Mikhail Vorobyev

Future Flyers Report: Rubtsov, Vecchione, Martel and more

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USA Today Images/AP Images

Future Flyers Report: Rubtsov, Vecchione, Martel and more

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 take a look at a trade at the junior level with Flyers ties, a former Hobey Baker finalist and plenty more. Let’s get this thing going.

German Rubtsov, C, 19, 6-0/187, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
We had a trade involving one of the Flyers’ top prospects and a team with direct ties to the Flyers. Rubtsov was acquired by Acadie-Bathurst last week from Chicoutimi. Rubtsov joins Antoine Morand as the only two NHL-owned players on the Titan roster. Sean Couturier, the Flyers’ top-line center, is part of an investor group that bought Acadie-Bathurst in 2013, while Couturier’s dad, Sylvain, is the team’s general manager.

It may be obvious, but Rubtsov’s trade has no impact on the Flyers. They still own his rights. It’s strictly a QMJHL transaction. It happens often in junior. In January 2016, Ottawa traded Travis Konecny to Sarnia because it felt Konecny would be in the NHL.

Rubtsov will turn 20 in June and will either be in the AHL or NHL next season, which may have factored into Chicoutimi’s openness to moving him. Another factor could be the Saguenéens’ start, as Chicoutimi is near the bottom of the Q. Either way, Rubtsov has a new home in the Quebec League. Rubtsov adjusted quickly with the Titan.

On Friday, Rubtsov picked up an assist in his first game with Acadie-Bathurst, a primary helper on Morand’s game-winning goal in the Titan’s 6-3 win over Cape Breton. Then, in another 6-3 win Saturday over Cape Breton, Rubtsov recorded a goal and an assist. It took Rubtsov no time to mesh with his new teammates, a testament to his skill set.

Mike Vecchione, C, 24, 5-10/194, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Vecchione’s seven-game point streak ended last week but he still had a productive weekend. He had a two-assist game Saturday after his point streak snapped and then was pointless Sunday. The 24-year-old was honored last week for his performance in October. Vecchione last Wednesday was named the AHL Rookie of the Month and second star after posting 10 points in 10 games in October. It’s been quite the start for Vecchione.

“I’ve been taught to never put a ceiling on anything,” Vecchione said in September. “The sky’s the limit and I’ve broken a lot of ceilings that people put on me before. … I’ll do whatever it takes to move up and be an impact player for whatever team I play for.”

He’s proving to be just that for the Phantoms thus far: an impact player.

Danick Martel, LW, 22, 5-8/161, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Get used to seeing Martel in this report. He may not be a high-end prospect, but what he's doing is ridiculous. Martel had a goal Friday, a goal and an assist Saturday, and then a goal Sunday. He has six goals during his five-game goal streak. He leads the AHL in goals (13) and points (17). He's averaging a goal per game. Bonkers.

Wade Allison, RW, 20, 6-2/205, Western Michigan (NCAA)
Allison had himself a weekend for the Broncos, who swept No. 1 Denver with wins Friday and Saturday. Allison played a big part of the victories with a four-point weekend. He scored WMU's first goal and picked up a secondary helper on the game-winning goal Friday in the Broncos' 6-5 win. Then Saturday, he recorded a hat trick in a 7-4 win.

With Denver up 3-0 in the second period, Allison scored two goals in 1 minute and 13 seconds to get the Broncos within one. Denver went up 4-2, but then WMU sprung off five unanswered goals. Allison scored the team's sixth goal, a power-play tally.

A huge night for Allison gave him the first hat trick of his collegiate career. He's second on WMU in goals (six), points (14) and points per game (1.56), and tied for the lead in assists with eight. He has just two pointless games and five multi-point games.

Cooper Marody, C, 20, 6-1/185, Michigan (NCAA)
He was featured last week, and after another big weekend, he's back. Marody continued to stay hot for the Wolverines this past weekend as Michigan split with Ferris State. Marody racked up a goal and two assists in UM's 7-2 win Friday. It was his third straight three-point game. In Michigan's 3-2 overtime loss Saturday, Marody had a goal and an assist. The junior leads Michigan with nine assists and 12 points.

Quick hits
Carter Hart returned to action last week for Everett after sitting out with mono. It was a pretty busy weekend for Hart, too. He stopped 23 of 24 shots in a 3-1 win Friday over Prince George and 39 of 41 shots Saturday in a 3-1 loss to Portland.

