5 Flyers takeaways: Focusing on the prospects

5 Flyers takeaways: Focusing on the prospects

VOORHEES, N.J. — The group of prospects making up 2019 Flyers development camp is an impressive one.

General manager Chuck Fletcher, who has worked in the NHL since 1993, said it's the most talent he's ever seen in a development camp. Assistant general manager Brent Flahr didn't disagree.

After Day 4 Friday of the five-day camp, let's look at a prospect-centric five takeaways, with a focus on forwards:

1. One-and-done kid

Joel Farabee really stands out and he happens to play the one position in which the Flyers appear to have an opening. 

When projecting the Flyers' 2019-20 lineup at forward, the team's top six looks full. The fourth line very well could be in place with Michael Raffl, Scott Laughton and Tyler Pitlick. However, a third-line winger is clearly needed.

And here's Farabee, a 19-year-old goal-scorer with length, speed and the traits to play anywhere in the lineup along the wing.

"You watch a Joel Farabee, you watch the way he thinks the game, especially the small area hockey games out there — he's a guy that I can imagine you put him with NHL players, he can play," Flahr said. "Whether he's physically ready or mentally ready to handle the grind of an NHL season, I'm not sure. I'm not sure that's realistic."

Farabee is a bit wiry. He said this week he's around 6-foot-1, 175 pounds. The 2018 first-round pick proved he was ready for the pro level after an award-winning freshman season at Boston University.

While Fletcher said it's ideal for prospects to see developmental time in the AHL, he didn't rule out the possibility of a youngster winning a job in camp.

What Fletcher adds or doesn't add during the free agency period starting Monday will mean a lot for Farabee's chances. But if there's a prospect that seems most poised and fit to fill a roster need on opening night, it's Farabee.

2. Remember Rubtsov

When asked if there were any prospects in development camp that could challenge for a job in training camp, Flahr did not hesitate to mention German Rubtsov.

The 2016 first-round pick is strong, advanced and possesses the hockey IQ of an NHLer. He's a center that thinks defense first. When he pushes the puck, he can score, too. The 21-year-old raced out of the chute with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley last season, scoring six goals and 10 points in 14 games before a shoulder injury ended his season.

"Rubtsov's a guy that you watch him in certain drills defensively — our coaches, they like a lot of things that he brings," Flahr said. "Something that maybe people won't watch first glance, but you watch, he's always above the puck. He's always responsible. He's always in position. A lot of those things young players have to learn, he does well."

If Rubtsov can start quickly with the Phantoms again, he'll be on the radar throughout 2019-20.

"Another young guy that needs time and experience," Fletcher said, "but a smart hockey player, physically strong, has good skill and we believe he has a bright future."

3. A shade of Wade

Wade Allison has all the goal-scoring tools, from a craftiness around the net to a powerful shot. He's shown plenty during development camp and the right winger will be a player to watch as a senior at Western Michigan (if he returns to school, which seems likely).

As a sophomore for the Broncos, Allison was rolling with 15 goals and 15 assists in 22 games before tearing his ACL. The 2016 second-round pick is still not quite 100 percent. If/when he returns to full health, there's a ton of promise.

Allison was one of two prospects (Isaac Ratcliffe being the other) to score four goals in the 3-on-3 tournament Friday at Flyers Skate Zone.

4. Following O'Brien

Wherever Jay O'Brien plays in 2019-20 — it could be in the BCHL or at Boston University — he'll be worth watching after the 5-foot-11, 185-pounder endured a rough 2018-19, resulting in his transferring from Providence.

The 2018 first-round pick suffered injuries and had a difficult transition to the Division I level.

O'Brien is a positive kid and ready to take his growing pains in stride. The size, strength and physical aspects of the game are important in his growth because when he has daylight, he can do damage. 

Nate Leaman, a national title-winning head coach, called O'Brien's skill set "elite."

"He's always been a competitor, he likes to play with pace," Flahr said. "A lot of things that he needs to work on are strength related. He's not the biggest body. Stepping in from high school into the college level, it's a challenge. It's not easy. It doesn't matter how good you are. I think he learned that. It's probably the first time in his career that he went through any adversity at any level."

5. Just like his dad

A stick tap for Carson Briere, who showed his game Friday. He scored a nice goal during a drill in the morning and tallied three markers in the 3-on-3 tournament.

Briere isn't the biggest or fastest, but he's skilled with the puck and scored 44 goals in the NAHL last season.

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Former Flyers share their favorite all-time teammates

Former Flyers share their favorite all-time teammates

As my family has spent a great deal of time together at home the last few months, I found myself repeating the same thing (as parents often do) to my children, ages 9 and 11: Help out when you can, be a good teammate.

