With the regular season starting later than usual this year, thanks in large part to the World Cup of Hockey, we’ve got more time to kill than we usually do this offseason, so it’s about time that we open up an old summer pastime of ours. With that, welcome to the summer 2016 edition of the Philadelphia Flyers Top 25 Under 25.
Long-time readers of the site will be familiar with the way this series works — we last did one in January/February of this year, and have done three other versions since 2014 — but for those who aren’t, you could probably make some guesses based on the title: the 25 Under 25 is a ranking of the 25 best players in the Flyers’ system under the age of 25 years old. Why 25? Because 25 is an age by which you typically know what a player is, be that an NHL star or a fringe player or an AHL-lifer-to-be, and also because Top 23 Under 23 or something like that sounds weird. (Due respect to our friends over at Five For Howling and their Top 21 Under 21 series, though!)
As such, we’ll be rolling out 25 posts over the next month or so, one for each of the 25 players that made the final ranking as per the vote of our panel.
How are players ranked? That’s up to the panelists. One person could put together their list based on sheer upside, another can put more weight on players who have already proven that they are NHLers, a third can make their list based on who they’d trade first if they had a choice, and another still could do one based on which players they think give the best high fives. (Maybe not that last one.) In any case, a variety of different perspectives go into putting together the list.
So let’s jump right in, shall we?
The panel and voting
10 ballots were aggregated and tallied for a final set of rankings. Nine of those ballots came from Broad Street Hockey editors and contributors — Al, Allison, Brent, Charlie, Collin, Kelly, Kevin, Kurt, and Travis.
The tenth ballot was a collective effort from you, the people. We put out a call early this past week for people to submit a 25 Under 25 ballot of their own, and we received a total of 216 (!) submissions. A sincere thank you to everyone who took the time to fill a ballot out. Once we had collected all of those ballots, those were all tallied and combined into one ballot, which made up the tenth and final ballot of our panel.
Ballots were scored AP Poll-style, meaning that a player who gets a first place vote gets 25 points, a second-place vote gets 24 points, a 25th-place vote gets one point, etc. The points for every player across each ballot were then combined to give us the final ranking.
The ballot: Who’s out, who’s new
Four players who were on last winter’s ballot were not on this summer’s. They are as follows:
- Brayden Schenn, who was No. 4 overall last winter, turned 25 a week ago. (Happy birthday!) As such, he has aged off of the ballot.
- Brandon Alderson was not retained by the team this past summer after spending much of the past two seasons in the ECHL. (He was No. 24 when we first did these rankings in February 2014. How far we’ve come!)
- Derek Mathers was also not retained by the team this past summer. (He was signed to an AHL-only contract, though.)
- Valeri Vasiliev is no longer on the ballot. We believe that, with him being four years removed from his draft year, the Flyers no longer control his exclusive rights per the CBA. We are not 100% certain of this, but in any case, he was left off.
In addition, the following eleven players who were not on last February’s ballot were on this summer’s:
- Goaltender Alex Lyon, who the Flyers signed as an undrafted free agent from Yale in April.
- Forward Roman Lyubimov, who the Flyers brought in from the KHL in July.
- Each member of the team’s 2016 draft class: German Rubtsov, Pascal Laberge, Carter Hart, Wade Allison, Carsen Twarynski, Connor Bunnaman, Linus Hogberg, Tanner Laczynski, Anthony Salinitri, and David Bernhardt.
With those changes noted, the 46-player ballot that was sent out is below. Players are grouped by the primary league they played in during the 2015-16 season.
NHL: Nick Cousins (F), Sean Couturier (F), Shayne Gostisbehere (D), Scott Laughton (F), Jordan Weal (F)
AHL: Mark Alt (D), Cole Bardreau (F), Tyrell Goulbourne (F), Robert Hagg (D), Taylor Leier (F), Danick Martel (F), Samuel Morin (D), Anthony Stolarz (G), Petr Straka (F)
ECHL: Jesper Pettersson (D)
OHL: Connor Bunnaman (F), Travis Konecny (F), Anthony Salinitri (F)
QMJHL: Nicolas Aube-Kubel (F), Samuel Dove-McFalls (F), Pascal Laberge (F), Phil Myers (D)
WHL: Radel Fazleev (F), Carter Hart (G), Ivan Provorov (D), Travis Sanheim (D), Carsen Twarynski (F)
NCAA: Terrance Amorosa (D), David Drake (D), Mark Friedman (D), Alex Lyon (G), Merrick Madsen (G), Cooper Marody (F), Matej Tomek (G), Reece Willcox (D)
USHL: Wade Allison (F), Tanner Laczynski (F)
SHL (Sweden): Oskar Lindblom (F), Felix Sandstrom (G)
Superelit (Swedish Juniors): David Bernhardt (D), Linus Hogberg (D)
KHL (Russia): Roman Lyubimov (F), Mikhail Vorobyov (F)
MHL (Russian Juniors): Ivan Fedotov (G), German Rubtsov (F)
Czech: David Kase (F)
With that ballot in hand, let’s start with the five players who just missed the cut on our rankings.
