We've reached the top ten! Some of the higher-profile names in the summer update to our Flyers 25 Under 25 series will be showing up in today's post. Click here for players 25-21, click here for players 20-16, and click here for players 15-11.
10. Travis Sanheim
For the second year in a row the Flyers drafted a defenseman in the first round that rocketed up draft boards late in the year. In 2013 it was Samuel Morin and in 2014 it was Travis Sanheim. The lanky, 6'3" 181 pound defenseman went from Central Scoutings 167th ranked North American skater in the mid-term to 53rd in their final rankings. TSN's Craig Button even had Sanheim as his 8th ranked player overall.
Sanheim is a player with size that also has impressive mobility and puck skills. He flew under the radar coming into his first season in the Western Hockey League. According to Bill Meltzer, he started slowly with three points in his first 21 games; but he really came along as the season progressed and his role grew with him. He finished with 26 points over his last 46 games, totaling 29 in 67 games.
Sanheim also had an exceptional 2014 IIHF Under 18 World Championships for Team Canada. He led all defenseman in scoring in the tournament, and coaches named him one of team Canada's three best players in the tournament.
-- Kevin Christmann
9. Jason Akeson
Jason Akeson has some of the most unfortunate luck of anybody in the Flyers system. I mean, there's no doubt the dude has talent: he's the Phantoms all-time leading scorer, and he was truly one of the Flyers best players in the playoff series with the Rangers last season, aside from that unfortunate penalty he took in Game 1 that cost the team.
Akeson has played exactly two regular season NHL games with the Flyers: the season finale in 2013 and the season finale in 2014. For whatever reason, he's sat around and waited while other players like Chris VandeVelde, for example, earn call ups.
But he's proven every time he's been called up that he can play, and that he's a versatile player who can no doubt play on the top line with Claude Giroux, on the third line with Sean Couturier, or be a responsible alternative on the fourth line. His Flyers career and his NHL career depends on him getting more of a chance this coming season as a call up, and I really hope he's higher on the list than he was in previous years. He deserves a long look with the Flyers.
-- Travis Hughes
8. Anthony Stolarz
Stolarz is still unquestionably the Flyers' best goaltending prospect. After his meteoric rise through juniors, he's been playing very well on one of the OHL's most consistently great teams, the London Knights. He hasn't looked back since.
In January when we were completing our initial 25 Under 25, Stolarz had just recently been the victim of a pretty scary injury. He took a skate to the back of the leg and while it was definitely gruesome and concerning for him as a person and as a player, he underwent a complete rehabilitation within only a couple months and was even able to backstop the Knights in their most recent playoff push.
Stolarz is big, so he covers a lot of net and doesn't give skaters much to shoot at. He's also mobile for his size, which is only helping him. He controls the puck well, he plays a good positional game, and least importantly but definitely most fun to talk about, he's feisty as all hell.
Stolarz has a record for being a bit confrontational. Confrontational is a kind word, though. His slash to the head of Josh Ho-Sang last year was well documented and the eight-game suspension that followed was as well. And on a separate occasion, he and Knights teammate Michael McCarron got into a fight during a practice. The fight was featured in a documentary series called "Quest for the Cup" that focused on the Knights through their season last year (around the 34-minute mark). Seems like it was just a run of the mill type teammate scuffle, but it still says something about the type of guy Stolarz is: very intense when on the ice.
I mean, I'm not saying he's the next Ron Hextall, but I'm also not not saying that he's the next Ron Hextall. Look out for big things coming from Stolarz in the future.
-- Allison J.
7. Robert Hagg
Robert Hagg may not have the blinding speed of Shayne Gostisbehere, the mammoth size and reach of Sam Morin, or the "shiny new toy" appeal of Travis Sanheim, but he does bring a trait to the table that is unique among the Flyers' top D prospects - professional experience. Hagg, still only 19 years old, spent two seasons playing against men in the Swedish Hockey League before signing an entry-level contract in March and coming to North America for the tail end of the Adirondack Phantoms season.
Hagg made an immediate impact. While the defenseman struggled to post points in the SHL in 2013-14 (one goal and five assists in 50 games), it was a totally different story in Adirondack. In only ten games, Hagg posted a goal and three assists - nearly matching his Swedish league totals in less than a month of AHL play. Hagg has repeatedly expressed his preference for the more physical, faster-paced North American style of hockey, and while the sample remains small, Hagg's early returns are certainly promising.
While Hagg will almost definitely be given a chance to earn his way onto the Flyers' roster during camp, the odds are that he will start the season in Lehigh Valley, where he will look to build upon his late season success. Expect the Phantoms' coaching staff to focus on improving Hagg's consistency, a flaw in his game that has been identified by both scouts and Hagg himself. If he fixes that issue, Hagg could easily become the first of Flyers' top defense prospects to see time in Philadelphia.
-- Charlie O'Connor
6. Luke Schenn
Schenn has a hell of a face. Really good face. I'd say top five on the team. Very handsome. A+, face wise.
As for the hockey side of things, well...it's fair to say that the James van Riemsdyk wound still hasn't healed, and while Schenn might still not be getting an unbiased look by fans, considering what the Flyers lost in that trade, Schenn's performance over the past half season probably hasn't given you great reason for optimism.
With a defense as rocky as the Flyers, having Luke Schenn continue to develop and maybe even prosper alongside a steadying force would be really, really great. Schenn is still young and obviously there's still time for him to turn things around, that much is true. But at 24 years old, Luke Schenn is a defenseman who, after bright beginnings, just hasn't proven to be what the Flyers must have seen in him.
You're always going to have glimmers of what Luke Schenn should be (like this absolutely breathtaking stretch pass and his excellent work on the penalty kill), but it seems like, for the most part, we can all stop discussing what Schenn is going to be. He's going to be a middling defenseman if he's paired with a reliable player and a struggling defenseman when paired with a player of his own caliber. Perhaps that's a bit bleak, but I think it's the reality of the situation.
It's fine to be optimistic, I think, to hope that he learned from this setback season and he'll move forward and continue to progress, but I'm not an optimist for Luke Schenn.
-- Allison J.