SteelFlyers Hockey Videos2020-09-03T18:37:06+00:00

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Why the Best Offense for the Flyers this Yr. may be a Good Defense

By |September 23rd, 2023|

Let’s face it: the Philadelphia Flyers have lacked an elite offensive talent for some time now. Think back. When was the last time the Flyers had a 50-goal scorer? I’ll give you a hint: the team just hired him as a special advisor to Hockey Operations. If you guessed John LeClair, you were right. It was over 25 years ago that LeClair last reached that plateau (in three consecutive seasons, mind you) when he posted 51 goals during the ’97-’98 season. And, for that matter, it has been over five years since they last had a player total 100 points or more in a single season; Claude Giroux last did it when he finished the ’17-’18 campaign with 102 tallies on the score sheet.

Now, as nice as the Flyers farm system may look on paper, with first-round picks like Tyson Foerster, Cutter Gauthier, and Matvei Michkov all being taken over the last couple of years. The reality is the Flyers are still at least a year or two away before any of them truly becomes a dominant force in the NHL. I mean, Foerster is the only one even signed by the Flyers currently.

This leaves us, the fans, forced to endure yet another season where the Flyers will be hard-pressed to score goals. Disagree? Well, ponder this. Last season, the Flyers finished the year having only scored 220 goals. That’s an average of only 2.68 goals per game, ranking them 29th in the league. In comparison, the league leading Edmonton Oilers, scored 325 regular season goals. That equates to them netting, on average, 3.96 goals per game last year, which, if you do the math, means the Flyers were something like 105 goals off the pace.

And to further prove my point, we here in the tri-state area think Travis Konecny did big things last year by setting a new career high in goals with 31. But when you compare his goal totals to the rest of the league, they fail in comparison, as 45 other players from around the NHL were able to net more goals than him. In fact, to add insult to injury, the league leader, Connor McDavid, finished with an incredible 64 lamp lighters. This means that even if TK could match his career high of 31 goals again this upcoming season, the sum of both last year and this season would still not add up to what McDavid was able to produce in the ’22-’23 campaign.

Still not convinced our offense needs work? Let us look at point totals. Konecny finished last season on top of anyone else wearing the orange and black jersey in that category, as well. He tied his previous career best of 61 points (a feat he first achieved back in 2020). But those 61 points Travis managed to accrue last season only amounted to him being ranked a messily 91st in the league. To compare. McDavid was once again the league leader in this category last year, with him compiling 153 points. This means Konecny finished last year a staggering 92 points off of the league leader’s pace!

Now, none of the above was meant to be a rip on Konecny. After all, he did set new career highs last year. So, of course, I don’t expect him to stack up to one of the best players of our lifetime. Instead, this was meant to be a way to show you just how bad collectively this team’s offense really was last year compared to the rest of the league, where even our best offensive player couldn’t even manage to come close to the kind of point production most other teams have in their arsenals.

And, if you’re reading this and planning to put all your faith into the return of a 12-year veteran like Sean Couturier, who has had multiple back surgeries since he last played a game on Dec. 18th of 2021, some 644 days ago. Or a 34-year-old Cam Atkinson, who did not play at all last season because he had to undergo a serious neck surgery to turn this team around. You, sir or ma’am, have more trust than me. Of course, I hope they come back 100% and do well, but let me remind you that even if both of those players stay healthy all season long, the team also chose not to sign back unrestricted free agent James van Riemsdyk (who led the team in scoring in the ’21-’22 season with 24 goals), as well as them trading away their lone All-Star selection from last season, Kevin Hayes to the St. Louis Blues this past offseason. So, while I consider both of those decisions to be wise, given the direction of the team, if either Coots or Atkinson sustains even a minor setback, the team very well could be worse off offensively than they were last season.

So, how can this team endure the onslaught of offensive juggernauts like the Oilers until the likes of Gauthier and Michkov arrive to carry this offense? Easy, they can focus on solidifying their defense. The Flyers last season were among the worst in a lot of categories, but possibly their biggest downfall was their penalty-killing unit. That was ranked 26th in the league last year because they only managed to stop the opposition 74.68% of the time.

Since then, the Flyers’ new General Manager Danny Briere has been working hard to strengthen this defensive core. He, of course, traded minute eater Ivan Provorov (and his career -28 average), who may have been a little overrated during his time here because we had no one better. He bought out Tony DeAngelo, who finished the season a -27, and chose to let the aging 36-year-old Justin Braun ride off into the sunset that is retirement by not offering him a contract extension.

Briere chose to replace them by trading for veteran Sean Walker and signing NHL journeyman Marc Staal, who helped the Florida Panthers reach the Stanley Cup Finals. But just bringing in a pair of wisely old veterans to stand on the blueline won’t be enough to help this team’s goaltenders put forth the kind of numbers they are capable of.

Carter Hart and the newly acquired Cal Petersen have each shown, at times, the makings of what could be a franchise goaltender, but the supporting cast in front of them has often left them high and dry.

Both have career goals against averages that are coming in just shy of three goals a game and save percentages that are barely hovering above .900, but when wearing their country’s colors while playing in the world championships when they have a defense core in front of them worth a shit, they both went undefeated and posted a goals-against-average under a goal a game while managing to maintain a save percentage at or above .955%

So, in saying that, the man who is currently cracking the whip at training camp, John Tortorella, has to be willing to at least give a long look at guys like Emil Andrae, Adam Ginning, Helge Grans, Ronnie Attard, and Yegor Zamula to potentially make the team out of camp over guys like Nick Seeler who while he may not do anything to hurt the team while out on the ice, he certainly does not do much to help it either. For you never know, one of these young players could join the likes of York and Bonk as future staples on the backend for this team. But you’ll never be able to find that out if you keep blocking their development by bringing back roster fillers like Seeler.

Lastly, what the Flyers should look to do to help them become more defensively sound like the Boston Bruins, the Carolina Hurricanes, or the Dallas Stars is to revisit switching Morgan Frost to wing and allow Scott Laughton to play his rightful position of center. While I can appreciate Frost’s growth last year, I think he benefited from playing top-line minutes because of Coots’ injury and Hayes being in Torts’ doghouse for much of the season. Now that the Selke Trophy-winning Sean Couturier is back, Morgan’s ice time and chance to play on the Power Play will decrease significantly. Leaving Frost most likely unable to achieve the same kind of point production he was able to last season. Plus, Laughton not only has a much better career faceoff win percentage but also commits fewer turnovers, is more defensive-minded, and excels in the art of forechecking.

I don’t know about you, but when you look around the league, I think you would be hard-pressed to find an opening night roster with a better group of shutdown centers than Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, Noah Cates, and Ryan Poehling.

Under the direction of President of Hockey Operations Keith Jones and General Manager Danny Briere, there’s no doubt things are moving in the right direction here in Philly. But even with all the trades, signings, and behind-the-scenes staffing changes, this team is still a few years away from actual contention. That’s why, given what the Flyers have currently, I think it best they make these moves, that is, until the reinforcements arrive, and the Flyers can then reascend to their rightful place atop the Eastern Division.

Austen Swankler: An Undrafted Free Agent the Flyers Should Keep an Eye On

By |September 1st, 2023|

Photo Credit: Bowling Green State University Athletics, 02/06/2023

We all know and have finally accepted that the Philadelphia Flyers are in the midst of a rebuild. And as hard as that pill was to swallow initially, I think the vast majority of us (the fans) have even come to find a sense of peace and solidary in the fact that the franchise we all know and love has wisely appointed Danny Briere to be the man to see us out of these dark times.

