The 2017 NHL draft was a special one for the Flyers. They jumped from the expected 13th overall pick to the 2nd overall, grabbing Nolan Patrick. They also were able to draft Morgan Frost with the pick they acquired in the Brayden Schenn trade. Patrick has now become an established NHL center with potential to fill, and Morgan Frost is dominating at the juniors level as he looks set to play professional hockey next season.
However, there is another skater who has a very realistic chance of making this dynamic duo of picks into a trifecta. Isaac Ratcliffe has improved his game, refined his goalscoring touch, and is knocking on the Flyers’ doorstep for a spot on the NHL roster Though he will more likely than not play in the AHL next season, Ratcliffe’s transformation from “project prospect” to “leader and goalscorer” has been remarkable to watch unfold.
No. 10: Isaac Ratcliffe
Age: 20 (2/15/1999)
Size: 6’6”, 201
Acquired Via: 2017 NHL Draft — Round 2, Pick 35 (Pick acquired from Arizona in exchange for Picks No. 44, 75, and 108 on June 24, 2017)
2018-19 League/Team/Statistics: Guelph (OHL) - 50 G, 32 A in 65 GP
Ranking in BSH Winter 2019 25 Under 25: T-12
Back in April, I wrote an article outlining Ratcliffe’s case for making the Flyers in 2019-20, and much of what I wrote still remains true. Ratcliffe came into the Flyers system as a project with the potential to be a very dangerous forward, complete with NHL-ready size for the skill set he has. Over the past two seasons, he has steadily learned how to use his size more effectively, and looks set to not just physically dominate in juniors, but in the pros as well.
He uses his immense build to effectively muscle his way to the puck, and he very rarely is knocked off the puck. He combines this with his very good mental understanding of the game to find open spaces where he can receive passes from his center. While he has a good shot, it is not an elite shot like many other goalscoring forwards (such as Brock Boeser or what we expect Arthur Kaliyev to become), meaning Ratcliffe doesn’t find his success as a sniper. Instead, Ratcliffe if very effective at using his muscle to fend of defenders in the slot and absorb contact. This makes him a very likely candidate for a net-front position on power-play units.
Once he gets to the slot, good luck trying to move him out, though in the first place, he may have beaten you there with his silky skillset. For a big forward, Ratcliffe can quite easily pull of elimination moves and beat defenders one on one. He has many ways that he can beat you to score, and last season, he scored 50 goals in the OHL. This total was bettered by only four other skaters. He is a force to be reckoned with in front of the net.
To add on to his many positive qualities, Ratcliffe looks to be a future NHL captain. He was the captain of the Guelph Storm this past season, registering 30 points in 24 playoff games as he helped lead them to the OHL championship. That total was the 3rd highest in the playoffs, only trailing teammate Nick Suzuki, and Sasha Chmelevski, a 6th-round pick of San Jose. He is a player who has demonstrated his leadership skills, and unequivocally leads by example.
Though I have lauded Ratcliffe heavily, he is more likely than not to start the season in the AHL with the Phantoms. He is among Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost as candidates to take the vacant forward position on the NHL roster, though I think he is behind those two at the moment and will have to massively outplay them to earn that call-up before they do. Regardless, I think we will almost certainly see Isaac Ratcliffe in a Flyers sweater by 2020-21, and given his development so far, this is something to be very excited about.
Previously in Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2019 Top 25 Under 25:
- Intro & Honorable Mentions
- No. 25: Linus Hogberg
- No. 24: Jay O’Brien
- No. 23: Yegor Zamula
- No. 22: Felix Sandstrom
- No. 21: Robert Hagg
- No. 20: Samuel Morin
- No. 19: Mark Friedman
- No. T-17: Tanner Laczynski
- No. T-17: Samuel Ersson
- No. 16: Bobby Brink
- No. 15: Mikhail Vorobyev
- No. 14: Nicolas Aube-Kubel
- No. 13: Wade Allison
- No. 12: Cam York
- No. 11: German Rubtsov