Flyers

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.

Flyers' Travis Sanheim, Phillipe Myers may not be ready for NHL

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Flyers/USA Today Images

Flyers' Travis Sanheim, Phillipe Myers may not be ready for NHL

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The Flyers' general manager who was able to construct an entire blue line through trades and free-agent signings was once asked, "What’s the number one trait you look for out of a defenseman?"

Paul Holmgren’s response was decisive and to the point. Paraphrasing, Holmgren said, "The one who can get the puck out of his zone as quickly as possible."

As much as the game of hockey has been broken down into advanced metrics and analytics, it’s rather simple at its core. The more time a team spends in their end of the ice, the greater likelihood they’ll be on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

The AHL playoffs have served as an ideal test site for Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers, who have been stalwarts throughout the Phantoms postseason run. 

However, Game 3 at the PPL Center Wednesday night further exemplified the necessary strides the Flyers' defensive prospects must take in order to develop into reliable everyday NHL blueliners.  

Oftentimes, less is more when you have the puck in the defensive end of the ice, and it took roughly 62 seconds into the game on Sanheim’s opening shift for the 22-year-old to make a major gaffe that gave the Toronto Marlies a 1-0 lead. 

Instead of making the simple play of a quick pass up the boards, Sanheim elected to keep it, reversing his field and was suddenly stripped with the attacking forward trailing. Roughly two seconds elapsed from the moment Sanheim lost the puck to when it was behind goalie Alex Lyon in the net. 

“On that particular play, we have full possession of the puck and the opportunity to advance it," Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon said. "Instead we go back behind the net to where their guy is. That’s just playing into their hands. In that situation, and in a few of our breakouts, there were opportunities to move forward with the puck and we didn’t.”   

However, the gaffes involving the Sanheim-Myers pairing didn’t stop there. Sanheim was stripped of the puck at his own blue line during the first Phantoms' power play. Myers inexcusably lost his edge skating with the puck through the neutral zone. Toronto’s Andreas Johnsson muscled his way around Sanheim to generate a quality scoring chance, and then another terrible pass and turnover inside the Phantoms' zone.

And that all came in the first seven minutes of the game. 

If Dave Hakstol had been behind the bench (he was actually watching from the PPL Center press box), Sanheim is likely sitting in front of him for the remainder of the game. That’s essentially what transpired in mid-January at the Prudential Center in New Jersey when Sanheim’s play landed him back in the minors for a month and a half. 

Chalk this up as one bad game. Game 3 of the AHL’s Eastern Conference Finals was simply another teaching moment as the Phantoms were blown out, 5-0, falling behind 3-0 in the series. Both players will be back there together logging close to 25 minutes as the Phantoms avoid elimination Friday night.    

As exciting as it is to watch Sanheim and Myers generate offense within the Phantoms' system with their size and skating ability, there’s no way Hakstol and the Flyers can depend on that pairing defensively next season. Together, they’re still young, inexperienced and unreliable. 

If anything, expect the competition between Myers and Sanheim as something worth watching when Flyers' camp opens in September. Myers has closed the gap in his first full season in the AHL. 

And the guy who can clean up their play defensively will likely be the one that starts next season with the Flyers.  

2018 NHL draft position preview — Right wingers

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Terry Wilson/OHL Images

2018 NHL draft position preview — Right wingers

We’ve looked at the top draft-eligible centers and left wingers. Up next, right wingers. On Sunday, we’ll look at the top defensemen before moving into the best fits for the Flyers.

Andrei Svechnikov, 6-2/188, Barrie (OHL)
Svechnikov is head and shoulders atop the forward prospects in this year’s draft class. He began the year as the No. 1 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting and ended there as well. Finished with 40 goals and 72 points in 44 games this season with Barrie, tops among rookie OHLers. His 1.64 points per game average was best among rookies and fifth in all of the OHL. His brother, Evgeny Svechnikov, was the 19th overall pick by the Red Wings in 2015.

Draft projection: No. 2 overall

Oliver Wahlstrom, 6-1/205, USNTDP
Wahlstrom finished as the seventh-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. The American can play both center and right wing but projects to at least begin his career on the wing. He plays a power forward game with impressive puck skills. He registered 40 goals and 83 points in 54 games for the USA U-18 team in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, and 22 goals and 45 points in 26 games for Team USA in the USHL. The 17-year-old is committed to play college hockey at Harvard University in the fall.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 4-9

Vitali Kravtsov, 6-2/170, Chelyabinsk (KHL)
Kravtsov, who models his game after Washington center Evgeny Kuznetsov, finished as the third-best European skater by Central Scouting, a seven-spot climb from the midterm rankings. Had a strong postseason for Chelyabinsk, recording six goals and 11 points in 16 games and was named the best rookie for each of the first three rounds. He’s a shifty forward with high-end speed.

Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round

Serron Noel, 6-5/205, Oshawa (OHL)
The Generals winger took an enormous leap in his second OHL campaign, going from 21 points in 63 games in 2016-17 to 53 points in 62 games in 2017-18. Noel finished as the 10th-rated North American skater by Central Skating, a one-spot drop from the midterm rankings. He has a lot of raw talent and has natural size and strength. He’s improved his skating, which has helped his case throughout his draft year. Has drawn comparisons to Jets captain Blake Wheeler. A high-upside prospect with top-line potential.

Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round

Martin Kaut, 6-2/170, Pardubice (Czech)
Kaut’s 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships performance helped put the winger on the radar. The Czech winger jumped from the 11th-rated European skater by Central Scouting in the midterm rankings to the fourth-best in the final rankings. Had seven points in seven games playing for the Czech Republic at the world juniors. Had nine goals and 16 points in 38 games for Pardubice in 2017-18. An effective two-way player with good playmaking ability.

Draft projection: Late first, early second round