Now, that being said, this rebuild may not take as long as you may think, and here’s why. In a short amount of time, Briere has been able to come in and help drastically change the landscape of this team via his choice to seek out and dispose of volatile players and their inflated cap hits from last year’s roster, him compiling a solid first draft haul, and his recent choice of additions of key veteran free agents, and retirees (John LeClair, and Patrick Sharp) for that matter that have been brought into instill a renewed focus on player development.

Sadly, this writer feels that there is still one more thing that Danny could do to ensure all his hard work this off season wasn’t for nothing.

That one stone Briere has left unturned is the eventual signing of an NCAA undrafted free agent. Now, here me out: while signing one of these players was once viewed as a long shot by most GMs, the NCAA is vastly becoming a league again where quality talent is being cultivated daily. So much so that some would even consider it one of the world’s most competitive leagues right now, with so many recent high-end draft picks choosing to play in the collegiate ranks before turning Pro. Be that the case, with prospects that were formerly passed on now knowing that there are so many NHL teams with their scouts in the rafters to oversee their own drafted talents’ progressions, there has been a recent influx of gifted, overlooked players flocking to their nearest University’s for chance at redemption.

Now, I’m not saying that if Briere chooses to do this, he will be able to find a future Hall of Famer like teams did when they inked former NCAA undrafted free agents Ed Belfour, Curtis Joseph, Adam Oates, Joe Mullen, and Martin St. Louis. Still, he could find a solid addition to the depth chart, much like most current perennial playoff contenders are forced to try and do every year to counteract them not having a preferred draft position.

One of these such players who I feel could have a real shot at turning pro after this upcoming season would be Bowling Green State University’s 22-year-old center, Austen Swankler. This Pennsylvania-born prospect, who was a Hobey Baker Award Nominee this past season, is coming off a year in which he scored 19 goals and 25 assists for 44 points in only 35 games played! And now that I have your attention, let me tell you there is much to like about this 1.25 point per game player.

The Breakdown

After going undrafted after having only moderate success in the USHL and having his OHL career cut short by the Coronavirus, Austen was somehow granted his NCAA eligibility back. Once reacquired, he decided to take his talents to Bowling Green, Ohio for the 2021-2022 season to play for the Falcons. Here, Swankler grew to his current height of 6’0 and 185 pounds and would eventually learn to be a 200ft player.

After missing a complete season thanks to a worldwide pandemic, Austen seemingly struggled in his first season, with the Falcons only scoring 26 points in 36 games. But after gaining a complete year back on his skates, Swankler gathered all the accolades (mentioned above and more) that a player of his offensive caliber truly deserves. But surprisingly, after having such a great season and even attending the reigning Stanley Cup Champions (Las Vegas Golden Knights) Development Camp this summer, Austen surprised the masses by choosing not to turn pro but instead deciding to stay true to the promise he made to his mother about staying to finish up his degree at BGSU.

That’s why when you factor in Austen’s innate scoring ability, his mesmerizing maneuvering of the puck in tight to his body, and the continued work he has put into improving upon his skating ability over the years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him score 25 goals and 50 points this season.

Will Swankler be able to achieve the kind of point production I suggested he would? We will just have to wait and see, but regardless of whether he does or not, I predict he will finish this upcoming season as one of the best undrafted free agents available. And therefore, he should be kept a close eye on by Flyers management if they wish to add another experienced offensive talent to their ever-growing group of prospering prospects.

Prospect Watch: Zayne Parekh

By |August 25th, 2023|

If there is one thing this upcoming NHL Draft class of 2024 has plenty of, it would be quality defensemen. But, as good as this next crop of young blue liners is that includes Sam Dickenson, Artyom Levshunov, Aron Kiviharju, Adam Jiricek, and Henry Mews, there is one name I feel whose play this upcoming season will see his stock rise potentially above most of if not all of those names, and that player is none other than Zayne Parekh of the Ontario Hockey Leagues’ Saginaw Spirt.

And here’s why. Not only is Parekh one of the smoothest skating/stick-handling defensemen I’ve seen come out in some time, but he also possesses the rare scoring ability very few defensive prospects have EVER shown at his age! To prove this, if you look at every defensemen’s draft minus one season in the modern era, you’ll see that at just 16 years of age, Zayne was able to tie the great Drew Doughty for most goals ever scored by a defenseman the year before they were draft eligible with each having 21 lamp lighters to their credit.

Now, if you’re like me when I first stumbled upon some tape of this young player, you’ll have probably noticed after watching the video above that Zayne was able to achieve this unbelievable feat of scoring 20-plus goals last season because he possesses the type of aggressiveness needed to jump up into the offensive zone and get involved in most plays. So much so that on more than one occasion, I saw Parekh being the one to drive the play behind the opposition’s net. Now, usually, this would be a big no-no for a defender. But when you are coaching a guy who can load up and release the type of wrist shot from anywhere on the ice that creates bottle rockets (hockey term for scoring a goal that sends the goalies’ water bottle flying), then I guess you just sit back and let him make you look good.

In saying that, with this right-hand-shot defender’s current height and weight only reaching 6’0 and 180 pounds, it has drawn Zayne some very favorable comparisons to that of the New York Rangers’ Adam Fox. Now, although, I don’t necessarily disagree that this player comparison could one day be his ceiling. I think it is a lot to put on Zayne currently.

Therefore, in my mind a more realistic comparison of a player with almost identical attributes and a similar projected growth track would be that of the New Jersey Devils 2022 prospect Seamus Casey. Casey, if you remember, was one of my favorite defenders from the 2022 draft class because, like Parekh, Seamus excels at the art of effortlessly maneuvering his way around the ice while utilizing his strong stick handling ability to help him create quality offensive chances for his team.

Now, while these stats may be impressive, Zayne’s game does not come without flaws. Despite all the points he was able to score last season, Parekh only managed to finish the season with a +3 average. So, to improve upon that this upcoming season (like Seamus did last season while playing for the University of Michigan Wolverines), Parekh will need to figure out how to harness his urges to show off his offensive abilities.

After all, a defender’s primary duty is to prevent the opposition from scoring. Only after managing to do that should a blue liner shift his focus to the offensive side of things.

If he does, there is no doubt in this writer’s mind that Zayne will find himself playing on the same line as the prize of the 2025 draft, center Michael Misa. When given that opportunity, he should not only be able to double his point production from last year but also maintain a much-improved plus-minus rating heading into next summer’s selection process.

Flyers Camp Battles that are Set to Ensue

By |August 14th, 2023|

Photo Credit: Flyers PR Staff

With the reality of summer now slowing coming to an end, we must now look to the positives to fight back the onslaught of our impending Seasonal Affective Disorder. To do so, I can think of two things in particular that should help with just that. One is that your kids will be returning to school soon and, therefore, will be forced to stop raiding your pantry. And two being that a new NHL season will soon commence.

But as we all know, before it can, the Flyers must first hold a camp to see who will make the team this season. That said, this year will surely be interesting, given that there will not be as many familiar faces around. Seeing that the teams’ new general manager Danny Briere let James van Riemsdyk walk and sent both defenseman Ivan Provorov and center Kevin Hayes packing this summer.

The good thing about this new administration, though, is unlike its predecessor, they have not gone out and signed a bunch of underachieving, over-the-hill players who are well past their prime to one-year deals. Instead, this new regime has left a few spots open to allow some of their budding prospects the chance to potentially make the Orange and Blacks opening night roster.


