Part 3 of our winter look at the best young talent in the Flyers’ organization is here. If you missed (or would just like to re-live) either of the first two parts, here they are for your convenience:
With that, we move onward to the five players ranked 15 to 11. Enjoy!
15. Mike Vecchione
Primary Team/League: Lehigh Valley, AHL
2017-18 Stats: 11 G, 17 A in 39 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: 18
JAY (ranked him #15): So I suppose I won this round, right? I don’t even remember if I ranked Vecchione last year. What he has done this year has kind of surprised me. He is currently 11th in points-per-game scoring among AHL rookies. Though, at 24 years old, I’d be highly disappointed if he doesn’t win a roster spot next season with the Flyers. I have no idea why he picked the Flyers, to be honest, given their forward depth.
CRAIG (ranked him #18): Monster season at Union College last season and is putting up points in the AHL last season. His two-way play and responsible play in all three zones makes him seem like a likely choice to see some time in the Flyers’ bottom six next year.
MIKE (ranked him #19): I didn’t participate in the summer rankings, but if I did I’d have likely had Vecchione somewhere in the 19-22 range. He’s got decent size and has been a good two-way player as Jay said. The scoring has surprised me a bit, and if that continues he should see time with the big club sooner rather than later. He’s not much higher here for me because he’s already 24 and we’ve seen older college players fizzle out without much NHL impact.
KELLY (ranked him #16): Vecchione has surprised me, to be honest. I expected him to be just an unremarkable roster filler, but he’s doing really really well with the Phantoms. Given that he appears to be a very solid middle-six player, I think a middle-of-the-pack ranking is appropriate.
BRAD (ranked him #22): OK, #22 may be a little low, but I’m gonna stand by it. To me, he’s just not playing at the level that I was expecting him to. The points are there, but I guess I just had really high expectations for him since he’s 24 & playing in a primarily offensive role. He’s not consistently noticeable to me, is what I’m getting at I guess. Some of my negative thoughts towards him do stem from the fact that Corban Knight out-performed him while he was centering Martel and Aube-Kubel. Knight had better point production, drove play better, and was more noticeable than Vecchione was while centering that line. Like others have mentioned, he is pretty good defensively, but for whatever reason he hasn’t been able to crack the Phantoms penalty-kill rotation of Knight, Goulbourne, Fazleev, Lindblom, Read, and Swavely. Considering the fact that Laughton was put in defensive situations all of last season specifically to prepare him for a 4C role with the Flyers, it doesn’t seem like they plan on using Vecchione in that type of role. This got a bit too negative for my liking, so I’ll end this by saying that he grades out pretty well in 5-on-5 scoring chances for/against, and his production has been great for a rookie. He’s also [Ed. note: as of this writing prior to Saturday’s games] currently on a 3-game goal streak, so this ranking looks kinda dumb right now. Fun!
MADDIE (ranked him #16): Vecchione is an interesting case for me. While I like his skillset—as detailed above—and have also been impressed with the scoring pace with the Phantoms, I wonder where he’ll fall in the organization. Like Jay said, a spot on the Flyers’ roster next year would be deserved, but I wonder if he won’t find himself passed over for one of the players they drafted and have been working on developing since then.
KYLE (ranked him #20): I do think Vecc can turn into a pretty solid fourth line center at the NHL level, but considering that it’s hard for me to give him that high of a ranking. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he makes the team next year, but he hasn’t driven play all that well with Lehigh Valley this year, and players such as Vorobyev I feel will surpass him.
STEPH (ranked him #16): This is exactly where I had him ranked in the summer. This is another case of me valuing NHL experience, even though it was only two games. Very much like Kelly, I thought he was going to be just some guy who took a spot from a younger dude, but it looks like he may have the talent to be in a skilled bottom six. They’ll need to bring him up next year though, time is ticking.
KURT (ranked him #19): There was a stretch early in the season where Vecchione was playing so well (he was the guy setting up a lot of Martel’s goals) that it seemed like the Flyers weren’t going to have much of a choice but to call him up soon. He’s cooled down a bit since then, though, and he’s looking for a way to differentiate himself among the other four or five guys on the Phantoms that are going to be in the run for spots on the NHL team next year. Like Brad said, I was hoping that a guy at his age (he turns 25 next month) and with his college scoring pedigree would be a bit more dominant than he has been. He’s certainly been respectable, though, and if he enters next fall with a real inside track at a roster spot, I wouldn’t be surprised.
