Future Flyers Report: Monster weekend for intriguing Maksim Sushko

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Aaron Bell, OHL Images/USA Today Images

Future Flyers Report: Monster weekend for intriguing Maksim Sushko

Boy, last week sure was something. The Flyers suffered a devastating loss in Nashville, where they showed many positives but a questionable coach’s challenge did them in, and then blew out Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals to the tune of 8-2 Saturday (see Weekly Observations).

This week sees the Flyers continue their five-game homestand as the Panthers, Predators, and Connor McDavid’s Oilers come to the Wells Fargo Center.

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 check in on a 2017 fourth-round pick’s career night, a player who many thought would crack the Flyers’ roster and plenty more from a busy week.

Maksim Sushko, RW, 18, 6-0/179, Owen Sound (OHL)
With a 12-6 final, Saturday night’s game between Owen Sound and Oshawa had plenty to write about. Seventy-one shots on goal. Eight combined goals in the second period. Fifty-eight penalty minutes. And a career night for Sushko, who recorded his first career OHL hat trick with a four-goal game, also a first. Two of his four markers came shorthanded. He’s the fifth player in Attack history to score two shorties in a game.

Sushko picked up where he left off Sunday. The winger scored his fifth goal in two games and added an assist in Owen Sound’s 4-3 overtime win over London. A 2017 fourth-round pick, Sushko has an intriguing skill set the Flyers hope will come together.

Mike Vecchione, C, 24, 5-10/194, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
The Phantoms had a rough weekend with three games in three nights — away at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, home against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and then at Hershey. But we saw a few firsts for Lehigh Valley. Let's start with Vecchione.

Vecchione recorded his first professional goal in the Phantoms' 3-2 win Saturday night over the Penguins. The Union College product unleashed a snipe job from the faceoff circle to beat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goalie Tristan Jarry. In five games with Lehigh Valley, he now has a goal and three assists.

For some, Vecchione was a surprise cut by the Flyers, but once the orange and black landed the No. 2 overall pick, it was a long shot for the Hobey Baker finalist to crack the roster. With the Phantoms, Vecchione will continue to develop and get acclimated to the professional game. He attempted to make the Flyers as a right winger in training camp but failed to do so. He's a call-up candidate should injuries hit the Flyers' forward group.

Philippe Myers, D, 20, 6-5/202, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Sunday night, it was Myers' turn to pick up his first professional goal, when he started the Phantoms' third-period comeback in their 4-3 shootout win over Hershey.

Myers' status for Sunday was questionable after the defenseman blocked a shot late in the third period and needed help getting off the ice Saturday. Myers was able to suit up Sunday in Hershey and sparked three straight goals for the Phantoms.

Pascal Laberge, C, 19, 6-1/162, Victoriaville (QMJHL)
This is an important season for Laberge, as explained in our first Future Flyers Report, and so far, so good for the 19-year-old. Laberge, who plays both center and right wing, had another productive week for the Tigres. Last Thursday, Laberge registered a goal and two assists in Victoriaville’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Quebec Remparts. Friday night, he picked up a five-minute penalty and misconduct and then was suspended Saturday against Shawinigan. All in all, it’s been a strong start for Laberge, who has eight points in seven games. He has two multipoint games and points in five games.

Quick hits
• After going pointless in his first two games last week, German Rubtsov exploded for a three-assist night in Chicoutimi’s 5-2 win over the Baie-Comeau Drakkar Saturday night. He has yet to pot a goal but has six assists in five games with the Saguenéens.

Carsen Twarynski continued his strong start for the Kelowna Rockets (WHL). Twarynski had a two-goal game Friday in a 5-4 overtime loss to Portland. Twarynski, a 2016 third-round draft pick, has five goals and eight points in six games this season.

• Kitchener captain Connor Bunnaman snapped a seven-game goal drought dating back to last season Friday with his first of the season in a two-point game. Bunnaman then scored twice Saturday and added two goals and an assist Sunday. He has nine points in nine games.

• After failing to make the Flyers, Oskar Lindblom is pointless in five games with the Phantoms.

• Sarnia’s Anthony Salinitri stayed hot last week. Salinitri had a goal and an assist Friday, a goal Saturday and a goal and an assist Sunday. He now has seven points during his five-game point streak.

• A rough week for Guelph’s Isaac Ratcliffe, at least in the plus/minus department. Ratcliffe was pointless in three games and was a minus-8.

Matthew Strome had a goal and an assist in three games last week for Hamilton.