In saying that, one particular battle I feel you should watch out for once the team laces them up is wing position—Manly between 25-year-old Wade Allison and 21-year-old Tyson Foerster. Now, nobody is questioning Wade’s heart or the enormous effort he expels every time he touches the ice. This being especially true after he had the stones to fight and win a bout against the Rangers’ 6’8 prospect Matthew Rempe last preseason. But sadly, when you play the game with this reckless abandon approach, it often leads to injuries. Something Allison knows all too well, given the immense amount of time he has had to spend on the Injured Reserve (IR) during both his colligate and professional careers. So, I believe it is his inability to stay in the Flyers lineup that just may lead to his ultimate demise. While Wade still shows promise, the fact that he is a 25-year-old, former second-round pick in the last year of his contract who still has yet to solidify his role on the team is a bit unsettling.

Especially since the Flyers have a 21-year-old winger in Tyson Foerster, who Philadelphia took in the first round of the 2020 draft that is already appearing to be ready to challenge him for the spot; if you compare the two, Allison played in 60 games for the Flyers last season where he was able to amass just 15 points during that time—a 0.25 point per game average. On the other hand, Foerster led all Phantoms in points last year, scoring 20 goals and 48 points in 66 games played. This kind of point production not only led to him being picked to be a member of the AHL All-Star festivities last season but garnered him the opportunity to play up with the big club in eight games towards the end of the season, where he was able to net an incredible three goals and four assists for seven points in only eight games played with the Flyers last season. So, I ask which would you prefer? A player who scores 0.25 percent of the time like Allison, or a kid whose shot allowed him to make the most of his chances last season, maintaining a 0.875 point per game pace while playing up with the Flyers?


On the blue line, there have been some changes as well. As veterans, Justin Braun (who just retired) and Tony DeAngelo (who finished with a team-worst -27 average last season) are no longer with the club.

Their veteran replacements brought in this off-season were Sean Walker, who the Flyers acquired in the trade with the Los Angeles Kings, and Marc Staal, who the team signed after he helped the Florida Panthers get to the Stanley Cup Finals last season. Now, while both of these guys were brought in to try and bring in some experience and solidify the defense, the team’s youth will still have the opportunity to fight for a spot on the roster as their seventh defenseman or, better yet, come to earn Tortorella’s trust enough to be the first guy that gets the call up when an injury occurs.

This spot used to belong to the Flyers’ undrafted defenseman Egor Zamula, but since joining the team a couple of years ago, his procession has seemed to stall. Resulting in other defensemen like Ronnie Attard, Emil Andrae, and Adam Ginning surpassing him on the depth chart, and here’s why.

Ronnie is a 24-year-old right-hand shot defender that uses every bit of his 6’3, 207-pound frame to stand the opposition up at the blue line. Attard has done so well since leaving Western Michigan to sign with Philadelphia that he made the AHL All-Star Game last season. His stats while playing for the Phantoms last year were as follows in 68 games played; he scored 12 goals and 20 assists for 32 points. More importantly, he managed to do so while maintaining a +10 average.

For his efforts, Ronnie was given the opportunity to play two games with the Flyers last season, where he did not total any points but looked solid during those outings.

Look for Ronnie to get a real shot with the Flyers at some point this season, as he remains one of the most solid defenders in the team’s system.

Emil Andrae is The other name I mentioned above that could very well find himself playing on South Broad Street at some point this year. Emil was the Flyers’ 2020 second-round pick, and although this now 21-year-old may be diminutive in stature, standing at only 5’9 and 181 pounds, he has certainly proven that he does not let that stop him from competing. After already playing in parts of three seasons in the SHL (Sweden’s Top Professional League), Andrae got his first taste of North American hockey as he was able to join the Phantoms after he finished the season playing for the HV71. In that short stint with the Flyers, Emil was able to impress, scoring six points in just ten regular season games. And now that he knows what to expect, the sky is the limit next season for this young defender.

Adam Ginning is the last defenseman we will talk about that will battle in camp for a shot at making the Flyers’ opening night roster. Adam was the Flyers’ 2018 second-round pick, and he is a bit of a dark horse in this battle because although he is not as flashy as the others mentioned, he would be this old goaltender’s pick of who to have play in front of him. And here’s why. Ginning is the most experienced out of the bunch. He is 23 years old and has already played in parts of six seasons in the SHL before joining the Phantoms last year. Plus, what this defender lacks in point production, he makes up for with size and strength. Standing at 6’4 and 205 pounds, Adam is known to play with a lot of authority. He uses that size to excel in board battles and while clearing out the front of the net. Ginning is probably the most physical out of the bunch and, in my mind, has all the intangibles to become a dependable shutdown defender at the next level. Hence his +24 average last season in the AHL.


If I had to pick one position battle above all others currently up for grabs for the Flyers, it would have to be in the net. Since 1999, when Ron Hextall retired, Philadelphia has struggled to find a long-term replacement, let alone a franchise-type goaltender. To prove this, let me point out that the Flyers have started an incredible 32 goalies since then. And not one of those, including Carter Hart, has been able to solidify the position. Lucky for us, Briere is now at the helm and looks as though he hopes to change that.

Since Briere was named the team’s new general manager Hart and his lackluster career win percentage of .417% has been on the trade block. But perhaps the only thing that has kept him here this long is the impending results from the Hockey Canada Sexual Assault investigations, where a woman accused eight players from the 2018 Canadian World Junior Team (which Hart played for) of committing unwanted acts. Since then, Hart and others on that team have come out and sworn they had nothing to do with it. But you can’t blame prospecting teams for not wanting to agree to a possible trade until his name has been completely cleared of any wrongdoing.

With that being said, Dealing Danny has not let that stop him from trading for, drafting, and re-signing other netminders who could potentially take on the starting role one day soon.

One of those players is Cal Petersen, who Briere just acquired from the LA Kings in the trade for Provorov. Petersen will prove to be an option for the Flyers next season because not only does he have actual experience at 28 years old and more than 100 NHL games already under his belt. But he was once thought to be the heir to Jonathan Quick’s throne in LA. Ergo, the pricey five million dollar price tag he brought with him that spans over the next two seasons. Unfortunately for Petersen, the Kings, despite being a playoff team last season, saw their reign from the early teens (when they were able to collect two Stanley Cup wins) come to an end recently as only three players are left from those cup teams on the current roster.

Now, if you have done any research at all on Petersen, you probably are not that impressed, seeing that Cal spent time playing in both the NHL and AHL last year. Even less so if you looked at his career goals-against-average (G.A.A.), save percentage (SV%), and win percentage that are almost identical to that of Hart’s.

But before you chalk him up to the Flyers needing to take on a bad contract to get the deal done. I would urge you to look at what he was able to do at the World Championships for Team USA last season. Where in three games played, Cal was able to go undefeated, maintaining a 0.72 G.A.A. and a .956 SV%, with one of those wins even resulting in him recording a shutout. This tournament performance alone proves that he at least can hold down the fort for a while as Flyers’ goalie prospects Alexei Kolosov, Carson Bjarnason, and Yegor Zavragin continue to develop.

The other guy that will be involved in this upcoming camps competition from within the blue paint is Sam Errson. Sam is a 23-year-old netminder that the Flyers drafted with their fifth-round pick back in 2018. Before coming over to play in North America in 2021, he was a starter for the Brynas IF of the SHL. But you may know him best from the 12 games he played this year up with the Flyers, where he posted a winning record of 6-3.

That short stint was impressive enough, I guess, because it earned him a new two-year contract extension totaling $2.9 million. With that being said, we all know you don’t re-sign a guy for $1.45 million a year if you don’t intend for him to play.

