Having officially flipped over to the slowest month of the hockey calendar this past weekend, it's time to kill off some of the remaining off-days with one of everyone's favorite activities: talking about prospects. Which can only mean one thing: the Flyers 25 Under 25 is back.
For those who need a refresher, a brief explanation can be found below:
This is basically exactly what it sounds like: it's a ranking of the organization's 25 best players under the age of 25 years old. Why 25? Well, it's a somewhat round number (in the sense that multiples of fives are round numbers ... right?), it's an age by which you generally have a pretty good idea what kind of a hockey player you've got in a guy, and it brings together a good mix of young, high-risk/high-ceiling prospects and already-known commodities like current NHL players and higher-end AHL guys.
We did a full version of this in February of 2014 back when we had nothing to talk about during the Olympics, and we did a bit of an abridged version in August of 2014 to include the team's 2014 draft class.
A lot has changed since then, with nine new prospects making their way into the pipeline via the 2015 draft to go along with a few other undrafted free agent signees from earlier this year. Thanks to the work of Ron Hextall, Chris Pryor, Paul Holmgren and Co. over the past few drafts, cutting the list down to 25 and ranking them was easily the toughest it's been for us yet here at BSH.
But we still tried. So let's just jump right in as we look at the organization's 25 best players who will be under 25 on October 8, 2015 -- the day the season begins.
First, here are the five players who made last summer's 25 Under 25 ranking but are not on this year's:
No longer eligible
- Marcel Noebels (No. 23 last year): Noebels' contract expired and he was not retained by the team.
- Brandon Manning (No. 16): Manning turned 25 on June 4.
- Zac Rinaldo (No. 14): Rinaldo was traded to Boston on June 29 (and turned 25 on June 15).
- Jason Akeson (No. 9): Akeson's contract expired and he signed with the Buffalo Sabres on July 1 (and turned 25 on June 3).
- Luke Schenn (No. 6): Schenn turned 25 on November 2, 2014.
As such, here was the ballot that was sent out to our 12-person panel, sorted by their primary 2014-15 team/league. New entries to the ballot (players who were acquired within the past year) are italicized:
- NHL: Brayden Schenn (F), Sean Couturier (F)
- AHL: Anthony Stolarz (G), Brandon Alderson (F), Derek Mathers (F), Jesper Pettersson (D), Mark Alt (D), Nick Cousins (F), Petr Straka (F), Robert Hagg (D), Scott Laughton (F), Shayne Gostisbehere (D), Taylor Leier (F)
- OHL: Travis Konecny (F)
- QMJHL: Danick Martel (F), Nicolas Aube-Kubel (F), Samuel Dove-McFalls (F), Samuel Morin (D)
- WHL: Ivan Provorov (D), Radel Fazleev (F), Travis Sanheim (D), Tyrell Goulbourne (F)
- NCAA*: Cole Bardreau (F), David Drake (D), Mark Friedman (D), Merrick Madsen (G), Nick Luukko (D), Reece Willcox (D), Terrance Amorosa (D)
- USHL: Cooper Marody (F)
- NAHL: Matej Tomek (G)
- KHL: Valeri Vasiliev (D)
- MHL: Ivan Fedotov (G), Mikhail Vorobyov (F)
- SHL: Oskar Lindblom (F)
- SHL Under-20: Felix Sandstrom (G)
- Czech Extraliga-2: David Kase (F)
- NLA (Switzerland): Christian Marti (D)
* Michael Parks, a 2010 Flyers draft pick who graduated from North Dakota this past year, was not included on the ballot, as it appears that the Flyers will not sign him to a contract and as such will lose his rights on August 15.
The honorable mentions
So! Without further ado, we'll start with the five guys who just missed the cut.
T-29. Mikhail Vorobyov
2014-15: 8 G, 12 A in 39 GP for Tolpar Ufa (MHL)
Votes Received: One 21st-place vote (Charlie), two 23rd-place votes (Kurt, Kevin), one 24th-place vote (Meseret)
Vorobyov was the team's second fourth-round pick in this past June's draft, but even though he lasted until pick no. 104, the Flyers apparently considered him to be "a solid second-round prospect" and were thrilled to be able to get him in the fourth. Vorobyov put up respectable scoring numbers for a 17/18-year old in Russia's junior league this past year, but it appears that the team was equally impressed by his defensive abilities. He also scored four points in five games for Russia's U18 team this year.
T-29. Christian Marti
2014-15: 1 G, 7 A in 32 GP for Geneve-Servette (NLA)
Votes Received: One 18th-place vote (Allison), one 22nd-place vote (Travis), one 25th-place vote (Al)
Marti was signed by the Flyers as an undrafted free agent defenseman back in early May. The Swiss defenseman, who turned 22 last March, comes over from the Swiss league after two years there -- though he's at least somewhat familiar with the North American game, as he spent a year in the QMJHL back in 2012-13. His scoring numbers aren't particularly impressive -- 20 points in 82 total games in Switzerland over the past two years -- but he's got an intriguing size/speed combination that the Flyers clearly desire in their defensemen, and he was apparently dealing with a shoulder injury this past season. He'll be in tough to crack the Phantoms' crowded blue line this year.
28. Cole Bardreau
2014-15: 5 G, 17 A in 30 GP for Cornell (NCAA)
Votes Received: One 20th-place vote (Allison), one 21st-place vote (Travis), one 23rd-place vote (Meseret)
Bardreau was another undrafted free agent signing by the Flyers from this past season, as he came over after completing his senior season at Cornell. Bardreau, who played on the gold medal-winning USA World Junior team in 2012-13, came back from a devastating, career-threatening injury later that year to finish out his college career. He came over to the Phantoms shortly after signing with the team, putting up one goal and one assist in 15 AHL games. Hextall has referred to him as an "agitator" and a "heart-and-soul" type.
27. Brandon Alderson
2014-15: 3 G, 4 A in 35 GP for Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Votes Received: One 20th-place vote (Ryan), one 21st-place vote (Kelly), one 22nd-place vote (Mary)
Alderson was signed as an undrafted free agent back in March of 2013, likely in no small part due to his familiarity with Flyers 2011 third-round draft pick Nick Cousins. The two were teammates in Saulte Ste. Marie and the Flyers brought him in after his overage year with the Greyhounds. Alderson, however, split time this past year between the Phantoms and the ECHL Reading Royals, and there's no guarantee he'll stick with the AHL club this year.
26. Jesper Pettersson
2014-15: 2 G, 5 A in 51 GP for Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Votes Received: One 19th-place vote (Al), two 22nd-place votes (Allison, Kelly), one 23rd-place vote (Mary), three 24th-place votes (Andrew, Collin, Travis), two 25th-place votes (Kevin, Kurt)
Pettersson, who missed the cut for 25th place by one single vote, was the team's final pick in the 2014 draft. As the oldest player the Flyers took in that draft -- he turned 20 a couple of weeks after the draft -- he already had experience playing at a high-level league, as he spent most of his 2013-14 campaign in the SHL. He came right over to America after the draft and got playing time right away with the Phantoms, getting in the lineup for 51 games.
Pettersson's very small, at 5'9", but he's a cannonball out there -- he skates well, blocks shots, and isn't afraid to hit guys who are bigger than him. His offensive upside is probably limited, though; he scored seven points in those 51 AHL games, and while he was a decent scorer at the Swedish under-20 level, he's yet to show it against professionals. Just like Marti, he'll have to fight to stick around at Lehigh Valley this year with Gostisbehere returning from injury and Morin joining the fray.
No. 25 on the list will come tomorrow, so be sure to check back.