The fifth and final day of our Winter Flyers 25 Under 25 series is here, and with it comes our ranking of the top five young players in the Flyers’ organization. If you missed any of the first four parts of our series, here they are for your enjoyment:
With that, we move on to the main event.
5. Carter Hart
Primary Team/League: Everett, WHL
2017-18 Stats: .953 SV%, 1.51 GAA in 24 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: 10
CRAIG (ranked him #6): He has killed the WHL and showed he can thrive in a variety of games at the WJC. There’s a lot of hype around Hart and he is arguably the most important player under the age of 25 in the Flyers’ system. If he does well next season in the AHL, he’ll be higher on next year’s Top 25 Under 25.
KURT (ranked him #7): This is about as high as I can bring myself to put a junior goalie in a system as crowded as the Flyers’ is. The sheer unpredictability of this position (and, to a lesser extent, of prospects in general) is what keeps me from putting him over guys that we’ve seen at the NHL level, and I stand by that. But man … he is quite good, and I don’t have a huge issue with this de-facto ranking of him as the best “prospect” in the organization even despite my concerns about goalies in general. He’s an extremely technically sound goalie who’s already shown he can handle the load for a team and play well in doing so. If the jump to the AHL goes smoothly for him (which, again, TBD), there’s little reason why he shouldn’t be on the Flyers at the start of the 2019-20 season.
KELLY (ranked him #1): I went completely off board here and will likely get some heat, but I’m OK with it. I keep waiting for Hart to settle back into something resembling just-above-average, but he hasn’t. At all. I don’t think it’s crazy to say that we very likely have something akin to Carey Price in this kid, and that is going to, quite literally, change this team completely. When I rank these kids I consider a lot of things, and Carter Hart’s combination of real potential, which is backed up by current performance, at a position as important as goalie? I don’t think anyone else on this list will be as important to the Flyers as Carter Hart will be. So ... fight me.
KURT: Hinkle we’re fighting now thx.
MADDIE (ranked him #8): Wow, I’m really shellshocked about goalies, huh? I definitely agree with Kurt, there’s still a level of unpredictability when it comes to Hart, since we’ve still only seen him at the junior level. But he’s been so good there that it’s hard not to still get excited. I watched the WJC with my sister, who, while a very very smart lady, has by now has watched approximately 3.5 hockey games in her whole life and isn’t exactly an expert in prospect evaluation, and even she was impressed with him. I think, right now, I’m cautiously optimistic about Hart, but like Kelly said, if he pans out, he very well could be the most important or impactful of all of these prospects.
BRAD (ranked him #4): Shoutout to Kelly for ranking the #Number1HockeyBoy in his rightful place at number one. It’s hard to project goalies, especially while they’re still in juniors, but Carter Hart has simply been incredible for both the Everett Silvertips and Team Canada this season. He’s so calm and positionally sound in net that he makes saves look way easier than they actually are. For the first time ever, my favorite hockey player isn’t a current Flyer, he’s a Silvertip. I just love everything about him. From his style of play, to his potential, to his personality in interviews. There’s just something about him. For me, it’s not about waiting to see how he performs in the AHL. He’s going to be a star for the Flyers, I can just feel it.
KURT: Goalie in Philadelphia entering with massive, almost otherworldly expectations. I can’t see any way this goes wrong.
KELLY: WELL WITH THAT ATTITUDE.
MIKE (ranked him #3): So he’s been there and done that in terms of his résumé below the pro level. He’s easily the Flyers’ best prospect in the net right now and probably the best in their system since they had a guy named Bobrovsky. As other have said, we’ve got to see how he does in the AHL and go from there. With the way the brass has brought guys along, it could be another year, at least, but Hart has given every indication that he’s going to be well worth the wait.