14. Wade Allison
Primary Team/League: Western Michigan, NCAA
2017-18 Stats: 15 G, 15 A in 21 GP (season ended due to injury)
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: 23
KURT (ranked him #14): In the interest of full disclosure, these ballots were sent out before we learned that Allison would be out for the rest of the season.
With that said, we’re grading based on the first half of the season, and while it’s disappointing that he won’t have a second half to keep the pedal down, Allison’s first half was marvelous. I wonder if he’s getting a contract this spring. Probably would’ve been in the Hobey chase had he stayed healthy, and he does something this team really needs someone to do (score a hockey goal). Plus, like Laczynski, he’s another college kid that I ranked way above the consensus last time around (16th, compared to his final placement of 23rd), so this is just another data point that I’m smart, IMO.
JAY (ranked him #11): I’m not sure if I’d rank him any differently given that news. He might be the best drafted prospect in collegiate hockey. He’s the type of power forward (who also happens to score the hockey goals) that should fill in for Wayne Simmonds when he is (most likely) gone in a couple seasons.
CRAIG (ranked him #11): Oh H*CK yeah, Jay. Ranked him 11th and I do think he is ultimately the replacement for Simmonds in a few seasons. His season-ending injury and high shooting percentage (15 goals on 54 shots for 27.8 shooting percentage) makes me a little (I stress little) nervous about next season for Allison, when he could be playing in Lehigh Valley. What doesn’t make me nervous is the fact that he thrived in the college conference that is perhaps the hardest place to put up points for an amateur hockey player. Great hands and always finds himself in the right position to score near the net. Also, he celebrations are amazing. Like the one 1:39 into this video.
KELLY (ranked him #21): Hoo boy Hinkle look at this NCAA bias. The smart people above me here seem to be on to something. Kid’s good. And if he is ultimately the next Wayne Simmonds?? That’s a spicy meatball.
MADDIE (ranked him #19): It’s OK, Kelly, I guess I’m right there with you. I think the combination of the injury and me not following the NCAA super closely is a big reason for me ranking him lower than others. The high shooting percentage also give me a bit of pause, but his underlying skillset seems promising. And, hey, all those points certainly aren’t nothing.
MIKE (ranked him #15): I’ll have what Jay is smoking, thanks. On a serious note, I love Allison as a prospect; I mean, what’s not to like? He plays a big game, can skate, and can puts the damn puck in the net (15 goals in 22 games). The injury news is a tough blow for a fast-rising prospect in the system, but if he comes back healthy the Flyers will absolutely have a player here down the line.
BRAD (ranked him #10): So I ranked Allison the highest, eh? Didn’t see that coming. As Jay and Craig said, I also see him as Simmonds’ eventual replacement. For me, I ranked him this high because (IMO) he by far has the highest upside of any of the pure goal-scorers in the system (Ratcliffe, Strome, and Martel being the main others) and that’s a role the Flyers would certainly love to fill.
KYLE (ranked him #14): You know how seemingly all Flyers fans seem to complain the Flyers lack a pure goal scorer? They might finally have one in Wade Allison. 30 points in 22 games in just his sophomore season at Western Michigan, and would have most definitely been a front runner for the Hobey Baker trophy had he not gotten injured. As essentially everyone has stated, he could very well be the next Simmonds.
STEPH (ranked him #15): I like Wade a lot. He’s 20 years old, 6’2” and 205lbs. Not only is he scoring at a pace that sets him apart from other NCAA hockey players (until the injury, RIP) but he has the size that says he should be able to have an impact in the NHL. On top of that, his personality is a delight, he always has time for fans and for a joke, and he has learned how to work with those curls.
13. Samuel Morin
Primary Team/League: Lehigh Valley, AHL
2017-18 Stats: 1 G, 6 A in 15 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: 9
BRAD (ranked him #15): This has been such a rough season for Morin. It began when he “made” the Flyers out of training camp only to play in no games and quickly be sent down to Lehigh Valley, and since then he’s only played in 17 games (15 AHL, 2 NHL) due to multiple injuries. His physicality is still something no other defensive prospect brings, and as long as he can get healthy and stay healthy, a full-time NHL roster spot could finally be his by next season.
JAY (ranked him #14): It really has been a series of unfortunate events for Sammy “The Brunch (warning: NSFW volume)” Morin. Nothing was more sad when he was “called up” after the Gudas suspension only to find out he was playing down an injury and wouldn’t be joining the Flyers after all. He’s great in his own end and is far more athletic than you’d imagine for a man of his size. I still see easy 2nd pairing upside at the NHL-level.