And, if $10.35 million wasn’t enough to have wrapped up into three goalies set to battle it out in camp, enter back in 26-year-old Russian netminder Ivan Fedotov who is on the Flyers books for another $925,000 for this year (making the running total $11.275 million). The IIHF just sided with the Flyers as it was determined that Ivan did, in fact, still have a valid NHL contract with the team when he chose to sign with the KHL’s CSKA Hockey Club recently. According to this report, Fedotov will be given two weeks to decide to either come to Philadelphia and play or obtain an official release from the Flyers to play in the KHL next season. If one of these actions doesn’t occur, Fedotov will have sanctions imposed on him that will NOT allow him to play in any official National or International games for a span of four months. This suspension (if necessary) would start on Sept. 1st (the CSKA’s first regular season game) and run through December 31st.

What does this possible addition mean for the Flyers? Well, this 6’8 goalie was superb during the 2021-2022 season when he last played so much so that he was able to win the accolade of being named the KHL Best Goalie that year after leading his team to the KHL’s Gagarin Cup Championship.

Yes, indeed, if you plan to attend Philadelphia’s upcoming camp for the 2023-2024 season at the Flyers Skate Zone in Vorhees, NJ, it will surely not disappoint. With new management in place and Head Coach John Tortorella said to now have a seat at the decision-making table, the positional battles that I laid out above will undoubtedly be the deciding factor on whether some of these remaining veterans stick around or are replaced by promising prospects that will try to outperform them in the coming weeks.

The Flyers Must be Patient with the Rebuild to Avoid Settling for a Regained State of Mediocrity

By |August 4th, 2023|

The Philadelphia Flyers’ newly promoted President of Hockey Operations, Keith Jones, and General Manager, Danny Briere, sure have done a lot in a short time to help this team move forward. But to ensure they don’t end up settling for a regained state of mediocrity, the powers at be, must remain patient.

This can sometimes prove challenging, though, especially with star prospects like first-round picks Tyson Foerster, Cutter Gauthier, and Matvei Michkov already developing rapidly in their system. But if they genuinely wish to get back to being considered cup contenders, management will need to continue to stock the cupboard for a few more years, and here’s why.

There’s no guarantee that all those names mentioned above will be NHL superstars. Hell, Gauthier has already refused to sign with the team when given the opportunity last year and turned down the chance to come into Development Camp this year. Plus, we all know that Michkov is extremely talented and has shown a strong desire to come over and play for the Flyers, but there is still the issue of him being signed to a KHL deal for the next three seasons.

So as much as it drives up the stomach acid into the back of my throat to even type this, I think the Flyers need to follow the Pittsburgh Penguins model from the early 2000’s. A time when the Pens. inconsistent play led them to be able to draft future hall of famers like goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with the first overall back in 2003, Evgeni Malkin second overall in 2004, Sidney Crosby first overall in 2005, along with Kris Letang in the third round, and finally Jordan Staal with the second overall pick in 2006. Remember, it was only after they drafted and got this new core group of players on the ice simultaneously that their fate began to change. Because of their efforts, Pittsburgh became a dominant force for the better part of a decade and was then afforded the opportunity to raise three Stanley Cup banners into the rafters during their reign. To prove that this course of action was no fluke, you just have to look to the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning, who followed a very similar blueprint when piecing their dynasties together.

So, if the orange and black were to continue on this journey to redemption with that same mindset, we should begin to look ahead at the next couple draft classes to see just what kind of players could be brought to South Broad Street in the not-so-distant future.

The 2024 NHL Entry Draft

Sam Dickinson:

Next summer’s first round will be loaded with potential elite defenders. So, therefore I think the Flyers should try and snag one of them with their first selection. One defender who should be considered an ideal fit for the Flyers inside the top ten next year would be Sam Dickinson of the Ontario Hockey Leagues (OHL’s) London Knights. Sam was this past year, and will likely be again this upcoming season, the defensive partner of the Flyers first-round pick Oliver Bonk. Currently standing 6’3 and 194 pounds, Dickinson is the perfect left-hand-shot defender to bring into the teams’ system. He is mobile and has been known to rocket a shot into the back of the net from time to time. That said, I believe Dickinsons overall game and ongoing chemistry with Bonk next season will see Sam’s stock rise in the eyes of the Flyers brass, leading them to call his name at the draft next summer.

Liam Greentree

For their second first-round pick that Philadelphia acquired from the Florida Panthers in the trade for Giroux, I would suggest a player named Liam Greentree, who plays for the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. Liam is a player who I think will surprise many people this upcoming season—seeing that in his rookie campaign last season, this 6’2 194 pounder managed to score an impressive 25 goals and 20 assists for 45 points. Given his size and the mass exodus of a large majority of his teammates that aged out of junior hockey, the sky is the limit for this young prospect next season. And with the aforementioned multitude of quality defenders to be had in his draft class, Greentree is looking more and more like a potential steal late in the opening round of next year’s draft (where the Panthers are projected to finish).

The 2025 NHL Entry Draft

As I stated above, this rebuild must be ongoing and will take a few years to see it through. So, we will keep it going by now, taking a look into the 2025 Draft, which appears as though it is going to be chalked full of some pretty amazing offensive talent. But while this draft is going to be highlighted by names like Michael Misa, Owen Griffin, Zach Morin, Cullen Potter, Malcolm Spence, and Cooper Dennis, I feel as though the team will begin to get a little better so I’ll give you a couple of names that I think most so-called experts are currently sleeping on, and therefore could still be available when the Flyers are due to make their selection.

William Horcoff

William Horcoff is the first prospect from this draft class, whom I think both Jones and Briere will be keeping an eye on. My thought process stemmed from the current Flyers administration’s recent draft, where they showed a love affair with prospects that came from NHL Bloodlines (ergo, their decision to select Cole Knuble and Alex Ciernik earlier this summer).

William also fits that mold, seeing that his dad Shawn played in over 1,000 regular season NHL games that spanned over 15 seasons for three different teams. In this case, the only difference between father and son is that William, who is 6’3 and 170 pounds, looks to be far more offensively talented than his dad ever was. And here’s proof throughout the last two seasons while playing for the prospect factory known as the Little Caesars AAA 14U and 15U teams, Horcoff has been able to showcase his innate finishing ability netting an unbelievable 150 goals and 138 assists for a total of 288 points all in only 142 games played. Now, if you do the math, that equates to him maintaining an average of 1.05 goals per game and over two points per game during that time.

That said, the only thing that currently holds him back from being mentioned in the same conversations as the other elite players in his draft class is Will’s skating ability, or lack thereof, which he still has time to work on.

And the way I see it, any power skating/strength and condition coach worth his weight in broken sticks could help Horcoff improve on that part of his game, but what you can’t teach is his unmatched ability to put the puck in the back of the net.

Ryan Hedley

Another name from this draft class who currently finds himself grossly underrated is Ryan Hedley from the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes. This natural center, which is only 15 years of age, is not projected by the masses to go in the first round of the 2025 NHL Entry Draft, so if this holds true, he should be considered a steal in the second or third round. Why??? You might be asking. Well, over the last three seasons playing for the Jr. Canes, Ryan has been able to amass a total of 151 goals and 375 points! Now if you wanted to break down his game, the only way possible would be to compare him to legends. As he has shown, he can dangle like Datsyuk, protect like Jagr, accelerate with the puck on his stick like Modano, and finish with Gaborik’s accuracy.

