Recently, I’ve put out two articles detailing the cases for and against Morgan Frost and Isaac Ratcliffe making the Flyers directly from juniors. However, today I wanted to look at some of the players we’ve seen in action before, but who we wouldn’t say are “on the Flyers”. I’ll be grading out whether or not each player listed deserves a longer-term chance on the Flyers, and generally grading them based on current and potential NHL status. The rules are as follows: each player listed had to have played less than 25 games with the Flyers, and as expected, each of these players spent time in the AHL. To start off this list, we have a player who wasn’t even in the organization at the start of the year:
Flyers - 11 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 PTS
Phantoms - 17 GP, 6 G, 2 A, 8 PTS
The Flyers acquired Bailey in January as they shipped Taylor Leier to Buffalo. As a Flyer, he was used as a 4th liner, and only averaged 5:44 minutes of ice time a game. He performed significantly better in the AHL, as one might expect, though he wasn’t particularly dazzling there either. To be honest, I think this trade was mostly to give Leier a chance to prove himself elsewhere, rather than because they were particularly excited about Bailey. He’s still only 23, but I don’t see an NHL future for him, and he’s grading out at the moment to be a career AHLer.
Flyers - 9 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS
Phantoms - 54 GP, 16 G, 14 A, 30 PTS
NAK wasn’t a Flyer for very long. He was called up along with Tyrell Goulbourne when the Flyers sent down Mikhail Vorobyev and placed Corban Knight on IR. Similarly to Bailey, Aube-Kubel averaged 5:35 minutes of ice time, and it was clear that Dave Hakstol did not trust him with any significant amount of NHL ice time. However, unlike with Bailey, I think Aube-Kubel has potential to fulfill. Bailey had been given NHL minutes previously, and in 52 Sabres games produced 8 points. We still don’t know whether or not NAK is an NHL level player. I think he is deserving of that chance, given he can produce points at the AHL level to an acceptable degree. I would not complain at all if Aube-Kubel plays on the fourth line at points this season. He could be akin with Bailey, but he could also be a useful player. We just don’t know yet.
Flyers - 5 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS
Phantoms - 2 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS
There’s nothing of significance to show regarding Morin’s stats, since he is coming off of a severe knee injury sustained during last season’s playoffs. He only returned to action late this year, and as such, is probably set back a fair bit in terms of his NHL readiness. I know there are many who want to see Morin up on the Flyers this season, but he almost certainly isn’t going to be. Knee injuries can be devastating to a player’s career, and Morin will need to work himself back up the Flyers depth chart after other defenseman seemed to have jumped him. Don’t get me wrong, I think Morin deserves an extended NHL look, but I am doubtful it will be with this franchise.
Flyers - 21 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS
Phantoms - 53 GP, 9 G, 24 A, 33 PTS
Towards the middle-end of the season, Myers was called up to the Flyers and performed fairly well with the ice time he was given (15:22 on average). It was clear that he has won a spot on the blue line over Andrew MacDonald when his minutes decreased and he eventually became the 7th man out. Myers only has more room to improve, and the Flyers are almost certainly holding a spot in the lineup for him, barring any dramatic changes. Myers is an NHLer and is here to stay. Just how good an NHLer he is, well, is to be determined.
Flyers - 2 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS
Phantoms - 63 GP, 9 G, 9 A, 18 PTS
Flyers - 1 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS
Phantoms - 75 GP, 5 G, 21 A, 26 PTS
Friedman got a call up for the last game of the season, and didn’t look out of place in what turned out to be a crushing send off. Before, I wouldn’t have given Friedman much of a chance to carve out an NHL role for himself, but I’ve now slightly increased his chances in my eyes. I think he’s moved past Morin in the organizational depth chart, and he’s certainly one of the first call ups the Flyers will make if a defenseman gets injured. Though, I am slightly pessimistic about his chances of appearing much next season, given that the Flyers are reportedly interested in bringing another veteran defenseman into the mix. I think Friedman’s potential is a bottom 5-6 pair guy, and that’s certainly still a useful role!
Flyers - 23 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS
Phantoms - 8 GP, 4 G, 6 A, 10 PTS
Knight is a 28 year old center who has always been fairly good to great in the AHL, so I get why they would want to try him out. But, he just is not good. Him being the 4th line center isn’t the worst thing in the world, but i can think of at least five guys (ha, five guys) that I would prefer above him: Morgan Frost, Joel Farabee, German Rubtsov, Connor Bunnaman, Tanner Laczynski. It’s completely possible that all five of them aren’t ready and won’t be good NHL players, but at least we’ll be finding out as opposed to Corban Knight, who we all know is awful!
Flyers - 15 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS
Phantoms - 42 GP, 7 G, 19 A, 26 PTS
Mikhail started the season with the Flyers, but was ultimately sent back down to the Phantoms after complaints emerged regarding his work ethic. Those concerns may well be true, but I think the main concern with Vorobyev is that he just isn’t a good NHL player. The work ethic may come into play with that, and maybe Vorobyev just doesn’t show enough of the “hockey-men” intangibles like “grit” and “determination”. Regardless, he just didn’t look good out there, and he didn’t particularly impress with the Phantoms either. I’ve not completely given up on Misha, but I think he has to earn himself another call-up.
Flyers - 2 GP, 0.806 sv%, 5.08 GAA
Phantoms - 39 GP, 0.916 sv%, 2.74 GAA
The situation with goaltending last year was weird, as I talked about before. Yet, with Lyon, I think everybody knows what his role is going to be. He’s going to be the AHL starter, or NHL backup if there is an injury. I don’t think Lyon’s potential takes him past that role, but Lyon hasn’t been awful in NHL games we’ve seen (except the two this year, but again it was an outlier). I wouldn’t say he’s deserving of a call-up, but that’s perfectly fine.
There are certainly a number of players here that undoubtedly have NHL potential and should be looked at for a more long-term roster fit, and equally, there is the dross. Whatever bug that got into Hakstol and Scott Gordon’s heads that convinced them Corban Knight deserved an NHL role is hopefully gone, and I’ll have to trust that these players will all be evaluated correctly. I think the only NHL lock in this list would be Phil Myers, and other than him, everybody else could end up playing in the AHL. Do I think anybody else is so deserving of an NHL spot to get called up for the start of the season? Not really. I did say that Aube-Kubel deserves a long term look, but with Raffl on the left wing and Hartman potentially on the right (given Fletcher brings in more players as most are expecting) I don’t see NAK on the roster in any role greater than as a fourth liner.