Flyers

Flyers

When many think of forwards in the Flyers' pipeline, names like Morgan Frost, Joel Farabee and Isaac Ratcliffe come to mind.

Here's a name that should be on everyone's radar for 2019-20: Tanner Laczynski.

Why?

Because the 21-year-old center isn't all that far away. His game oozes with pro readiness, from his size (6-1/193) to his shot and, most notably, his preparation.

College has done him well.

And at Ohio State, a big senior season awaits Laczynski, one filled with motivating factors and a potential run at the Hobey Baker Memorial Award (top college player).

Forget that sixth-round label; he'll be a guy to watch among all Flyers prospects.

"The biggest thing for Tanner is he trains like a pro," Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik said Monday in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "He's our hardest worker every day in practice, he's not easy to practice against, he competes at a very high level all the time. 

"That's what's a major factor in him continuing to develop. And he takes advantage of the resources — our strength and conditioning, nutrition, off ice, on ice with the coaches, individual skill sessions, all those kind of things. I think that's one of Tanner's benefits is that he takes advantage of all those areas and that's why you see him continue to succeed and continue to get better."

Laczynski, a 2016 sixth-round selection of the Flyers, enjoyed a standout sophomore season in which he scored 47 points (17 goals, 30 assists) in 41 games, was named a Second Team West All-American and helped lead the Buckeyes to the Frozen Four.

 

The encore wasn't as special.

As a junior, Laczynski missed nine games because of injuries, including a key six-game stretch through February.

"When he came back, he certainly wasn't at 100 percent as far as where his game was," Rohlik said. "But it didn't take him long to get back into that."

He put up 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists) in 27 games and Ohio State was upset in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals before being shut out in its opening game of the NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes lost their final three games, with Laczynski going scoreless over the last two.

Not the way he wanted to go out, so it's back to school for one more go-around.

For a guy like Laczynski, why not? The Flyers have until Aug. 15, 2020, to ink Laczynski to an entry-level contract before losing his rights. His game has steadily progressed into pro caliber and another year of Division I hockey will only help. Rohlik said Laczynski will play "in a lot of situations where he can continue to improve" while handling the puck "as much as anybody." 

"He wants to come back and try to finish some unfinished business and those are all goals — get a degree, get better as a hockey player, develop, become a better person and try to win your last game," Rohlik said. "I think all those things fill his bucket."

Given how far Laczynski has come since 2016, Flyers player development coach John Riley won't mind taking a few more trips to Columbus, Ohio.

"He's been at a lot of our games, a lot of communication, what they see, what we see, continued areas that we all want to see him develop," Rohlik said of Riley, Ohio State's go-to contact with the Flyers. "They've done a great job of communicating with me, liking what they see, feedback — good or bad."

The Buckeyes recruited Laczynski back to his midget hockey days in 2013 with the Chicago Mission.

"Just a big, strong kid, had great hand-eye coordination and certainly was a big factor at every level he played in," Rohlik said.

The pro level will be next after four years of college, time well spent by Laczynski.

"Strength-wise, that's not going to be an issue. Work ethic's not going to be an issue," Rohlik said. "But I know there are parts of his game that he wants to continue to get better. He shoots the puck like a pro, but he's got to learn to shoot more. … Smaller areas, working on those first few steps, all the little things that are going to continue to help him get better.

"He's going to do whatever it takes to be the best player he can for the Flyers. That has been his main goal here at Ohio State, that he's going to take advantage of every resource he can here because his dream is to play at that level. … I just think he's going to come in there and try to prove himself and try to be an everyday player for them at some point."

 

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