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2019-20 Philadelphia Flyers prospect review: Mikhail Vorobyev

Two steps forward, one step back? One step forward, one step back? What’s happening here?

Heather Barry / SB Nation

We’re back to talking about the forward prospects after taking a little break to talk about out one (1) defenseman prospect still with the Phantoms, and we’re getting right back into the swing of it. Let’s talk about Mikhail Vorobyev!

It’s no secret that Vorobyev has increasingly become a polarizing prospect, based on the skill he’s shown in his professional career so far, but that’s all sort of messy and we’re going to be focusing, of course, just on his time with the Phantoms this year, and perhaps the good news there is that that time was overwhelmingly good. Vorobyev came back for his third season with the team, and while it wasn’t perfect (as we’ll get into in a bit) he still made some progress and was able to help the team pretty consistently, and that still gives us a lot to like.

By the numbers

Basic Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM SOG SH%
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM SOG SH%
45 12 16 28 34 72 16.7

Looking first at these scoring numbers, we can feel pretty good about them. His 28 points in 45 games might sound sort of just fine in a vacuum, but it was good for fourth in overall scoring on the team. Offense was a bit of a struggle for the Phantoms this season, to say the least, but Vorobyev proved to be one of their more consistent offensive contributors—his longest stretch without a point at any time this season was six games (right at the end), and before that the next closest was a couple of three game stretches. And this maybe shouldn’t be a surprise, knowing as we do what his offensive instincts can be, the shot he has (when he uses it) and his prowess as a play maker, but this consistency is still really hard to oversell, taking context into consideration.

It’s also worth noting that his shooting percentage from this season feels a little high (though not that much higher than the 15.2 percent and 13.6 percent in his last two seasons), so while we might expect for that to come down just a little bit, we also can’t say that these results are well beyond being sustainable.

5v5 On-Ice Stats

Corsi For Corsi Against Corsi For% Corsi For% Relative Scoring Chances For% Goals For Goals Against Goals For%
Corsi For Corsi Against Corsi For% Corsi For% Relative Scoring Chances For% Goals For Goals Against Goals For%
463 468 49.73 1.73 45.94 25 25 50

And now we’re on to the shot metrics, and we’re got some somewhat curious results. The shot attempt differential is just a bit below break even, but still well enough about the team average, but the shot quality impacts (SCF% and HDCF%) are where things sort of fall off, and this doesn’t really line up with what we’ve come to know about Vorobyev as a player. We know he has strong defensive instincts, and we know that he had been one of their more consistent play drivers in his first two seasons with the team, so this feels like something of an anomaly. We know that the team overall was really struggling, giving up a lot of dangerous shots this season, and this likely played a part in the dip in Vorobyev’s numbers. But the fact remains that he wasn’t quite the force that he had been in his shot impacts this season, and that’s worth noting.

5v5 Neutral Zone Stats

Entry Attempts Entries Controlled Entry% Possession Entry% Exit Attempts Exits Controlled Exit%
Entry Attempts Entries Controlled Entry% Possession Entry% Exit Attempts Exits Controlled Exit%
120 107 56.07 70.09 107 102 66.67

And then after that bit of a downer section, we’re right back into the positive. Looking at the numbers for the 24 games I have tracked for Vorobyev, he’s proven himself to be one of the team’s best forwards in transition. His Controlled Entry% is good for fourth among forwards (behind Morgan Frost, German Rubtsov, and Gerry Fitzgerald), and well above the 48.93 percent average for forwards, and his Possession Entry% is good for fifth on the team. He also generated a lot of entries (averaging 4.45 per game over that 24 game sample, which is about double what the forwards are averaging per game), which means that the Phantoms are generally in good position to move the puck into the offensive zone with control when Vorobyev is on the ice. His Controlled Exit% is solid as well (above the average for both the team and for forwards), and while that isn’t an area that we give quite as much weight to as the entries, as forwards aren’t leading the bulk of the breakouts, it’s still nice to see that Vorobyev’s transition stat line is well rounded.

Three burning questions

1. Did Vorobyev live up to our expectations this season?

This was a a somewhat unexpectedly tough question. Because, generally, I feel pretty good about Vorobyev’s season overall—he was one the Phantoms’ most consistent forwards during his time with them, and on a team as inconsistent as they could be, that goes a long way. But talking with our pal Brad about it, he didn’t feel as good about his season, and attributed that to some higher expectations. And I think that’s fair. Even before this season, we saw stretches of Vorobyev already looking dominant at the AHL level, and that really felt like no small feat after only two years in the league, and it was fair to expect that he would take another step forward this season towards even more complete dominance of play at this level. But we got a step forward in one area and a bit of a step back in another, and maybe that all works out to a wash, and maybe a wash is falling short of your expectation. I think I wanted to see him continuing to be a strong play driver for the team, which we didn’t quite get, but at the same time the offensive contributions, relatively speaking, were a bit more than I was expecting as well. So our answer to that comes down to a somewhat imprecise “sort of.” So it goes.

2. What do we expect from Vorobyev next season?

Next season is going to be an interesting one! Vorobyev will have to clear waivers to be assigned to the Phantoms, and while that hasn’t seemed to be something that scares Fletcher (as he sent Nic Aube-Kubel through waivers to start last season), but it is still a bit of a risk, and worth remembering. There figure to be a couple of spots open for the prospects to compete for, and Vorobyev will certainly be in the mix, but what he does in camp will obviously decide where he starts the season. And given how his play at the NHL level has been pretty inconsistent, it’s hard to feel confident making any predictions about whether he makes the team out of camp, because we don’t know which Vorobyev we’re going to get. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if we did see him with the Phantoms at some point, and in that case I expect him to continue to look dominant at the AHL level, but at the same time I do expect that he’ll get another look with the Flyers, another chance to see if he’ll pull it all together and finally stick.

3. What would we like to see Vorobyev to improve on?

Sticking just with his play at the AHL level, there really isn’t much at this point that we need to see him improving on. He remains one of their best penalty killers. He found some real scoring consistency this season. The transition numbers were solid. The shot impacts were somewhat uncharacteristically middling, but that’s an area where we’ve seen him succeed in the past, and we feel confident enough that those numbers will regress back upwards, perhaps with a team that isn’t getting so consistently buried night in and night out. But maybe that’s our piece that we’ll pinpoint for improvement—we want to see him continue to be consistent in those other areas, but also have the shot impacts improve back to their more or less expected levels.