We kicked off our Flyers 25 Under 25 update yesterday, giving an introduction to the series as well as our first three players in the countdown. We continue on today with players 22 through 20.
22. Samuel Ersson
Primary Team/League: Brynäs IF, SHL
2019-20 Stats: .895 SV%, 2.90 GAA in 35 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: T-17
Drew (did not rank): In fairness, I didn’t rank Ersson because I don’t know much about him. Just from judging him on stats alone, I’d be hesitant of that save percentage, but yet again he is only 20 years old, and in his first SHL season. He likely can improve, but how long are we going to wait? This is especially pertinent when there are a slew of young goaltenders already in North America.
Maddie (ranked him #13): I’m obviously a big fan of Ersson, and apparently the biggest of all of our staff voters! Wow! Anyway, projecting goaltenders scares me a little bit, but as a more technical goalie (that is, in the vein of Carter Hart, rather than Felix Sandstrom who’s more athletic), that at least doesn’t scare me as much. And I think there’s been a lot to like about what he’s done since he was drafted. He put up a .933 save percentage in the Allsvenskan as an 18/19 year old, which was pretty phenomenal. Making the jump to the SHL as a goaltender at age 19/20 is no small feat, it’s really impressive in and of itself. Yes, an .895 SV% isn’t stellar, but he really isn’t getting much help from his teammates—Brynas is 12th of 14 teams in the SHL standings, and has given up the third most shot attempts and fourth most unblocked shots this season, which will certainly make things difficult on your goaltender. Which is all just to say that he’s had a pretty tough go, and he’s doing pretty well, all things considered. He had a tough start to the season, but he’s improving—so much so that he’d taken over the starting job, again, at age 20—and that’s what we like to see. I think it’ll be at least one more season before we see him make the jump to North America, but he’s one who I think is worth being high on.
Mike (did not rank): Goalies are so darn weird, man. After Ersson looked to be turning a corner a season ago (.933 save percentage) in an albeit lower Swedish league, he just up in completion and looked overmatched to the tune of a goals-against near 3.0 and a sub-.900 save percentage. Given how hard goalies are to project, and especially the European ones, it’s not a shock to see Ersson yo-yo in the rankings here. For the record the only goalie outside of Carter Hart I voted for this time around was Ivan Fedotov at #24.
Craig (ranked him #17): Working off what Maddie said, I think his jump from the Allsvenskan to the SHL at age 20 is huge even if his numbers weren’t that impressive. Prospects overall are difficult to predict success at the highest level and goalies are even more difficult, but it’s hard not to get a little excited about what Ersson has done since he’s been drafted based on where he was selected.
Kurt (ranked him #24): I would like to second Mike’s sentiment about goalies. Really, they should be abolished because they just cause us lots of pain and confusion. (Except for Carter Hart, of course. He’s a good hockeyman.) Still, numbers do need necessary context, and it’s possible Ersson’s big numbers last year and his worse ones this year both fail to tell the whole story. You’d like to see him perform better this year than he has, but I’d be lying if I said I watched a ton of Brynas hockey to know if he’s played better or worse than his poor numbers would indicate, and folks who pay attention to goalie prospects seem to like him. I ranked him a bit lower than the average because I distrust goalies in general, but we’ll give him some more time.
Ryan G. (ranked him #20): Most of my reasoning has already been stated above by others, but I view Ersson as a goalie with a lot of potential. And how can you not love a Flyers prospect playing for Brynas?
Kelly (did not rank): He was like, 26, 27 for me. I think there’s a solid chance this guy turns into a solid NHL goaltender, but goalies are witchcraft, so there’s probably also a solid chance he doesn’t. He’s done well in international comp, he does okay in the SHL, but this go-around I just decided to rank the goalies already playing in the org ahead of him.
Kyle: (ranked him #23): I probably would have ranked him higher, but as pretty much everyone has said, goalies are voodoo and they’re basically impossible to project. His stats definitely aren’t the greatest but for a 20 year old in the top league in Sweden, I think it’s also fair to say he could be doing much worse. At this point, let’s just hope he doesn’t turn out like how Felix Sandstrom is turning out right now.
21. Mikhail Vorobyev
Primary Team/League: Lehigh Valley, AHL
2019-20 Stats: 12 G, 16 A in 45 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: 15
Drew (ranked him #13): This again falls under my “played in the pros” rule, but 21 is definitely where Vorobyev belongs. He’s proven himself to be a more than capable AHL talent, yet at the NHL level simply can’t put it together. From what I’ve seen of him in the AHL, he looks fantastic, but then he looks invisible with the Flyers. He clearly has skill but I wish he could figure it out at the pro level.
