Monday, February 6, 2017

Midseason Flyers Top 25 Under 25

Back in the summer, the good folks at Broad Street Hockey released their annual Top 25 Under 25 ranking. I posted my ballot, and as it turns out I was really fucking wrong.

This ranking of prospects is a semiannual process for BSH, and since we are at the halfway point in the season we're going to see what's changed since August. Here's the link to the page where you can submit your ballot for the mid-season ranking.

As a quick refresher, here was my top eleven in August:

  1. Sean Couturier
  2. Shayne Gostisbehere
  3. Scott Laughton
  4. Nick Cousins
  5. Ivan Provorov
  6. Taylor Leier
  7. Travis Sanheim
  8. Sam Morin
  9. Travis Konecny
  10. Anthony Stolarz
  11. Robert Hagg
What a goddamn idiot! In my defense, I split it into groups and ranked the guys who already had NHL experience above the guys who didn't. But that turned out to be a horrible way to rank our prospects. I'm going to try to avoid being so horrible at this in the midseason rankings, but I know where I'm starting my list and it's probably going to be bad again. 

1. Sean Couturier
2. Ivan Provorov

Ivan Provorov is going to be number one when the list comes out. I accept that. I don't even necessarily have an issue with that. But a rookie who has held his own for half a season, to me, is not as important as a veteran center who constantly shuts down the opposition's best players. If Provorov turns into the defenseman that we are all hoping he becomes, then yes he will be more valuable than Couturier. But for now, Sean Couturier is the third most important player on the team overall and the most important under the age of 25. 

3. Travis Konecny
4. Shayne Gostisbehere
5. Travis Sanheim

The headline for the Courier Post today is something along the lines of "Flyers hope patience will lead to goals." Well, I have an alternative theory: maybe putting three of the most talented offensive players in the goddamn lineup would lead to goals. 

This Konecny-Gostisbehere in the press box thing is getting fucking ridiculous. And for a team that can never seem to generate any goals, maybe their AHL affiliate's top offensive blueliner would serve as an upgrade over the five defenseman who have combined to score 48 points in 177 games. 

I'm tired of the lip service about "putting the best team on the ice" because the actual gameplan seems to be "let's play low-event hockey so our shitty players aren't exposed quite as much." Going forward, I hope that the aggressive instincts of these three youngsters are embraced by Dave Hakstol instead of being squashed. 

6. Nick Cousins
7. Oskar Lindblom

Beyond Konecny, there isn't a ton of high-end talent on the wings. Cousins seems to be a serviceable player with a good mix of offensive ability and defensive responsibility. The latter is almost certainly aided by his recent play with Couturier, and the two of them on a line with Matt Read is probably the best way to create a "shutdown" line to ease the burden on the Flyers' top six. 

Lindblom is dominating the SHL and I can't wait for him to join one of the teams in the states in the Spring. This could end up being the pick that makes me look foolish, because I can certainly envision a scenario next season where Lindblom is a top-six (or even top-line) winger. Flyers Twitter jokes about "X-Giroux-Voracek" a lot, but Lindblom-Giroux-Voracek makes my jeans tight in the crotch area. 

8. Sam Morin
9. Phil Myers

Just get the fucking dead weight off the blueline, please. 

10. Scott Laughton
11. Taylor Leier
12. Jordan Weal

I like these three. I really do. I just don't see where they fit into the lineup. 

The Flyers' top six forwards for the forseeable future are some combination of Giroux, Voracek, Simmonds, Schenn, Couturier, Raffl, Read, and Konecny. That's already too many players, and if you extended it to the top nine forwards, the list is going to include the leftovers from that list plus Cousins and Dale Weise. 

Laughton, Leier, and Weal, then, are going to have to prove worth of playing in an offense-minded role with Jake Voracek or a defense-minded role with Sean Couturier. The offense hasn't been an issue at the AHL level - the three have combined for 91 points in 107 games this year - but it hasn't translated quite so well to the NHL level. They are young and they all have time to develop before they'd really be considered busts, but they certainly have a lot of guys standing in the way of regular NHL ice time. 

13. Anthony Stolarz

Maybe 13th is too low for the goalie of the future and the best goalie in the history of the NHL (at 5v5). 
But I could see a situation where he gets usurped during the 2-3 years where the Flyers have another goalie in front of him on the depth chart. That could be any one of a handful of guys - stay tuned for those names in a minute - but for now, all signs point to Stolarz being the guy in another two or three years.

 14. Robert Hagg

It feels like we've been asking the same question since the day he was drafted - is Robert Hagg good? Last year, it seemed like he might not have been good. But based on everything I've read from Allentown, he seems to be good again this year. I imagine next summer will be the big push from him to try to make the team.

Sort of related: how fun is next year's training camp going to be on the blueline? If we assume that Gudas, Manning, Provorov, and Gostisbehere are sticking around, we will have two spots up for grabs between Sanheim, Myers, Morin, and Hagg.

(Ha ha I made a funny joke about Andrew MacDonald not being on the team until the Sun consumes the Earth.)

This is the point in the exercise where I stop knowing a lot about the prospects. So I'm going to group them together and just kind of take stabs.

We Need Forward Prospects

15. German Rubtsov
16. Nicolas Aube-Kubel
17. Davis Kase
18. Mikhail Vorobyov19. Pascal Laberge
20. Wade Allison
21. Radel Fazleev

Some combination of these guys have to turn into useful NHL players, right?

We Also Have More Goalies

22. Carter Hart
23. Alex Lyon
24. Felix Sandstrom

Ranked in order of how likely I think they are to ultimately steal the job from Stolarz.

I Really Like Tyrell Goulbourne

25. Tyrell Goulbourne

He is just the best,

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