The Philadelphia Flyers made some significant roster moves in the summer to regain their competitive identity. The additions of Ryan Ellis, Cam Atkinson, and Rasmus Ristolainen have not paid the dividends management was hoping for. With both the NHL and AHL rosters toiling in the bottom half of the leagues, there is little hope for an immediate resurgence.
The prospect pool has some high-end talent as well as decent depth on the way. The NHL roster has quality players contributing that are under 25-years-old in Joel Farabee, Travis Konecny, Carter Hart and Ivan Provorov. But the core of the roster is veterans, and several are on expiring deals such as their franchise star Claude Giroux.
Is this the time for the Flyers to hit the rebuild button, trade away veterans for draft picks and restock for the future?
2021-22 Top 10 Philadelphia Flyers Prospects
- Cam York, D – Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
Drafted: 2019 round one 14th overall by Philadelphia Flyers
York is an offensive defenseman, that is more than reliable in his own zone, is an excellent skater and a leader. York spent two seasons of development with the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA. In his sophomore season, he was a returnee with Team USA at the WJC where he Captained the team to a Gold Medal scoring six points in seven games.
York signed his ELC after his sophomore season to join the pro ranks. He made an immediate impact with five points in eight AHL games and played in three NHL games as well. After starting the year in the AHL, playing in 21 games on a struggling Phantoms roster, he was recalled to the Flyers and has one goal and three assists through 13 games in the NHL.
York can carry the puck in transition or join the rush, his calm low panic threshold in his own end shows his confidence. He reads plays well and has puck skills and vision to run a power play. His upside is a top-pairing NHL defender, and he is ready for full-time NHL time now.
- Tyson Foerster, C – Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
Drafted: 2020 round one, 23rd overall by Philadelphia Flyers
Foerster is a shooter and a goal scorer first and foremost. He has been enjoying a late growth spurt as well which has added size and strength to his repertoire. The knock-on Foerster is his skating, technically flawed and slow, but it has improved since his OHL rookie year to a satisfactory level.
After a breakout 80-point draft year in Barrie, he went straight to the AHL and suffered a broken leg right out of the gate. He recovered incredibly and posted 10 goals and 17 points in 24 games as a 19-year-old. While still eligible for the OHL, his AHL games played allowed him to stay in the AHL as a 20-year-old and play his second season of pro hockey.
More bad luck followed the big sniper as he suffered a shoulder injury after only nine games where he recorded three points. Poised to return to the roster soon he will look to replicate his triumphant return from injury playing a top-six role with the Phantoms. Foerster projects as a potential top-nine NHL player but may be more suited on the wing in the NHL.
- Bobby Brink, RW – University of Denver (NCAA)
Drafted: 2019 round two, 34th overall by Philadelphia Flyers
His D+1 season with the Pioneers was very productive with 24 points in 28 games as a freshman. His sophomore season saw his production dip. His play with Team USA at the WJC was excellent, recording six points in seven games and winning the Gold.
Brink is back in the NCAA for his junior season and is well over a point per game player with 35 points through 24 games in a breakout season. Brink will likely sign following Denver’s season and begin his pro career with a glimpse in either the AHL or NHL. Either way, expect the highly skilled and undersized winger to get some development time in the AHL next year as he cuts his teeth at the pro level.
To become a top-six winger in the NHL, Brink will need to improve his skating and quickness and develop more of a tendency to shoot as he relies heavily on his smarts and playmaking abilities.
- Yegor Zamula, D – Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
Drafted: Signed by Philadelphia Flyers in 2018
The Flyers found an undrafted gem when they signed Philip Myers and look to have done it again in Zamula. The tall and lanky Russian defenseman had a breakout season in 2018 with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL scoring 56 points in 61 games. He followed that up by playing a key role on the 2020 Russian WJC roster winning the Silver Medal and scoring five points.
His rookie pro season may have been underwhelming statistically with only six points in 25 games as an AHL rookie, but he was played regularly and adjusted well to the pro level. His offensive contributions have caught up in his sophomore season in the Valley and he has 14 points in 30 AHL games.
