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Philadelphia Flyers 25 Under 25: Wade Allison continues to develop as a goal-scoring threat

The big winger had a good first season in college, and could have a huge year ahead of him with more responsibility at Western Michigan.

M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“But where are the goals going to come from?”

It’s a question we’ve been asking here in Flyerland for a long time. Since the Jeff Carter trade back in 2011, the closest the Flyers have had to a guy who was a real, established threat as a goal-scorer first and foremost is Wayne Simmonds. And even the ol’ Wayne Train doesn’t quite fit the archetype of a true “sniper”, as his successes have mainly come via outstanding net-front work on the power play.

A team that’s successful typically has a number of different archetypes that it fills in its forward ranks. All-around center. Playmaker. Tough-minutes defensive forward. PP/PK specialist. The Flyers have had no trouble finding a lot of those kinds of players in recent years, and as their forward pipeline has accumulated bodies over the past four or five years, it’s not hard to see how guys will fill into many of these kinds of roles.

But do the Flyers have guys who can fill the role of natural goal-scorer? That’s the million dollar question (and, to be fair, one that almost every team struggles with, since great goal-scorers are really hard to find). Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom will likely play this role, at least in part, toward the top of the lineup. But do the Flyers have anyone in the pipeline who can be reliably counted on to chip in goals from, say, a second or third line?

To their credit, the Flyers have tried. They’ve thrown picks at a ton of talented wingers over the past few years, some of whom we’ve already talked about in this series and some of whom are yet to come in the countdown. Last year, they made one of those picks in USHL winger Wade Allison.

No. T-22: Wade Allison

Position: RW
Age: 19 (10/14/1997)
Acquired Via: 2016 NHL Draft — Round 2, Pick 52 (Pick acquired from Chicago along with a second-round pick in 2015 in exchange for Kimmo Timonen on February 27, 2015)
2016-17 League/Team/Statistics: Western Michigan (NCAA) — 12 G, 17 A in 36 GP
Nationality: Canadian
Ranking in BSH Winter 2017 25 Under 25: 21

At this time last year, we were talking about Allison’s rise up the 2016 NHL Entry Draft boards, as he went from a total unknown and likely late-round pick to one of the best players in the USHL. An outstanding late-season surge put him on draft radars, and a ridiculous playoff run got him named MVP of the USHL playoffs. The Flyers — as they have often done over the past few years with big (he’s 6’2” and 205 pounds), talented skaters that really rose up the rankings during their draft year — took the chance that the Western Michigan commit’s late-season run was the start of something special rather than an aberration.

So how was Allison’s freshman year in Kalamazoo? Not unlike the freshmen years of most solid NHL prospects in the NCAA, which is to say up and down but overall fairly encouraging. Across 36 games with the Broncos, Allison was fourth on the team in points with 29.

Perhaps even more encouraging than the strong overall numbers is that there was no real late-season swoon for him, the way there often can be for young college prospects who get out to a hot start only to cool down in conference play (sort of like what happened to Flyers prospect Tanner Laczynski, whose freshman year we briefly discussed on Monday). And Allison was fairly consistent as well — he tallied at least one point in over half of his games, and only had three stretches during the season of multiple consecutive scoreless games.

Another good sign from Allison’s first year in college is that the willingness to shoot the puck a ton that we saw in his draft year carried over reasonably well. Only twice last season was he held without a shot on goal in a game, and in February he even had a 10-shot performance in a game against Arizona State. (His 10th and final shot in that game, by the way, tied the game with under a minute left. He also had six other attempts that either went wide or were blocked. Fun night.)

But if last year was an encouraging start, this coming season could really be Allison’s chance to shine. His Western Michigan team, coached by former NHL bench boss Andy Murray, made some noise in the NCAA last year, even picking up a No. 2 seed in their regional in the NCAA Tournament before bowing out in the first round. But a lot of talent left that program following the season — of the three guys who scored more than Allison, one graduated, while the other two (Chicago’s Matt Iacopelli and Vancouver’s Griffen Molino) both left after their sophomore years to sign entry-level deals.

There’s a good chance that Allison will be the best player on his team next year as a sophomore, and his role and responsibilities should reflect that. If his he takes a step forward not just in role but in performance, we could be looking at one of the better goal-scorers in college hockey. While it’s tough to envision a year that goes so well that he signs with the Flyers following the 2017-18 season, it’s not impossible, and the idea of a contract at some point before he would otherwise graduate college (spring 2019, perhaps?) is realistic if he makes the kind of progress the Flyers are hoping he will.

So how much is riding on Allison’s development? It’s tough to say. The need to find a goal-scorer or two — something we’ve bemoaned at length — should be satiated to an extent as the bigger names, the Patricks and Lindbloms of the pipeline, establish themselves as NHLers. And with guys like Isaac Ratcliffe, Matt Strome, and Connor Bunnaman all still early on in their development, the Flyers still have a number of other, mid-level tickets in the Goal-Scorer Lottery. But of the guys in that second tier, Wade Allison may be the one whose ticket is most likely to pay off.

How We Voted For Wade Allison

Kurt Al Kelly Allison Jay Charlie Bill Steph Kate Travis Joe Community
Kurt Al Kelly Allison Jay Charlie Bill Steph Kate Travis Joe Community
16 23 25 21 17 18 n/a 23 n/a n/a 20 23

How We Voted At No. 23

Kurt Al Kelly Allison Jay Charlie Bill Steph Kate Travis Joe Community
Kurt Al Kelly Allison Jay Charlie Bill Steph Kate Travis Joe Community
Isaac Ratcliffe Wade Allison Cole Bardreau Matthew Strome Isaac Ratcliffe Mike Vecchione Mike Vecchione Wade Allison Matthew Strome Mark Friedman Mikhail Vorobyev Wade Allison

How The Community Voted For Wade Allison

Ranking # of Votes
Ranking # of Votes
1 0
2 0
3 0
4 0
5 0
6 0
7 0
8 1
9 0
10 2
11 7
12 6
13 15
14 15
15 38
16 31
17 56
18 65
19 79
20 86
21 97
22 64
23 77
24 59
25 45
NR 291


Previously on Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2017 25 Under 25: