On Monday, we opened up the summer update to our Flyers 25 Under 25 rankings with a look at the five players at the bottom of our ranking. Today, we'll continue the same exercise for the next five -- players 20 through 16.
As always, enjoy.
20. Brandon Alderson
Brandon Alderson may not have the scoring upside of the Flyers' best forward prospects, but he brings an intriguing skillset to the table and could see NHL ice time sooner than many might expect. In his first full season in the AHL, Alderson finished with 21 points (14 goals, 7 assists) in 71 games, playing mostly with Nick Cousins, Petr Straka and Derek Whitmore.
A winger with 6'4, 195 pound size and decent speed, Alderson caught the attention of the Flyers in March of 2013 while playing with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL. Alderson was both a teammate and linemate of Cousins in juniors, and apparently while keeping tabs on Cousins, Alderson impressed the Flyers brass enough to earn an entry level contract with the club.
Alderson's offensive production in his first AHL season was not terribly impressive, but his role in the NHL will most likely be that of a bottom-six forward, not a top-line scorer. And considering that Alderson was chosen as a "Black Ace" during Philadelphia's short playoff run this year, it would appear that the organization was satisfied with his overall performance in Adirondack. He'll likely begin the 2014-15 season with the Phantoms, looking to improve upon his statistics from last year and to continue to develop his all-around game, with the realistic goal of receiving an opportunity this year as an injury call-up for the big club.
-- Charlie O'Connor
19. Valeri Vasiliev
While we know the Flyers don't often go for Russian prospects in the draft, the decision to draft Valeri Vasiliev -- a defenseman ranked in the top 20 among European skaters going into the 2012 draft, yet one who nonetheless found himself still on the board in the seventh round -- looked from the outset like a decent chance to snag some value late in the draft. Since then, Vasiliev has played in chunks of two seasons at Russia's highest level, the KHL, including 36 games there this season with Spartak.
With just three points (all assists) in those 36 games, Vasiliev seems unlikely to ever develop into more than a defensively-oriented type of defenseman. Still, even without the point totals, his talents have been recognized in a couple of places -- in particular, he was chosen to Russia's World Junior team last winter.
Even if his skill develops, there's plenty of uncertainty ahead involving Vasiliev. There were rumblings from last season that the Flyers wanted to bring him to North America this year like they did with Robert Hagg, but instead he signed a two-year deal with Avangard Omsk of the KHL. He'll hopefully get more minutes there then he may have on a suddenly-crowded Lehigh Valley blue line, and will get more of a chance to develop as a player as such -- but there's the legitimate question of whether he'll opt to stay in Russia beyond those two years. Still, he'll be worth keeping an eye on from the other side of the globe.
-- Kurt R.
18. Oskar Lindblom
Lindblom is new to the 25 Under 25 list because the Flyers just drafted him. Funny how that works.
He was selected in the fifth round of the 2014 draft. At that point of the proceedings, it's a crap shoot. You could be getting the next Jamie Benn or you could be getting the next who gives a shit because they don't matter and won't make a significant impact in the NHL. Anyway, regardless of that, Lindblom seems to have been a pretty good choice by the Flyers. His scouting report alludes to powerful skating, a strong two-way game, an ability to create offensive opportunities, and general toughness. All good things, all good things.
Lindblom is the youngest of the Flyers 2014 draft class, but next year he'll be expected to play a full season in the SHL, one of the most competitive European leagues. Lindblom played four games with Brynas, registering no points, but he came away with a confidence boost which can do wonders for a kid at that age.
Ideally, Lindblom emerges with scoring touch during his season in Sweden and earns a spot with the Flyers for 2015. Realistically, though, he seems like he's a few years away from that, both with his strength and his size, and while it appears like he won't shy away from a role as a bottom-six grinder if that's what it takes to get him to the NHL, the Flyers would certainly like to see him develop his offensive skills a bit more beyond that.
-- Allison J.
17. Petr Straka
Of all of the various, uh, fliers that the Flyers have taken on undrafted free agents over the past handful of years, Petr Straka is probably one of the most interesting. A second-round draft pick of the Blue Jackets four summers ago, Straka fell out of that organization's favor with two lackluster years following his draft year, but was picked up by the Flyers in April 2013 following an outstanding overage season (82 points in 55 games) with Baie-Comeau of the QMJHL.
Straka -- a skilled player who, if he ever makes it to the NHL, will likely only fit in an offensively-oriented type of role -- had an up and down but ultimately somewhat disappointing first year with the organization. He was frequently on a line with center Nick Cousins and fellow winger Brandon Alderson (profiled above), with limited success, finishing the year under a half-point per game (27 in 60 games).
Having probably spent most of his breakout 2012-13 season punching a bit above his weight class, it's maybe not too surprising to see Straka struggle in what was surely an adjustment year for him. He's shown in juniors that he's got the skill to be a successful winger, and he's still got a chance to harness that skill and develop into an NHLer. But with him no longer having the first-year excuse in 2014-15, we're going to need to see a lot more from him this year to have any reasonable confidence that he can be a real contributor at the game's highest level.
-- Kurt R.
16. Brandon Manning
Brandon Manning is quickly approaching a crossroads in his Flyers career. He just completed his third full season with the organization, almost all of which has been spent with the Adirondack Phantoms. He's been a key member of the Phantoms, serving as an Alternate Captain each of the last two seasons. His play has also improved each year he has been with the club, with his point totals climbing from 19, to 21, to 31 points this past season.
Back in 2011-2012, Manning had a "cup of coffee" with the Flyers playing well in four games because of a rash of injuries at the NHL level. The following season, after another string of injuries with the Flyers, the team overlooked Manning, instead recalling Oliver Lauridsen. Manning was ultimately recalled to play the final six games of that season; again playing pretty well. He did not see any time in the NHL this past year.
Despite two separate short stints in the NHL and handling himself rather well, Manning has never really been given a shot at the NHL level. Now the Flyers have allowed his entry-level contract to expire without really being certain as to whether he can be an NHL depth player. He has also lost his waiver exemption after three years, meaning the Flyers would have to risk him on waivers in order to send him down. They've offered him a qualifying offer but he remains unsigned.
-- Kevin Christmann