As Flyers Prospect camp ended last week, we continue to look at the Flyers prospects in Part II of our series.
First, Nolan Patrick took to the ice on Monday. Well, that’s not the exciting news. The real exciting news is that the Flyers signed him to his three-year entry-level deal. He’ll earn $925,000 per season, but his contract does have bonuses. Those bonuses will count against the salary cap once he hits them. He’ll continue to skate throughout the summer, once his facial infection is healed and will work towards making the team in training camp
Several other prospects also aim to make the team out of training camp and one of those is Travis Sanheim.
This was Sanheim’s fourth development camp since being drafted by the Flyers. These past four years of playing in Juniors and last season on the Phantoms show that Sanheim has progressed and could be finally ready to join the Flyers’ blue line. "It's definitely a teaching camp," Sanheim said last week. "Even the development coaches have talked to me, making sure I slow stuff down and show the younger guys how to do it properly, not necessarily doing everything at full speed."
If the student has become the teacher at development camp, does that show the sign that he’s ready?
Since being drafted, Sanheim spent two years in Juniors. In his first year, he has the most points in the WHL for a defenseman posting 15 goals and 50 assists. He was also a +27. The following season for the Calgary Hitmen he scored another 15 goals and 53 assists, finishing with a +15. Last year he played his first full year in the AHL tallying 37 points. His coaches have spoken on his positioning, his poise and his ability to make the right plays at the right time.
Again, in GM Ron Hextall’s world, everything has to be earned. If Sanheim wants to suit up for the Flyers in October he knows he’ll have to fight for it. "It's going to come down to camp," he said.
"This year, obviously there's going to be some spots available, and we're going to be fighting for the job."
I’ve seen Sanheim play. He is a competitor. I still think he could put on a few more pounds of muscle given his height and current body weight, but as long as he’s fighting hard, I think he’ll be on the roster come opening night.
Okay, let’s quickly forget Frost’s twitter comment about the Flyers in 2013. I mean he was a 14 year old hockey fan and frankly I think it’s great!
This was one thing I did not expect the Flyers to do at the draft was trade for another first round pick. Frost was selected 27th overall back in June. Frost is a winger and that is something that the Flyers have lacked at the prospect level. For the past several years, the Flyers have been stacked at Center and Defense. It’s come to haunt them recently as they have failed to find that solid winger that would complement their center’s abilities. Alas, here we are.
Now we’re a year or two away from seeing Frost play on the wing with either Giroux or Patrick but there is still a reason to be excited. Frost, has played in the OHL the past couple of years. In his first year he only scored 7 goals, but blossomed the following year scoring 20 while adding 42 assists. Despite being ranked for a mid second to third round selection, the Flyers scouts saw something in Frost that made him jump the board and for the Flyers to trade up for him.
Frost has a good hockey sense. He plays two-way hockey and can create turnovers. Frost is also special at creating second and third chances which will frustrate the opposition. His acceleration has also improved from his rookie year in the OHL which has probably helped in his point production. As he’ll probably spend the next year in Juniors, he’ll continue to develop not only his speed but his positioning. Once he is ready to make the jump, he’ll be that missing piece on the Flyers wing that we armchair GMs have been screaming for the last couple of seasons.
I don’t want to rule out a shot of Frost making the team next season because I think it’s a good possibility. I think Hextall trading up just to select him in the first round when he was projected to fall late in the second can attest to that theory. We’ll have to see how his season in Juniors will go.
In my previous blog we talked about goalie Carter Hart. As great of a prospect that Hart is, the Flyers have struck gold because Felix Sandstrom is a fantastic prospect as well. Despite being 20 years old and being able to play in the AHL next season, Sandstrom has decided to spend one more year in Sweden. “I’m in a good position at home in Sweden,” Sandstrom said. “I get to play a lot. Really like my goalie coach there, too. I’m in a good position at home. No reason to rush. I think I need one more year to develop more and be even more ready to come over here.”
You can’t fault a player for wanting more time to develop, especially in a place where they call home and feel more comfortable. It worked for Peter Forsberg.
I think you can sense that in the future Hextall is going to be looking at a Hart/Sandstrom tandem. If their potential were to translate perfectly to the NHL, this could be the best tandem in the NHL and something that other teams would fear.
Last year, Sandstrom compiled a 14-7 record, 2.25 goals-against average and .908 save percentage with two shutouts. He had a 2.83 GAA and .901 save percentage in 13 post season games but his team lost in the finals. In 2016 he won the WJC best Goalie award. He has two gold medals at the J18 level and a silver medal at the SHL level.
He also had a good development camp, showing how he can be flashing in the crease.
Sandstrom is right though, he does have a lot to improve and develop on but he does have a high ceiling. Although I personally rank Hart over Sandstrom, you can never tell how their play and potential will transition at the NHL level, but I think both of them in net will be a glorious site to see once it does happen.
Stay tuned for Part III on the Flyers prospects later this week.
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