August 32-in-32: Philadelphia Flyers

James Iacovone

2023-08-23

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Welcome to the August 2023 edition of the DobberProspects 32-in-32 Series. This month, we are diving into the depth of each organization, looking at their recent graduates, risers, fallers, and top-20 prospects. 

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While the Flyers finished third-worst in the Eastern Conference and seventh-worst in the entire NHL last season, 2022-23 was hardly a failure from an organizational standpoint. 

John Tortorella signed a four-year contract to coach the Flyers last summer as it was widely known the Flyers needed more discipline and accountability. Tortorella’s message stayed the same from training camp through the end of the season: the players are playing for their spot on the Flyers roster, no matter the length or dollar value of their contracts. Changing the culture of the team was priority number one.  

While the record may not indicate it, the Flyers were the most competitive and the most watchable they have been since the COVID-shortened season, which was the last time they made the playoffs. The 2022-23 campaign proved to be a season of change for the Flyers—not just in terms of culture but in organizational roster-building philosophy. Former GM Chuck Fletcher was fired near the end of the season and new GM Danny Briere announced the Flyers would enter a rebuild period.  

Over the summer, the Flyers traded roster cornerstones Ivan Provorov and Kevin Hayes while also buying out defenseman Tony DeAngelo. During Free Agency, the team added solid depth players like Garnet Hathaway, Ryan Poehling, and Marc Staal. They also added defenseman Matt Walker as part of the return for Ivan Provorov. These moves all backed up what Tortorella proclaimed the team would do before the offseason when he said they would “backfill” before adding premiere talent when the time was right. 

The Flyers’ 2023 Draft was one of the best in the NHL. The Flyers not only nabbed arguably the second-best player in the draft in Matvei Michkov, but they also stockpiled coveted positions like center, right-handed defense, and goaltender. Philadelphia’s prospect pool is the strongest it has maybe ever been as the franchise now boasts marquee talent with the likes of Cutter Gauthier, Michkov, Tyson Foerster, and Cam York in the pool. Player development is now a major focus of the franchise and later round picks like Alex Gendron and Elliott Desnoyers moving up through the ranks have also helped bolster the pool. 

The Flyers have a plethora of goaltending prospects stockpiled in the cupboard too. After drafting goalies Carson Bjarnasson and Yegor Zavragin back-to-back in the 2023 NHL Draft, the organization is as deep as it’s ever been at the position. During the offseason, the Flyers also added prospects like 2020 second-round pick, Helge Grans, and former Carolina Hurricanes 2019 seventh round pick, Massimo Rizzo, to further bolster their two weakest positions.  

Graduating

Cam York – Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) to Philadelphia Flyers 

York did not make the Flyers roster out of camp last season as new head coach John Tortorella wanted him to spend time in Lehigh first to work on a few things before earning his spot on the roster.  Once York was called up, he was one of the best defensemen for the Flyers during the season. With the offseason trade of Ivan Provorov, there are minutes to be had on the blue line in Philly and the Flyers are hoping York can be one of the players to help fill the shoes…or skates…of Provorov. He’ll have the opportunity to play more 5-on-5 and one would assume York will have the chance to quarterback the team’s top power play unit, potentially providing some fantasy upside for the young defenseman. York signed a two-year bridge deal over the summer and will only be 24 years old when it finishes. 

Emil Andrae – HV71 Jonkoping (SweHL) to Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) 

Andrae had arguably his best season of his young career as he spent all his time with HV71 Jonkoping in the SHL before being called over to play for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Andrae has outstanding hockey sense and a high work-rate. Combine those two abilities with his skating and vision and suddenly the Flyers may have a future top-four defenseman in their system. Andrae is skilled at opening pockets on the ice for teammates and lanes to get the puck to goal with his skating and hockey sense.  

Though not at full speed, Andrae demonstrated his abilities all in one shift during a Flyers Development camp scrimmage:

Upon joining the Phantoms last season, Andrae adjusted to life in the USA quite well. The expectation for 2023-24 is that Andrae will compete for a spot on the Flyers in camp. The issue is that while the defense core is not overly loaded with talent, there is some bottom-pairing depth, which could mean Andrae likely plays most of the year in Lehigh Valley.  

Alex Gendron – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL) to Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) 

Gendron scored a wapping 55 goals last season in QMJHL, good enough for second in the league. A 2022 7th round pick of the Flyers, Gendron played so well that Flyers GM Danny Briere signed him to a three-year ELC. The expectation will be that Gendron will have an opportunity to show case his offensive talents with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for a few seasons as he turns just 20 years old in December.  

Gendron is as offensive-minded as they come, always looking to shoot or open space for teammates without the puck. He has a bit of deception about his game and is proving to be a late-round steal.  

Samu Tuomaala – Kettera Imatra (Metsis) to Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) 

When you think of Samu Tuomaala, the two words that should come to mind are speed and shooting. Those are his calling cards. Coincidentally speedy shoot-first players are two things the Flyers organization has lacked for a long time. While filling the shooting need of late, the lineup lacks true speedsters. Enter Tuomaala.

Tuomaala has been sort of the forgotten prospect the last few seasons as he’s been on loan to Kettera Imatra.  After signing his three-year Entry-Level Contract on August 14, 2021, Tuomaala has been out on loan for the last two seasons. This year, he is stateside and expected to play for a loaded Lehigh Valley team. 

During rookie camp, Tuomaala showcased his high-octane speed and consistently showed why the Flyers spent a second-round pick on him in 2021.  

