Ron Hextall and Chris Pryor were extremely busy during the Draft in 2016. The Flyers originally held the 18th overall pick but they traded that pick and the 79th pick to the Winnipeg Jets for the 22nd pick and the 36th pick. With the two picks the Flyers received from the Jets trade, they selected German Rubtsov and Pascal Laberge. On day two the Flyers traded Nicklas Grossmann and Chris Pronger to the Arizona Coyotes for the 120th pick and Sam Gagner. After that trade the Flyers sent the 120th pick to the New York Islanders for the Islanders fourth round pick the next year.
A few years later and we’re still waiting on most of the players from this draft class to make the NHL, so when can we expect them to be ready for the NHL? Let’s start by checking in on the first five players:
German Rubtsov (22nd overall)
Rubtsov never really took that big step in production the Flyers hoped when he left the KHL for Chicotoumi Saguenéens in the QMJHL. This caused a lot of the fans to lose hope in him ever becoming a NHL player, and he went further and further down everyones lists when ranking all the prospects. Last year was the first year for Rubtsov as a pro in the US, and he made quite the impact. He was immediately one, if not the best, Phantoms forward and he looked poised to get a call up as soon as the moment presented itself. Unfortunately for Rubtsov and the Flyers, a shoulder injury after just 14 games into the season made him miss the rest of the year, which was a huge blow for us fans who always liked him.
So what now? I personally believe that Rubtsov would have gotten called up last season if he didn't injure his shoulder and I think he has a pretty great chance to make the team out of camp. The Flyers have an open spot on the third line and he will be one of the players battling for that spot. Rubtsov plays a mature game and he is probably more ready for a 82 game season in the NHL than the more hyped names like Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost whom will also fight for that spot. I think Rubtsov will at least make his NHL debut this season.
Pascal Laberge (36th overall)
A lot of people (me included) wanted the Flyers to draft Alex DeBrincat with this pick, so there was a natural feeling of disappointment when the Flyers selected Laberge. After reading up on Laberge and watching his shift-by-shift highlights I started warming up to the pick, but it all took a big step back when he got concussed by a RIDICULOUSLY dirty hit.
Zachary Malatesta's Hit on #Flyers prospect Pascal Laberge in the QMJHL the other night... pic.twitter.com/K8EnvJvct9— Robert Söderlind (@HockeyWebCast) October 18, 2016
He never really looked the same after that hit. Laberge admitted that he basically slept all day for a whole month after the injury. Laberge went pro last year but he only played 15 games, in which he scored 5 goals and 6 points total, after undergoing hip surgery in September.
When can we see Laberge make the NHL? I would be surprised if he played a NHL game in at least the next two years. Laberge has the skillset, but he just hasn't been the same player since that horrible injury. I hope that if he can stay injury free and work on his game, that it slowly comes back and maybe then he will have a chance. I’m afraid there’s just too many other forward prospects ahead of him on the depth chart.
Carter Hart (48th Overall)
Oh boy, where do I start? Carter Hart was the first goalie drafted in the 2016 draft and what a pick it was. Carter Hart broke record after record in the WHL and after a slow start to his pro career with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, he finally showed everyone why he was considered to be one of the best, if not the best, goalie prospect in the world when he slowly started improving. He never looked back when he got called up to make his NHL debut with the Philadelphia Flyers. Hart is going to be counted on to be the number one goalie for a NHL team as a 20 year old. That’s actually insane, but that kind of tells you how good he is already and how good he can hopefully become when he enters his prime.
Our golden boy is perfect.
Wade Allison (52nd Overall)
Flyers drafted seven forwards in the 2016 draft and Wade Allison may be the best one out of them. I would say this more comfortably if Allison didn't have injury problems over the past two seasons that limited his total games to 22. I think that if Allison didn't tear his ACL, he probably would have gone pro and he definitely would have been battling for that third line spot the Flyers currently have open. Allison made the decision to go back to college for his senior season and the Flyers could possibly lose him as a free agent if he doesn’t sign within 30 days of leaving college. Hopefully Allison has a bounce back season at Western Michigan and after that sign his entry level contract with the Flyers. I believe that Allison (if healthy) will be on the Flyers in the first year he goes pro.
Right now i’m just worried he will leave as a free agent.
Carsen Twarynski (82nd overall)
I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I knew a whole lot about Twarynski when the Flyers drafted him, and he never really stood out to me when I watched his games after he got drafted. It was in his last season in juniors when he really took a big step forward and he almost doubled his production from 43 points to 72 points. Twarynski made it quite far in the training camp last year but was ultimately sent down to the Phantoms in the end, but the fact that he made it longer in the camp than a lot of the more hyped names tells you that he may be getting close to ready to be in the NHL. Twarynski will be a bottom six forward if he does make it, but it’s still good value in the mid rounds. Twarynski had a decent first season as a pro and I think that he could surpass someone like Nicolas Aube-Kubel on the depth chart if he improves this year.
Will he play for the Flyers next season? I don’t see it happening unless there is A LOT of injuries. I do think that he could be closer than most people may expect and he could possibly be called up before many of the fan favorites. Obviously in a bottom six role.