Since he returned to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2013 after a successful stint as an assistant general manager with the Los Angeles Kings, Ron Hextall has been a man with a plan. That plan: to acquire and stockpile as much young talent as possible. There’s little doubt that Hextall has accomplished his goal, as many feel that the Flyers have the best prospect pool in the entire NHL. But, it wasn’t easy. In their push for youth the Flyers have acquired an additional 18 draft picks during Hextall’s run, several of whom figure to be fixtures on the team for years to come.
So, let’s dissect the team’s three best prospects and the determine who might have the biggest impact on the team in the coming years.
Keep in mind that while talented young players like Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov are indeed part of the team’s future, they have officially graduated from prospect status to regular NHL players. However, the team is still stocked with talented young players looking to make an impression at training camp this fall.
Little surprise here at the top spot. The 2nd overall selection in this June’s NHL Entry Draft will be afforded every opportunity to crack the team’s opening day roster in 2017-18. The 6’3, 200 lb center has all the offensive and defensive tools to be an NHL star and an impact player right away. While injuries have hampered his production at the WHL level, a recent surgery should have Patrick back on the road to full health.
After decade after decade of failing to draft and develop good, young defensemen the Flyers seem to have figured things out. Not only does their young blue line boast young stars Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere, but 21-year-old defenseman Travis Sanheim looks like the real deal, as well. The big, lanky defender put up 10 goals and 37 points in his first full season of pro hockey with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and will be looking to making the jump full-time to the Flyers this Fall.
As bizarre as it is to imagine the Flyers developing elite defensive talent, even more strange is the fact that they’re ACTUALLY developing elite talent in goal with 19-year-old Carter Hart at the top of the depth chart. The athletic netminder was named WHL Goaltender of the Year for the second straight season and starred for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships last winter. Expect big things from this kid in the near future, but as with all goalies, patience is key.