CRAIG (ranked him #14): I’ve always been skeptical of Morin’s skills and how well they’d translate to NHL success, but in his limited time with the Flyers over the last two seasons I could see how he’d succeed in the league. I’m no longer concerned about his speed or athleticism, just a little concerned that sometimes he is looking to make the big hit rather than stay home defensively. I’m hoping he can finally catch a break this season and continue to progress next season.
MIKE (ranked him #21): I kind of look like a Slammin’ Sammy hater here with my low ranking but I really don’t hate him at all. Look, he’s never going to have an offensive ceiling, but being a standout penalty killer and a nasty defenseman to throw out against top offensive competition is a huge asset. He held up physically in a cup of coffee with the Flyers, but he’s been hurt a ton and his limited offensive skills hurt him in my eye. Provorov, Gostisbehere, Sanheim and Myers are all light years ahead of him in my mind.
KELLY (ranked him #11): When Sammy didn’t make the team out of camp, I was concerned. I’ve never been particularly high on Morin (I’ve often said that, of our pile of defensive prospects, he’d be the one most likely to “bust” in a sense), and I was worried after camp that the team wasn’t high on him either. When they chose him as the first call-up, though, I got a little hopeful that he’d find a spot on this team. And he’s really found his game in Allentown, I think. He really did earn the call-up that never happened. Great on the PK. Brings the physical game, which seems to have held him back this season given the injuries.
MADDIE (ranked him #15): It looks like I’m with Mike and Kelly on this one. I don’t think he’s bad or a bust by any means, but he’s not a prospect I’m particularly high on, especially given the Flyers’ depth in young defensemen. I’m not sure yet how well his skillset will translate to the NHL, I don’t know that I’ve seen enough. Right now, I see him as a salvageable third pair guy, but that’s kind of it. But this is something I’d be thrilled to be proven wrong about.
KYLE (ranked him #11): Obviously, injuries have plagued Morin’s season and it sucks considering this was going to be a huge year for him in his development. Sammy definitely isn’t on the same level compared to a Ghost, Sanheim, or Provorov, but I think he definitely can be an effective defenseman at the NHL level. While being physically is definitely not the most important characteristic in a defenseman, when done correctly, it makes forwards think twice before heading into the corner after a loose puck. I desperately hope Morin can pan out, as he is more or less the beginning of the Flyers’ rebuild.
KURT (ranked him #13): Whether you want to hold against him the fact that he isn’t in the NHL (i.e. whether you want to blame that on Hextall/Hakstol being stubborn), the fact is that he entered the season in a three-man competition for two spots on the Flyers’ blue line, and he came in third place behind a guy who only had one pro season to his name and a guy who was chosen after Morin in the same draft. I think the team wants Morin to be playing in the NHL, but the fact that the team can’t prioritize getting him on the NHL team over some of the guys they’ve currently got up there is troubling. I think there’s a role for him in the NHL, and given that he’s waiver-eligible next year he should be up with the team to start next season (up with the team for real, not in the way he was this year). But it seems like he’s clearly got some things to prove to the organization. I will say, while I’m not going to read two much into two games, I thought he held up well in his stint here around Thanksgiving.
STEPH (ranked him #10): I don’t value him any less as a defenseman because this organization cannot pull their collective heads out of their asses. Yes he lost the three-man race for the two rookie roster spots, but look at how well that worked out for Travis Sanheim. I’m not going to hold it against him as a prospect and professional athlete that this team has determined it needs Andrew MacDonald on the ice 20 minutes a night. This man would be perfect on the PK. You know, that thing the Flyers kind of pretend to have that sucks? Yeah. That. He would make an immediate impact. Talk about PK specialists all you want, this guy is it and he should be here. The injuries make me sad for him, because they have come at the worst times. Hopefully he will be able to put this season behind him and crush next year in the NHL.
12. German Rubtsov
Primary Team/League: Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL
2017-18 Stats: 12 G, 22 A in 33 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: 11
CRAIG (ranked him #15): I thought about dropping him even further, but he’s got a lot working against him over the last few seasons. With that being said, I still don’t know if I really see him being anything more than a bottom-six forward. He’s in his draft +2 year and is averaging a point per game in the QMJHL, which isn’t all that great for a first rounder. I also think about when I reached out to a QMJHL scout earlier this season and he labeled Rubtsov as ‘a bit lazy.’
JAY (ranked him #20): I’m actually quite a bit surprised that everyone still has him this high for the reason’s Craig points out. I get that he’s still adjusting to the NA game, but at the same time you’d expect a 1st round pick to be doing a bit better than just a point-per-game. I’m not seeing a terribly high offensive upside anymore.
