Flyers

Flyers

The Flyers’ 10-game winning streak came to an end Saturday with a 3-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, with winger Taylor Leier scoring his first NHL goal in the defeat.

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 feature a first-year pro putting his fingerprints on the AHL, and a disappointing prospect elevating his game to expectations this year. Let’s dig in.

Travis Sanheim, D, 6-4/202, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
It is safe to say the Travis Sanheim we saw in junior has arrived to the AHL.

After scoring his first professional goal Dec. 9, Sanheim’s offensive touch continued last week for the AHL-best Phantoms with three more goals. He now has four goals in his last five games, and registered a two-goal game last Wednesday against Bridgeport.

Sanheim’s first goal against the Sound Tigers came after he exited the penalty box, banking a rebound in the right faceoff dot off a Bridgeport player into the net. On his second goal, he displayed a wicked wrister, pinning a shot inside the top left crossbar.

During a 7-1 rout of Providence on Saturday night, Sanheim followed through on his own shot in close and put his own rebound past Malcolm Subban to put Lehigh Valley up 6-1.

 

The Phantoms have Sanheim paired with Sam Morin, a defenseman he very well could be paired with once both make it up to the NHL. In junior, Sanheim posted gaudy offensive numbers, but he realizes he has to get stronger, both physical and defensively.

How far away is Sanheim from reaching the NHL? General manager Ron Hextall told the Courier-Post the team would have “a better idea by the end of this season what his odds are” to make the Flyers next year. But last week was a sign Sanheim is starting to figure out how to produce both offensively and play a sound defensive game at the pro level.

Robert Hagg, D, 6-1/201, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
This was an important season for Hagg, his third pro campaign, one in which he would have to take a significant step forward to stay in good standing in the organization.

So far, so good.

“He’s really taken a step forward this year, the kind of step we were hoping he’d take last year,” Hextall told Phantoms’ radio broadcaster Bob Rotruck last Wednesday.

It was another quiet week in the point column for Hagg, but the 21-year-old is showing more emotion and more urgency in his third season with the Phantoms. On Friday night, Hagg found himself on the top pairing with T.J. Brennan, a promotion well deserved. He was with Brennan again Saturday night against the Providence Bruins.

Hagg battled an oblique injury and lackadaisical play in his second season in the AHL. He was healthy scratched in the middle of the season, but began to show small improvements toward the end of the 2015-16 season. Those improvements have carried over to this season.

During development camp last summer, Hagg said he’s “trying to be a two-way defender.” The blueliner is gifted with the puck — when he wants to be. He makes a solid first pass and possesses a solid all-around game. His laidback personality often carried over to his play, but this season, he’s playing with more resolve. A positive for the orange and black.

Oskar Lindblom, LW/RW, 6-1/192, Brynäs IF (SHL)
Lindblom has been a constant in this report all season long, as the 20-year-old is dominating the SHL with Brynäs IF in his final year of his contract overseas.

Last week, Lindblom was away from Brynäs with Team Sweden for the Channel One Cup, a tournament that featured 24 players with NHL experience and many KHL players. He finished the tournament with a goal and a plus-three in three games.

 

What is next on the plate for Lindblom after this season? He is expected to come over from Sweden next season full time. He played eight games with the Phantoms last season on a tryout, but decided what’s best for him was another year in the SHL.

Hextall told the Courier-Post last week Lindblom “certainly can play in the American League, could have this year.” Hextall also said Lindblom staying overseas was “not like he’s going back to junior that maybe he’d outgrown.”

“He’s playing against men,” Hextall said. “He was going to play against men and he wasn’t a top player last year in the SHL, so he comes this year and he’s taken his game clearly to the next level and he is a top player at that level.

“Now next year it’s time to come on over and see what he can do.”

2017 IIHF World Junior Championships
Two prospects made Team Canada’s roster for the 2017 world junior championships, Rouyn-Noranda defenseman Philippe Myers and Everett goalie Carter Hart.

Myers, who stuck with the Flyers in training camp longer than expected, has eight goals and 18 points in 19 games with the Huskies this season. Hart is dominating the WHL, posting a 1.85 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and four shutouts. He’s 16-3-4 for the Silvertips, and has been named the CHL’s Goaltender of the Week twice.

Team USA has yet to name its roster for the championships, however Ohio State forward Tanner Laczynski is in camp. With Brock Boeser undergoing wrist surgery, Laczynski’s chances to making the U.S.’s roster increase. The U.S. opened camp last Friday, and is expected to name its roster by Dec. 24.

German Rubtsov and Mikhail Vorobyov are a part of Russia’s selection camp roster. Rubtsov is expected to make Team Russia, while Vorobyov will compete for a spot too.

Other junior championship notes: Brynäs goalie Felix Sandstrom and Djurgårdens IF defenseman David Bernhardt are in camp with Team Sweden; and North Dakota goaltender Matej Tomek is in camp with Slovakia. The tournament begins Dec. 26.

Quick hits
• Bowling Green defenseman Mark Friedman closed out the Falcons’ first semester with a goal Friday against Alaska, his fifth of the season, in two games last weekend.

• Victoriaville right winger Pascal Laberge picked up a pretty goal in two games last week. It’s been a rough season for the Flyers’ 2016 second-round pick as he's dealt with a concussion.

 

• Saint John’s center Samuel Dove-McFalls had a goal and three assists for the Sea Dogs on Saturday against Charlottetown. The catch? He also had three minor penalties.

Anthony Salinitri registered a hat trick for Sarnia on Saturday night against the Saginaw, but was held pointless in the Sting’s other three games last week.

• A three-assist week for Jordan Weal, who has 29 points in 26 games this season for the Phantoms.

 • Danick Martel had a productive week at Lehigh Valley, with four points in three games. On Saturday, Martel delivered a two-goal, three-point night against Providence.

Alex Lyon picked up wins No. 11, 12 and 13 last week. He now leads the AHL with 13 wins, and has netminded Lehigh Valley to a five-game winning streak.