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ESPN ranks Flyers' farm system sixth in NHL, finds it "hard to criticize"

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Respected prospect evaluator Corey Pronman can't find much in the way of weaknesses in the Flyers system.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN's Corey Pronman released his annual ranking of NHL prospect groups on Monday morning, and the Flyers -- as they have been for years now -- find themselves climbing up the rankings yet again. This time around, he ranked the Flyers sixth in the NHL, behind only Toronto, Arizona, Winnipeg, Columbus, and Carolina.

The full rankings are for ESPN Insider readers only, but here's what Pronman specifically had to say about the Flyers' system:

It's hard to criticize the Flyers' system. Talented all-around centers? Check. Dynamic big defensemen? Check. Ridiculous goaltender depth? Check. Depth through their amateur and professional ranks? Check. Players with star upside? Check. They don't have an Auston Matthews-caliber player in the pipeline, but that player doesn't stay in your system longer than three months anyhow. Ron Hextall emphasizes patience in developing players, so I do expect this system to remain at a high level for another two seasons as the build continues.

Sheesh. I need to lie down. I guess "lack of an Auston Matthews-type prospect" is a valid thing to say, though in fairness most prospect groups lack a guy like that unless they're picking in the top 3 or so of a draft. And everything else in that review is nothing but positive.

Between ESPN and his former position in a similar role at Hockey Prospectus, Pronman has been evaluating prospect groups for years now, and it's been fun to watch his opinion of the Flyers' group change over the past few years as Ron Hextall has brought in more and more strong prospects. The Flyers went from 29th in his rankings in the 2013 offseason to 25th in 2014, before making a big leap up to 10th last summer and finally to sixth this year.

It would certainly be fun if the Flyers did graduate one or two (or more?) of the guys in their prospect pool to the NHL team this upcoming season, but if they don't, then as Pronman notes, they'll almost certainly have one of the strongest prospect groups in the NHL again next summer. It's an exciting time to be a Flyers fan.

(If you'd like to read more about many of these good Flyers prospects, stay tuned for our Flyers Top 25 Under 25 series this next month!)