Felix Sandstrom

2 Flyers prospects have grown by 'leaps and bounds'

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2 Flyers prospects have grown by 'leaps and bounds'

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.

Mikhail Vorobyev, C, 21, 6-2/207, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Vorobyev returned to action last week after missing more than a month with an undisclosed injury. Vorobyev recorded an assist in his first game back Friday night in Lehigh Valley’s 5-2 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. It was the Russian’s first game since Dec. 12. He was pointless in the Phantoms’ 3-2 OT loss Saturday to Utica.

“He’s another guy that is leaps and bounds from where he was at the start of the year,” Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon told NBC Sports Philadelphia last week. “It was disappointing that he got hurt when he did because he was starting to come into his own, starting to get more confidence in how he needed to play over here in a smaller rink and the spacing of it and not playing a perimeter game and getting more to the net.”

Samuel Morin, D, 22, 6-7/202, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Morin’s latest injury forced the hulking defenseman to miss the Phantoms’ final three games before the AHL All-Star break. He's appeared in just 15 games this season because of injuries, and his most recent injury came at a time he was “playing more like the Sam that we’ve seen — that was encouraging,” Gordon said.

“It’s going to get taken care of and Sam is going to get himself back into playing shape and play the type of hockey we know that he can play,” Gordon said, “and the type of hockey that’s going to give him success in the NHL.

"The kid's game is about intimidation as far as that presence of 6-foot-7. He's got a mean edge to him when he plays. That part of the game is easy for him. What I was happy about was, his playmaking decisions with the puck in the last three games. That was something you're constantly, as a defenseman, want to get better at."

Oskar Lindblom, LW, 21, 6-1/192, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Lindblom tallied his 13th goal of the season in the Phantoms’ final game before the break Saturday night. Gordon spoke highly of the Swedish winger’s growth throughout his first full season in North America. Gordon noted that Lindblom’s six-game pointless streak to begin the year was mostly bad luck. Lindblom has 29 points in 45 games.

"The thing that's been really impressive is,' Gordon said, "the puck started going in, but how much stuff he started creating on his own. Being in a battle with two guys and coming out with the puck. A puck that looks like it's going to get poked off his stick, he somehow manages to keep it on his stick and then makes the next play from there.

"I knew Oskar from when he was over here two years ago," Gordon said, "but I didn't know how strong he was in his battle, compete level on loose pucks in one-on-one battles. That to me, out of all of our forwards, he's head and shoulders over everybody and as a result, a lot of his offense comes from stuff like that. He makes plays to his linemates that other players might not get the opportunity because they don't even get to start with the puck because they can't compete and battle the way he does."

Quick hits
Felix Sandstrom remains on loan to IK Oskarshamn of the Allsvenskan. He has a .914 save percentage and 2.65 goals-against average in four games with Oskarshamn.

• Phantoms center Mike Vecchione has a three-game goal streak and a four-game point streak. Here is Vecchione’s goal Saturday night that extended his goal streak.

• After his 20-game point streak ended, Sault Ste. Marie’s Morgan Frost has ignited another. He had a seven-point week in three games and has points in his last four games. He leads the OHL plus/minus (51) and is second in points (79) assists (51).

Isaac Ratcliffe (Guelph) had a monster game Friday against Flint, registering his first career OHL hat trick and picking up an assist. He’s up to 26 goals in 46 games.

Carter Hart’s 13-game winning streak ended in Everett’s 3-2 shootout loss Saturday night to Seattle. Hart leads the WHL in GAA (1.51) and save percentage (.953).

• Acadie-Bathurst forward German Rubtsov missed two games last week but returned Friday with a goal and an assist. Rubtsov has 23 points in 23 games with the Titan and 34 points in 34 games overall this season.

Pascal Laberge stayed hot last week for Quebec, picking up two assists Saturday and extending his point streak to five games. That streak ended Sunday. He has 10 points in his past 11 games.

• Michigan’s Cooper Marody, who was among the initial Hobey Baker nominees, is pointless in his past four games.

Tanner Laczynski extended his point streak to 10 games last week. He has 15 points during his current streak and is tied for third in the country with 36 points this season.

The Flyers' other top goalie prospect is back

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.

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

Aaron Bell/NBCSP/USA Today Images

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).