MIKE (ranked him #11): I’ve got him at 11, but as of now he’s trending downward given his production in a typical high-scoring league. There are some other factors there that could be playing in but he hasn’t really taken a leap that we see from the more top-end guys a couple years after being drafted (especially in the CHL). That gives me pause that his ceiling is a bottom six depth guy, which are a dime a dozen.
KELLY (ranked him #12): It was a bit of a slow burn but I thought he looked good in the WJC. He’s another guy I think will make a very good third liner. Also, The Germ. Thank you.
MADDIE (ranked him #14): Like Craig, I thought about dropping Rubtsov even further, but decided to give him a little benefit of the doubt. There’s definitely something to be said for adjusting to the North American style of play, and all the moving around he’s had to do. Sure. That certainly hasn’t helped him. But even so, the numbers haven’t exactly been stellar. Taking his 31 points from this season, and adjusting for age and league quality, we can project him as a .155 point per game player in the NHL, for 12.71 points in an 82 game sample. (This can be broken down further to the goals projection, with 4.51 goals and .055 GPG, again assuming an 82 game sample). Maybe he keeps developing, or maybe he grades out as a fine enough bottom-sixer. I’m hoping we’ll see some more out of Rubtsov, still.
KYLE (ranked him #12): You know, looking back I kinda think I should have dropped him further. He just hasn’t produced in juniors like a first round pick, and he probably should be considering the league he’s in. I think he still has second-liner potential, but he needs to start showing it sooner rather than later.
KURT (ranked him #12): Wow, three picks in a row right on the money for me. Anywho, tough to deny that things haven’t quite gone The Germ’s way in the season and a half since the Flyers drafted him. I think his hockey intelligence and skillset lends itself to that of a bottom-6 forward well, but obviously you’re hoping for more than that out of a first-round pick. He’s moved around teams and lineups a lot over the past two seasons and has had injury problems during that time, so it’s easy to make excuses to at least some extent. Hopefully, they’re valid explanations rather than just excuses, and next year in Lehigh Valley we start to see the guy that Hextall thought he was getting in that draft. But skepticism at this point is certainly fair game.
STEPH (ranked him #13):
At Broad Street Hockey, we tend to invent a lot of things and decide we’re going to run with them. We’re content creators and we like to have fun with words on the internet. That being said, The Germ is the worst thing that this website has ever produced and makes me embarrassed to be associated with this discount brand dentist’s office cartoon villain. Join me in my crusade for Ruby: The Better Nickname. I almost didn’t rank him because of this abomination, however, I like him and want better for him.
[Ed. note: Due to a technical issue, we were forced to display Stephanie’s wrong and bad commentary on Flyers prospect German Rubtsov, but we have strikethroughed it for your convenience.]
I refuse to believe that he is struggling for no other reason than he has not played more than 27 games for any team since the 2016-17 season [as of Saturday]. He has moved around A LOT. (the image is games played)
That’s simply not a large enough sample size to determine anything. He should make the jump to the AHL next year and then we’ll be able to properly assess what type of player we have in Ruby. He impressed me a lot in camp and I still think he can be a 2C in the NHL given some consistency.
11. Robert Hagg
Primary Team/League: Philadelphia, NHL
2017-18 Stats: 1 G, 5 A in 49 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: 13
CRAIG (ranked him #10): Hagg is the first prospect I listed where having an actual impact on the Flyers at the moment went into how I ranked them. He has atrocious possession numbers and everybody’s numbers improve when they are away from him, but he still manages to be passable when it comes to the eye test in the best hockey league out there. He’ll be relied on heavily by Hakstol and the gang over the next few seasons (“SAFETY”), but unless things turn around over the next few months I don’t think I’m too excited about that.
MIKE (ranked him #10): I think we’d all agree that there are four defenseman firmly ahead of Hagg at this point, but he does bring some value to the table so let’s not crucify him for not being one of those four guys. He’s might not ever produce a lot offensively, but the Flyers have Gostisbehere and Sanheim who excel there. Then there’s the untapped offensive potential of Provorov, who will only get better in that regard. Hagg isn’t sexy (on the ice), but he’s played OK as a rookie this year and would be better served in a different role, but hey, I don’t make the lineups. In the meantime he’s gonna block a ton of shots and get bodies on bodies out there; maybe he’ll grow into something more and maybe he won’t, but that’s probably gravy given the other prospects the Flyers have in their pipeline right now anyways.
MADDIE (ranked him #10): So you’re saying he is sexy off the ice? That’s what we should take from this, yes?
STEPH (ranked him #8): Absolutely, yes.