KYLE (ranked him #4): What else is there to be said about Carter Hart? He’s the biggest goalie prospect I think we’ve ever seen come up through the system and he’s earned it. He has a 1.51 goals against average and a .953 save percentage (!!!!). He’s improved every single season with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips and looks to be the real deal. Obviously, this is a guy we all want to see finally be the answer to the seemingly never-ending Flyers goaltending issue. However it will be vital for him to excel at the AHL level with the Phantoms, and develop at proper pace. This is arguably one of the most important prospects the Flyers have had in their history, and I’d like to see them not screw it up.
STEPH (ranked him #5): All of these things, plus commentary about how the Everett Silvertips’ system inflates goalie stats, make him the most equally thrilling and terrifying prospect for me. He’s gotta turn pro next year, logic says he lands on the Phantoms roster, but maaaaaaybe he’ll be a Flyers. I make a second “way too excited” list just to get all of my feelings out of the way, and he’s number one over there.
4. Travis Konecny
Primary Team/League: Philadelphia, NHL
2017-18 Stats: 10 G, 12 A in 49 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: 5
CRAIG (ranked him #3): I struggled a lot with spots three and four. In the end, I figured Konecny, who is breaking through as a first-line winger this season, is slightly ahead of Nolan Patrick, future high-end second-line center who is just now catching up to the speed in the NHL (which was expected). This time next year, I fully expect Patrick to be three and Konecny to be four. Extremely fast and extremely good hands, Konecny is the most dynamic forward on the Flyers.
KURT (ranked him #5): Man, I wonder where Konecny is on these rankings if we do them in December. Recency bias may be a hell of a drug, but the past month from Konecny has been his best month in the NHL other than maybe the first one of his career (when he lit it up with Voracek and Couturier). And while it’s easy to chalk a good deal of his recent success up to playing with Giroux and Couturier, it seemed clear that he was on the cusp of a breakout for the first three months of the year, no matter who he was playing with. Konecny now seems like a pretty safe bet to at least be a solid second-line winger at the NHL level, which is a very good thing to have. Can he keep up what he’s done lately and maybe push that projection up even further? Let’s hope.
KELLY (ranked him #5): To piggyback off of Kurt’s thoughts, yeah, if we had done this list two months ago Travis would’ve probably just cracked my top 10. For the better part of this season we saw the effort from Konecny but the results just weren’t there. Chalk that up to bad luck or terrible linemates, but to quote the great Bill Matz, “if we’re going to call you a goal-scorer, at some point you have to start scoring goals.” Now that the floodgates are open, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to think that Konecny is anything less than a top-6 forward on this team for the foreseeable future.
KURT: I’d have definitely had him in the top 10 had his January looked like his October-December, but he’d be closer to where Morgan Frost is, since the two basically had the exact same draft + 1 season.
MADDIE (ranked him #3): Hello, resident smart person and non-worrier here. Since writing one (1) excellent and comprehensive feature on Konecny makes me a full-on expert, allow me to drop some knowledge (or something like that). Despite the relative lack of tangible production in the first part of the season, his individual CF/60 and xGF/60 were in the top three among forwards on the team. So even though this wasn’t leading to points on the board, the underlying process was solid. And now that the goals are coming, we can all be happy. Bonus: we’re seeing his shot and defense both improving, and his game is starting to round out nicely.
BRAD (ranked him #5): Wow, look what happens when you give someone like that linemates who aren’t playing poorly! It’s crazy how that works, huh?
MADDIE: Imagine that!
BRAD: Truly shocking. Anyway, since being placed on the top line with Couturier and Giroux, Travis Konecny has been on fire. Figuratively, of course. Literally would be bad. Very bad. He’s currently on a 4-game goal streak. Pretty good! He’s going to be in the top-6 for a very long time.
KURT: The Philadelphia Flyers: On Fire, Perhaps Literally, Since 1967
MIKE (ranked him #6): I’ve got Nolan over him for my highest ranked forward on here and I’d like to think that both of these two will be the next wave of great Flyers hockey. That said, I always worried if TK could finish, consistently, at the NHL level. Well he’s making me eat the crap out of that opinion and I couldn’t be happier to be wrong.
