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 week’s report, we highlight the Phantoms’ goalie situation, a defenseman on the brink of the NHL, a center tearing up the QMJHL and much, much more. Let’s dig in.
Robert Hagg, D, 6-1/191, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Hagg’s development progresses a step forward each game, a positive sign for the Flyers. With the NHL trade deadline approaching — March 1 — Hagg could find himself as a call-up if the Flyers decide to sell at the deadline, or find a taker for an expiring contract on the blue line (Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto, Nick Schultz). Last week, Hagg continued to see his more assertive play in his own zone begin to translate to the stat sheet. He registered two goals and two assists in three games last week, including a goal and an assist on his 22nd birthday Wednesday.
It took Hagg eight games to get his first point of the season and 16 games to record his third. In his last 15 games alone, he has three goals and five assists and is a plus-7. He’s second on the Phantoms with a plus-11 rating and is on track to finish as a plus player for the first time since he played just 10 games in 2013-14. Last season, he finished as a minus-11. Through 42 games this year, he’s at a plus-22 jump in that category. There is an argument as to how much weight we should put into plus/minus, but that's a considerable jump.
German Rubtsov, C, 6-0/190, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
Another Future Flyers Report, another check-in on Rubtsov. After escaping an injury scare, Rubtsov didn’t miss any time last week for the Saguenéens and didn’t miss a beat, either. The 2016 first-round pick had his first multi-goal game in the Q, his fourth and fifth multi-point games and seven points in three games last week. He was named the first star (one goal, two assists) of Chicoutimi’s 4-3 win over Rimouski on Sunday, and the second star (two goals, one assist) of the Saguenéens’ 5-2 win over Val-d’Or on Thursday. Since coming over from the KHL, the center has six goals and 10 assists in 10 games. With the increased role and playing on the North American surface, the Flyers have to feel a lot better about Rubtsov’s development now than they did two months ago, and he’s quickly become a must-watch forward in the QMJHL.
Alex Lyon, G, 6-1/201, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
Let’s check in on the Phantoms’ goaltending situation. Coach Scott Gordon has done an excellent job splitting the net up between Lyon and Anthony Stolarz since Stolarz returned to Lehigh Valley on Jan. 6. Let’s begin with Lyon, a first-year pro who has started nine of the 17 games since Stolarz’s return. Lyon got the starting nod in two of Lehigh Valley’s three games last week with mixed results. On Wednesday, Lyon turned in a 27-save shutout, his third of the season and his professional career. But on Saturday night, the Yale product allowed four goals on 21 shots in the Phantoms’ 4-3 loss to St. John’s. His 20 wins have him second in the AHL behind Tristan Jarry and Jack Campbell, who both have 21.
Anthony Stolarz, G, 6-6/210, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Stolarz got the nod Friday against St. John’s and stopped 19 of 21 shots faced in a 4-2 win. It was his eighth start since his stint with the Flyers while Michal Neuvirth battled a left knee injury. With how Gordon has divvied up the net, it’s a safe bet Stolarz gets the start Tuesday at Wilkes/Barre-Scranton. The Phantoms have four games this week, so it could be a 50/50 split. What’s interesting going forward is both Stolarz and Lyon are restricted free agents after the season and the Flyers will certainly want to bring both back. Consider both Neuvirth and Steve Mason are unrestricted free agents, too, it’s also a safe bet that either Stolarz or Lyon could be the Flyers’ backup next season to either Neuvirth or Mason. The super early favorite has to be Stolarz considering his experience, both in the AHL and NHL.
Oskar Lindblom, LW, 6-1/192, Brynäs IF (SHL)
For precautionary reasons, according to Sons of Penn’s Alexander Appleyard, Lindblom was held out of the Sweden Hockey Games portion of the Euro Hockey Tour because of a lower-body injury. Lindblom has been cleared to play for Brynäs IF when the SHL season resumes Tuesday. Last week, Lindblom spoke with Brynäs’ Kari Litmanen about his season, his development and how often he talks with the Flyers. Here are some highlights, with the help of Google Translate.
• On his development: “The strength and speed have been developed and I feel like I can do a little more with the puck than before. My development has meant that I can keep the puck an extra second and the little extra seconds allow me to get away a pass for a shot.”
• On communication with Flyers: “I’m talking the most with their development responsible for forwards. During the season, it is quite a bit of contact — that the focus is on the present. (The Flyers) usually sends video links and clips of match situations I’ll check in order to develop my game and get better.”
• Rouyn-Noranda defenseman Philippe Myers was cleared to return from his concussion, suffered at the world juniors, last week, but did not play. He’ll likely play Wednesday.
• Phantoms forwards Taylor Leier and Scott Laughton are battling injuries. Leier has missed five straight games, while Laughton suffered his injury Friday. Gordon did not offer any new information Saturday, per Highland Park Hockey’s Tony Androckitis.
• Sam Morin had his second career multi-point game last week with the Phantoms, registering a goal and an assist in Lehigh Valley’s 5-0 win over Binghamton on Wednesday.
• Pascal Laberge tallied a goal and an assist and was named the No. 1 star in Victoriaville’s 4-3 shootout win over Québec on Saturday. In the shootout, Laberge deked Québec goalie Evgeny Kiselev with a nifty move and scored, but it was ruled no good because he didn’t keep the puck going forward. Close call. You can decide yourself here if it was a goal or not.
• Another shutout for Everett’s Carter Hart, who turned in a 31-save blanking of Moose Jaw Saturday. Hart now has a WHL-leading eight shutouts and 2.01 goals-against average.
• Ohio State freshman Tanner Laczynski has gotten back on track after a brief slump after returning from the world juniors. Laczynski had a goal and two assists in two games against Minnesota. He now has two goals and three assists in his last five games.
• Merrick Madsen made 32 saves and yielded two goals in No. 4 Harvard’s 6-2 rout of No. 6 Union on Friday.
• Western Michigan winger Wade Allison added an assist Friday against Nebraska-Omaha. His five-game point streak was snapped Saturday. He has nine points in his last nine games.