That led me down the path to ask a handful of former Flyers players this question: Who was your favorite teammate when you played in the NHL?

Chris Therien (Flyers defenseman, 1994-04, 2005-06)

"That's a good question and there was a lot of great ones. I roomed with John LeClair and played with a lot of really, really high-caliber guys that were high-caliber people, as well.

"I'm going to say, at the end of the day, Luke Richardson was the best teammate on the ice and probably the best teammate off the ice, as well. He had great leadership qualities. He knew team bonding. You understood the long season that guys deal with. He helped me keep the room light a lot of the time. Just an absolutely sensational human being.

"Easily a person I will never forget until the day I die because of those great qualities that he possessed as a friend, a teammate and a leader."

Rick Tocchet (Flyers right winger, 1984-92, 2000-02)

"Craig Berube is definitely one for me. Whether he played two minutes or 15 minutes, he always thought of the team. A very unselfish player and was an excellent leader even though sometimes he didn’t play a lot in some games. Kept the room loose and serious at the same time."

Brian Boucher (Flyers goalie, 1999-02, 2009-11, 2013)

Phantoms, 1997-98:

Neil Little

"The greatest guy I played with! This guy was always willing to lend a hand, advice, share a story and laugh. He was my first goalie partner in pro hockey and he set the bar incredibly high. To this day, he’s still helping me. He was responsible for getting me back to Philly from San Jose and also helped land a spot for my son Tyler to live in Plymouth, Michigan, by setting him up with his childhood buddy Chris Osgood while he’s playing for the U.S. national team development program. He’s the best!


Flyers, 1999-00

Mark Recchi

"As a rookie that year, Rex always made me feel welcome to dinners, golf and whatever else was going on. He always was generous too!


Rick Tocchet  

"Late addition to the team but had instant respect the minute we got him. He too like Rex always included me and made me feel like I had been a teammate for years. Extreme work ethic and showed me as a young guy how hard you have to work to be a pro.


Keith Jones

"Same as the other two guys. He was great to me. He always had a line for me the minute Beezer (former Flyers goalie John Vanbiesbrouck) gave up a goal. He’d say, 'Start stretching, kid!' He’s always been there for me. Even up to this day! Love Jonesy!


Later years:

Jody Shelley

"Played with Jody in Columbus, San Jose and Philly. Team guy! Great friend. Spent lots of time with him doing extra practice because we weren’t playing much."

Joe Thornton

"Never met a guy who loves being at the rink and being with the guys as much as Jumbo. He rarely had a bad day. Played with him in San Jose.

Bill Clement (Flyers center, 1971-75)

"Bernie Parent: He was never in a bad mood. All he did was smile and laugh and keep us loose. No matter how difficult certain situations seemed, he was the messenger that let me know life would go on and be better than it was yesterday. Maybe it was because he knew he could single-handedly control outcomes on the ice."

Keith Jones (Flyers right winger, 1998-00)

Craig Berube. Protected my [butt] on a game-to-game basis!”

Anything else made him a great teammate?


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Flyers sign prospect Linus Hogberg to entry-level contract

Flyers sign prospect Linus Hogberg to entry-level contract

One down, a few more to go?

The Flyers on Saturday signed prospect Linus Hogberg to an entry-level contract. The rights to Hogberg would have expired Monday if the Flyers didn't ink the 2016 fifth-round pick.

During 2019-20, Hogberg, a 21-year-old Swedish defenseman, had 14 points (five goals, nine assists) through 50 games with the Vaxjo Lakers playing against men in the SHL. The 6-foot-1, 176-pounder is regarded as a strong skater and intelligent passer.

Hogberg will start the 2020-21 season with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms are gaining on the blue line with prospects Egor Zamula and Wyatte Wylie turning pro, as well.

(Joe Siville/Philadelphia Flyers)

Lehigh Valley could be gaining more with Wyatt Kalynuk and David Bernhardt, who remain unsigned. Bernhardt, another Swedish defenseman, needs to be signed by Monday or his rights will expire. It's uncertain if the Flyers will ink the 2016 seventh-round pick.

It appears Kalynuk has decided to forgo his senior season at Wisconsin as he plans to turn pro in 2020-21.

Kalynuk is an offensive-minded defenseman who has developed a ton with the Badgers. His rights were set to expire next summer. Now that he is leaving Wisconsin, it would be surprising if he's not signed soon by the Flyers.

"Philly has had lots of people here and been very instrumental in his growth as a player," Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato said. "I think when they drafted him, they recognized out of the gate that this guy could be a big part of their organization moving forward. They’ve been hands on, they’ve been here a lot, they’ve done it respectfully in a way that they’ve helped him a ton in preparing to get ready for the next step.”

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