• It was a solid, productive week for Sault Ste. Marie’s Morgan Frost, who had a three-point game last Wednesday, a goal Saturday and an assist Sunday.

• Alex Lyon started all three Phantoms games this weekend. Lyon allowed four goals Friday night but battled back with solid efforts Saturday and Sunday. He stopped 72 of 81 shots.

• Brynäs IF goalie Felix Sandstrom turned away 32 of 33 shots Saturday in a 2-1 win over Skelleftea. This came after allowing three goals on nine shots last Thursday.

• It’s been a quiet start for Tanner Laczynski in his sophomore season at Ohio State. Another pointless weekend for Laczynski, and he now has no points in four games.

• Another weekend, more points for Western Michigan’s Wade Allison. Allison had an assist Friday and then two assists Saturday against No. 15 Clarkson, both losses. Allison has seven points in five games for the Broncos, which is second on the team.

• Clarkson defenseman Terrance Amorosa played a hand in the Golden Knights’ pair of weekend wins over WMU. Amorosa had an assist Friday night and then a goal Saturday night. The senior now has points — six total — in all four games this season.

Future Flyers Report: Bad news for Carter Hart; German Rubtsov makes immediate impact

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Zack Hill/Flyers

Future Flyers Report: Bad news for Carter Hart; German Rubtsov makes immediate impact

This week sees the Flyers conclude their season-opening four-game road trip Tuesday in Nashville for the Predators’ home opener and their own home opener Saturday against Washington.

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 check in on three members of the 2016 draft class and a goalie prospect who’s one injury away from reaching the NHL.

Carter Hart, G, 19, 6-1/177, Everett (WHL)
Let’s begin with the undesirable news first. Hart, the consensus top goaltending prospect in the Flyers’ organization, will be out of action for some time because of mononucleosis, according to The Herald’s Jesse Geleynse. The Silvertips last Wednesday signed goalie Kyle Dumba to back up Dorrin Luding while Hart recuperates.

It might be a while before we see Hart back in net. Mono can take serious time to recover from — just ask Sean Couturier, who battled it during the 2010-11 offseason and it potentially cost him from being drafted in the top three. While missing significant time would stunt his development, mono probably shouldn’t raise any major red flags long term.

Hart has appeared in just two games this season. He stopped 35 of 38 shots in his first start in picking up a win against Kelowna on Sept. 29. Then, Hart allowed three goals on 25 shots in relief in a loss to Tri-City on Sept. 30. What will be worth watching when he returns is how quickly will he get back to looking like his normal self.

German Rubtsov, C, 19, 6-0/187, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
After missing the Saguenéens’ first four games because of paperwork issues, Rubtsov made his 2017-18 campaign debut last week and made an immediate impact for Chicoutimi. Rubtsov picked up third-star honors and a dandy of an assist in his season debut last Wednesday, a 4-0 win over Victoriaville. On Sunday, Rubtsov added two more assists, both secondary, in the Saguenéens’ 5-0 shutout of Shawinigan.

Rubtsov faces his first full season in North America. He finally came over from Russia near the end of last season once he was able to negotiate a release from the KHL, where he couldn't cement a significant role. Once with Chicoutimi, Rubtsov flashed the hockey sense and ability that caught the Flyers' eye in the 2016 draft. An injury cut his QMJHL season short, though. Now in North America full time and after a summer and preseason with the Flyers, Rubtsov will become more comfortable as he goes along. The skills are there, and if you caught him during development camp or even rookie camp, you saw the speed and playmaking. He's still a prospect fans should be excited about.

Wade Allison, RW, 19, 6-2/205, Western Michigan (NCAA)
Allison, who turns 20 on Saturday, had quite the start to his sophomore season with the Broncos this past Friday. Allison, one of three 2016 second-round picks, netted two goals and an assist in No. 20 Western Michigan’s 6-1 win over Ferris State. On the first goal, Allison beat Ferris State goalie Justin Kapelmaster, tapping home a 2-on-1 pass. The second goal was more impressive. With a 3-0 lead late in the second period, Allison showcased his howitzer with a long slap shot goal on the power play. After a decent freshman campaign, Allison could be in line for a big jump in his second year.

Alex Lyon, G, 24, 6-1/200, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
With Anthony Stolarz out for the foreseeable future, Lyon will carry the brunt of the workload for the Phantoms in his second professional season, which has gotten off of to a busy start. Lyon started both games this past weekend, turning away 61 shots in two games. He allowed two goals on 31 shots in the Phantoms’ 7-2 season-opening win in Allentown Saturday night against Hershey and then stopped 35 of 36 shots in a 2-1 shootout loss Sunday at Hartford. That’s 125 minutes on back-to-back nights with travel.