30. Mikhail Vorobyov - F - Salavat Yulaev Ufa, KHL - 2 G, 1 A in 28 games
A bit of an unknown amongst North American fans at the time the Flyers took him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, Vorobyov was someone the Flyers were adamant that they believed in -- Flyers scout Todd Hearty claimed after that draft that the team considered him to be a solid second-round prospect, going as far as to compare him to first-round pick and fellow two-way center Joel Eriksson Ek, and that they were thrilled to find him at No. 104. Vorobyov did a good job in 2015-16 making that confidence seem justified, as he tore through the Russian junior leagues (23 points in 21 games) before spending a significant part of the season at the KHL level. Vorobyov’s role at Russia’s highest level has been limited — he only played in about six minutes per game with Ufa last season, and as of this writing he has not played in any of the team’s three games in the 2016-17 season. But that’s unsurprising for an 18-year old, and the fact that he’s getting any time at all in the KHL at 18 speaks to the potential he has. It should be interesting to see if he takes on a bigger role as the season goes on.
29. Cole Bardreau - F - Lehigh Valley, AHL - 13 G, 17 A in 54 games
Charlie wrote a bit about Bardreau, an undrafted free agent signing from March of 2015, in his notes from last month’s development camp:
Bardreau has received a fair amount of hype over the past few months, as members of the Flyers' organization have dropped hints that he could be closer to an NHL job than most believe. He definitely does have a skillset characteristic of a tenacious bottom-six forward, as he possesses a high-effort skating style and fights for every inch in the corners and in front of the net.
For a guy who by all accounts plays a grinder’s style of game, Bardreau certainly appears to be someone who can score at a respectable clip — if his performance in his first pro season is any indication. The forward ranks in Lehigh Valley will be as crowded as ever this year, but the 23-year old will be one to keep an eye on.
28. Merrick Madsen - G - Harvard, NCAA - .931 save percentage, 18-7-3 in 29 games
It’s a tough break for Madsen to miss the countdown this year, since he’s made it in other versions in recent years (he was 24th when we checked in back in February) and is coming off of by far the best season he’s put together since being drafted by the Flyers in 2013. The number of solid goalie prospects the Flyers have (four more will show up once the countdown begins) has made it tough for him to really establish himself in the eyes of the fanbase. Still, as a sophomore at Harvard, he started a majority of games for the Crimson, with outstanding results. It’ll be up to him to build on this next year and show it was no fluke, but if he can do so or even come close, the Flyers can start to feel confident that they have yet another legitimate goalie prospect on their hands, adding one more to what could end up being one of the deepest groups of young potential netminders in the league.
27. Cooper Marody - F - Michigan, NCAA - 10 G, 14 A in 32 games
Marody was an intriguing prospect for the Flyers to grab in the sixth round of the 2015 draft, and his collegiate career got off to a blazing start when he was playing at a point-per-game pace in non-conference play for the Wolverines. (This blazing start likely helped earn him the No. 23 spot in our February rankings.) He did hit a bit of a wall as the season went on, reminding fans that he has some work to do, but his overall numbers were certainly respectable for a freshman at a major collegiate program. Michigan will be replacing six of its seven top scorers from last year, so one can expect that Marody (who was eighth on the team in scoring) will be playing a much more prominent role than he was last season. If he’s able to take full advantage of that opportunity, it’ll be very tough to keep him out of the next set of these rankings.
26. Danick Martel - F - Lehigh Valley, AHL - 22 G, 15 A in 67 games
Martel managed to drop all the way from 17th in last winter’s ballot to off the list this time around, and while there’s no glaringly obvious explanation for that dropoff, it does go to show that the Quebec native is in danger of falling off the map a bit if he doesn’t grab everyone’s attention pretty soon. Signed as an overager who was second in the QMJHL in scoring in 2014-15, the hope was that Martel would immediately post a very strong first AHL season, quelling concerns that he may be just another Jason Akeson-type — dominant in his overage junior season, not quite able to hack it at the highest levels. Martel did manage to lead the Phantoms in goals last year with 22, but he didn’t blow everyone away quite like you’d have hoped. He figures to be in a top-6 role with the Phantoms this year, and with the reinforcements the team has coming in, he will have little excuse if he doesn’t take a step forward next year. He’ll be one of many to watch down on the farm.
No. 25 will be revealed on Monday. Enjoy!