And that just about does it! The Flyers wrapped up their annual prospect development camp this weekend, and before we’re thrown into whatever free agency craziness awaits this afternoon, let’s take a few moments to recap some of the standout performances of the week.
1. Joel Farabee
There’s been a lot of buzz around Farabee recently, as he’s coming off a very solid season with Boston University and just signed his contract, meaning he’s turning pro this year. His name keeps popping up in the conversations online on who will slot in at third line right wing for the Flyers this season, so maybe we came into camp paying a little bit of extra attention to him. And he certainly didn’t disappoint. Every year, it seems, there’s at least one player who just seems to flash, no matter the context he’s placed in. Farabee looked solid in the skating drills, and flexed a good bit of accuracy in the shooting drills. In the scrimmages he looked confident and showed a bit of extra tenacity, and seemed just a bit ahead of most of these other skaters in his age group. He seemed to be putting it all together.
We want to hedge a little bit here, because while he will figure to be in the mix for the 3RW opening in training camp, he’s still only gotten himself up to around 175 pounds, he said, so he still has some filling out to do. The skills are all there, but physical readiness will remain an open question.
2. German Rubtsov
For the first time since sustaining a season ending shoulder injury early last season with the Phantoms, we saw German Rubtsov back on the ice, and he looked good, folks! We might have expected it, with it being his fourth development camp, and with him already having a bit of professional experience under his belt, but all the same, he stood out distinctly. In the drills he looked polished, and flexed his usual sound skating and a strong shot. And then in the scrimmage, he really stood out, showing an extra bit of confidence and finding a level of calm in the otherwise chaos that comes with a 5-on-5 scrimmage without a whole lot of structure or inherent chemistry in the lines. He rolled with the punches and found a way to work with all of that and still make plays. And, of course, he didn’t seem to show any lingering effects of that shoulder surgery. He’s gotten himself pretty easily back into the swing of things, and it was nice to see.
3. Morgan Frost
We’re working our way through these names and it’s probably becoming pretty clear that the players you expected to be the most noticeable in camp, were. And Frost was no exception. Like Rubtsov, he’s coming up on veteran status at these things, but he’s still finding new ways to impress. He came in this year looking even stronger, and this helped him pretty much across the board. His skating still looked smooth and he looked elusive as ever, and his vision stood out in the 5-on-5 tournament in general, but really served him well in setting up the game winning goal for Bobby Brink on the rush. His game is maturing as he keeps fine tuning pieces, and it’s been exciting to see.
Also, this is just an excuse to drop this shootout goal in here. Because come on. It was amazing.
Morgan Frost. pic.twitter.com/mko6FZ9VJi— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) June 29, 2019
We’re actually just going to leave it there. Well done, pal.
4. Isaac Ratcliffe
Ratcliffe had himself, across the board, a solid camp, but we would be lying if we said he didn’t positively solidify his spot on this list in the 5-on-5 tournament. One of the bigger concerns with his play, when he was drafted, was that he was a big player that didn’t play like it, that he sometimes shied away from using his size as an added weapon, and, well, this isn’t the case any longer. He brought together all of the skills that we like and saw showcased in the drills—improved skating, good hands, and passing vision—and combined them with an added physical element that had you watching him and thinking “that’s just not fair.” More and more, he seems to be putting all of the pieces together in his game, and if nothing else, it’s exciting to see.
5. Wade Allison
And would you look at that, it really is an all forwards stars group. Who would’ve thought. Anyway, Wade Allison had himself a pretty solid camp. In some of the drills on Tuesday you could tell that his knee was bothering him some, but he worked around it, and looked sharp in (surprise!) the first round of shooting drills. The 5-on-5 scrimmage was a real test—how would the knee hold up in a full strength game situation—and it was a definitive pass. And in a way this was the most encouraging, that he was out there not only looking to be active and make plays, but also competing hard and even getting a little physical. He’s still not all the way back, but he’s getting closer, and doing all that he can to show that he’s working his way back to normal, and not falling into any “shell of the former self” narratives that get thrown on players coming back from a serious injury. He’s doing the thing.
But that’s not all! A top five is hard to narrow down, so we also pulled out a couple more players who flashed in camp, and who may not just be the big names.
But, okay, one more big name. There was a lot of baggage, of you will, surround Cam York when he was drafted because he wasn’t Cole Caufield, so maybe because of that, there were some higher than reasonable expectations coming into camp. But all that said, he still looked pretty good! He didn’t show up and positively dominate—early on he looked like he was still sort of figuring things out—but as the week went on, he seemed to get more comfortable, and the 5-on-5 on scrimmage on Saturday is where he really shined. We got to see his smooth skating in action, and his offensive instincts really jumped out (“I thought that was a forward” you could hear from the media watching the action on the far side of the ice). He’s still in need of some fine tuning of his skills and some strength building—at least a year in college will be good for that—but the Flyers still have an exciting new prospect, here.
We had to make sure we included a goalie in here! Ersson may not be one of the higher profile prospects, but he is one that always impresses me, whenever I get to see him play. As far as goalies go, he’s not one that you look at and say “wow, he’s really athletic,” which perhaps speaks more to his positioning than anything else. He just almost always seems to be in the right place, he doesn’t get panicky and overplay pucks, just stays collected. His rebound control was solid, and his post to post quickness was good as well. He still has a bit to go before we see him over here in North America, but he seems to have all of the pieces, and it will be interesting to see how he does this season, when he heads back to Sweden and competes for an SHL job with Brynas. There are already a ton of goalies in the Flyers’ system, but they seem to have one with some promise in Ersson.
We’ll be direct with this one: Brink came in and gave us more or less what we expected, in a way. The big story line around him when he was drafted was that he has some very good hands, but his skating needs some work. And this is true! The skating really isn’t as rough as that description might lead you to worry it is—his edgework is good, and his first couple of steps do have a good bit of burst, it’s just that he can’t really maintain that in straight line speed—even if he does still have to put in a bit of work with it. The shot jumped out in some of the drills earlier in the week, and then on Saturday he picked up a very nice goal on the rush, on a feed from Frost. He seemed to fit right in, playing alongside Ratcliffe and Frost, and he showed some exciting potential.
Our pal Jake wrote about O’Brien in some more depth earlier today, but we wanted to close out here and note that, while he wasn’t the flashiest player in camp, O’Brien still did really stand out. He’s had a tough year, and has been overshadowed some by Farabee of late, but we’re stripping all of that away to say that O’Brien still looked good out there. He said he’d put on some weight, gotten stronger, and it shows, but it hasn’t come at the expense of the speed that’s become something of a hallmark to his game. His playmaking ability stood out in the 5-on-5 tournament, and he seemed active and noticeable on just about every shift. He’s still flashing the skills that remind you why he was a first round pick in the first place.