With the IIHF U20 World Junior Championship now in the books, national prospect evaluators are beginning to restructure their lists. Corey Pronman, national writer for ESPN, released his updated list this morning, and the Philadelphia Flyers were well-represented. In fact, no NHL team had more prospects on Pronman's lists.
Six Flyers prospects made the list in one form or another. Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny and Oskar Lindblom all earned spots on Pronman's top-50 skaters breakdown, while Travis Sanheim snuck onto the list as an honorable mention. Philadelphia also saw two of their goalie prospects - Felix Sandstrom and Anthony Stolarz - make Pronman's list of top-ten netminder prospects.
Provorov unsurprisingly ranks highest on Pronman's list, a testament both to the Russian defenseman's high draft status (7th overall in 2015) and his stellar performance this season, both with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL and with the Russian team at the WJC. Provorov slots in at 17, the second-highest defenseman on Pronman's list.
17. Ivan Provorov, D, Philadelphia Flyers (Previous: 31)
Age: 19 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 201
Team: Brandon (WHL) | GP: 32 | G: 9 | A: 23
Provorov was one of the best defensemen at the WJC, and continues to be a pillar for his WHL team. His hockey sense is top-end. He just looks like a unique player on the ice in terms of how he moves the puck, jumps into the attack and anticipates the play. He looks a little awkward traveling around the ice due to his skating style, but he makes it work very well for him, and overall I'd rate him very good in that area. He projects as a top-end scorer with average to slightly above-average defensive abilities.
Konecny, long a favorite of Pronman, also was ranked one of the top 25 best prospects in hockey. His ranking dropped slightly from the summer, but that appears to be more a result of other prospects (such as Provorov) taking big leaps than anything Konecny did wrong.
23. Travis Konecny, C, Philadelphia Flyers (Previous: 18)
Age: 18 | Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 176
Team: Ottawa (OHL) | GP: 29 | G: 7 | A: 38
Konecny has been great in the first few months of this OHL season, and should be a key part of Sarnia's playoff run after being traded to them (he has three goals in two games since the trade). He's a really exciting player to watch because he's a little engine who can beat you with speed or skill, or pummel you into the ice, despite his diminutive frame. If he can stay healthy as a pro, he has all the tools to be successful in the NHL as a scorer. While often tagged as an "energy bug," he does have dynamic skill components to his game as well.
Oskar Lindblom was the final Flyers prospect to receive a write-up from Pronman. The Swedish forward continues his slow rise up the rankings, jumping from no. 46 in the summer to 37th today.
37. Oskar Lindblom, LW, Philadelphia Flyers (Previous: 46)
Age: 19 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 192
Team: Brynas (SHL)| GP: 28 | G: 5 | A: 13
He has been very good for Brynas in the SHL this season, getting some significant minutes on a regular basis. Lindblom won't blow you away with skill, but he has solid hands, very good vision and has some creativity in his game. He's also a reliable off-the-puck forward who plays hard and has the size to get to the net to win the tough battles. His speed is still a big issue, although he has shown improvement in that area recently.
Sanheim's positioning as an honorable mention may be viewed as a slight by some Flyers fans, but it does mean that he moved up the list as well. Pronman ranked Sanheim 68th in his summer list, and he included only ten "honorable mentions" today after the top-50. While he may not have made the big list, it appears that Pronman believes Sanheim is moving in the right direction as well.
ESPN chooses to rank the goaltender prospects separately, and the Flyers were well represented there as well. Philadelphia goalie prospects took up two of the ten open slots. Felix Sandstrom jumped from the honorable mention pile in August to sixth this time around, while Anthony Stolarz moved into tenth place after failing to sniff the list over the summer. His strong season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms has clearly caught the attention of Pronman.
The big club has shown signs of positive growth in the season's first half, and that growth has clearly extended to the prospect pool as well. Exciting times in Philadelphia, for sure.