Monday, August 22, 2016

My Flyers Top 25 Under 25 Ballot

As we move closer toward the end of the summer and the start of the next NHL season, it's time for one of the most informative segments on SB Nation's Broad Street Hockey, the Top 25 Under 25. BSH does a phenomenal job of this young gun/prospect ranking, and honestly it would be very helpful if the 29 other NHL teams did it as thoroughly as the Flyers site. (Trivial annoyance: I try to include other team's prospects in fictional trades and I never know how good any of their young guys are because we're spoiled in Philly and nobody else does it like BSH.)

Something new that they're rolling out this summer is the ability for readers of the site to contribute to the overall ranking.

And, without any more of me complaining about the rest of the SB Nation hockey blogs not being as good as Philly, here's my ballot.

Not Included

Brayden Schenn turned 25 today - happy birthday - and thus is no longer under 25.

Currently In The NHL

1. Sean Couturier

Some people may have the urge to have a certain phantom grizzly in the first spot, but it's Coots. I love Shayne as much as just about anyone, but Couturier is already SO important to the current roster that nobody could reasonably take this top spot from him.

His importance, largely, comes in the form of being able to take defensive pressure away from Claude Giroux. But (sorry for saying this again this year) he has a lot more to bring to the table offensively, and my hope is the signings of Dale Weise and Boyd Gordon also take some of the burden off of Couturier.

2. Shayne Gostisbehere

I can't really write anything that hasn't already been written, so just know that Shayne is the best and everyone loves him.

3. Scott Laughton
4. Nick Cousins

I waffled back and forth for my third and fourth picks, and it's an especially interesting decision because one of these guys will likely be exposed in the expansion draft next summer.

For me, Laughton's potential as a top-six winger outweighs Cousins' current role as a bottom-six center. That rings true especially when you factor in that GM Ron Hextall has his top two centers locked down for the rest of the decade. There are simply a lot more ways Laughton can contribute in a more meaningful way than Cousins.

Next Up

5. Ivan Provorov

I will not fault anyone who moves Provorov ahead of Laughton and/or Cousins, but for me the guys who have proven that they can hang at the NHL level are ranked higher.

That said, in looking at the guys not currently at the NHL level, it's impossible to have anyone ranked higher than Provy. He's going to - at some point - put on an orange and black jersey and immediately be the most talented defenseman on the team. Whether that is this year or next, I do not know.

If Hextall decides to send Provy back to juniors for another year, there will likely be a lot of people who are mad on line. I will probably be one of them. But, as nice as it would be to see him in the big leagues this year, think about how much nicer it will be to have a 22-year-old top-tier defenseman w
with a cap hit of $894k.

6. Taylor Leier

He has played a bit with the big club, but he's been primarily an AHL player up to this point. And Hextall has certainly not made it easy for him to return to the NHL; the Flyers have about a dozen guys capable of making up their bottom six next season. Leier seems to be the name that comes up most often when talking about Phantoms That Could Be Flyers.

7. Travis Sanheim
8. Samuel Morin

To a certain extent, having these two below Leier is the same logic as having Provorov below Laughton/Cousins. Sanheim and Morin, at some point, will likely contribute significant minutes on the blueline. Sanheim should eventually be a well-rounded NHL defenseman and Morin will hopefully break someone's entire torso against the side boards. But, for now, they are AHL players waiting for a broken penis to call them up to the NHL.

9. Travis Konecny

There will, without a doubt, be people in the final BSH rankings who rate Konecny significantly higher than 9th. But (unpopular opinion alert) I'm not sure his offensive skill is elite enough to overcome his size the way a lot of people seem to think it will. If you scroll down the end of the list quickly, you will find another smaller guy with a high skill level who can't seem to put it all together against NHL competition.

I'm usually really high on Tarvo, but for whatever reason I just got in a really negative mood before writing that paragraph. I'm sure he'll be great. Konecny-Giroux-Voracek, Stanley Cup 2018 here we come. (?)

10. Anthony Stolarz

I don't know what the fuck to do with these goalie prospects, but Stoli was an AHL All-Star last year. That has to count for something, right?

11. Robert Hagg

What do we make of Hagg? He's a gosh darn enigma. He's always been in the Ghost-Provy-Sanheim-Morin group, but he really fell off last year.