KYLE (ranked him #6): Man how crazy is it that when Travis Konency isn’t paired with hot garbage, he plays well! Ever since being put with Giroux and Couturier, he’s been lighting it up and finally getting the playing time he needs. He’s never going to be the best defensively, but if he continues to put up points as he’s doing now, I think we can deal with the few mistakes he makes.
STEPH (ranked him #3): A scoring winger! A fast, gritty, scoring winger! We’re never going to know if the treatment from last year helped him get to where he is today, but it is undeniable that he is succeeding and will be a big part of the team in the future.
3. Nolan Patrick
Primary Team/League: Philadelphia, NHL
2017-18 Stats: 3 G, 6 A in 40 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: T-3
CRAIG (ranked him #4): Since the start of January, you can see why Patrick is going to be special. I’m expecting him to have a huge 2018-19 season and to be one of the better second-line centers in the league
MIKE (ranked him #3): He’d be a slam-dunk No. 1 if it weren’t for the two straight-up studs in front of him. Yes, he had a rough stretch, and yes, he hasn’t scored maybe as much as a lot of people thought, but he can make some special plays, and I really am with Craig that he’ll take a huge leap next year and we’ll all laugh at how worried everyone got early in his rookie year.
KURT (ranked him #3): Again, much like Konecny, Patrick is a guy who probably benefited a bit from the timing of this, given his tough-to-watch-at-times first three months of the season. I don’t blame people who were saying we needed to see more from him in that time (heck, I was one of them). But he’s certainly getting things going. The scoring still hasn’t really caught up yet, which is a bummer, but Patrick is clearly playing at something closer to “NHL speed”, as Ron Hextall has called it, than he was early in the season. Helping him work towards having a good post-All Star Break portion of the season is as important as anything else the Flyers can do.
KELLY (ranked him #4): Man, I was so worried about Nolan Patrick. Like ... really worried. The last month or so has really helped calm my fears, though. We’re finally seeing speed and confidence from the kid, the kind of thing you want to see from a #2 overall pick. As long as he continues to be given something resembling quality linemates, I think we’re only going to see him get better heading into the playoffs.
MADDIE (ranked him #4): Playoffs? Hot take Hinkle over here.
KURT: (in extremely Jim Mora voice) PLAYOFFS??!?!?!?
KELLY: Oh hell yeah baby we talkin’ ‘yoffs.
BRAD (ranked him #3): Second-line center Nolan Patrick has arrived. Well, will arrive on Wednesday (hopefully), and he’s absolutely earned it based on his play recently. He had some early season struggles (which I blame off-season surgery on) but his ceiling is still that of a top-line center for me. Although, with how great Couturier has been, he may not get that role. I see these two becoming the next Bergeron & Krejci; two top-line centers playing on the same team, and while they don’t have the star power that Crosby and Malkin bring, are more than capable of taking their team to the promised land.
KYLE (ranked him #3): Gonna repeat myself here: it’s amazing what being paired with competent linemates can do for a young player! It definitely hasn’t been the best of starts for the number two overall pick, but over the past month and a half he’s really begun to prove why he belongs here. As Brad alluded to, off-season surgery definitely played a roll in those struggles and he seemingly has some extra “jump” out there. With how well he’s played lately, confidence will continue to grow, and the points should start to pile up for the rookie.
MADDIE: I don’t know that I ever let myself get too terribly worried about Patrick, with all of the stuff sort of stacked against him through the first half of the season (adjusting to the league, injury things, less than stellar linemates), but oh man is it great to see him finally coming on. I don’t know that it’ll grade out to quite the rookie season we were all hoping for, but I can imagine that he’ll continue making steps in the right direction, as the season goes on.