Maddie (ranked him #16): I think a lot of us have soured on Vorobyev this season. And this is understandable, because we keep seeing flashes of how good he can be, but we’re still just not seeing him putting it all together. I really don’t want to just straight up give up on him, because he does still have all of the tools to be successful at the NHL level. But he’s also in a tough position because he’s going to be turning 24 next season and there are a ton of other forwards in the pipeline who are also gunning for jobs with the Flyers. And maybe he shows up for camp next season and suddenly he’s got it all together, and if that’s the case, it’s not hard to imagine him vaulting over some other guys on the depth chart, but he has to get there first.
Brad (ranked him #23): Firstly, I believe Vorobyev is my biggest faller since the Summer edition of the T25U25, so I too have soured on him a bit. But secondly, he turned 23 this season, and he is the same age as [spoiler alert] no. 20 on this list, David Kase, who we as a collective still see as this young up-and-comer. So yes, he’s dropped on my list, and probably many others, but I’m not ready to give up on him becoming an NHL player. Do I feel it’s as likely as I had before? No, but I still love his skill set and still think he could be a third line center and plus-penalty killer in this league. I’m just not sure how many more shots he’s going to get here in Philadelphia.
Mike (ranked him #22): Voro is like the Tinder date that ghosts you the first time, but then keeps messaging you and saying that they’re sorry and they won’t do it again. Pro tip: don’t fall for it, they’re just going to ghost you again.
Craig (ranked him #18): I’m with Brad in that I think Vorobyev was my biggest faller from the Summer, where I had him 13th. I also agree with Brad (big fan of your Vorobyev blurb, Brad) that although a lot of us have turned on Vorobyev this season that he is still only 23 years old. There are a lot of big question marks surrounding his game (producing or driving play at the NHL level, noticeable miscues in defensive coverage), but in theory he could still turn it around. I’m leaning towards no, but you never know.
Kurt (ranked him #20): I wrote the following in our Slack channel this past weekend. I’ll give you readers one guess what player it’s about.
I just ... I don’t know. I wanted to not rank him, which seems excessive because I 100% know he’s already achieved more than other guys we have on this countdown ever will. He’s been a consistently good player for the Phantoms, and he clearly has skill. Is he just not able to carry those up to the next level? Does he just not give a shit? Things like this happen too often for me to say he has what it takes to make it in this league:
Hard to imagine something that will infuriate a coach more than Vorobyev committing a trip in a tied third period and then coasting to the loose puck, not getting to it in time, and letting Anaheim get 30 extra seconds with an extra attacker.— Kurt (@Kurt_BSH) December 30, 2019
He just disappears as soon as he steps on the ice with that Flyers logo on his sweater, and it seems like he’s come close to wearing out his welcome with Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault. Which really sucks! Because I’m fairly confident that he has a higher ceiling than basically everyone else that we have discussed or will discuss that has been on the Flyers’ carousel of fourth-liners this year. But some guys just don’t hit their ceiling, and Vorobyev at his floor is a pretty miserable player to watch and frankly just not an NHLer.
Ryan G. (did not rank): Hm, apparently I pulled down the average on this one. Vorobyev keeps playing well in the AHL and impressing enough to get a chance in the NHL, but never lives up to the hype. Whether it be his work ethic, style, or just not being able to condense his game, he hasn’t been able to put it together for the Flyers. He definitely still has time and potential, and I probably should’ve put him somewhere in the 20s, but he’s teased us too much. He’d probably be a bit higher if he had yet to get a chance with the Flyers, which is a shame.
Kelly (ranked him #22): I feel attacked by Mike’s assessment of Misha and also I 100% agree.
Kyle: (did not rank): Ryan, hello! I’m just over this guy if we’re being entirely honest. Every single time he gets a shot he does everything in his power to blow it and get his ass sent back to Lehigh. It’s like clockwork at this point with the Voro timeline.
- Dominates preseason, makes roster
- Looks like garbage as soon as he gets here, gets sent down shortly thereafter
- Dominates the AHL, looks like he’s got it figured out
- Chokes again at the NHL level, gets sent down again
There are some players who have the talent to make NHL rosters but simply do not have the ability to shine in limited opportunities. We’ve seen what Scott Laughton has done with his career, being a former first overall pick, but dedicating himself to being an absolutely lethal bottom sixer. Misha clearly just doesn’t have that in him, and he’s not good enough to be in the top six. So for me, that keeps him off my rankings.
20. David Kase
Primary Team/League: Lehigh Valley, AHL
2019-20 Stats: 7 G, 12 A in 51 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: Unranked
Drew (ranked him #17): Kase didn’t look bad in his short stint with the Flyers. I liked that he played with so much energy and drive for such a small forward, and I certainly think he could have a Nicolas Aube-Kubel type impact if he were to get more NHL game time. He shows just how much depth the Flyers have in their prospect pool at both the AHL and Juniors/College level. Now all that’s left to do is trade for Ondrej and have a brothers line!