The 2026 NHL Entry Draft

The final year I think the Flyers will need to afford themselves a top draft pick before any real shot at contention would be in the 2026 NHL Draft. Now, with it being such a long way out, it’s hard to tell who will stand out from above the rest, considering that most of the prospects involved in this draft class are still just 14 years old. But if I had my pick of whom would fit best within the Flyers system, I would have to take Joe Iginla.

Joe Iginla

Yes, if his last name rings a bell, it’s because he is the latest offspring of the former Calgary Flames legend turned Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla to make a name for themselves playing the game their dad dominated at for so many years in the NHL. As his older sister Jade and brother Tij did before him, Joe was entranced with the game of hockey from a very young age. The only difference is that while both of his siblings are playing at a very high level, Joe appears destined to be the best out of the bunch.

At just 14 years of age, Joe already looks to possess his dad’s proficiency around the net and gritty style of play. So much so that in a combined 88 games played last season, Joe produced an incredible 118 goals and 91 assists for a grand total of 209 points!

Now with that kind of point production, it’s easy to see why the Western Hockey Leagues (WHL’s) Edmonton Oil Kings decided to take Joe with their first-round pick this past May.

For, if he turns out to be even half of the player his dad was, then the sky is the limit as to how far he will go in this great sport.

With the addition of these prospects over the next couple of seasons being brought into the fold, I believe the Flyers could have a chance at regaining their rightful spot alongside the leagues’ elite teams who find themselves fighting for a chance at Lord Stanley’s Cup year in and year out.

Prospect Watch: Bryce Pickford

By |July 31st, 2023|

As I begin to take a closer look at this next crop of prospects that are due to be drafted in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, I’ve noticed that there is a ton of quality defensemen to be had. So much so that if a team wanted to wait until the second or third round of the draft to try and acquire one, they could still find real value on the blue line.

In my mind, one of those prospects mentioned above who would be a value pick in the second round would be a guy named Bryce Pickford. Bryce is a right-hand shot defender who plays for the reigning Western Hockey League’s (WHL’s) Champions, the Seattle Thunderbirds. What makes Pickford so valuable, in my opinion, is that while he currently stands at only 6’0 and 160 pounds, he somehow still manages to play with the kind of grit and determination you would expect to see from a guy who is 6’4 and 225 pounds.

But besides Pickford’s refreshing old-school willingness to drop the gloves to come to the aid of a fellow teammate after the opposition makes a dirty hit, he surprisingly has shown the ability to use his hands for scoring goals as well. A trait that the Thunderbirds roster that’s chalked full of already drafted NHL prospects and his stats from last season might not lead you to believe. For instance, last season Bryce finished the regular season with far more penalty minutes (50) than total points (17). Still, as you’ll see in the video link provided below, Pickford possesses the ability to undress the opposing team’s defense by stick handling unscathed through all five players on the ice just to finish off the play by rocketing it past their goalie.

The only difference between Bryce and some of this impending draft’s top defenders is that Pickford understands that his primary responsibility is to prevent the opposition from scoring (hence his +25 rating from this past season). Then and only then, if the opportunity presents itself, will he jump up into the rush and assist the offense in trying to score a goal. This, my friends, is the sign of a defenseman that just gets it and will probably have a very long and prosperous career in the NHL.

I’ll leave you with this. If you still need an NHL comparison for Bryce, think of Jared Spurgeon if he had Luke Schenn’s grit.

Prospect Watch: Liam Greentree

By |July 24th, 2023|

As the 2024 season looms ever closer, I feel it necessary to start to provide you with a few names of some promising prospects who I think you need to keep an eye on. One such name is Liam Greentree. Liam is a 2024 draft-eligible player who stands at 6’2 and 198 pounds. He is a right-winger who plays for the Ontario Hockey Leagues (OHL) Windsor Spitfires.

Now, Liam is viewed by several so-called experts as a potentially late first-round pick. Still, by my evaluation, he will likely surprise many people this season with his game and potentially be taken just outside the top ten next summer.

I based my hypothesis on the fact that Liam scored more goals than any other rookie in the OHL last season when he totaled 25. Yes, that means he even managed to outscore the highly touted Michael Misa (who is projected to be 2025’s number-one overall pick), who finished the season with only 22 goals, but who won the OHL’s Rookie of the Year Award (Emma Family Award) last season because he finished the season with more overall points than Greentree.

But how does he do it, you may be asking? To go with his NHL size and strength, Liam already possesses the kind of high-powered shot and quick release some players can only dream about having. Whether he has space to let it go from above the faceoff dots or finds himself in tight with traffic, Greentree always manages to put the most behind his shot. He may have picked up this trait from watching the Winnipeg Jets star Mark Scheifele who Liam once compared his game to in a prior interview. Let’s hope this comparison is accurate because Scheifele set a career-high in goals this past season with 42.

What could help Greentree reach such lofty goals is that teammates: Matthew Maggio, Jacob Maillet, Alex Christopoulos, Oliver Peer, Brett Harrison, and 2022 4th overall pick Shane Wright all are either aging out or potentially moving on to bigger and better things. So Liam will likely get the playing time he thus deserves next season for the Spitfires.

His first chance, however, to prove his worth to the masses this upcoming season will be in just a few days when he suits up for Team Canada in the 2023-2024 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, which will be held July 31st through August 5th in Trencin, Slovakia, and Breclav, Czechia. It is here where Greentree will not only get a chance to shine playing alongside some of the best Canada has to offer but be allowed to line up across from some of the players who currently sit above him in those mock drafts. And so, you don’t miss your opportunity to catch Liam donning the Red Maple Leaf with pride, make sure to tune into NHL Network for all the action.

Sam Dickinson is one name that should already be up on the Flyers 2024 Draft Boards

By |July 14th, 2023|

With the 2023 NHL Entry Draft now behind us, it is never too early to start looking ahead at the next crop of young upcoming players who will be available to select in the draft next summer. That statement resonates even more true if you are the Philadelphia Flyers, who are just now embarking on a total franchise rebuild.

Now, of course, it is still extremely early to try and nail down exactly where the newly promoted President of Hockey Operations Keith Jones and General Manager Danny Briere will be making their first-round selection from next summer but given where the team finished this past season, and the players Briere has already shipped out or chosen not to resign I feel like it’s a pretty safe bet to say that Philly most likely will find themselves picking from within the top ten once again next offseason.

With that being said, Sam Dickinson is one prospect who will be available above all others in this upcoming draft class that should already be up on the Flyers Draft Boards. Sam is a 6’3, 194-pound left-hand shot defender who plays for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). A team that the Flyers are very familiar with, seeing that they just drafted Dickinson’s defensive partner, right-hand shot defender Oliver Bonk with the 22nd overall pick this year, as well as the Knights center Denver Barkey who the team took in the third round with the 95th overall pick.

What’s with the Flyers’ fascination when they hear “This is London Calling,” you may be asking? Well, you could say Keith Jones and the Knight’s Head Coach/ Part Owner Dale Hunter have some history. They played together for five seasons in Washington D.C. for the Capitals from 1992 to the end of the 96-97 season. So, it should go without saying when Hunter calls up his old teammate and says you have to come check this kid out. You best believe the Flyers executives and their scouts will be on the first plane out of town.

But this interest in selecting Dale’s players isn’t solely based on nepotism. It’s founded on the fact that these players also possess a lot of skill. And why wouldn’t they? After playing in over 1,400 NHL games, scoring over 1,000 points, and totaling over 3,500 penalty minutes throughout his 19 seasons in the league, I think it’s safe to say that Hunter has developed not only quite the eye for spotting talent but for developing it as well seeing that he now has amassed over 900 regular season wins coaching in the junior ranks.