Zamula is a puck-moving defender, he can carry the puck well using his long and fluid stride. He makes precision passes and can make quick breakout transition plays. He is tall but slim and could use some bulk and a more physical or mean streak. Zamula is projecting to become a solid middle pairing NHL defender and could be ready to make the roster full time to start the 2022-23 season as only Ellis, Provorov, and Sanheim are under contract beyond the current season in Philadelphia.
- Wade Allison, RW – Philadelphia Flyers (NHL)
Drafted: 2016 round two, 52nd overall by Philadelphia Flyers
If he didn’t have bad luck, he would have no luck at all. Injuries have plagued Allison for years as he has not played in more than 26 games in a single season since 2016-17 as a NCAA freshman at the University of Western Michigan.
Allison played four seasons with the Broncos and made his pro debut last year. He split time between the AHL and NHL with an impressive nine points in 10 AHL games as well as seven points in 14 NHL games.
Another injury delayed his start to the season. Allison returned from an ankle injury in December and played in seven games in the AHL scoring four points. Once he found his feet he was recalled to the NHL and played his first game of the season against Buffalo.
Allison has good size to be a power winger. He causes problems in front of the net, has soft hands and a deadly shot. If he can just stay healthy, the potential to be a top-six, 30-goal scoring winger is there.
- Connor McClennon, RW – Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
Drafted: 2020 round six, 178th overall by Philadelphia Flyers
McClennon is an undersized winger that loves to shoot, has excellent puck skills and hand-eye coordination. McClennon is an underrated prospect, mainly based on his size and the fact he was a late-round pick.
He dominated the U17 for Canada White with 11 points in five games, surpassing the likes of Cole Perfetti and Mavrik Bourque. His breakout performance in his draft year saw him posting 21 goals and 49 points in 42 games weren’t enough to raise his draft stock, however. Following his draft, hit the ground running when the WHL resumed play, with 33 points in 24 games in a pandemic short season. Now in his final year on a stacked Winnipeg roster, he is well over a point per game with 51 points in 37 games and will be looking to add a WHL Championship and Memorial Cup to his resume.
Despite being on the small side, McClennon plays a good physical game, he forechecks hard, is not shy to generate contact and can be a presence in front of the net. A steady riser in the Flyers prospect system, look to see how well he translates to the AHL next year.
- Zayde Wisdom, RW – Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Drafted: 2020 round four, 94th overall by Philadelphia Flyers
His rookie season in the OHL was on a terrible Kingston Frontenacs squad. A fourth-round selection by the Frontenacs, little was expected of Wisdom, but he made the team based on his work ethic and compete level. As the season progressed, he moved up the team’s depth chart to play a regular role in the top-six. The following season he enjoyed a breakout performance on the wing with Shane Wright and Kings prospect Martin Chromiak. The trio was dominant, and Wisdom produced 29 goals and 59 points in 62 games.
The first player to sign his ELC from the 2020 draft, Wisdom made his AHL debut as the OHL was locked down. As an 18-year-old he was exceptional with six goals in his first seven games and finishing the year with 18 points in 28 games.
A shoulder injury delayed the start of the season for Wisdom, and he is back in Kingston on a line with Wright and Chromiak as he will try to lead Kingston to an OHL Championship and shot at the Memorial Cup.
His best asset is his compete level, he is a tenacious forechecker and he reads and anticipates plays well. He plays an aggressive physical game and carried that to the pro level. His skill level has seen significant development and he is an offensive driver playing with elite-level prospects. Wisdom may have a ceiling of a middle-six NHL winger, but he may be in the NHL sooner than later and for a long career.
- Elliot Desnoyers, LW – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Drafted: 2020 round five, 135th overall by Philadelphia Flyers
After two mediocre seasons in the QMJHL with Moncton where he produced 31 and 35 points in two 61 game seasons, his draft selection in the fifth round seems fair. Considered as a solid two-way player with a good compete level or energy type player.
