Here we are, nearing the top of the mountain in our Flyers Top 25 Under 25, and today we’ll take a look at three guys we’re all familiar with based on the good work they’ve already done for the NHL team this year. God, isn’t it fun to know that these guys are all probably still going to get better? And there are four other guys still ahead of them on the list?
7. Philippe Myers
Primary Team/League: Philadelphia, NHL
2019-20 Stats: 4 G, 12 A in 50 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: 6
Drew (ranked him #9): Though Myers has had his ups and downs this year, I’ve largely liked what he brought to the table. He certainly has a #3 or #4 upside, and despite mistakes, by the stoppage he was looking very comfortable in his role.
Kurt (ranked him #6): I think that Myers this year has basically been what a reasonable observer would have expected from him. There’s a lot of aggression in his play, and sometimes that ends with him looking silly, but he’s capable of doing everything a defenseman is asked to do on the ice. His underlying numbers have also trended in the right direction after an uneven start to the year, and that matches up with what we’ve seen from him, I think. There is still potential for more here from Myers, but if him and Sanheim make up a well-above-average second pair for the next however-many years, that’s a pretty good outcome. The ceiling here is that he’s the top-pair right-defenseman next to Provorov for even more years to come, and that doesn’t seem out of the question given that he’s the only really obvious long-term piece the team has on defense that’s a right-handed shot. But, baby steps, leaf-eater.
Mike (ranked him #6): Myers made some real strides in what was essentially mostly his age-22 season (he turned 23 in late January). The new coaching staff embraced Myers with a jump in ice time that he earned and provided a steady pairing with Travis Sanheim. His aggressive style leads to many boom or bust plays, but they were far more good plays than bad this past season from the young defender. The best part is that he’s only 71 games into his NHL career and will continue to get better with each and every game he gets under his belt. I had him above Farabee because his ceiling is just so enormous, and the flashes we’ve seen so far only confirm that the sky is the limit for this dude.
Maddie (ranked him #9): To sort of echo what the guys have said already, I’m pleased with what Myers has been able to do in his, more or less, first full season with the big club. Yes, he makes mistakes sometimes and we wish that he would clean that up, but the physical tools he has are undeniable (and they’re a big asset to help him make up for some of those mental lapses). I think we’re seeing his game starting to even out, even if it’s just a bit, as he adjusted to playing at the NHL level. Seeing the underlying numbers improving is great, and in general, his game just seems to be trending in the right direction. The coaching staff obviously seems to trust him, and they’re putting him in the best position to succeed, so it’s just a matter of him getting more reps and working through the rougher areas of his game.
Ryan G. (ranked him #6): I was a tad higher than some on Myers because it’s pretty hard to find right-handed defensemen in today’s day and age, let alone good ones with size. That is exactly what the Flyers have in Myers. He and Travis Sanheim became a legitimate second pair behind the top pair for the Flyers throughout most of February into March, and that’s no easy task. There are obviously things that he needs to improve upon, such as some of the aforementioned small mistakes, but he is able to make up for them with his pure athletic ability and hockey skill. Sometimes he erases some of his own mistakes with his long stride and stick, and if he can minimize those mistakes of his own, perhaps he can become the more reliable defenseman on a pair and cover for his partner’s mistakes – or be a shutdown pair with Provorov. Pencil Myers in as at least a second-pair defenseman for the foreseeable future.
Kelly (ranked him #7): God I love this kid. As we’ve all said here, he makes mistakes. Sometimes a lot of them. Sometimes big, glaring ones. But that’s what happens when you play the kids; they have to go through it. And by letting Phil do that — make those mistakes in-game and learn from them — we’re seeing him develop into an outstanding second pair defender. The Myers-Sanheim pairing was a joy to watch for stretches of this past season and there’s no reason to believe it won’t be exactly that for the foreseeable, giving the Flyers some pretty insane depth on defense as the team as a whole morphs into a perennial contender.