Maddie (ranked him #19): If you’ve been keeping up with my Phantoms coverage, you know this already, but I love David Kase. I just think he’s so fun, kind of my ideal energy player—brings a lot of energy through speed and tenacity, and also has the skill to chip in offensively, to boot. I think, the way the game is trending, we’re moving into an era where your depth players don’t have to be big grinders anymore, where they can look more like Kase. He still has some work to do at the AHL level in smoothing out his game, but he’s making good strides—working on his consistency and his play away from the puck, as well as turning himself into a better play driver—and I think he has the potential to be a good utility player for the Flyers in the future. I think he certainly has NHL upside.
Brad (ranked him #19): Maddie put it well; Kase is an energetic, fun player to watch who has speed for days. He saw NHL time — while limited, still NHL time — in just his second season in North America, and his stock is clearly on the upswing. While his point totals dropped, I do still think Kase showed growth from last season to now. He was one of the team’s best play drivers this year, had the third-best penalty differential, and is a really creative player. I’d venture to guess that he becomes a Weal-type, ie., a bottom-sixer who can play spot duty when an injury occurs in the top-six, but might not be a part of the everyday lineup. In my opinion that’s the safe bet, but his ceiling is definitely a bit higher than that. He impressed me this season.
Mike (did not rank): Kase has some NHL tools for sure in terms of speed, tenacity, etc. The thing is I’d ideally like to see more tangible production from those tools especially at the AHL level since the NHL is littered with guys who have speed, energy, and lit up the score sheet in the A. That said, Kase just finished up his (truncated) second season in North America, so he’s still figuring out the game stateside and should see more results as his comfort level goes up with experience. He just missed my rankings, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him jump up if we get back to playing hockey this fall at some point.
Craig (ranked him #24): I agree with Mike: Kase has some good NHL tools, but I’d have a lot more confidence in his game if he had produced a little more in his minimal action at the highest level. I think his speed and hands will get him another look (or two), but if he wants to stay up in the NHL he has to produce more.
Kurt (ranked him #21): It’s mildly interesting to me that Kase ended up ahead of Bunnaman and Twarynski, two guys who have had pretty similar North American careers to him and probably profile out as having a similar overall impact. Feels like with fourth-line types, the devil you know isn’t in fact better than the one you don’t — we didn’t have enough time to get bored of him the way we did the others. That all sounded overly negative, so to change my tone: I liked him in his time with the Flyers, more than I thought I would. He played the kind of game you want to see from a fourth-liner, and the fact that the Flyers were willing to put him there despite not fitting the traditional fourth-liner’s build, we’ll call it, suggests that they like what he can bring to the table. I don’t know what the path back to the NHL looks like for him in this organization, but I wouldn’t mind giving him a bit more time to see if we can manage to not get bored of him.
Ryan G. (did not rank): This is one of the players I didn’t rank that, in hindsight, I should have. Kase has the speed and talent to play at the NHL level, and he showed that during his short stint with the Flyers this season. He’d likely be in the mix more for the Flyers’ bottom six had they not made moves for veterans (Tyler Pitlick, Michael Raffl, and then the deadline additions). Out of the players I didn’t rank, I believe in Kase the most and, as said above, I think with time he’ll get another chance to shine.
Kelly (ranked him #19): I like this dude. I thought he looked good in the small number of minutes he’s gotten with the Flyers and oh man does he have wheels. It’s fun to watch. Like Brad said, projecting him to end up as a Jordan Weal-type seems reasonable. Not a bad option to have in the toolbox.
Kyle (ranked him #22): Kase was someone I didn’t know a ton about, but as soon as he got his brief stint earlier this season, I immediately understood why he got a look. He’s a speedster and could be a pain in the ass to play against in the bottom six. Imagine a line of Kase — Laughton — NAK, like my goodness the havoc that line would wreak. He seems like, and I’m kinda sorry to keep ragging on the dude, but the opposite of Vorobyev. He makes the most out of limited time on ice and that’s vital for a bottom six player.
How We Voted: 22 to 20
|22||Wyatt Kalynuk||Felix Sandstrom||Ronnie Attard||Samuel Ersson||Mikhail Vorobyev||Wade Allison||David Kase||Olle Lycksell||Mikhail Vorobyev||Linus Hogberg||Kirill Ustimenko||David Kase|
|21||Samuel Ersson||Tanner Laczynski||Wade Allison||Mikhail Vorobyev||Wade Allison||David Kase||Linus Hogberg||Jay O'Brien||Wyatte Wylie||Tanner Laczynski||Egor Zamula||Tanner Laczynski|
|20||Connor Bunnaman||Noah Cates||Bobby Brink||Olle Lycksell||Bobby Brink||Mikhail Vorobyev||Wyatte Wylie||Bobby Brink||Samuel Morin||Samuel Ersson||Wyatt Kalynuk||Jay O'Brien|