Flyers

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: Wisconsin's Wyatt Kalynuk one of four prospects to watch in Big Ten

Future Flyers Report: Wisconsin's Wyatt Kalynuk one of four prospects to watch in Big Ten

It’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

• The Flyers have some exciting young defensemen at the pro level. They also have some at the college and junior ranks.

Two that have received a lot of attention are Cam York and Egor Zamula. York was the Flyers' first-round pick this summer and is in his freshman year at Michigan, while Zamula is a near-point-per-game 19-year-old playing for the WHL's Calgary Hitmen.

Another defenseman to keep tabs on his Wyatt Kalynuk, who the Flyers selected in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. The junior at Wisconsin had a goal, eight shots and seven blocked shots over two games against Notre Dame last weekend.

The 16th-ranked Badgers sport exciting underclassmen with Cole Caufield (2019 top-15 pick), Alex Turcotte (2019 top-five pick) and K'Andre Miller (2018 top-25 pick).

“The goal is to win a national championship," Kalynuk said this summer at Flyers development camp.

Kalynuk is a huge piece for Wisconsin. The 22-year-old has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) through 12 games.

"Probably my biggest strength is skating," Kalynuk said. "At Wisconsin, getting bigger, stronger and faster just improves it even more.

“I would consider myself a late bloomer, but it’s not a knock on me or anybody."

Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher checked out the Badgers last season in February. Wisconsin was playing Flyers prospect Tanner Laczynski and Ohio State. With Kalynuk, Laczynski, York and Bryce Brodzinski (2019 seventh-round pick at Minnesota), the Flyers will be watching plenty of Big Ten hockey this season.

Quick hits

• Goalie Kirill Ustimenko, a 2017 third-round pick, had a 32-save shutout for the ECHL's Reading Royals in a 1-0 win last Saturday over the Wheeling Nailers. The 20-year-old has a 2.57 goals-against average in 10 games (six wins).

• Isaac Ratcliffe has missed the Phantoms' last three games with an injury. The 2017 second-round pick is transitioning to the pro level with three points (one goal, two assists) in 12 games.

• Noah Cates scored his team-leading fifth goal in Minnesota Duluth's 3-2 win Saturday over Miami (Ohio). The 2017 fifth-round pick is a sophomore on the country's ninth-ranked team.

"We talk about him every day and we can't stop bragging about him," Flyers player development coach Kjell Samuelsson said this summer.

• Jay O'Brien, a 2018 first-round pick, is second in the BCHL with 40 points (15 goals, 25 assists) through 26 games for the Penticton Vees.

• Wyatte Wylie, another defenseman to watch, is a point-per-game player right now with five goals and 14 assists in 19 contests for the WHL's Everett Silvertips.

 

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Morgan Frost call-up has to do with everyone (especially James van Riemsdyk, Kevin Hayes, Jakub Voracek)

Morgan Frost call-up has to do with everyone (especially James van Riemsdyk, Kevin Hayes, Jakub Voracek)

VOORHEES, N.J. — Could Morgan Frost have used more time in the AHL?

Possibly.

But 20 games into the 2019-20 season, the Flyers were in a spot where they needed the 20-year-old’s ability. Uniquely, Frost impacts all four of the Flyers’ lines.

The Flyers are searching for greater balance and consistency within their forwards. They haven’t had it through 20 games and it’s a reason why they’ve been up and down during a 10-6-4 start.

Frost’s advertised prowess for playmaking permeates the big club’s makeup. Monday’s arrival of the 2017 first-round pick allows head coach Alain Vigneault to do many desired things with the Flyers’ lineup.

It moves Claude Giroux from the middle back to left winger, where he’s had his career-best success, without seriously hampering the Flyers at center. Frost will play between Giroux and Travis Konecny, a spot that accentuates the prospect’s strengths.

“T.K. is not a 10-year veteran, but he’s one of our young players that is definitely on the uprise and playing real well,” Vigneault said. “We’re playing Morgan with our captain. The captain will lead the way and help the young man out.”

It pieces back together the Flyers’ fourth line of Andy Andreoff, Michael Raffl and Tyler Pitlick, which was strong and gives the Flyers the necessary depth to augment Vigneault’s system.

“We felt that by bringing Morgan in and being able to go back to Raffy’s line, which had success with Andy on the left side and Tyler on the right side, it gave us better balance,” Vigneault said.

It keeps Sean Couturier with Oskar Lindblom, a duo that has highly performed, while adding Joel Farabee to the group. The trio showed promise in the 4-3 shootout loss Saturday night and it’s important the 19-year-old Farabee is around talent.

“Whoever we’ve played with Coots has played well,” Vigneault said.

And, most notably, it creates a line of James van Riemsdyk, Kevin Hayes and Jakub Voracek, three players that haven’t produced the way everyone expects them to produce. JVR, Hayes and Voracek have combined for 29 points in 20 games. They are three of the Flyers’ four highest-paid players, all with an average annual value of $7 million or above. 

Vigneault knows those players must perform overall and especially at 5-on-5 for his team to take a legitimate step forward.

The Hayesy line, Jake and James, that should be a big, good NHL line, they should be able to contribute 5-on-5 and play well both offensively and defensively.

All those guys, I love the person. I love Kevin Hayes as a person, James and Jake I’m starting to know, they’re great people. I need more from the hockey player. Two different distinctions, right? The person and the hockey player. Those three guys, I need more from the hockey player. I know that they want to do well. We’re 20 games in. It’s time. I’m not telling you anything that I haven’t told them. Obviously they feel pressure, but that’s why they’re paid the big bucks. You’ve got to deliver, you’ve got to produce, and we expect those guys to produce.

Older guys, because of their reputation, because of what they’ve done in the league, they have more leash, they have more money in the bank. Some of our guys, they’ve used a few withdrawals. I’m not stating anything that [anybody doesn’t know], but I expect more from James, I expect more from Kevin, I expect more from Jake as far as 5-on-5 play. You’d ask those guys, they’d tell you the same thing. They need to be better for our team to get into the playoffs and we’re aware of that.

Vigneault and general manager Chuck Fletcher speak daily with AHL affiliate head coach Scott Gordon. On Sunday, Vigneault spoke with Fletcher for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. After hearing from Gordon, they felt the time was right for Frost.

“Putting our two minds together, we came up with this,” Vigneault said. “It wasn’t about coming up with a plan, it was just looking at our overall team — our four lines, our defense.”

As much as it was about Frost and the Flyers, it had a ton to do with van Riemsdyk, Hayes and Voracek. Frost is here and will make his NHL debut Tuesday night against the Panthers in Florida. While many eyes will be on Frost, Vigneault will continue to look for more from van Riemsdyk, Hayes and Voracek.

He’s a head coach with a track record of making the playoffs — and he sure doesn’t want to miss them in Year 1 with the Flyers.

 

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