STEPH (ranked him #4): My baby boy. Every single thing about him is perfect. I was never worried, I knew he would figure it out. So why number four? The emergence of Sean 1Couturier. We don’t need Nolan to be a 1C anymore, a 2C will be perfect. And he is finally starting to own that role. His success is crucial to the team, but right now, the team won’t live and die by Nolan Patrick, and that’s totally ok! Less pressure on him to develop into the center we need him to be.
2. Shayne Gostisbehere
Primary Team/League: Philadelphia, NHL
2017-18 Stats: 9 G, 24 A in 45 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: T-3
CRAIG (ranked him #2): He’s good at hockey and you know why he’s good at hockey. Alright, good talk.
KURT (ranked him #2): Back when I did Gostisbehere’s midterm report card during the bye week, I took a little bit of heat in the comments for saying that this season from him didn’t “quite top the performance of his rookie season”, despite him scoring at an even better clip this year than he did in that one. In context, I meant more in terms of the spectacle of it — that season, Ghost was doing what felt like otherworldly shit every other game or so, seemingly winning the Flyers games all over the place, whereas this year his success has tended to come a bit more quietly. But there’s been nothing quiet about how Gostisbehere has played in the past month, and the fact that there’s even a discussion to be had about who the most valuable defenseman currently on the Flyers is says a lot about what a complete season Gostisbehere has had. This is his final go-round on the 25 Under 25 (he turns 25 in April), which is to say that he’s reaching the point in his pro career at which what you see is more or less what you get. If what we get out of Gostisbehere for the rest of his six-year contract is a #2-3 defenseman who is fine enough in his own third of the ice and does everything else as well as he currently does, that’s pretty tough to beat.
KELLY (ranked him #3): Again Craig is right in his analysis. I have Ghost as #3, but really he’s 2b to Provy’s 2a. The two of them together are going to backstop this defense for a long time. On a very high level. It’s, uh ... it’s pretty special. I get all squee-y just thinking about it to be honest.
BRAD (ranked him #2): Ghost has always been ridiculously good offensively, and this season we’ve watched him take huge steps forward in the defensive zone. He’s an absolute stud in the neutral zone, and thanks to Corey Sznajder’s tracking, along with the help of easy-to-read visuals provided by CJ Turtoro, we can quickly see that he has been the Flyers’ best defenseman at exiting the defensive zone with possession, entering the offensive zone with possession, and defending zone entries this season. Kurt mentioned the six-year contract, a contract that is looking like a huge win for the Flyers at that price.
MIKE (ranked him #2): Ghost is a special player offensively and is starting to really round out his 200-foot game, as the hockey guys say. He’s improved his positioning a ton, and uses his stick well to make up for his size. Offensively, he’s as good as they get, and the Flyers have a weapon back there that not many teams can dream about having.
KYLE (ranked him #2): The demise of Shayne Gostisbehere was grossly exaggerated. After feeling the wrath of Hakstol last season, Ghost has been stellar this year and has only gotten better since paired with Ivan Provorov. He’s improved a lot defensively over the course of this season and continues to be dynamite offensively. He’s going to be a play-driving force for years to go along with the 40+ point seasons.
MADDIE (ranked him #2): I don’t even know what there is left to say about Ghost. You got the breakdown above, but you know already. Great player on a great contract. Good and fun to watch, even on what can otherwise be a sad and boring team. Nice person. Total package. Thank you and good night.
STEPH (ranked him #1): In my opinion, Shayne Gostisbehere is the most important member of the Philadelphia Flyers right now. We have nearly three seasons of evidence to prove that this is not a fluke. In fact, he is only getting better. On top of that, he is becoming a leader in the locker room and a mentor to younger players. For years, this team went the way of Claude Giroux. I think it is now Ghost’s team.
1. Ivan Provorov
Primary Team/League: Philadelphia, NHL
2017-18 Stats: 9 G, 15 A in 49 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: 1
CRAIG (ranked him #1): I think Gostisbehere is better defensively than a lot of people give him credit for, but even with that in mind Provorov is still better than him in that aspect. I also give Provorov the edge in carrying the puck coast-to-coast and stretch passes.
