Hart’s shutout last week was also his second straight. He then turned in a 31-save performance in a win over Seattle. Then on Sunday, Hart stopped 48 shots in a 2-1 loss to Regina.

Wade Allison had an assist Friday and a two-goals Saturday as No. 15 Western Michigan swept UNO. He has 12 goals and 29 points so far in his sophomore season.

Philippe Myers returned last week after missing four games with a groin injury. Myers had an assist Saturday in the Phantoms’ 5-2 win over Laval.

• Hamilton’s Matthew Strome is heating up. Strome had three goals, including a two-goal game, and four points in three games. He currently has a seven-game point streak, recording six goals and 13 points during that span. 

Wyatt Kalynuk had a four-assist weekend, including a three-assist game for No. 6 Wisconsin, who beat No. 17 Michigan, 7-3, Friday and tied Michigan, 4-4, Saturday.

• Clarkson defenseman Terrance Amorosa had an assist Friday and a goal Saturday. Amorosa has four goals and 13 points 14 games into his senior season.

Future Flyers Report: Still questioning the Morgan Frost draft pick?

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Future Flyers Report: Still questioning the Morgan Frost draft pick?

Welcome back to the return of the Future Flyers Report, a weekly column tracking the development of the Flyers’ prospects. This year, we’ll try some new tricks along the way.

We’re nine days out from the Flyers’ season opener, and when preseason ends, it’s expected that a few mainstays of this report from years past will graduate to the NHL. That’s OK. As the Flyers enter their youth movement, we’ll continue evaluating their first-year players with weekly reports on their progress throughout their rookie seasons.

The CHL opened its regular season last week, and international leagues have been underway since earlier this month. As hockey season returns, let’s dig into the future.

Morgan Frost, C, 18, 5-11/172, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Think back to draft night in June, when the Flyers traded Brayden Schenn to the Blues and then used the 27th overall pick on Frost. Not many knew who Frost was, and the projections had the centerman as a second-round pick. Fans reacted as such on social media, without ever seeing Frost play. I didn’t know too much about the player when the Flyers drafted him, but all the reports were positive and I immediately thought of the Travis Sanheim draft. It’s too early to say Frost will rise to that level of prospect, but he showed in development camp the hockey smarts and playmaking ability that drew the Flyers to him.

Frost had an explosive start to the season this weekend, especially Saturday night in the Greyhounds' season opener against Oshawa, a 7-4 loss. He picked up two assists in Sault Ste. Marie's loss, but his first helper was a dandy. Frost found Tim Gettinger open in the faceoff circle across the ice, through multiple defenders with a slap-pass and Gettinger finished with the goal. On Sunday night, Frost followed up with a shorthanded penalty shot for his first tally of the season.

It was exactly the type of start you'd want to see from Frost, who was sort of a riser in his draft class. It's his third season in the OHL, and you want to see a leap offensively from him. He got off to a strong start this weekend.

Felix Sandstrom, G, 20, 6-2/192, Brynäs IF (SHL)
One of the Flyers’ top goalie prospects, Sandstrom was expected to miss the start of the season because of a simple laparoscopic procedure, but the procedure was postponed. Sandstrom made his first start Thursday, stopping 29 of 32 shots in Brynäs’ 4-2 loss to HV71. With Oskar Lindblom, German Rubtsov and Mikhail Vorobyev in North America, Sandstrom is the most intriguing international prospect in the Flyers’ system. It’s a safe bet he’ll be the top-selling international flavor of this report this year.

Connor Bunnaman, C, 19, 6-1/207, Kitchener (OHL)
Before the Rangers’ first game Friday against Flint, Bunnaman was named the 53rd captain in Kitchener history, replacing Frank Hora, who is with the Phantoms on an AHL contract. Bunnaman joins Mike Richards (2003-05) and Bill Barber (1971-72) as Flyers draft picks who wore the ‘C’ with the Rangers. Paul Evans, who was drafted by the Kings but later played for the Flyers, was the Rangers’ captain in 1973-74. Bunnaman also played in his 200th career OHL game Friday night, recording three shots and no points in a 5-3 Rangers loss. He was highly effective in the Rangers’ 3-1 win over Sarnia on Saturday night with five shots on goal, his first assist and a plus-three rating.

Anthony Salinitri, C, 19, 5-11/170, Sarnia (OHL)
This is an important season for Salinitri if he wants to earn an entry-level contract with the Flyers. This will be the Flyers’ final season of holding Salinitri’s rights before having to decide to either sign him or let him go. They elected not to sign Sam Dove-McFalls this summer, and Salinitri, a 2016 sixth-round pick, is in a similar situation. There’s no guarantee the Flyers sign him, and he was cut early during training camp. With a 50-contract limit, the pressure is on Salinitri to make a major impact this year in Sarnia.

Salinitri’s 2017-18 campaign didn’t get off to a bad start, though. In his first game Friday night, the centerman scored his first goal of the season and also potted a shootout goal in the Sting’s 4-3 win over the Guelph Storm. He did lose 10 of his 13 faceoffs, however. On Saturday night, against Kitchener, Salinitri was a minus-two with two penalty minutes, two shots on goal and no points. He won two of his five faceoffs in the 3-1 loss.