Risers

Cam York 
Emil Andrae 
Samu Tuomaala 
Alexis Gendron 
 
Noah Cates  
In 2022-23, Cates transitioned to Center from LW, finished 9th in Calder and 15th in Selke Trophy votes, and then signed two-year bridge deal during the offseason. Cates could potentially be a cornerstone player for the Flyers if he can replicate and improve on his rookie season.  
 
Tyson Foerster 
Foerster finished second in goal scoring for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last year and then scored several highlight-reel goals during an eight-game stint with Flyers while recording seven points. The young sniper received praise from John Tortorella who proclaimed that Foerster is now in plans for lineup if he can make team out of camp. Foerster is a big-bodied forward whose skating could still use work but has an ELITE shot.  
 
Elliott Desnoyers 
Desnoyers lead the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in goals last year and will compete to make the Flyers roster in camp. Best described as a wrecking ball of a player, Desnoyers plays an honest game (Tortorella will love him) and will do anything for his line mates. While he might not be a top-six player in the NHL, Desnoyers can provide depth scoring while also playing his role on a bottom-six line. If he doesn’t make the Flyers out of camp, expect him to be one of the first called up if there is an injury.  
 
Bobby Brink 
After missing the first couple months of the season due to offseason hip surgery, Brink finally found his footing as the year went on. While watching Brink, the first thing you notice is his vision. He’s always looking to make a play with the puck and while his size and skating are a supposed detriment, Brink nullifies them with his creativity and ability to slip away from checks. Let’s not forget his shot. Only scoring 12 goals last year, expect Brink’s goal total to rise in 2023-24.  

To me Brink looks like a player who is too good for the AHL, but there just isn’t a spot open on the NHL roster yet. Expect to see him called up to the Flyers if there are injuries in 2023-24 and he should compete to make the roster flat out in 2024-25.  
 
Cutter Gauthier 
Perhaps no prospect had a busier summer than the 2022 5th overall pick, Cutter Gauthier. After a breakout freshman season with Boston College where he recorded 37 points in 32 games, Gauthier racked up 19 points in 17 games while representing the USA in international tournaments, including 11 goals.  

Gauthier is a prototypical power forward and looks to dominate when he is on the ice.  

Gauthier uses his size to his advantage in all areas of the ice and looks to push play with or without the puck on his stick. The expectation is that Gauthier will sign his ELC with the Flyers upon finishing his sophomore season with Boston College.  

Fallers

Tanner Laczynski 
Wade Allison 
Gavin Hain 

It’s been an unfortunate road to the pros for both Wade Allison and Tanner Laczynski as both players have had an extremely tough time staying healthy. Both players made the Flyers roster out of camp but once again were bitten by the injury bug.  

Laczynski was once thought to be a diamond in the rough pick for the Flyers who could fill in on the bottom six and potentially solidify his place as a fourth-line center. Unfortunately for him, the Flyers signed free agent Ryan Poehling, who will make it difficult for Laczynski to make the Flyers roster out of camp.  Signed for just one more season and already at 26 years old, Laczynski seemingly has one last chance to make an impression on the new regime in Philly.  

Wade Allison on the other hand was healthy for the majority of the season, playing 60 games. However, Allison was invisible in most games and gained the ire of his head coach for not playing more of a north-south game. Allison will also turn 26 in October and is in the last year of his contract. The Flyers acquired Garnet Hathaway in free agency, seemingly taking a roster spot away from Allison who will not have to earn a role on the team in camp.  

Gavin Hain was a 2018 sixth-round pick of the Flyers and played five seasons for the University of North Dakota. The Flyers did not offer him a contract this summer and he is now a free agent.  

Organizational Depth Chart 

LW C RW 
Cutter Gauthier Denver Barkey Matvei Michkov 
Alex Ciernik Owen McLaughlin   Tyson Foerster 
Elliott Desnoyers  Cole KnubleBobby Brink       
Massimo RizzoSamu Tuomaala
Olle Lycksell
Devin Kaplan
Alexis Gendron
Zayde Wisdom
Bryce Brodzinski
Santeri Sulku
LHD RHD 
Emil Andrae Helge Grans 
Yegor Zamula Oliver Bonk 
Adam Ginning Ronnie Attard 
Mason Millman Ethan Samson 
Brian Zanetti Carter Sotheran 
Ty Murchison  Will Zmolek  
Hunter McDonaldMatteo Mann
Goaltenders 
Sam Ersson 
Alexei Kolosov 
Carson Bjarnason
Ivan Fedotov
Felix Sandstrom
Yegor Zavragin
Matej Tomek 

Top 20 Fantasy Prospects

This section is intended to paint a picture of the Flyers prospects whose current trajectory projects them making the most positive fantasy impact at the time that they reach the NHL. Arrival date and NHL certainty have been taken into consideration. However, a player’s potential upside is the most important factor in determining this list. 

  1. Matvei Michkov 
  1. Cutter Gauthier 
  1. Tyson Foerster 
  1. Samuel Ersson 
  1. Emil Andrae 
  1. Elliott Desnoyers 
  1. Bobby Brink 
  1. Oliver Bonk 
  1. Helge Grans 
  1. Ronnie Attard 
  1. Olle Lycksell 
  1. Yegor Zamula 
  1. Alexis Gendron 
  1. Samu Tuomaala 
  1. Devin Kaplan 
  1. Alex Ciernik 
  1. Denver Barkey 
  1. Alexei Kolosov 
  1. Cole Knuble 
  1. Massimo Rizzo 
     

Honourable mentions: Ethan Samson, Jon-Randall Avon, Ivan Fedotov.  

Jim Iacovone covers the Philadelphia Flyers for Dobber Prospects. Follow him on twitter @JimIkeHW. 

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