MADDIE (ranked him #1): Yes to this. Dude is so good. The defense is marvelous, but I’m also really digging the offensive upside we’re seeing. I’m not sure that he’ll be absolutely racking up the goals and points, or that I even really need him to be, but I’m liking that he has more room to create since he’s been paired with Ghost. Seeing him dipping low in the zone to try to generate some higher danger chances has been just plain cool and exciting. Good stuff, guys.
MIKE (ranked him #1): Somehow, both Dylan Strome and Pavel Zacha went ahead of this man in the 2015 draft. What a steal, and he’s only going to get better. (in Kanye West voice) SCARY.
KURT (ranked him #1): Does what he does in nearly 25 minutes a night, and can be trusted to do pretty much anything during those minutes. I’m willing to hear arguments to the contrary on this ranking, but at the same time … let’s not overthink it here. The floor and the ceiling here are both very high, and we’re talking about someone who turned 21 three weeks ago. Let’s cherish this.
MADDIE: And it’s like he never even gets tired. He must be an android or something.
KELLY (ranked him #2): Lol oh man Kurt I often forget that Provorov is only 21, and when I’m reminded of that I get very, very excited. He’s so good. HE IS SO FREAKING GOOD. How do I put the eggplant emoji here?
KURT: No idea. Corporate SBN bigwigs probably don’t want us making eggplant jokes in this very serious sports content. [Ed. note: it’s a joke. I’m joking. We are very much allowed to make eggplant jokes. I think. Right?]
STEPH (ranked him #2): Whatever, Travis doesn’t even go here.
BRAD (ranked him #1): It is so much fun to watch Provorov finally play with a good partner. Such a special player that I don’t really have much to say. He’s great at everything and the numbers are finally matching the eye test with him now that he’s no longer playing with he who shall not be named.
KYLE (ranked him #1): *whispers* Brad: six years, $30 million.
BRAD: Only 883 days until July 1st, 2020, Kyle!
STEPH: Listen, this wasn’t easy for me to do. Ivan Provorov is a beast and the most complete player we have on this team. Everything about him screams superhero. He plays with poise and maturity and will be at the top of these lists for the next four (FOUR!) years. That being said, he needed a player like Shayne Gostisbehere to unlock his offensive potential. Is that his fault? No, it’s Dave Hakstol’s, but I need to see a little more over a longer period of time to believe it’s here to stay.
Voting Results (by Player): 5 to 1
Voting Results (by Rank): 5 to 1
|5||Carter Hart||Travis Konecny||Travis Sanheim||Travis Sanheim||Carter Hart||Travis Konecny||Travis Konecny||Travis Sanheim||Nolan Patrick||Travis Sanheim||Carter Hart||Carter Hart|
|4||Nolan Patrick||Carter Hart||Nolan Patrick||Travis Konecny||Travis Konecny||Nolan Patrick||Travis Sanheim||Carter Hart||Travis Sanheim||Nolan Patrick||Nolan Patrick||Nolan Patrick|
|3||Travis Konecny||Nolan Patrick||Travis Konecny||Nolan Patrick||Nolan Patrick||Shayne Gostisbehere||Nolan Patrick||Nolan Patrick||Carter Hart||Travis Konecny||Travis Konecny||Travis Konecny|
|2||Ivan Provorov||Shayne Gostisbehere||Shayne Gostisbehere||Shayne Gostisbehere||Shayne Gostisbehere||Ivan Provorov||Shayne Gostisbehere||Shayne Gostisbehere||Shayne Gostisbehere||Shayne Gostisbehere||Ivan Provorov||Shayne Gostisbehere|
|1||Shayne Gostisbehere||Ivan Provorov||Ivan Provorov||Ivan Provorov||Ivan Provorov||Carter Hart||Ivan Provorov||Ivan Provorov||Ivan Provorov||Ivan Provorov||Shayne Gostisbehere||Ivan Provorov|