Pascal Laberge, C/RW, 19, 6-1/162, Victoriaville (QMJHL)
Laberge is another prospect with an important season ahead of him. After dealing with more adversity in 2016-17, this time with concussion issues, Laberge has to put himself back in good standing within the Flyers’ organization. General manager Ron Hextall, while understanding of the situation, made it clear this summer he didn’t like the way Laberge competed at times last season. In training camp, Laberge showed he still has a lot of work to do. Still, the 2016 second-round pick still has plenty time to develop.

I would expect Laberge to have a bounce-back season. In Victoriaville’s season opener Friday night, Laberge was the top-line center. He was held pointless in the Tigres’ 2-1 win over Gatineau, registering three shots and winning 50 percent of his draws. Laberge picked up his first point of the season Sunday night, setting up Maxime Comtois' game-winning goal in the Tigres' 4-3 overtime win over Shawinigan.

Quick hits
• Rubtsov was unavailable for Chicoutimi during the Saguenéens’ opening weekend because of paperwork, according to La Presse. He should play this week.

Isaac Ratcliffe, a hulking 6-6 winger, netted a shootout goal in Guelph’s 4-3 loss to Sarnia on Friday but didn’t register any points in either of the Storm’s first two games.

David Kase, a 20-year-old European prospect who’s playing in the SHL this season, had a goal and assist with three shots in Mora IK’s 5-1 win over Rogle on Thursday.

Olle Lycksell, a 2017 sixth-round pick, has four assists in four games with the Linköping HC J20 team.

Linus Högberg, a 2016 fifth-round pick, has an assist in three games with Växjö (SHL).

Valeri Vasiliev has three assists in four games and is averaging over 17 minutes with Severstal (KHL). Vasiliev, 23, was a seventh-round pick in 2012.

• The Russian goalies: Ivan Fedotov has a 1.92 goals-against average and .905 save percentage in four games with Toros Neftekamsk (VHL). Kirill Ustimenko has a 2.00 GAA and .904 save percentage in six games with Dynamo St. Petersburg (MHL).

Future Flyers Report: A look at how CHL prospects progressed as regular season ends

Future Flyers Report: A look at how CHL prospects progressed as regular season ends

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 week's report, we highlight the Flyers' prospects playing in the Canadian Hockey League as the OHL, QJMHL and WHL regular seasons come to an end. Let's dig in.

Philippe Myers, D, 20, 6-5/209, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
The trajectory Myers' development has taken since the Flyers signed him as an undrafted free agent in September 2015 has been astonishing. For all intents and purposes, the Flyers found themselves another first-round defenseman in Myers. If he would have entered the draft last season, many believe he would have been taken in the first round. This season didn't dispel that notion, either. Myers finished the 2016-17 season -- one mired with a couple concussions, one that cut his world juniors short -- scorching hot. The smooth-skating blueliner picked up a goal and two assists in three games last week, picking up a point in each game. He finished the season on a five-game point streak, compiling nine points during that span. In 34 games with Rouyn-Noranda, Myers reached double-digit goals (10) and picked up 25 assists. The 2-seeded Huskies will face the 15-seeded Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL playoffs, which begin this Friday night.

Pascal Laberge, RW, 18, 6-1/174, Victoriaville (QMJHL)
It has been a trying 2016-17 season for the Flyers' 2016 second-round pick. Last week, the regular season ended with Laberge serving a one-game suspension Friday and picking up a goal in Victoriaville's 5-3 win over Rouyn-Noranda on Saturday night. Laberge missed time this season because of a concussion and an illness and struggled to regain consistency throughout. He was a victim of a dirty headshot in October that forced him out of the lineup for a while. But Laberge did end his regular season well on a three-game point streak (one goal, two assists). In 46 games, Laberge had just 12 goals and 32 points, 36 fewer points in 10 fewer games than his total from the 2015-16 campaign. He'll have a chance to continue his recent momentum in the playoffs when the Tigres face Chicoutimi in the first round.

German Rubtsov, C, 18, 6-0/190, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
Rubtsov missed the Saguenéens' final six games because of an upper-body injury but the Flyers' 2016 first-round pick is reportedly skating and will be reevaluated this week before Chicoutimi's first-round matchup with Victoriaville in the playoffs. If Rubtsov is unable to suit up in the postseason, his brief stint in the QMJHL was quite an impressive one. He registered 22 points in 16 games -- nine goals, five power-play tallies, and 13 assists. He was held pointless in just three regular-season games and had six multi-point contests.

Samuel Dove-McFalls, C, 19, 6-1/207, Saint John's (QMJHL)
The Flyers' 2015 fourth-round pick finished his 2016-17 season on a tear, picking up three assists in three games last week. Dove-McFalls had points in seven of his last eight games and 12 of the final 15 games of the regular season with five multi-point efforts and 17 points. He finished the season with 17 goals and 53 points in 65 games and a plus-21 rating. Saint John's is the top seed in the playoffs and will face Rimouski on Friday in the first round.

