Thursday, September 29, 2016

Revisiting The Flyers Top 25 Under 25

Each summer, the wonderful folks at Broad Street Hockey dot com put together the Flyers Top 25 Under 25, a comprehensive look at the most talented youngsters in the organization. They have a whole panel of people who vote, and this year they also included a fan vote component.

I gave you my picks a little more than a month ago, and the announcement of Ivan Provorov as #3 today solidifies the entire BSH list (Couturier will be #1 and Gostisbehere will be #2). Let's take a look at where I disagree with the rest of the gang.

Ivan Provorov (#3 for BSH, #5 for me)

I will admit that I was probably wrong on this one, especially after seeing him live in training camp and watching him stay well above afloat in 51 minutes of ice time in two preseason games. He's number three. That's fine.

For the purposes of my exercise, though, I placed proven NHL readiness above potential. Potential is great, and you need your prospects to have potential, but Oliver Lauridsen had potential and now he plays for a team called Jokerit.

Provorov is not Lauridsen. He has the size (though not as much as Big Oliver), but he also has the skate and stick skills and the hockey sense to succeed in the NHL.

Travis Konecny (#4 for BSH, #9 for me)

If Provorov was a whiff for me, Konecny was me swinging so hard that I threw the bat into the stands and hit my own grandmother with it.

He was the most impressive player on the ice in the session of training camp I got to see, with the exception of maybe Wayne Simmonds.

He was also - unquestionably - the most impressive player on the ice last night against the Devils. The size and the durability (and the likely lack of a spot for him) will probably send him back to Sarnia, but his offensive ceiling is certainly higher than the two guys I had behind Coots and Ghost.

Scott Laughton (#6 for BSH, #3 for me)
Nick Cousins (#8 for BSH, #4 for me)

So let's talk about those two guys. I had them ranked this high, admittedly probably too high, because I know they can put on a Flyers jersey and have a moderate amount of success against NHL competition.

Names above and below this group in this post will likely outperform Laughton and Cousins over the next decade, but for now I value proven-ness more than potential.

Taylor Leier (#14 for BSH, #6 for me)

As far as forwards go, he's basically the next man up behind Laughton and Cousins in the system. Or, at least, he was when I ranked him sixth. Now he's probably facing competition from Jordan Weal and Roman Lyubimov, but his name is certainly in the conversation for "AHL call-up under the age of 25."

He's had a really quiet training camp, so quiet that I'm actually wondering if he might be injured. As usual, Charlie O'Connor to the rescue. Here's what he said about Leier's performance last night:
#7: Leier was feisty, quick, and active 
I'm not quite sure where Taylor Leier stands with the Flyers' organization right now. He took a step forward in terms of production last season in the AHL and even received a cup of coffee in Philadelphia, but there doesn't appear to be a clear path to NHL playing time right now considering the team's depth in the bottom-six.
Regardless of whether Leier has any chance at all of making the Flyers out of camp, he certainly played like a guy who wants a shot. Leier is more quick than fast, but he has good instincts for where the puck will end up and isn't afraid to arrive there in ill humor despite his small-ish size. He took three shots in the game, and was active all night long.
If something goes awry with any of the Laughton/Cousins/Read/Lyubimov/Bellemare guys and they need a quick fix, Leier seems to be the guy that would be best suited for plugging the hole.

Oskar Lindblom (#12 for BSH, #16 for me)

If the hole that needs to be plugged happens to be a more skilled position, then enter Lindblom. Honestly, I wouldn't mind having to throw him an Konecny in the top six and just letting them play with Giroux and Voracek. That'll never happen though, and it'll be up to Lindblom to succeed in the AHL to prove he's worthy of a look in the NHL.

Travis Sanheim (#5 for BSH, #7 for me)
Sam Morin (#7 for BSH, #8 for me)

As for the "other" defensive guys not named Ivan Provorov, it's been an interesting camp. They both figure to play the full year with the Phantoms, but they've shown flashes of NHL skills. Sanheim's ability with the puck on his stick is breathtaking, and Morin's physical tools have people hoping he's Oliver Lauridsen 2.0 (maybe that's a bad analogy).

There are a lot of call-up options on the defensive side if Ron Hextall needs to stop a leak for a short-term injury, but it'd be nice to see Sanheim (for Ghost/MDZ/Streit) or Morin (for Gudas/Manning) if something like that happens.

German Rubtsov (#10 for BSH, #20 for me)

I literally don't know anything about this year's first round pick. That's a simple answer. Sorry.

Robert Haag (#11 for BSH, #11 for me)
Philippe Myers (#15 for BSH, #15 for me)

The only two players that we had ranked in the same slot are the final two big-name blueline prospects. Although, I bet if you gave people the option to vote again there would be a really sizable group of people who took Myers over Haag.

It seems like the floor for both of these guys is the AHL. Their NHL ceilings are different because they play the game differently, but they both possess a balance skillset that would make it a surprise to see them truly "fail."

Jordan Weal (#16 for BSH, #26 for me)

Whoops, I went through and made my whole list and completely forgot to include Jordan Weal. He turns 25 in the Spring, though, so he will be out of this pool in seven months anyway.

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