Kyle (ranked him #6): Man do I have some mixed feelings on this kid, but there’s no denying when he’s clicking on all cylinders, he’s a treat to watch. He’s been able to use his raw speed and natural size and athleticism to make up for a lot of hockey IQ deficiencies, which has surprised me at the NHL level. He’s absolutely going to need to get better at positioning and reading more into where the puck is going rather than where it is, and do that on a consistent basis. If he can do these things, he’s going to be a dominating defenseman for years to come and be one hell of an undrafted find.
6. Joel Farabee
Primary Team/League: Philadelphia, NHL
2019-20 Stats: 8 G, 13 A in 52 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: 9
Drew (ranked him #5): The ‘Bee’, even if this is the end of the NHL season, had a very respectable rookie year. For a 19 year old, he proved he can fit in directly from college, a rare feat nowadays. I’m excited to see what Farabee can become, because oh boy it could be awesome.
Kurt (ranked him #8): I think the floor here on Farabee is really high. With what he’s already done in his NHL time, his well-rounded skillset, his tenacity, and his versatility, it’s pretty tough to imagine him not being a solid NHL contributor, and he’ll be up here in the top-10 of these rankings for as long as we’re doing them and he’s eligible. He’s passed my “look like you belong right away” sniff-test. The question here, I guess, is how good do we expect him to be long-term? There’s a wide possible range of possible outcomes here with Farabee. If you tell me he ends up tracking similarly to a Travis Konecny and looks like a legit top-line winger in two or three years, I would be ecstatic — and not be surprised at all. If he ends up being a good middle-six winger? I mean, that wouldn’t shock me either, even if it’d be a little disappointing based on what we’ve already seen from him. Nonetheless, there’s a lot to like and not a lot to dislike with Farabee, and he’s a guy that will be fun to watch in tight games like the ones we’ll see in the playoffs (please, God).
Mike (ranked him #8): There’s a lot to like in Farabee’s game and the way he transitioned to the NHL game after his lone season at Boston University was rather impressive. His hockey sense is just spectacular and you see it prop up in his game almost every night. He’s crafty on the puck and in the corners, and found creative ways to combat his slight stature in his rookie year despite being just 19 years old. Farabee can play up and down the lineup and should be an asset for the Flyers for years to come (if they ever play hockey again, of course).
Maddie (ranked him #7): I think Kurt put it perfectly, that we’ve already seen a lot of good from Farabee, and it just seems that his floor is high. He’s an NHL player, full stop, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed with just how quickly he’s made that abundantly clear. With his hockey IQ and playmaking ability, it’s just about impossible to argue that he doesn’t belong. I think he’s always going to be a bit on the lanky side, but I’d still like to see him get bigger and stronger (for his own sake, but also mine, so my whole body can stop tensing up every time he gets lined up to take a big hit), but that will come with time. And after a strong introduction to NHL play, it’ll be exciting to see where he goes from here. It’s gonna be good stuff, gang.
Ryan G. (ranked him #7): I completely agree with what everyone said, particularly Kurt and Maddie about him having a high floor and definitely being an NHL player. At worst they have a solid middle-six forward with scoring touch and hustle to his game, and at best they have another young top-six winger to build the core. He has had ups and downs, but those downs will likely be less frequent as he plays more. He’ll have more NHL experience under his belt and won’t hit the “rookie wall” as easily. His underlying stats need to improve a bit, but he has had very strong stretches where he individually creates multiple scoring chances a game. He’s an exciting young forward that will grow into a bigger role in the lineup.
Kelly (ranked him #6): What really got me with Farabee was how quickly he proved that he belongs in the NHL. It wasn’t very long before his name appeared on everyone’s “ideal lineup” roster. Like Maddie said, he could stand to fill out a bit, get a bit stronger, but the skillset is so good that even being on the skinny side didn’t really seem to slow him down too much. It’s going to be fun to watch this kid turn into something.