Philippe Myers’ groin injury forced him to leave the Phantoms’ 6-5 shootout loss Friday night to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He missed games on Saturday and Sunday.

Morgan Frost had a three-assist game in Sault Ste. Marie's 5-4 win over Sudbury last Wednesday. He then had an assist Sunday. Frost has 15 assists and 22 points in 18 games.

Oskar Lindblom added two more assists Friday night against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. It was his third consecutive two-point game.

• It’s been a rough stretch for Lehigh Valley goalie Alex Lyon, who’s allowed nine goals in his last two games. Lyon allowed four goals Saturday before being pulled. He’s allowed three or more goals in five of his nine games this season.

Tanner Laczynski earned the NCAA's First Star of the Week for the week of Oct. 23 after a breakout performance. This past weekend, he had one assist in two games.

Mikhail Vorobyev scored his first AHL goal in the Phantoms' 6-5 shootout loss Friday night to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

• Kitchener captain Connor Bunnaman has had a big two weeks. Bunnaman had his third two-goal game of the season Friday against Erie and then another goal Saturday against Guelph. Bunnaman has nine goals and 13 points in 15 games this season.

• Clarkson's Terrance Amorosa had a two-assist game Friday against Rensselaer. Amorosa, a senior, now has seven assists and nine points in 10 games.

Felix Sandstrom remains out for Brynäs IF because of an injury.

Noah Cates snapped a seven-game pointless streak with his second goal of the season Saturday night in Omaha's 3-2 overtime loss to Madison.

With Mike Vecchione, Mikhail Vorobyev cut, Flyers' opening night roster near

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With Mike Vecchione, Mikhail Vorobyev cut, Flyers' opening night roster near

The Flyers on Wednesday afternoon sent forwards Mike Vecchione and Mikhail Vorobyev to AHL Lehigh Valley as their opening night roster begins to take shape.

With Vecchione and Vorobyev cut, the Flyers' roster now stands at 28 players. Forwards Cole Bardreau and Colin McDonald and goalie Anthony Stolarz are injured. They're expected to begin the season on injured reserve.

What Vecchione and Vorobyev's demotions mean is that the Flyers now have to trim two more players to get down to their 23-man roster by Oct. 3. Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said Tuesday he expects the final roster decisions to come down to the wire.

It appears Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom have shown enough in training camp and preseason to secure spots. The Flyers' current roster has 15 healthy forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies.

Patrick has two assists in five preseason games, while Lindblom has a goal and an assist. Lindblom scored Tuesday against the Rangers. Both have shown a commitment to a 200-foot game, which the Flyers preach.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall is not expected to carry eight defensemen, so it's safe to say the final cuts will be one defenseman and one forward. Taylor Leier, Matt Read and Jori Lehtera are all competing for spots as a fourth-liner and an extra forward. Leier had another solid showing Tuesday against the Rangers.

There are two open spots on the blue line. Defensive prospects Robert Hagg, Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim are competing for those two spots, and it remains possible all three could break camp with the team.

Hagg, Morin and Sanheim are still here after the latest round of cuts. Hagg has been steady all camp, Morin had a big game Tuesday with a goal one night after Sanheim sent a statement Monday with a two-goal game.

While it remains a long shot all three will be here, it's still a possibility. Brandon Manning and Andrew MacDonald haven't been great, and Hextall has repeatedly said he'd make room for prospects if they prove they're ready.

Some may be surprised that Vecchione didn't make the roster, or even argue that he wasn't given a fair shake in preseason. The former Hobey Baker finalist played in just two preseason games, and he was the 13th forward Tuesday.

That was another sign Vecchione wasn't going to make the team. To be fair, Vecchione was trying to make the team as a right winger, not at center, which the Flyers signed him as in March.

"Obviously when they draft Nolan, it's going to be a little tougher, but it's nothing I haven't seen before," Vecchione said recently. "They're going to take whoever is the best fit for the team. Right now, I'm on the wing, so it's a little different perspective. But, yeah, that doesn't change my mindset, what I'm going to do. I knew coming in it wasn't going to be easy, they didn't guarantee me anything and I knew I had to work for it, so, like I said, nothing new for me. I'm just looking forward to the challenge."