Following his draft, he was moved to Halifax and had a breakout season offensively with 49 points in 37 games. In his final junior campaign, he is wearing the captain’s “C” in Halifax and has 36 points through 23 games. Desnoyers was also named to Team Canada for the WJC and had three points in two games before the tournament was canceled.
His offensive development has him shooting up the depth chart with the Flyers and next year he will make his pro debut in the AHL. If his offense carries into the AHL he could end up as a top-six winger, but at the least, he projects as a bottom-six, energy player with offensive upside.
- Ronnie Attard, D Western Michigan University (NCAA)
Drafted: 2019 round three, 72nd overall by Philadelphia Flyers
The big defenseman was drafted out of the USHL where he posted 64 points in 48 games with 30 goals as the Tri-City Storm Captain. He led the league in defense scoring and was the USHL Player of the Year winner. Committed to Western Michigan, his rookie season was insulated, and he managed 14 points in 30 games as a freshman.
The Broncos roster lost all its NHL prospects after that leaving Attard as the main player. He stepped up his game as a freshman with a 22-point season in the COVID short season of 25 games to be named the NCHC Best Offensive Defenseman. Playing as a junior, he has eclipsed the point per game pace as he continues to develop.
Attard plays a hard game, he hits hard and uses his size and strength to intimidate opponents. He moves the puck well and has a hard shot from the point. His skating is average at best, but his long reach helps close gaps. Attard will turn pro next year where his size will be less of an advantage and his skating will be a bigger concern. If his skating improves to at least NHL average his size and shot could see him play a second pairing role with special team’s bonus minutes.
- Jay O’Brien, C – Boston University (NCAA)
Drafted: 2018 round one, 19th overall by Philadelphia Flyers
It can be difficult to predict what you will get when you draft a player out of USHS-Prep School. Now three years later we still do not know what the Flyers have in O’Brien. Committed to Providence College in the NCAA, his D+1 season was a disaster, posting five points in 25 games as a freshman in the 2018-19 season. His berth on the USA WJC roster was a silver lining despite the fact he was held pointless in seven games, but his first-round draft status was looking like a bust.
Declining to return to Providence, he took a “transfer year” in the BCHL where he rediscovered his offensive touch in a lower league with 66 points in 46 games. Impressive performance, but not enough to shake the bust label. Returning to the NCAA in the COVID short season he led the Boston Terriers in scoring with 16 points in 16 games. This held some weight and offered some hope. O’Brien has followed up that strong season with another good performance with the Terriers maintaining his point per game production.
O’Brien is an excellent skater and competes hard offensively and defensively. He projects as a third-line center but has the potential to never play an NHL game. Time will tell.
Noah Cates: The 22-year-old senior and Captain at the University of Minnesota-Duluth has been named to the USA Olympic Team. Cates wore the red, white, and blue at the 2019 WJC scoring three points in seven games winning a Silver Medal. His trophy cabinet also has NCAA Championship, and he would love to add an Olympic Medal all before he turns pro.
Samu Tuomaala: The Flyers top pick in the 2021 draft (46th in the second round) signed with the Flyers and started in the AHL this year. It was a short-lived, two-game affair before he was loaned back to Liiga where he only managed two points in 13 games with Sport. The team and Tuomaala agreed to terminate that contract and the Flyers have loaned him to Jukurit for the balance of the season. The speedy winger is a shooter and needs to recapture some of his development in this lost season.
Emil Andrae: A 2020 second-round pick, Andrae is having a breakout season with HV71 in Allsvenskan with 19 points in 27 games. The 19-year-old needs to show he can be impactful at a higher level.
Jon-Randall Avon: A former OHL first-round pick went undrafted in the NHL and after missing a season due to OHL lockdown last year played well enough at both Flyers Rookie Camp and Training Camp as an invitee to earn his ELC. Avon has 39 points in 35 games with the Petes.