In saying that, Sam is just the latest prospect in a long line of Knights players who have been or are currently being cultivated by Dale Hunter. And it is this writers opinion that because of the tutelage he has received while playing in London that Dickinson projects to be not only one of this draft’s top two-way defenders but a top-five pick in the 2024 NHL Entry Draft as well. Sam’s assets may include his NHL size and strength, but what really sets him apart from the pack is that he is able to combine his herculean-like attributes with an immense amount of speed that he uses to jump up and join the rush offensively.

To prove this, in just his first season playing in the OHL, Dickinson scored nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points in 62 games played during the regular season. He built upon that newfound success in the playoffs by scoring four goals and four assists for eight points in 21 games.

But while Sam is already projected to be a top-five pick in next summer’s draft, what I believe will let him maintain his current draft stock is his ever-evolving shot from the point. As the season went on last year, I saw Dickinson feel increasingly more comfortable unleashing his behemoth of a shot from the point when traffic was in front of the net. This proved effective primarily because Sam concentrated on trying to keep the puck on the ice so that it did not lose any velocity on its way to the back of the net.

In addition, I would like to see Sam introduce a little more physicality to his game. But in doing so, he has to be careful because this can prove to be a double edge sword if not done correctly. For Dickinson already excels at the art of using his size to force the opponents to the outside, which creates tougher angle shots for them to shoot from. He also is skilled at tactfully removing the opposition from in front of his goaltender’s net to eliminate the possibility of a screen. But Dickinson does not use brute force to outright knock the opposition off the puck, for example when crossing the blue line. So, if he adds this to his repertoire and manages to do so cleanly, Dickinson just might follow Bonk’s footsteps by holding an Orange and Black jersey up on draft day so that the pair can continue to build upon their success together at the pro level.

Flyers have Addressed Many Issues This Off Season, but one they have yet to touch is the Left Wing Position.

By |July 5th, 2023|

With the additions this off-season of defenseman Marc Staal, right wing Garnet Hathaway, and center Ryan Poehling, Danny Briere, the Flyers’ newly appointed general manager, has certainly managed to bring in an established veteran presence who will be able to help guide this team’s youthful core. But there’s just one thing; management has yet to address their lack of depth at left wing. To date, the team currently only has three natural left-wingers signed. Only two are proven NHL talents, Joel Farabee and Nicolas Deslauriers. The other is prospect Elliott Desnoyers. Their unsigned left-wing talent is as follows prospect Cutter Gauthier, who refused to sign with the team when offered an entry-level deal earlier this off-season and recently turned down the invite to development camp. Another is Alex Bump, who is having a good camp but is still a year or two away, and lastly, Alex Cernik, the Flyers’ 2023 4th-round pick.

The right side is a different monster, though. The Flyers have tons of depth lining up on that side of the faceoff circle, with names like Travis Konecny, Owen Tippett, Garnet Hathaway, Wade Allison, and Cam Atkinson all being natural right-wingers who are already on the Flyers roster. On top of that, the team has multiple right-wingers in the waiting like this summer’s first-round pick Matvei Michkov, early-round draftees like ’20 1st round pick Tyson Foerster, ’21 2nd round pick Samu Tuomaala, ’19 2nd round pick Bobby Brink, ’22 3rd round pick Devin Kaplan, and late round gem Alexis Gendron who managed to score 55 goals this season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

To combat this lopsided depth chart, the Flyers invited the 23-year-old NCAA undrafted left-wing prospect Matt Brown to Development Camp. Brown, who stands at just 5’9, played in 39 games for the Boston Terriers this past season, scoring 16 goals and 31 assists for a total of 47 points. These totals equated to him scoring at a 1.20 points-per-game pace. To go along with that impressive stat, he also maintained a +15 average on the season. But unless he outshines the other Flyers previously drafted prospects that the franchise has coveted and scouted for months/years before selecting them, he will not be able to garner a contract by the end of this week.

So, who does that leave the team within which to fill those vacant roster spots created by James van Riemsdyk’s recent departure? Center Scott Laughton has been known to play left wing over the recent years but shouldn’t be counted on to stay there all season long as Sean Couturier should now be labeled as injury prone as he missed all of last season and only played in a combined 74 games throughout the last three seasons after sustaining numerous injuries that required him to have to endure two separate back surgeries.

For those of you who have never played the game, it might be easy to say the team should just force one of their young and upcoming right-wingers to slide over and play their off-wing. But I would disagree. That may work in the minor leagues where a promising prospect can react fast enough to get the best of a career AHL’er. But it won’t work in the NHL, where everyone is the world’s fastest, strongest, and most talented players. By doing this, the team is putting said prospect at a severe disadvantage. Let me give you some examples. Every time that off-wing tries to break out of the defensive zone, that prospect is forced to either receive the puck on their backhand or turn their backs entirely to the opposition’s defense to accept a pass on their forehand. This proves to be very dangerous as they then become an unsuspecting target when they turn around, and the opposing defense is there to try and administer a filling rattling open ice hit to regain the puck for their team. Ouch!!! To compare the severity of that kind of impact (think of a slot receiver in football when they stretch out to catch a ball over their head only to come back down and have a middle linebacker like Ray Lewis or Brain Urlacher coming at them in full stride while foaming at the mouth).

Those same drawbacks happen once they cross into the offensive zone, seeing that a player who is forced to play his off-wing will feel immediately handcuffed by any pass heading in their direction because they will always be on their backhand. And in that split second it takes to try to stop and bring it to their forehand for a better shot, sometimes is all the time a goaltender needs to dish out a little left-hand larceny.

So, with all the big-name unrestricted free agents now inked to new deals, how might Briere manage to bring in some much-needed help on the left side? Well, he could call his old Sabers teammate Chris Drury who is now the New York Rangers General Manager, and ask him what it might take to acquire their former number one overall pick Alexis Lafrenière. I mean, it is plausible. The Rangers have already gone out this off-season and signed veterans like Blake Wheeler, Tyler Pitlick, Riley Nash, Connor Mackey, and goaltender Jonathan Quick to fill vacancies in their lineup. But because of this recent shopping spree, Drury has left himself with very little cap space left to re-sign his own restricted free agents. So much so that he has been rumored to be listening to offers for Lafrenière even though he hopes to be able to keep him. But Drury also has restricted free agent (RFA) defenseman K’Andre Miller to sign, who has been an integral part of the Rangers’ defense over the last couple of seasons and is rightly due a substantial pay raise. This makes Alexis (the other RFA) possibly the odd man out, seeing that he has been rumored not to be willing to sign a team-friendly bridge deal.

And who could blame him? Alexis is a natural left winger with a ton of skill that is still just 21 years of age. He already has three NHL seasons of experience under his belt, but to date, he has yet to reach his full potential because he has been buried on the depth chart by other Ranger superstar left wings like Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin. But that doesn’t mean that Lafrenière has failed to produce. In the ’21-22 season, Alexis set a career-high in goals with 19, and this past season he set a career-high in points with 39.

These totals might not seem entirely up to par with what you would expect from a former number-one overall pick. Still, I believe if the Flyers could somehow acquire him from New York, his production might take off like Owen Tippett’s did when he was given a chance to finally play consistent top-six minutes upon arriving in Philadelphia.

