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Grading the Flyers’ call-ups and debuts

Grades for all!

New Jersey Devils v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

We’re bringing this to a close, folks! Over the last little bit, we broke down the performances of the Flyers players by position and handed out some grades, but we haven’t gotten to everyone just yet. The Flyers had a handful of prospects who either made their debuts this season or were called up from the Phantoms, and don’t really fit neatly into any of our earlier categories of “guy who played a role in one distinct section of the lineup for a significant period of time.” And we’d hate to see any of them left out, so we’re here to hand out some grades for them and talk about, well, why it matters. Let’s get into it!

All stats via Natural Stat Trick.

David Kase

1 GP, 0 P, 41.95 CF%, .69 xGF%

Grade: C-

We’ve got the smallest of samples here, as we dip into Kase’s one (1) game played this season. The numbers for that game are pretty poor, and those are what they are, but it’s also true that Kase brought some positive flashes—he’s strong on the forecheck with good speed and energy, and that’s part of his game that’s already looked to translate to the NHL level. A mixed bag of a single game, but we can still take some positives from it.

Egor Zamula

2 GP, 0 P, 53.09 CF%, 54.69 xGF%

Grade: B

Zamula had a particularly difficult task of making the jump to the NHL level, joining a defense corps that’s been a bit of a disaster for most of the season, when the season was all but over and the team was struggling mightily. All that said, Zamula took the opportunity in stride and overall had a solid debut. He didn’t bring a ton of flash—but did still provide some really nice passing plays—and he still has some work to do to get fully to NHL readiness (between size and strength and some risk management areas), but at the same time, he didn’t really look out of place, and had a quietly very solid pair of games before being sent back to Lehigh Valley.

Morgan Frost

2 GP, 0 P, 53.48 CF%, 51.61 xGF%

Grade: B

There’s really no other way to put it—it was a really rough season for Frost*. When Sean Couturier went down with injury, he had a chance to make an impression and carve out a more permanent position for himself in the lineup, and he had one game, and then suffered a season ending shoulder injury early in the second. Frost isn’t entirely new to the NHL level, so him looking solid and comfortable in his first full game wasn’t much of a surprise, and perhaps makes it feel even worse that he wasn’t able to keep that momentum rolling, and us given a chance to see what he can really do.

*Frost made the team out of camp so he doesn’t fit into our call-up or debut categories, but I made the categories, I can break them too. Moving on.

Maksim Sushko

2 GP, 0 P, 52.43 CF%, 29.24 xGF%

Grade: C

It feels like a thousand years ago at this point, but Sushko did indeed make his NHL debut this season. He didn’t get a whole lot of playing time, but he was very much solidly fine in his pair of games. The Flyers seem to live the steadiness mixed with the bit of physicality of his game (something they were likely also looking for in the outdoor game against the Bruins), and he did deliver in that department. Not a whole ton else going on there, but it’s still something.

Cam York

3 GP, 0 P, 45.22 CF%, 34.52 xGF%

Grade: B+

York, too, made the jump to the NHL level and debuted in the mess that was the Flyers defense corps, but he too made a pretty immediate strong impression. He was able to keep up well with the pace and physicality of play (getting a handful of games in with the Phantoms as an introduction to the professional game certainly helped), and the hallmark elements of his games, smooth skating and strong passing, translated pretty immediately. The biggest standout, of course, was his impact on the power play—he wasn’t rewarded with any points, but he was calm and effective in running the power play from the point, was quick and able to make some good keeps at the blue line, and was decisive and precise in distributing the puck. It was, well, it was both a treat and a welcome change from what we saw from the power play all season.

In short, he gave the team a real boost in his time with them, and that leaves us with a lot of optimism for what he’ll be able to do next season.

Jackson Cates

4 GP, 1 A, 1 P, 43 CF%, 53.94 xGF%

Grade: B-

Signed as soon as his season with UMD was over, Cates had the added challenge of jumping straight to the NHL without the benefit of any AHL games as something of a professional first baby step. That considered, he made the jump look pretty seamless and was able to hit the ground running with the Flyers. He was only given fourth line minutes to work with, and while he didn’t bring a terribly high event style of play, he did well in his role and provided a certain steadiness in his game.

Tanner Laczynski

5 GP, 0 P, 43.29 CF%, 50.59 xGF%

Grade: B+

After a really solid run of games with the Phantoms after his return from an early season injury, Laczynski was rewarded with a call-up to the Flyers, and he certainly impressed in his brief showing before he went down with injury again. He brought good energy and showed really strong playmaking flashes, bringing quite a bit more jump to the Flyers’ bottom six than we’d seen in a bit, and looked flat out threatening. Really, he did just about everything right, but couldn’t seem to find the back of the net (which, in truth, is just how his season with the Phantoms started—playing a well-rounded game, details taken care of, snakebitten until he was finally able to break through). The scoring will certainly come, that’s not a concern, and Laczynski showed a lot of potential, and an easy fit into the Flyers’ lineup.

Wade Allison

14 GP, 4 G, 3 A, 7 P, 51.76 CF%, 57.95 xGF%

Grade: A

Allison, of course, was little short of a revelation for the Flyers through the end of the season. And while he did prove to be a little bit streaky with the scoring (which is perhaps to be expected) he still did a lot of things right, and injected quite a bit of energy and fun into a team that was sorely in need of it. All of what makes him effective—his energy, his quick release, and his readiness to go to the dirty areas for goals—was clicking right off the bat as he made to jump from the AHL, and that was really encouraging to see. It wasn’t a perfect run of games, but that was never the expectation. The fact remains that Allison did some really solid work to close out the season, and it should have but him comfortably in the mix for a permanent roster spot, come next season.

What does it mean!

As we mentioned already, these are some really small samples that we’re working with here, so while giving grades is a fun exercise, we’re also not giving them a ton of weight, in the grand scheme of things. So why are we here? Why are we doing this? What does it all mean?

Well, the big takeaway here is that the Flyers still have a wealth of prospects in the system who got a look with the big club this season, and that experience is going to benefit them greatly, especially as we consider that we’re likely to see at least a few of them quite soon. Allison’s play really should have solidified him a spot on the opening night roster, barring some kind of absolutely disastrous training camp situation. Frost and Laczynski have brought some strong flashes, and absolutely should be in the conversation for earning spots on the team out of camp. York looks NHL ready (and ready to help boost this struggling power play, to boot), and Zamula isn’t too terribly far behind. We saw viable depth options aplenty this season, and there may well be even more waiting in the wings. This season was bleak for a lot of reasons, but we’re trying for optimism heading into the next one, and the fun prospect options ready to make the jump sure are a good place to start.