Carter Hart, G, 18, 6-1/181, Everett (WHL)
Another season in which Hart has put himself in the running for the CHL Goaltender of the Year Award, an honor he won last season before the Flyers plucked him in the second round of last June's draft. Hart helped Everett win the U.S. Division last week with three wins. Hart was rewarded with a night off in the season finale Sunday. Hart stopped 26 of 27 shots, 25 of 27 and 25 of 27 in three games last week, respectively. He finished the regular season 32-11-6 with a 1.99 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and nine shutouts. He led the WHL in goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts. Everett will play Victoria in the first round of the WHL playoffs, which begin Friday night as well.

Carsen Twarynski, LW, 19, 6-1/181, Kelowna (WHL)
Twarynski recorded four assists in three games last season as the Rockets ended their regular season with two wins and a loss. He finished the regular season with eight points -- two goals and six assists -- in the final seven games. Overall, Twarynski finished two points shy of his 2015-16 total with 43 points split between Kelowna and Calgary. He was traded from Calgary to the Rockets midseason. He had 22 points in 28 games with the Rockets, and 21 points in 36 games with the Hitmen. Kelowna faces Kamloops in the first round Friday.

Connor Bunnaman, C, 18, 6-0/183, Kitchener (OHL)
Bunnaman registered both of the Rangers' goals in their 3-2 overtime loss to Erie last Friday night. The 2016 fourth-round pick sent the game to overtime with 1:27 left in regulation, when he dove at a rebound and whacked it into the net for his 37th goal of the season. He was held pointless in Kitchener's 7-2 loss to Owen Sound on Saturday night in the regular-season finale. Bunnaman finished the season with 37 goals -- 16 power-play tallies -- and 52 points in 64 games. The Rangers have clinched the sixth seed in the Western Conference and will face either London or Owen Sound in the first round on Friday night.

Anthony Salinitri, C, 19, 5-11/170, Sarnia (OHL)
Salinitri finished his 2016-17 campaign on a roll, picking up three goals in two games last week, seven points in his final five games and 16 points in his final 15 games. Salinitri, a sixth-round pick in last June's NHL draft, potted a goal in Sarnia's 4-2 win over Windsor last Wednesday and netted a pair of goals in the Sting's season finale Friday against Guelph Storm, a 4-2 loss. His first goal Friday was a beautiful snipe from way out. Sarnia, which lost Travis Konecny this season to the Flyers, benefitted from a solid season from Salinitri, who finished the regular season with 28 goals and 30 assists in 66 games. His 58 points were third on Sarnia. The Sting will face off against 1-seed Erie in the first round of the playoffs.

Quick hits
Merrick Madsen led No. 2 Harvard to an ECAC Championship over the weekend with two stellar performances Friday and Saturday nights. Madsen stopped 24 of 25 shots in the Crimson's 4-1 win over No. 18 Quinnipiac on Friday, and 24 of 25 in a 4-1 win over Cornell Saturday in the final. Madsen was named the ECAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Harvard was awarded a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday and will face Providence Friday.

Tanner Laczynski scored one goal in four Big Ten Tournament games, as No. 13 Ohio State fell to No. 18 Wisconsin, 2-1, in the semifinals last Friday night. With Penn State beating Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, Ohio State clinched a spot in the tournament. The Buckeyes will face No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth Friday in the West Region.

Cooper Marody picked up an assist in Michigan's 4-1 loss to No. 15 Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament. Marody's season is over. He finished his sophomore campaign with five goals and 10 assists in 18 games. He was academically ineligible during the first semester.

Wade Allison did not play as No. 8 Western Michigan was ousted from the NCHC Tournament on Friday night with a 5-2 loss to No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth. Allison was sent to the hospital on March 12 after a collision against Omaha in the quarterfinals. Allison's injury is not believed to be serious and he could play in the NCAA Tournament. WMU is in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament and will face off against Air Force on Friday.

Mark Friedman failed to register a point as Bowling Green fell to Minnesota Tech, 3-2, in the WCHA Championship Game Saturday. Friedman finished his junior season with eight goals and 18 assists in 40 games. There's been some chatter he could forgo his senior year.

Anthony Stolarz started one game last week, a 3-2 win over Wilkes-Barre Scranton on Saturday in which he turned away 37 of 39 shots, his strongest performance in a while.

• Phantoms goalie Alex Lyon started two of their three games last week, losing twice and yielding nine goals on 100 shots faced. He's started six of Lehigh Valley's last eight games and started three games in a row for the first time since Stolarz returned to the AHL.

Taylor Leier (suspected concussion) returned to the Phantoms' lineup on Saturday night for the first time since Jan. 28. He was pointless and a minus-1 in the Phantoms' 3-2 win.

Oskar Lindblom picked up two assists in Brynäs IF's 6-0 win over Linkoping to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven SHL playoff series. Felix Sandstrom did not start in net.