PHILADELPHIA, Pa – The Philadelphia Flyers are back in action and are ready for their push towards the playoffs. The Flyers were playing well before the break, mainly due to the fact that their goaltender, Steve Mason, started playing like the goaltender that earned himself a contract extension with the team. The trade deadline is fast approaching and Lord knows that the Flyers are known for making at least one deadline deal.
General Manager Paul Holmgren has to keep one eye on the future as well as the present. Despite needing a top flight defenseman, the Flyers have to keep in mind that they have some of the best defensive prospects in years right in their own farm system. They are also in dire need for offense. Some help could come when Scott Laughton ends his major junior career later this spring.
Sometimes the best risks are the ones not taken. For once the Flyers need to stop looking outside there organization for answers. Here is a look at some of the top prospects in the Flyers system and why they should, for once, pass on trading prospects for quick fixes.
Forwards: Tye McGinn, Nick Cousins, Scott Laughton, and Tyler Leier.
Laughton is easily the Flyers top forward prospect. At the time of this article Laughton was 11th overall in OHL scoring with 37 goals and 43 assists in 48 games for the Oshawa Generals who are currently in first place in the Eastern Conference so it wouldn’t be a shock if the Generals went on a long playoff run. In fact it could go longer then the Flyers playoff run so don’t get too excited to see him in a Flyers jersey this season.
Cousins is having a very bad season in the AHL and might have gone from top prospect to average prospect at best. McGinn might be the first call-up since he has already spent time with the big boys and has done well every time. He could be a keeper come next season especially since the Flyers are in need of left wing help, especially if a major trade is made with Scott Hartnell involved.
Leier is a very interesting prospect. A former 4th round pick who is currently playing for the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL, has improved his goal scoring totals all 3 seasons in Portland. What is also impressive is that he made the squad for Team Canada at this year’s World Juniors. You can bet that Leier and McGinn will get a long look come training camp in the fall.
The bottom line: Unless a trade occurs where he is moved as part of a large package Laughton will be a Flyers, not only come next season but for many years to come. He is the perfect Flyer who can play both ways. McGinn and Leier could both make the squad next season but our gut feeling is McGinn will make the big club while Leier will spend at least one season in the AHL before he makes it up to South Philly.
Defensemen: Samuel Morin, Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Oliver Lauridsen, and Colin Suellentrop.
Morin, Gostisbehere, and Hagg are all considered to be a huge part of the Flyers future on the blueline. The only problem with that lovely little theory is that the Flyers have never, ever trusted kids when it comes to the draft. This time around it might be different.
Morin and Gostisbehere are the givens to make the roster but Hagg, who was drafted in the second round last June has first round talent which is why the Flyers jumped at the chance to take him. Lauridsen finally got the chance to play at the end of last season and really opened people’s eyes. Suellentrop is a current teammate of Laughton’s at Oshawa and is in his 5th season there so expect him to play at least one season in the minor before being promoted one day to the big club.
The bottom line: The future looks very bright for the Flyers providing they are patient AND are willing to start trusting their scouting staff. The Flyers need to stop trading away prospect and listen to the staff who see these players on a regular basis. The blueline should be in good hands starting next season.
Goaltenders: Anthony Stolarz. As of now there is no other name if the Flyers organization that is getting the attention in net other than Stolarz. With Mason and Ray Emery already in tow Stolarz can just spend as much quality time in net as he wants and needs. If Emery decides to move on next season, Stolarz could become the backup to Mason but the Flyers aren’t known for having two players in their 20’s in net, but this could become quite a tandem the way Bernier and Quick were in Los Angeles.
The bottom line: The future looks bright but only if Stolarz becomes the player the Flyers thought he was when he was drafted in the second round in 2012. If not it is back to the drawing board for a team that is begging for someone to take the reins in net. Mason might be the real deal but who knows about after this season.