JAY (ranked him #12): I’ve honestly never cared for Hagg and always thought his positive impact on an NHL game would be the lowest of any of our defensive prospects over the last few years. He’s nothing more than a 3rd pairing defenseman struggling to drive-play because the coaching staff likes what he is doing (see: being awful).
KELLY (ranked him #15): Hagg has never been super high for me and I think he’s at best, a #5 on a good NHL team. At some point his luck is going to run out here.
BRAD (ranked him #13): Jay and Kelly pretty much summed up my exact thoughts on Hagg. I was actually higher on him before he made the NHL, as weird as that sounds. It’s hard for me to see him as anything more than a #5 defenseman down the road. Credit to him for earning Hakstol’s trust so early in his career, but that also makes me worry about his usage in future seasons. I really don’t want this to turn into a Cody Ceci situation.
MADDIE: My thoughts exactly, Jay, Kelly, and Brad. He cracks the top ten for me because he is performing solidly enough in the NHL (by the eye test), but the underlying playdriving figures give me pause. He’s a good third-pair guy on a good team, but for now he plays a little above that. But he’s been fine. I feel more neutral about him than anything else.
KURT (ranked him #8): I have no idea how I ended up ranking Hagg as high as/higher than anyone else on the panel, because I’m not that high on him, but I must stand by my decisions, so let me give this a shot anyways. While I have by no means loved his performance so far at the NHL level, I do think there’s a ceiling here that’s meaningfully higher than the version of him that we’ve seen. The way he’s playing right now, it’s near-inevitable that his numbers are going to drop off, and soon. But he’s toolsy enough that I could still see him taking a significant step forward. I’m a little worried that his only on-puck move in the defensive zone is to try and backhand the puck off the boards, and it’s unclear if he’ll ever get much better there. If he does, though, there are definite positive signs that he can be a legit top-4 defender. I go back to what I said in his mid-season review: he’s shown that he’s a good defender, now he has to show that he’s a good defenseman.
KYLE (ranked him #10): I’ve never seen a player look so good by the eye-test but then so bad by metrics. There are some clear flaws to Hagg’s game such as breaking the puck out (I swear, the Andrew MacDonald rip-it-around-the-boards-to-no-one strategy is wearing off on him and I do not like it!) and occasionally defending the rush. With all of that said, I do believe with better coaching and fixing some mental mistakes, Hagg can be an extremely solid shutdown defenseman with a little offensive upside. A Morin/Hagg pairing — assuming they fix their respective drawbacks — could be a crazy good shut down pair.
STEPH: Hagg is an NHL defenseman on this team, and would make the cut on others. I think that what others are (appropriately) calling safe and boring playmaking, or lack of playmaking, is the result of him doing exactly what the coaching staff is telling him to do. He’s adjusted his game with every new D partner he’s been paired with, and he’s been comfortable and steady, save for a few ugly rookie lapses. Yes, it is annoying that the beats and the broadcast team are obsessed with his hits, BUT if I had told you this time last year that Robert Hagg was going to be a physical defenseman, would you have believed me? I like what I’ve seen out of him, I would like to see more, and I’d love to see it with a coaching staff that doesn’t preach exactly what he’s doing right now.
Voting Results (by Player): 15 to 11
Voting Results (by Rank): 15 to 11
|15||Samuel Morin||Samuel Morin||German Rubtsov||Mike Vecchione||German Rubtsov||Felix Sandstrom||Tanner Laczynski||Felix Sandstrom||Wade Allison||Samuel Morin||Wade Allison||Felix Sandstrom|
|14||Danick Martel||Mikhail Vorobyev||Samuel Morin||Samuel Morin||Samuel Morin||Robert Hagg||Wade Allison||Wade Allison||Cooper Marody||German Rubtsov||Morgan Frost||German Rubtsov|
|13||German Rubtsov||Robert Hagg||Felix Sandstrom||Danick Martel||Wade Allison||Taylor Leier||Samuel Morin||Scott Laughton||Tanner Laczynski||Mikhail Vorobyev||German Rubtsov||Wade Allison|
|12||Tanner Laczynski||Scott Laughton||Morgan Frost||Robert Hagg||Oskar Lindblom||German Rubtsov||German Rubtsov||German Rubtsov||Scott Laughton||Morgan Frost||Philippe Myers||Samuel Morin|
|11||Wade Allison||German Rubtsov||Wade Allison||Wade Allison||Mike Vecchione||Samuel Morin||Scott Laughton||Samuel Morin||German Rubtsov||Taylor Leier||Oskar Lindblom||Philippe Myers|