The question now becomes, what exactly might Briere have to give his old teammate to obtain him? Might it take a 1st round pick? The Flyers have two of them next year. One of which previously belonged to the Florida Panthers, who, as we all know, made it to the Stanley Cup Finals this year, so if they are anything close to the team, they were last year; it will be like giving up an early second. My guess is that with the Rangers being short on funds and having to get cap compliant. They might be willing to settle for a lower-tier NHL roster player and someone like Samu Tuomaala or Bobby Brink, who also were taken early in their respective drafts and show a lot of promise.

Whether Briere chooses to orchestrate a sign-and-trade deal or settles for retaining his rights, given that he is due to get more cap space with the DeAngelo trade supposedly being finalized in the next few days, I think the cost would be worth it. For adding Alexis to the youth movement here on Broad Street that already includes Foerster, Gauthier, and now Michkov, the Flyers struggles are sure to become a thing of the past once they find themselves all playing on the same sheet of ice.

Evaluating Dealing Danny’s First Draft Haul as the Flyers GM

By |June 30th, 2023|

Leading up to this draft, the Flyers faithful had their hope in this franchise restored as Dealing Danny Briere had already managed to acquire an additional first-round selection for his team when he dealt defenseman Ivan Provorov away to Columbus in a three-team trade which also involved the LA Kings. A couple of days later, Danny was able to unload part of Kevin Hayes’s inflated contract in a trade that sent him packing to the St. Louis Blues.

So, even before he made his first pick as the Flyers’ new GM, he had already started changing the landscape here on Broad Street.

Now for the draft. On day one, Danny waited his turn as there proved not to be many trades in the opening round. So, with each passing selection, Briere’s mouth was watering. When it finally came time for the Flyers to head to the podium, one of their rumored favorites, right-hand shot defenseman David Reinbacher had already been taken fifth overall by the Montreal Canadiens. But the forecasted favorite Ryan Leonard from the United States National Development Program was still on the board, as well, as the highly touted Russian offensive dynamo Matvei Michkov. Some projected this player to be the best player to come out of Russia since maybe Alexander Ovechkin or Evgeni Malkin, which is a lot to live up to for sure.

Round 1 (Seventh overall) Matvei Michkov Wing KHL

Philly’s choice, as we all know now, was Michkov. But I am not as sold as much as some others on this prospect. As you can imagine with, Russia actively being at war with not only the Ukraine but themselves as well (as some of their soldiers recently went rogue and launched a full-on civil war to try and overthrow their President: Vladimir Putin). Getting any additional scouts into Russia to grade this supposed generational talent has been challenging. To further play into the mystery of Matvei Michkov was that he did not even attend this year’s NHL Combine. So, teams did not formally get to interview him or see him run through the paces physically as they did with so many other of this year’s top prospects.

But what left me really questioning whether the Flyers should not have just gone with someone else at seven is the mystery surrounding his 51-year-old father’s sudden death, which is still left unsolved. This came about allegedly after Matvei and his family decided that he should pursue his dream of playing in the NHL. At the same time, his dad Andrei was said to be trying any way possible to get his son’s current obligation of playing in the KHL for the next three years rescinded so that Matvei could play in North America A.S.A.P. Then, shortly after leaving the house one night with the promise of returning shortly, Matvei received a strange call that he could not make out what they were saying because the caller seemed out of range. Michkov wanted to tell his father about it, but his dad never came back home.

Come to find out, he was found later face down in a lake outside Sochi, the city of the team that Michkov is currently contractually shackled to.

So, you see, I’m not denying that Michkov is a very talented player, but I think I would have tended to side with the six other teams ahead of the Flyers that chose not to get involved with this Russian prospect.

Round 1 (22nd Overall) Oliver Bonk Def. London Knights OHL

With this newly acquired pick that the Flyers received from trading away defenseman Ivan Provorov it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that with the team selecting a forward with their first pick, their second first-round selection would be a defenseman. The blueliner that they chose was from Keith Jones’ longtime friend Dale Hunter’s team, the London Knights. His name is Oliver Bonk, and he is an 18-year right-hand shot defender who stands at 6’2 and weighs 172 pounds. While Bonk was able to post ten goals and 40 points in the OHL this season, his actual worth is his ability to shut down the opposition. Whether he is forcing them to the outside or causing them to create turnovers, you can rest assured that Oliver is of the mindset of defending at all costs first, then, and only then, if the opportunity presents itself, he’ll join the rush. A trait that I’m sure his dad, the former number three overall pick of the Ottawa Senators Radek Bonk, instilled in him from an early age.

Now is this the defenseman I would have taken at this point in the draft? NO! I would have taken the more aggressive and punishing Etienne Morin of the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL, that later went to the Calgary Flames. But that doesn’t mean that I think Bonk was a bad choice. He has yet to show his full potential and should continue to develop new parts to his game over the next couple of seasons.

Round 2 (51st Overall) Carson Bjarnason G Brandon Wheat Kings WHL

This one was a surprise, for sure. The Flyers acquired this pick by trading a sixth-rounder this year and a 2024 second-round pick to the Blackhawks to select the 4th goalie taken this season. That netminder was Carson Bjarnason of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings. Carson is a 6’3 190, pound guardian of the blue paint that tends to keep tight angles on the puck and covers the bottom of the net very well. My only knock on him is that once he is down in the butterfly, he keeps his hands tight to his body and very low to try and add to the coverage of the bottom of the net. In the future, I would like to see Carson keep his hands a little higher, like I teach my younger goaltenders to do when dropping down to make a play. The reason for this is so that they don’t give up to much of the upper part of the net, which is a place where the more gifted players of the WHL, like Connor Bedard and company, were able to score on Bjarnason this season.

This is a big reason why his numbers suffered more than others. Carson, (who is a huge Carter Hart fan) played in 47 regular season games this year, where he posted a 3.08 goals against average (G.A.A.) with just a .900 save percentage (SV%). Out of those 47 games played, he only managed to win 21 of them, which equates to him only having a 44% win percentage.

Bjarnason shows a lot of promise, but I would have liked to see the team wait a bit to draft a goalie and get a guy like the Seattle Thunderbirds Scott Ratzlaff or the virtually unknown Calvin Vachon.

Round 3 (87th Overall) Egor Zavragin G Russian Jr’s

Unhappy with the current depth chart in net, Briere and President of Hockey Ops Keith Jones decided to go back-to-back goalies. Now, honestly, I don’t know much about Zavragin, seeing that he played in Russia and the scouting from outside the country was pretty limited this season. But here are his numbers while playing in the MHL (Russia’s version of Major Juniors). Egor posted a respectable 2.49 G.A.A. and a .920 SV%, in which he won 11 of the 21 games he played this season.

Round 3 (95 Overall) Denver Barkey Center London Knights OHL

Well, the Flyers’ second third-round pick screams Danny Briere, as you can see a lot of similarities in both center Denver Barkey and his game. Barkey is a diminutive center who currently stands well under 6’0. He persevered over his shortcomings by utilizing a motor that just won’t quit. Also, Barkey has a nice touch and fast release that has seen him net almost a point per game average this year, where he scored 22 goals and 37 assists for 59 points in 61 games. It seems like Barkey will be heading back to London this upcoming season, where he appears almost destined to turn into one of the Knight’s top point producers.

Round 4 (103 Overall) Cole Knuble Center Fargo Force USHL

Well, here is a familiar name. Cole Knuble (yup, you guessed it) is the son of the former dominant Flyers power forward Mike Knuble, who spent parts of five seasons with the Flyers. Unlike his father, though, Cole is a center, a pretty good one, I might add. He plays just as gritty as his dad ever did. He even wears the same number as his dad did. In fact, if I didn’t know any better, I would think Mike found the Fountain of Youth some wear and just changed his name to throw us all off. Cole played in 57 regular season games this season, where he netted 30 goals and 36 assists for 66 points. On top of that, Knuble maintained a +31 average on the year. Cole is set to attend and play for Notre Dame this fall and should thrive throughout the rigorous NCAA season.