Vorobyev was recalled from the Phantoms for Tuesday's game after previously being sent to Lehigh Valley. He'll begin his first season in North America in the AHL, but he could be in the conversation for a roster spot next year.

On Tuesday, Vorobyev centered Lindblom and Travis Konecny. The trio clicked, and Vorobyev again showed the playmaking ability he flashed at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championships with Team Russia.

"I thought he played a heck of a hockey game," Hakstol said of Vorobyev. "I thought every situation that we put him into, I thought he went out and did a good job. He went out and made a couple of high-end plays offensively, and then up and down the rink."

Russian prospects Mikhail Vorobyev, Ivan Kosorenkov show their skills in Flyers rookie game

Russian prospects Mikhail Vorobyev, Ivan Kosorenkov show their skills in Flyers rookie game

Fans flocked to the Wells Fargo Center to check out Nolan Patrick and the organization’s stocked pantry of defensemen.

And yet, it was a pair of Russians who seemed to generate the most buzz during Wednesday night’s rookie game that saw the Flyers lose to the Islanders, 4-3, in overtime (see observations).

The pairing of center Mikhail Vorobyev and right winger Ivan Kosorenkov displayed a unique chemistry on a line with Carsen Twarynski. Vorobyev led all Flyers rookies with a pair of assists, including one play in which he spotted a pinching Travis Sanheim on a backdoor cut.

“Even on my goal there, Vorobyev, his vision to be able to find me backdoor,” Sanheim said. “I thought that was pretty good on him, and I thought all night they were both working hard and creating quite a bit.”

Vorobyev displayed an ability to hold the puck on his stick and wait for plays to develop, whereas other young centers might not have the patience to wait for a lane to open up. Selected 104th overall in the 2015 draft, Vorobyev signed his entry-level deal back in April and will report to the Phantoms when the season begins.

“You can see his skill level — he’s going to make some plays,” Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon said after serving as head coach for this game. “He’s a big body, especially up the middle to have a guy with that size and skill, he’s going to be a nice option for us.” 

Kosorenkov, who is slightly smaller than Vorobyev, has learned to speak understandable English. He came to the Flyers during the team’s development camp back in July after he went undrafted playing one season for Victoriaville in the QMJHL, and was invited back for the team’s rookie camp. Watching Kosorenkov Wednesday, he’s built like a mini version of Blues superstar Vladimir Tarasenko, with a burst of speed once the puck is on his stick and an ability to protect the puck in traffic, an element he’s been working on.

“We learned this thing in development camp, protecting the puck in the corners and battling every day,” Kosorenkov said. “I really worked on that this summer in camps. I think I improved in this area. I know it's very important for the NHL game and the North American game.”

Kosorenkov is hoping he has shown enough throughout development and rookie camp to earn his own entry-level deal, and spending more time in the U.S. will only prove beneficial for both players. 

“Obviously it’s going to be a little harder for them, they don’t speak English that much," defenseman Sam Morin said. "When they get past this language barrier, it’s going to be so much easier for them. I understood them a little bit when I came here, but their skills are unreal. It’s impressive. All those guys are good with the puck.”

News and notes
• One word to describe Nolan Patrick’s first game in a Flyers sweater would be steady. The second overall pick in the June draft felt no pain three months removed from core muscle surgery.

“I felt great until that last play in overtime,” Patrick said. “I ran out of gas going in on the offensive and then trying to get a backcheck. Other than that, I thought I played a good game for my first game since March.”

• Defenseman Phil Myers left the game with a lower-body injury and did not return for precautionary reasons. It’s not known when Myers sustained the injury, but it forced the Flyers to play with five defensemen, where fatigue and a lack of familiarity clearly played a part in third-period breakdowns.

“Our D was pushed to the limits, especially when we were stuck in the zone so much they couldn’t get their gaps,” Gordon said. “I think that’s something where you’re playing an exhibition game, there hasn’t been a lot of system work, so you’re going to get guys who are a little bit off the page.”

• John Stevens, the son of the former Flyers coach (2006-09) with the same name, scored the Islanders' first goal that tied the game at 1-1.  

“Yeah, it was pretty special. I grew up going to games here my whole life pretty much,” Stevens said. “A lot of people in the building are the same people that are here when I was growing up. So it is a pretty cool experience.”