Lyon looked sharp in the preseason with the Flyers, which should comfort the front office should an injury hit either Brian Elliott or Michal Neuvirth. It’s a big season for Lyon, who’s on his second one-year contract. A strong second season and Lyon could position himself for an NHL backup role next year, whether it’s in Philly or elsewhere.

Quick hits
Carsen Twarynski, who returned to Kelowna from Phantoms training camp last week, registered a goal, three assists, and points in each of his first three games this season. Dating back to last season, Twarynski now has an eight-point, six-game streak going.

• This is worth noting: Isaac Ratcliffe appears to be a volume shooter, which the Flyers certainly could use in the future. Ratcliffe had an assist in each of his two games this past weekend for Guelph, and on Friday night, he fired eight shots on goal. He had just one shot Saturday but on the season, he has 28 in six games — 4.6 shots per game.

• Not exactly the best week for Morgan Frost, who went pointless in two games. The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds centerman also struggled in the faceoff circle. Frost was 10 for 34 (29.4 percent) in the dot, with a 3 for 16 game Thursday and 7 for 18 Friday. On the season, he’s won just 44.4 percent (56 for 126) of his faceoffs.

Phil Myers recorded his first pro point in his first game Saturday night, a primary assist on Danick Martel’s hat trick goal in the Phantoms’ 7-2 opening win over Hershey.

Mike Vecchione also recorded his first pro point Saturday night and followed up with another assist Sunday. In two games, Vecchione has centered Martel and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Both of Vecchione’s assists have come on Martel goals.

• And let’s talk about Mikhail Vorobyev picking up his first career North American point. Vorobyev had the lone assist on Greg Carey’s third-period marker Saturday. He’s the pivot on a line with Carey and Corban Knight.

• Owen Sound winger Maksim Sushko had his first multipoint game of the season last Wednesday against Sarnia, registering a goal on his only shot and a primary assist on the Attack’s game-tying goal in the third period. Owen Sound lost, 6-5, in a shootout. Sushko, a 2017 fourth-round pick, has points in three straight games. However, he did not play Saturday. He has points in three consecutive games and a goal in two straight.

• Pascal Laberge missed a game last week because of a lower-body injury that wasn’t serious enough for him to sit out Sunday’s game against Sherbrooke in which he picked up a goal — his third of the season — and an assist in Victoriaville’s 5-4 win.

Noah Cates recorded a secondary assist with two shots in the Omaha Lancers’ 2-1 loss to the Tri-City Storm in their season opener Friday night.

• Remember Matej Tomek? Sure you do. The Slovak goalie prospect recruited to North Dakota who then failed to earn playing time before leaving for the USHL this season. Tomek is now with the Waterloo Black Hawks and stopped 22 of 24 shots in his first game. Playing time is important for Tomek and he’ll get it with the Black Hawks.

• Brynäs IF goalie Felix Sandstrom stopped 14 of 15 shots in his only game last week, picking up a win Thursday against Karlskrona.

• Two more assists for David Kase, whose SHL career is off to a solid start. Kase has four assists and seven points in his first seven games with Mora IK.

Future Flyers Report: Trying to make sense of the Oskar Lindblom cut

Future Flyers Report: Trying to make sense of the Oskar Lindblom cut

The Flyers’ season opens Wednesday night in San Jose, and while a few members of this report have graduated to the NHL, one did not.

It’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects. The Phantoms’ season kicks off Friday night, but we’ll touch on the one player who somewhat surprisingly is headed to Lehigh Valley.

Oskar Lindblom, LW, 21, 6-1/192, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Many expected Lindblom to make the Flyers in his first season in North America, and despite flashing positives in training camp and preseason, the Swede failed to do so.

Let’s try to make sense as to why Lindblom didn’t make it. Throughout the preseason, Lindblom showed his defensive play was most certainly NHL ready. The advanced metrics tilted in his favor too. He was consistently one of the best Flyers in possession.

What may have cost Lindblom was the offense didn’t blossom right away. Lindblom scored his first goal in his last game last Tuesday on a deflection against the Rangers. Overall against New York, I thought he was excellent but it proved to be too late.

"Oskar did a good job in camp and it's the one thing you try to punctuate with young players," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said Sunday. "You didn't fail. You had a good camp, but right now, the best thing for you and the team is for you to go up there and play well.

