Our Top 25 Under 25 rolls on, and as we creep ever closer to the upper echelon of players, we now arrive at (in the opinion of one Madeline Campbell) one of the more exciting prospects: Mikhail Vorobyev. 2017-18 saw him put up am impressive rookie season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the AHL, where he performed solidly and steadily through both the regular season and their Calder Cup playoffs campaign, culminating in an elimination by the Toronto Marlies in the Eastern Conference Final.
So, altogether a certainly noteworthy rookie season, and one that turned more than a few heads, in the process. But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. More on that later.
No. 13: Mikhail Vorobyev
Age: 21 (1/5/1997)
Size: 6’2”, 207 (via)
Acquired Via: 2015 NHL Draft — Round 4, Pick 104 (Pick acquired from Los Angeles along with a sixth-round pick in 2016 in exchange for Pick No. 99 in 2015 on June 27, 2015)
2017-18 League/Team/Statistics: Lehigh Valley (AHL) - 9 G, 20 A in 58 GP
Ranking in BSH Winter 2018 25 Under 25: 17
Let’s get back to that rookie season, because, like we said above, it was very good, and shouldn’t just be glossed over on the way to the “what’s next?” So what was there to like, exactly? Let’s break it down.
We can start with the raw scoring numbers—in 58 regular season games played, Vorobyev picked up nine goals and 20 assists, and then two more points in the playoffs. This makes for a .5 points per game pace during the regular season, and a respectable one for a player tasked (or privileging, at the very least) with playing a more defensively focused game.
That defensively focused game also served him well on special teams, as he figured as one of the Phantoms’ more highly depended up penalty killers, showcasing a collectedness, a tenacity, strength in tying the puck up along the boards, oh yeah, and the ability to put together neat plays like this one.
Heck of a play by Mikhail Vorobyev on the penalty kill. Steals the puck and sends it all the way down the ice back to Lamarche to kill time. pic.twitter.com/K1wSCq94oX— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) May 12, 2018
Okay, okay, so we just wanted an excuse to drop this gif in here. It’s still pretty cool. But we’ll get back to the stats. Fine.
The nice numbers don’t end with the scoring figures, it gets even better. Per Brad’s tracked date, Vorobyev put up a 55.65 CF% at 5-on-5, leading not just all forwards, but all Phantoms not named Travis Sanheim (who only played 18 games with the team). Across the whole of the season—though in admittedly fewer games than a number of his teammates—Vorobyev proved the Phantoms’ most consistent drivers of positive results. Indeed, it became something of a joke (at least in our BSH slack chat), that you could slap anybody—from similar results driver Oskar Lindblom to not-exactly-noted-playdriver Tyrell Goulbourne—on his wings, and Vorobyev would still come up with a positive RelCF%, even if his linemates didn’t. Which sure is something.
You know what else is something (that we’d like to see more of---
[tires screeching, large clattering sounds]
That was a bad segue. Just a real wreck. I’m sorry. Let’s start over.
Anyway, since we’ve hit on the positives, we should also note that they form something of a foundation for building up from. The scoring pace that we called respectable certainly was, but we know it can be better.
Something that stuck out to me the most from development camp was just how dangerous Vorobyev’s shot looked. It’s not something that we see in high volume—more often he’s working at the set-up guy for his linemates—but it was very impressive, accurate and with a fair bit of zip. Indeed, when the drills in one of the sessions ended, and the players had a chance to practice skills freely, he opted to take a few reps practicing Ovechkin-style one timers from the right faceoff circle, rarely missing. And, in short, he looked like a guy who should have more than 10 goals on the season. And maybe some of that is usage, in at least small part from not seeing power play time, but we still see the potential there. He just needs a little extra nudge to do a bit more offense.
And now that we’ve finally highlighted the skill and the season, let’s get back to what we’ve been hinting at since we started this thing, the “what’s next?”
Heading into this year’s training camp, Vorobyev’s in something of an interesting and tenuous space, in that he could reasonably end up taking two wildly different paths, and, at this time, we really don’t have any idea which way he’ll be leaning.
What we know is that the Flyers have the vacancy at the 3C position, and after a very good development camp, Hextall finally gave him the nod as being someone who they have been impressed by, and who figures into the conversation on filling said 3C vacancy. This is big--especially for a prospect with only one year of AHL experience under his belt in a system where the GM loves to have his prospects simmer slowly on the farm team--and it may mean that we could be seeing Vorobyev making the jump to the NHL as soon as this season. We may well be looking at our new third (or maybe fourth) line center, a kid brought to us when we’ve been slamming our fists on the table, demanding that the Flyers just play the kids.
But, that said, we’ve been demanding, and we may also be disappointed. Vorobyev isn’t the only internal option to slide into this position, and if the Flyers don’t love what they see from in camp, they may decide to send him back down for a bit more of the AHL seasoning. And this would be disappointing, but it also wouldn’t be detrimental. He can keep running through the AHL level competition, like we saw him do in his first season, and maybe even pick up the scoring pace some more. Like we said, this wouldn’t be the worst thing (but that also won’t stop us from being a little sad about it if it does happen.
If nothing else, at this time, it looks like he’s ready. And we should, we hope, be seeing him with the big club sooner rather than later.
How We Voted For Mikhail Vorobyev
How We Voted At No. 13
|Wade Allison||Mikhail Vorobyev||German Rubtsov||German Rubtsov||Nicolas Aube-Kubel||Wade Allison||Scott Laughton||Wade Allison||German Rubtsov||German Rubtsov||Nicolas Aube-Kubel||Wade Allison||Isaac Ratcliffe||Mikhail Vorobyev||Isaac Ratcliffe|
How The Community Voted For Mikhail Vorobyev
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Previously in Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2018 Top 25 Under 25: