Yesterday, ESPN’s Corey Pronman released his annual ranking of each farm system in the NHL, and his rankings had the Flyers’ system as the sixth-best in the NHL — a slight jump up from 10th last year and further proof of the good work that Ron Hextall and (the recently-promoted) Chris Pryor have done in reviving the team’s prospect pool in the past couple of years.
Today, Pronman continued his week of prospect coverage by releasing his lists of the top 120 skater prospects and top 16 goalie prospects in the NHL. And once again, the Flyers came up looking pretty strong in his evaluation.
On the skater side, six Flyers were mentioned in Pronman’s rankings, and each of their spots on the list was in the double-digits. Unsurprisingly, Ivan Provorov was tops among them at No. 18, where Pronman had this to say about him:
Provorov had a decent season. He was CHL and WHL defenseman of the year, and one of the best defensemen at the WJC. He's a very unique player who can be fun to watch not because of his athleticism -- which is very good -- but because of how smart he is. Provorov's reads at both ends of the ice allow him to dominate puck possession. He's a very shifty skater who has a bit of a unique lean in how he moves that can look a little off at times, but his edges and power make him quite elusive. Provorov moves the puck efficiently and has a good shot, too. I don't think he's going to dangle people left and right at the next level, but he can certainly lead a rush. He's not spectacular defensively, but he's solid. Provorov works hard without taking too many penalties, which is always a plus.
“Decent season” might have been a bit of a sarcastic statement. Tough to tell. In any event, he certainly seems to like the young defenseman.
Out of respect to the ESPN Insider paywall, we won’t go ahead and post everything Corey had to say about every Flyers prospect on his list, but the others on the list include:
- At No. 22, Travis Konecny, whose “speed, puck skills, and hockey sense all grade as high end.”
- At No. 36, German Rubtsov, whose “hockey IQ is very impressive.”
- At No. 69, Oskar Lindblom, who “is a physical player who gets to the net and can make skilled plays.”
- At No. 71, Travis Sanheim, whose “mobility for a big defenseman is off the charts, as are his puck skills.”
- And at No. 84, Phil Myers, whose skillset includes “great skating and puckhandling ability for a 6-foot-5 defender.” (Sounds familiar!)
Six players on the list is good to see. Six players on the list with none being lower than No. 84 is very nice to see.
The good news continued on the goaltending side, where two Flyers showed up in Pronman’s list of the 16 best goaltending prospects out there today. Only one other team, the Penguins, had two names on the list.
Recently-drafted Carter Hart, who Pronman had earlier called the top goalie in the 2016 draft, showed up at No. 7 on the rankings:
The CHL Goalie of the Year in 2015-16, Hart is a very smart goaltender. His knowledge of how to read the game and anticipate pucks using proper positioning in the net is high-end. Scouts describe how easy he makes it look and how he never gets out of his technique on tough saves. His athleticism is fine. He moves around at a solid level, and he has an above-average glove hand, but he doesn't have that explosive element in his game.
Felix Sandstrom, meanwhile (who you can read more about here!), did not get a full writeup, but was ranked at No. 15 in the “Honorable Mentions” section.
While it’s obviously true that not every prospect works out the way fans think they will, and that it’s unlikely everyone mentioned here ends up hitting their ceiling as an NHLer, it’s great to see the depth that the Flyers’ organization now has, with multiple forwards, defensemen, and goalies all getting recognized as potential key future pieces. Things are looking up.