Isaac Ratcliffe

The Flyers' other top goalie prospect is back

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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: Morgan Frost affirming it's too soon to judge Schenn trade

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USA Today Images/Aaron Bell

Future Flyers Report: Morgan Frost affirming it's too soon to judge Schenn trade

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.

Morgan Frost, C, 18, 5-11/172, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
As the Flyers continue their spiral below mediocrity and toward just plain bad, it's easy to point to the Brayden Schenn trade as one of the downfalls of this regime.

It's even easier to look at Schenn's explosive start in St. Louis and the Flyers' glaring secondary scoring issues and say it was a mistake to trade Schenn. It's too soon for that. To understand the Schenn trade, we first have to ask ourselves if Schenn would be producing at the same rate here in Philly. I don't know if he would. Schenn was given ample opportunity here, and while he was a 25-goal scorer, he never took the next step.

The Flyers yanked him around the lineup, from center to wing, and they never found a spot for him. He was a power-play specialist last season and didn't look to be much more. Now he's in St. Louis, and he's finally showcasing the player many pegged him to be when he was drafted fifth overall in 2009 by the Kings. The breakup did Schenn well.

Schenn would certainly help the Flyers' secondary scoring woes. In a perfect world, he would have shown this type of production more consistently in a Flyers sweater. He didn't, and general manager Ron Hextall didn't think he had another level so he traded him for two first-round picks and Jori Lehtera on draft night in June.

One of those picks is Frost; the other first-round pick comes next June in what's considered a deep draft class. Lehtera was a salary dump by the Blues. It’s too soon to truly judge the Schenn trade, and Frost again reaffirmed this notion last week.

Frost had a monster week for Sault Ste. Marie, registering eight points in three games. He had a four-point game — one goal, three assists — in an 8-2 win Friday night over Kitchener. Then, on Saturday, he had two more assists in an 8-3 win over Peterborough.

He has 22 points in his last 12 games and 31 in his last 18. He’s averaging 1.44 points per game, leads the OHL in plus/minus with a plus-26 rating, is fifth in the league with 36 points and third with 24 assists.

The Schenn trade was more of a long-term play, another move by Hextall that suggests this is still a rebuilding process. Frost has proven to be a legitimate prospect worthy of a first-round selection. There is still another first-rounder to come of it, too.

It’s far from the right time to even consider judging this trade. Even when it is, all things considered, it still may make sense.

Carter Hart, G, 19, 6-1/177, Everett (WHL)
It’s almost as if Hart never missed any time this season with mononucleosis.

Hart has been spectacular since returning Nov. 3, and last Wednesday, he broke Everett’s franchise record with his 22nd career shutout — a 43-save effort vs. Tri-City.

In his two other starts last week, Hart stopped 34 of 35 shots and 22 of 24 shots, as he’s won his last three games. In fact, he’s won six of his last seven starts. Since Nov. 3, Hart has three shutouts, a .960 save percentage and 1.30 goals-against average.

Despite missing time because of mono, Hart leads the WHL in GAA (1.63), save percentage (.951) and shutouts (three). And with the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships approaching, it’s a safe bet Hart will be back in net for Team Canada.

Matthew Strome, LW, 18, 6-3/201, Hamilton (OHL)
We haven’t talked much about Strome this season, but it’s not because of a lack of production. The 6-foot-3 winger is producing slightly above a point-per-game clip, and this past weekend, Strome produced one of the best goals we’ll see this season in all of hockey.

It was Hamilton’s fifth goal of a 6-2 win over the Ottawa 67’s and Strome’s second tally of the game. Strome also had an assist for a three-point game Saturday night. Strome has points in nine of his last 10 games, including three two-goal games and three three-point games. The 2017 fourth-round pick has 24 points in 23 games.

If Strome's skating improves, the Flyers very well have found a nice piece in the fourth round. Strome has good hockey sense and knows how to find the back of the net. He just needs to greatly improve his skating. He knows it. The Flyers know it too.

Quick Hits
• The numbers for Alex Lyon still are not pretty. Lyon started two of the Phantoms’ three games, and he continued to put up discouraging numbers. Lyon, in his second pro season, won a game and lost a game last week but gave up seven goals on 76 shots.

In his past seven games, Lyon has allowed 27 goals and has a .872 save percentage. He now has a 3.44 goals-against average and .894 save percentage in 14 starts.

• After a four-game pointless stretch, Oskar Lindblom broke out with points in his past two games. He had a goal and an assist Friday and then an assist Saturday night.

Philippe Myers had an assist last Wednesday, but was again injured Saturday. Myers did not play the third period or overtime against Bridgeport. Myers has missed six games this season with injuries. In 14 games, he has two goals and nine points.

• Western Michigan winger Wade Allison had a two-goal game Friday in the No. 11 Broncos’ 5-3 win over No. 18 Colgate. He now has 10 goals in 15 games this season.

Cooper Marody’s string of multi-point games ended Friday when he was held pointless (I double checked) in the first game of a home-and-home with No. 15 Ohio State.

It didn’t take long for Marody to get back on the scoresheet, however. Marody picked up an assist in No. 17 Michigan’s 5-1 loss to OSU on Saturday night.

Tanner Laczynski, after a slow start to his sophomore season, has produced at a consistent rate for No. 15 Ohio State. Laczynski had an assist in the Buckeyes’ win Friday, and then a goal and two assists in OSU’s 5-1 win over Michigan Saturday.

Laczynski leads OSU with 12 assists and 17 points. He’s riding a five-game point streak, recording eight points during that stretch. He has points in nine of his past 10 games after going pointless in his first four games of the season.

Isaac Ratcliffe is starting to heat up for the Guelph Storm. Ratcliffe saw his four-game goal streak end Sunday but has seven goals and 13 points in his last eight games. 

Pascal Laberge had a goal and an assist in four games last week for Victoriaville, but is suspended one game after receiving a game misconduct Saturday night.

• Kelowna’s Carsen Twarynski had a big week. Twarynski had five points in three games and is riding a three-game goal streak. He had a goal and two assists in the Rockets’ 4-0 win over Medicine Hat on Saturday with this shorthanded beauty:

Connor Bunnaman’s point streak reached six games Sunday. Bunnaman has nine points in his last six games, with three multi-point contests. 

• Brynäs IF goalie Felix Sandstrom remains out with a stomach issue. Sandstrom hasn’t played since Oct. 26.

Olle Lycksell tallied his second career SHL goal last Tuesday in Linköping’s 4-3 overtime win over Brynäs. Lycksell has two goals in eight games with Linköping.

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.