The good thing for him is there will be little to no pressure this season. There's not a spot to be had at the NHL level (and that becomes even more jammed if Provorov stays up for the season). He's not really competing for anything like Provorov and Sanheim and Konecny. He's going to be a solid AHL guy this year, and my hope would be the lack of pressure allows him to work on the skills he needs to be in the fight for an NHL spot in 2017-18.

I've Been Told These Kids Are Good But I Don't Really Know

12. Nicolas Aube-Kubel

He's been a point-per-game player in the QMJHL over the past three years, including the past two where he has been property of the Flyers. He'll make the jump to the AHL this year, and his name will maybe even be thrown in the mix of that dozen or so guys that could theoretically make up the bottom six of the Flyers.

13. Felix Sandstrom

He's the Flyers' best young goaltender not named Stolarz, and he's been tearing it up in the Swedish league and in the various national competitions he's competed it.

14. Cole Bardreau

I don't think anyone in the Flyers organization has made as much progress as Bardreau since the middle of last season. These days, his name finds itself Leier's in the "Phantoms That Could Be Flyers" discussion. He gets a lot of Danny Woodhead adjectives thrown around at him - gritty, hard worker, heart to make up for his size. He's going to have to battle to make it to the NHL, but Guys Like Him don't have a problem battling to overcome obstacles.

15. Philippe Myers

Myers could end up taking Hagg's place in the Young Defenseman pool. He's young, he's big, and he's not-so-quietly improving the offensive aspects of his game. And when you consider #47 and #55 currently on the Flyers roster, "the ability to have the puck on his stick and not have everyone on his team get nervous" might just be enough offense for him to be alright.

16. Oskar Lindblom

I'll defer to the recently-promoted Assistant General Manager of the Flyers, Chris Pryor, who will be able to better capture the essence of Lindblom with a bunch of vague cliches (source):
"We're really happy with where he's progressed. He's a lot bigger and stronger, and his skating has gotten better. The thing about Oskar is he always knew how to play the game. The kid has a great work ethic, head on his shoulders and you're starting to see the fruit of his labors paying off."
17. Petr Straka

He led the Phantoms in scoring for a chunk of last season until he got hurt, and lord knows this Flyers team could use an influx of scoring wingers. He's 24 and this is a contract year for him, so it's really Put Up Or Shut Up Time if he's ever going to make it to the NHL. His entry-level deal had an annual salary of $925k and this year's deal is only worth $650k. Prove us wrong, Pete.

These Are Some Other Names That I Know

18. Mark Alt

Mark Alt is the Perry Ellis of Flyers prospects. This man has been around for what feels like forever but he's only going into his fourth season in the system. Like Straka, Alt's on a one-year "Prove It" deal that pays him less than his entry-level contract.

19. Alex Lyon

Look, nobody knows a goddamn thing about goalies. Lyon could suck and be out of the organization next summer, or he could kill it in the AHL and give Stolarz some legitimate competition for the keys to the kingdom. He's highly regarded coming out of Yale, and the Lyon-Stolarz battle in Lehigh Valley might even make it worth the drive up North.

20. German Rubstov
21. Roman Lyubimov

What? You thought I was going to miss the opportunity to include the Rubs Off/Lube 'Em Off duo? Come on. #PleaseLikeMy tweets:
22. Radel Fazleev

He's a big beefy Russian with good hockey sense and more offensive skill than you'd imagine for someone who is best described as Big and Beefy.

23. Carter Hart

He was the first goalie taken in this Summer's NHL Draft, and for regional dialect purposes it's a shame he didn't get drafted by the Bruins. But he'll now officially be on the radar, and he's competing with Stolarz, Lyon, Sandstrom, and Harvard's Merrick Madsen for the title of Goalie Of The Future.

24. David Kase

He's Czech, so he gets to play in bigger tournaments than he would if he was Canadian or American. That's about where we are at the end of this Top 25 exercise.

I Really Like Tyrell Goulbourne

25. Tyrell Goulbourne

He's small but he plays with the heart of someone who is 6'6"/270. Ten years ago he probably would have been a fourth line guy to balance out the enormous salaries of the Flyers' top six and top four.

Jordan Weal

26. Jordan Weal

Sometimes I forget he's even on the team.

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