The Flyers have had a busy offseason with trades and signings galore, but even after all the dust settled one roster spot has remained surprisingly empty.
That’d be the hole at right wing on the Flyers’ third line, the one presumably to be centered by Nolan Patrick with Oskar Lindblom on the other flank. With the rest of the wing spots taken by quality NHL players like Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek, and Travis Konecny, the Flyers’ top six is very well set along with Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes down the middle.
Where the intrigue begins, though, is with that third line —one that could blossom into a force if Patrick turns a corner in his third NHL season. Assuming Lindblom sticks as the other winger, the line already has a tireless board worker to buoy high-end skill players. The Patrick/Lindblom pairing showed flashes last season before being separated by a coach that would later be fired, but it appears on paper the two could be headed for a match to start 2019-20.
The question then becomes who will be the player to join them on the third line? Given the Flyers’ suddenly tight cap situation (Assuming RFA’s Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny sign), it wouldn’t appear that GM Chuck Fletcher would have a ton of money left to pursue an option outside of the organization. Though it’s not out of the question, the Flyers don’t sound particularly close to inking Provorov and would hamstring themselves down the line with a pricey addition to their third line if those negotiations drag on through the summer.
Also, if Fletcher really wanted to add to his third line via free agency, he’d likely have done it while quality options were around right from the get go. Nearing mid-July, most of the attractive options have already signed elsewhere and could lead to Fletcher overpaying a lesser option like the whole Dale Weise fiasco.
That leads us to believe that Fletcher and Co. already have their option for the hole on the third line, and it’s coming from inside the organization. Not only that, but it’s likely that the role will be won by a prospect that everyone has been dying to get a look at.
Here are some of the in-house options to fill the current hole on the Flyers’ third line.
Another former first-round pick, and another candidate to fill the void on the third line. Rubstov was the 22nd overall pick back in 2016, but has had sort of a slow start since being drafted.
After playing for a pair of teams in the QMJHL in 2017-18, The Germ landed in Lehigh Valley with the Phantoms in 2018-19 and got off to a promising start with 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 14 games before going down with a season-ending shoulder injury. The injury stunted what looked like a breakout season, and perhaps a call up to the Flyers later on in the season.
Given the growth that Rubstov showed in 2018-18 with the Phantoms, it’s possible that he has the inside track to a spot on the wing heading into camp should he prove to be healthy and back to that level. Though he isn’t the polished offensive player that Frost or Farabee are, he’s a strong two-way player who would fit in nicely on a line with a couple of good offensive players in Patrick and Lindblom.
He’s a natural center, but Rubstov should have the ability to slide over to the wing with his hockey IQ and skating ability. It’s been done before, and perhaps Rubstov will give the Flyers no choice with a strong camp.
The 14th overall pick in the 2018 draft had a standout freshman season at Boston University with 36 points in 37 games and turned pro shortly thereafter. After a stellar development camp last week, it looks like Farabee made the right decision.
Part of the reason it was such a great decision is that Farabee is just good at everything. He’s gifted on the puck, has a high hockey IQ, and plays a responsible 200-foot game that is such an asset for any young player.
Like Frost, he’s probably not quite physically ready for the NHL, but has an edge after playing in college where the players are more physically close to AHLers and NHLers than those in juniors. But also like Frost, Farabee would give the Flyers a gifted offensive talent to add to a bottom six that could use all the scoring and creativity it can get.
The Flyers’ 27th-overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft is a prolific scorer at the junior level, notching 310 points in 257 career games. Frost closed his junior career with back-to-back 100-point seasons for Sault Ste. Marie the past two years after bursting on the scene with 62 points in 67 games in 2016-17.
The 20-year-old has proven everything he can at the junior level and is ready to test his game at the professional level. Whether that comes with the Flyers in the NHL or with the Phantoms at the AHL level remains to be seen, but Frost should get a good look in camp given his dynamic offensive abilities.
Questions on Frost will be whether he’s physically ready for the NHL grind (Not many are), and whether or not he plays with NHL pace. Given that young players are typically a step slow for the NHL both mentally and physically, these are pretty serious chinks in the armor for Frost’s case, but his talent is undeniable and the Flyers could shelter the third line with strong defensive centers on all other three lines.
Lindblom/Patrick/Frost would give the Flyers a potentially dynamic scoring line outside of their top six, something they haven’t been able to say for quite some time.
The first non first-round pick on our list is the 23-year-old Aube-Kubel, now a veteran of three AHL seasons with the Phantoms. A second-round pick back in 2014, Aube-Kubel has struggled to find success in nine games at the NHL level with zero points. To be fair, he hasn’t been given much chance to succeed, either, averaging less than six minutes per game during his NHL time.
While his fellow draft mate Lindblom has found more NHL success, Aube-Kubel has proven to be an effective AHL player with Lehigh Valley over the last two seasons with 76 points in 136 games. His numbers would look even better if not for a handful of games missed due to injury this past season, where he was limited to just 54 contests.
Aube-Kubel plays with an edge and would provide the Flyers some extra attitude and snarl in the lineup, but he doesn’t profile as much of an offensive threat at the NHL level. While he has the tools to be an effective player in the lineup, he’d be more suited for a role on the more traditional checking fourth line with his tenacity and ability to get under opponents’ skin.
He wouldn’t be our ideal choice in a third line role, but could very well win the job in camp given his experience and be a candidate to be replaced by the likes of a Frost, Farabee, or Rubstov when they’re ready to go.
So what say you? Should Fletcher and the coaching staff keep the third line role open for a stud prospect or find another option? Choose from the poll or drop the name and the why in the comments.
Flyers’ Organizational Forward Depth
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Claude Giroux||Sean Couturier||Travis Konecny|
|James van Riemsdyk||Kevin Hayes||Jakub Voracek|
|Oskar Lindblom||Nolan Patrick||???????????????????|
|Michael Raffl||Scott Laughton||Tyler Pitlick|
|Joel Farabee||Mikhail Vorobyev||Nicolas Aube-Kubel|
|Isaac Ratcliffe||German Rubtsov||Pascal Laberge|
|Matthew Strome||Morgan Frost||Maksim Sushko|
|Carsen Twarynski||Connor Bunnaman||Kyle Criscuolo|
|Greg Carey||David Kase||Kurtis Gabriel|
|Andy Andreoff||Cal O'Reilly||Wade Allison|
|Noah Cates||Gerry Fitzgerald||Bobby Brink|
|Tanner Lacyznski||Yegor Serdyuk|
|Olle Lycksell||Bryce Brodzinski|
Who should man RW on the third line in 2019-20?
This poll is closed
Someone else inside the organization
Someone outside of the organization