Kyle (ranked him #7): Cannot say enough good things about our boy Joel. I’ve loved his game ever since I was doing pre-draft scouting in his draft year, and I could not be happier this kid is a Flyer. His hockey IQ is off the charts and that in itself makes him a clear NHL’er already. When he gets older and grows stronger and can really be a pest in the corners and forecheck like a monster. That aspect of his game is arguably my favorite with him, and one I’m sure we’ll be seeing very soon as he matures.
5. Travis Sanheim
Primary Team/League: Philadelphia, NHL
2019-20 Stats: 8 G, 17 A in 69 GP
Rank in Summer 25 Under 25: 3
Drew (ranked him #8): To be honest, Sanheim is at #8 for me just due to all of the amazing contributions young players have had to the roster. Any one of the following players I voted for could easily have a case to jump up in the rankings. Sanheim’s been a great two-pair player on the back end. I thought he was really a great compliment as a more offensive defenseman for Justin Braun.
Brad (ranked him #5): While he wound up as fifth on my list, I could have easily been talked into ranking him as high as third. Among Philadelphia defenders, Sanheim had been their most productive and efficient point scorer at even strength before the season came to a screeching halt. And had he seen more time on the top power play unit, which he probably should have while Gostisbehere was sidelined, he would have likely surpassed his single-season point high in around ten fewer games. At five-on-five his relative to teammate Corsi-For differential rate ranks first among Flyers’ backs, and he sits second in the same statistic for expected goals.
Further, he also became a regular on the penalty kill, as he and Braun formed a formidable duo behind Provorov and Niskanen. While the forward additions and the overall aggressive nature of the unit were major players in the penalty kill’s revival, Sanheim and Braun replacing MacDonald and Hagg as the team’s second most common PK duo cannot be overlooked. Sanheim has really proved himself to be an all-situations defender who can do just about everything for this team.
Kelly (ranked him #3): Wow, I appear to be high on Travis Sanheim, lol. I don’t know, I’m still of the belief that in ten year’s time we’re going to look back and see that Sanheim has been the most valuable defenseman on the team. I know Ivan Provorov bounced back big-time this season and he’s clearly extremely valuable to the long-term success of the Flyers, but I personally think that a defenseman with Sanheim’s offensive ability that is also very good in his own end is just... really friggin’ great to have on your team. I also don’t think we’ve seen Sanheim’s ceiling yet. So yeah, I got to this place by putting a pretty high value on what I think Travis Sanheim will become in the long run, which was definitely A Choice. I stand by it, though.
Craig (ranked him #5): I agree with Kelly in that I don’t think we’ve seen Sanheim’s ceiling yet, which is kind of scary to think about. I think time on the top power-play unit and perhaps being a little more aggressive in the offensive zone could lead Sanheim closer to his potential, but even if those two things don’t develop he’ll be a reliable top-four d-man on Philly’s blue line for awhile. He’s only 23 years old and sometimes he might get a little overlooked because Ivan Provorov is on the same d corps, but Sanheim was the clear number three on defense this season leading effective pairs with Justin Braun and Phil Myers averaging over 20 minutes of ice time a night. There are times I wish he was more physical or in better position in defensive zone coverage, but almost every other aspect of his game is what you want in a young d-man. His mobility and skating ability in all four directions make him a threat in all three zones in all three phases of the game. His instincts in the offensive zone looked a lot better this season and I don’t see any reason why Sanheim can’t progress over the next few years and give Provorov a run for his money as the most valuable blue liner on the Flyers like Kelly threw out there.