Round 4 (120 Overall) Alex Ciernik Wing Swedish Jr Leagues.

Ok, stay with me here; with their second pick in the fourth round, Philadelphia selected winger Alex Ciernik. Cirenik is a German-born, Slovakian prospect that currently plays in Sweden. I know, right. Alex is another guy under 6’0 tall with quick feet who tends to be in the right place at the right time. He has a fast release and loves to bury rebounds. This season Ciernik played in multiple leagues in Sweden, showing more and more success as the year went on. And let’s not forget the fact that he was able to light the lamp twice in the World Junior Championships U20 Tournament in only five games played. Don’t expect Alex to join or be signed by the big club any time soon, but rather do keep an eye on his progression over the next year or two because it just may surprise you.

Round 5 (135 Overall) Carter Sotheran Def. Portland Winterhawks WHL

This one, to me, is a bit of a head-scratcher. I get they wanted to add to their defensive depth by taking another right-hand shot defender here, but why did they not take Cameron Allen off the Guelph Storm? He is a right-hand shot blueliner who went the next pick to the Washington Capitals. Probably mainly because Cameron was named the OHL’s Rookie of the Year the season before. Allen was considered a first-round pick this year before his team had a down year. But I honestly don’t think it was his fault. The Storm struggled to find good goaltending this season as they saw five netminders try to take over the pipes, all of which failed to secure the crease as their own.

Anyway, back to Sotheran, I guess. As I previously stated, Carter is a right-hand shot defender who stands at 6’3 and 203 pounds. He plays smaller than he is because he always is crouched into a shooting position. He only scored four goals this year but showed the ability to produce more. While I see not much to get overly excited about his game right now, he is a plus defender and can skate well enough to stay with the breakout when his team is leaving their own zone. This kid has the chance to be more than his round five draft selection would leave you to believe, but Carter will have to be willing to work hard to hone his skill set to the point he can turn professional.

Round 6 (172 Overall) Ryan MacPherson Center GOJHL

Entering the later rounds, the Flyers brass thought they would take a chance on a center from the GOJHL, a not so well known Ontario Junior Hockey League. The player they took a chance on was center Ryan MacPherson, a biological twin who played with his look-alike on the Leamington Flyers this year. Ryan scored 25 goals and 36 assists for 61 points in only 49 games played. I assume that his ability to play like Noah Cates drove the Flyers to his game as MacPherson won the Best Defensive Forward Award for his league this season. Ryan will play with his brother next year, but this time for the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. Then he is set to join the University of New Hampshire Wildcats the season after that. MacPherson is a few years out, at least from possibly turning pro, but he plays the game the right way, which could lead to him surpassing others on the Flyers’ depth charts in the coming years.

Round 7 (199 Overall) Matteo Mann Def. Chicoutimi Saguenéens QMJHL

With his last pick in his first draft, Danny choice to get some size and toughness. He did so by selecting the 6’6 229, pound right-hand shot defenseman Matteo Mann from the Chicoutimi Saguenees of the QMJHL. With Mann being 6’6, he will need to work on skating because he currently looks like a basketball player who decided to lace up a pair of skates for the first time. As he is only 18, Mann is probably still getting used to his newfound size and lankiness. What stands out to me about his game is Mann’s ability to completely take his man out of the play if and when he can get his hands on them. Matteo utilizes his size to clear the porch by overpowering the opposition in front of his net. He also has shown the willingness to sacrifice his body by throwing it in front of an incoming puck to block it by any means necessary. Thus, proving that Matteo is willing to do anything to help his team win night in and night out. And with that mindset, he will be a fan favorite here sooner rather than later.

When you look at this list of newly drafted Flyers players, you can see that it is chalked full of guys who may not even have hit their ceiling yet. They all have room to grow and possess a great work ethic that should help them to achieve their goals. While all of these picks may not be my favorite, they are a bunch of guys who have the chance to be something more than their respected draft positions would usually allow. And who knows, with former Flyer greats like John LeClair and Patrick Sharp now overseeing Player Development, the sky is the limit.

Prospect Watch: Cullen Potter

By |June 28th, 2023|

With the 2023 NHL Draft commencing and teams already selecting many talented players, that I have tirelessly scouted, interviewed, and previously written about over the course of the last year. I am now forced to wish those prospects the best of luck and commence on a new journey to scour the globe for the next crop of up-and-coming talent.

That said, I thought I share with you a prospect that has recently caught my attention. And, no, he is not a member of the 2024 NHL Draft class; instead, he will be selected in the 2025 Entry Draft. His name is Cullen Potter, and he is a 5’9 152 pound, 16-year-old American-born prospect from the great state of Wisconsin.

What caught my attention about this prospect is that he is a bit of an anomaly. What do I mean by that? Well, Cullen has shown that he is, in fact, multi-talented. He excels at not only playing the center position but the defensive position as well.

This statement is substantiated by the fact that Potter posted 43 goals and 44 assists for 87 points this year in only 52 games played for the Dallas Stars Elite 16U Team. But to further validate my earlier claim of Cullen being a very versatile player, I would like to point out that his game is more than just his ability to average 1.67 points per game last year; he also proved to be defensively responsible as well by being able to maintain a very respectable +60 average on the season!

How does he do it, you may be asking? Let me break down Potters’ game for you. Cullen’s best attribute is his blistering speed. Defensively, he reminds me a little of Paul Coffey, given that Potter should always be considered a threat to be a one-man breakout option, as he was able to take it coast to coast many times this season while being virtually untouched by the opposition.

Offensively, Potter’s speed and work ethic reminds me of a former NHL player of similar stature who scored 20 goals or more in five consecutive seasons. That player was Sami Kapanen, who managed to stay in the league for a very respectable 12 seasons, despite his diminutive size, simply because he never took a shift off.

Therefore, it is my opinion that because Cullen already possesses these above-mentioned rare skills, he was recently selected to play for the U.S. National Development Team’s Under 17 Team next season.

Now, gifted with this amazing opportunity, look for Cullen to continue honing his skills over the next few seasons and possibly be a first-round draft pick in 2025.

The SteelFlyers Podcast: “Off-Season in full swing, with lots of moving and shaking!”

By |June 22nd, 2023|

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Episode Description

SteelFlyers All Sports Network Presents:
The SteelFlyers Podcast Season 2 Episode 24

“Off-Season in full swing, with lots of moving and shaking!”

* Steelers
– Omar Khan has been busy with many off-season moves and player additions
– Steelers are looking to make a big splash this coming season
– OTAs and Mini-Camps have already taken place and of course everyone looks good in helmets and shorts
– Home opener for the first time in awhile
– Bye Week in week 6.

* Flyers
– New Front Office hires
– Provoy Trade nets some prospects and a 2nd 1st round pick at #22
– John LeClair/Patrick Sharp in as advisors
– Just who should the Flyers pick at 7th and 22nd?

*NHL 2023 Draft
– 2023 NHL Draft to take place in Nashville
– Generational Talent in this year’s draft
– A very deep draft for centers, wingers and defensemen

Cannot thank you enough for listening and checking us out.
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Now you can find the SteelFlyers podcasts on Amazon and IHeart radio!
THANK YOU to The Overview Effect for providing the great music on this episode!
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Your Host, SteelFlyers



Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

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