"Oskar is a good player and American League time hasn't hurt one player in the history of professional hockey. When you say high expectations, you are also talking about the kid who came from the big rink, played extremely well, but came from a big rink and all of a sudden, you get into a smaller rink with big guys, fast guys. Oskar played well."

Another potential reason why Lindblom is headed to Lehigh Valley could be his skating, a theory laid out by hockey guru Bill Meltzer, who tweeted Saturday afternoon “word on Lindblom is [he] still needs to work on his feet: quicker Point A to point B at NHL pace.”

This theory makes sense. Lindblom’s biggest knock in his draft year was his skating, an area he’s improved greatly in Sweden since 2014. There is an adjustment to the North American game, and it appears the Flyers want him to work on it with the Phantoms.

"He did a lot of good things," Hextall said of Lindblom. "He didn't produce the way he is capable of — maybe even getting in the proper spots and stuff, and again, he didn't play poorly. … There are a lot of things involved, but usually, young players, when you have to get down to the roster of 23, they have to push you and he pushed us, just not far enough."

Anyway, Lindblom will be a Phantom to start the season. It’s important to note Claude Giroux, in his first pro season in 2008-09, didn’t make the Flyers out of camp but forced his way back by dominating the AHL. Giroux was in the NHL after the Christmas break.

Lindblom had a strong enough camp to survive until the final cuts. How long he stays in Allentown will be dictated by injuries on the big club and how much he asserts himself in the AHL. I do believe we’ll see Lindblom back with the Flyers at some point this season.

"When you are the last player sent down," Hextall said, "that should tell you something right there. Go up there and play well. Call-ups, there is always a fit, but if the fit is you make sure it is you that we are looking at … I am sure Oskar will do that."

Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, 18, 6-6/205, Guelph (OHL)
After a quiet opening weekend for the Storm, Ratcliffe had a productive two games this past weekend. Ratcliffe picked up three points and 10 shots on goal in two games. On Friday night, the 2017 second-round pick had his first two-point game of the season.

In the Storm’s 5-4 win over the Oshawa Generals, Ratcliffe picked up a secondary assist on the Garrett McFadden’s first-period power-play goal. About 10 minutes later, the winger found the back of the net for his first marker of the campaign. Ratcliffe glided into the high slot off the rush before beating Logan Gauthier’s glove with a quick shot.

On Saturday night, Ratcliffe picked up his second goal of the season midway through the second period of Guelph’s 6-3 win over the Saginaw Spirit on a wraparound. Ratcliffe also had a double-minor in the third period for interference and roughing.

Ratcliffe was a minus-4 after his first two games but had a plus-1 weekend. Through four games, he’s a minus-3 with 19 shots on goal and three points. He’s a bit of project with raw skills that 10 years ago would have seen him go in the first round. Still, the Flyers liked Ratcliffe enough to trade up to draft him with the 35th overall pick in June.

Quick hits
• It was a pretty busy weekend for Victoriaville’s Pascal Laberge, who scored in back-to-back games, both power-play goals, and picking up six penalty minutes.

Matthew Strome had goals in back-to-back games Friday and Saturday for Hamilton. He had an assist Sunday. Strome’s goal Friday night was an easy tap-in.

Morgan Frost had a two-assist game Sunday for Sault Ste. Marie after going pointless his previous two games. Known for his hockey smarts, Frost had six penalty minutes in the Greyhounds' 2-1 win over North Bay on Friday.

Anthony Salinitri had a two-assist game in Sarnia’s 6-2 win over the Kingston Frontenacs on Saturday night and then a three-assist effort Sunday against Ottawa.

• Owen Sound’s Maksim Sushko had a two-point weekend. Sushko had an assist in a 4-3 win over Kitchener on Friday and his first goal Saturday in a 6-4 win over Mississauga.

German Rubtsov has yet to play for Chicoutimi this season because of paperwork. Per Jonathan Hudon, those issues should be cleared up this week.

Carter Hart made his first start of the season Friday night, stopping 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 Everett win over Kelowna. He came in relief Saturday night, turning away 22 of 25 shots in the Silvertips’ 5-4 loss to the Tri-City Americans.

Olle Lycksell scored his first goal Sunday for the Linköping HC J20 team.

• In two games last week, Felix Sandstrom stopped 59 of 63 shots for Brynäs IF.

David Kase had another two-point game for Mora IK last week, picking up a goal and an assist in a 5-2 loss to Färjestad BK on Saturday.