Kurt (ranked him #5): Last summer, I was thiiiiiiiiiiis close to ranking Sanheim ahead of Ivan Provorov. I did not pull the trigger on that, and after what’s transpired this season it wasn’t as close of a decision this time around. Still, Sanheim has built on what he started last season, when he held the title of “maybe the only player on the Flyers who had an unexpectedly good 2018-19 season”. It’s interesting to me that, as Sanheim sort of ascended up the ranks within this organization, he did so as a guy who lit up the scoreboard (as much as defensemen do, at least). Not to say he hasn’t contributed his fair share offensively in the NHL — over one point per 60 at 5-on-5 is great for a defenseman and he’s done that two years in a row — but he’s a calculated risk-taker in the NHL. Frankly, he and Myers are pretty similar players at this point, with Sanheim being a better version of the kind of player we’re discussing since he’s got an extra year of experience. And like with Myers, Sanheim’s already shown to be a pretty solid NHL defenseman if he never grows at all, but it’s very much within the realm of possibility that he develops into a top-pair talent before all is said and done here.
Mike (ranked him #5): Sanheim was a popular choice here at No. 5, and it’s no surprise given his play since becoming a mainstay in the lineup last season. He might very well have topped double figures in goals had the regular season continued, and formed a strong pair with Myers up above to greatly improve the Flyers’ defense overall. The next step for Sanheim is to cement his role as a top-four defender by taking on even tougher assessments with veteran Justin Braun headed to free agency and Matt Niskanen going into his age-34 season.
Maddie (ranked him #3): Being one of the last people to drop thoughts in this section means that there real isn’t a whole lot that I have to add from a pure evaluation standpoint. Like Kelly, I’m obviously really high on Sanheim, and I think what’s driving that is that fact that we’re already seeing that he has the most well rounded skillset on the defense corps, with his offensive instincts being so distinct as well as the fact that they don’t come at the expense of the defensive side of his game. I also think that there’s still more to see from him, and I think he can hit that higher gear offensively earlier in the season—he’s admitted that a lot of his success is based around confidence, and it can take him a bit of time to really feel comfortable in a new season, which is why he can start slow—and when he does, he’s going to be just scary good. I’d like to see him get more time on the top power play unit in the future, to give him the best chance to succeed in giving his offensive game that extra jump, and as I think he’s made his prowess there pretty clear. I think there’s more that he’s able to give, and I’m really excited to see that come together.
Ryan G. (ranked him #5): Travis Sanheim is good, folks. I could see him and Myers growing together as a strong pair of two-way defensemen. They can each jump and join the rush – and they aren’t afraid to do so – while also being trusted to defend in tough situations. The difference in ranking them #6/5 was pretty negligible, and it wouldn’t be hard to see them up as high as #3/4, as some have done. The whole top six (and even seven or eight) have all shown flashes of being top-line forwards or top-pair defensemen (or a franchise goalie) – with the rest of the top 10 having close to that potential as well –, and that’s pretty crazy to think about.
Kyle (ranked him #5): Copy and paste Ryan’s first few sentences there and you have my exact thoughts on Sanheim. He’s just turned into such a perfect example of a two-way defenseman in today’s NHL and it’s been fun to watch. Sanheim was really the beginning of the plan to change how the Flyers drafted defensemen, in going with more skill than brute strength. So to see him come into his own and establish himself as a legit top four blueliner is just awesome to see, especially after how his rookie year went.
How We Voted: 7 to 5
|7||Philippe Myers||Joel Farabee||Nolan Patrick||Morgan Frost||Philippe Myers||Nolan Patrick||Joel Farabee||Joel Farabee||Nolan Patrick||Morgan Frost||Joel Farabee||Philippe Myers|
|6||Joel Farabee||Morgan Frost||Morgan Frost||Joel Farabee||Joel Farabee||Philippe Myers||Philippe Myers||Morgan Frost||Philippe Myers||Philippe Myers||Nolan Patrick||Joel Farabee|
|5||Travis Sanheim||Travis Sanheim||Joel Farabee||Travis Sanheim||Travis Konecny||Travis Sanheim||Travis Sanheim||Travis Konecny||Travis Sanheim||Travis Sanheim||Travis Sanheim||Travis Sanheim|