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Ranking Flyers’ Top 10 Prospects: Look Who’s No. 1

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Oliver Bonk in Rookie Series vs. Rangers (Photo provided by Flyers)
Oliver Bonk vs. Rangers in Rookie Series (Photo provided by Flyers)

As the Philadelphia Flyers rookies and prospects head into Training Camp with the veterans, let’s take a look at their top 10 prospects.

This is where the Flyers’ strengths might be in three years. Can these prospects progress and develop into NHL players? Can any of the prospects become a true star, which is what the Flyers need?

On my list, Tyson Foerster (eight games), Egor Zamula (26 games), Elliot Desnoyers (four games), Bobby Brink (10 games) have played for the Flyers.

The Top 10:

1. Matvei Michkov, F, 6-0, 161 pounds

Draft Position: 1st round in 2023, No. 7 overall

Skinny: Believed to be the second-best player in the 2023 draft behind Connor Bedard. He luckily fell to the Flyers at 7 and they didn’t hesitate to draft him. His upside is franchise-changing talent. He just was loaned to another KHL team, and so far that has resulted in much more ice-time and performance.

In Philly: As soon as possible. Given his talent, I wonder if Michkov would have made the Flyers this year if he weren’t under contract in Russia.

2. Cutter Gauthier, F, 6-4, 200

Draft Position: 1st round in 2022, No. 5 overall

Skinny: Gauthier has shown a quality, NHL-level shot. He is big enough and strong enough to become a power forward. The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler said: “I fully expect Gauthier to be an impactful NHL player and scorer, and he convinced me more and more as this season progressed that he might have star quality as well.”

In Philly: After another season at Boston College — a move endorsed by the Flyers — Gauthier should come into training camp in 2024 ready for the roster and ready to contribute.

3. Emil Andrae, D, 5-9, 181

Draft position: 2nd round in 2020, No. 54 overall

Skinny: Talented and smart. His lack of size hasn’t hurt him anywhere in his hockey journey. He is an excellent skater, can move the puck and seems to anticipate the play. He doesn’t shy away from physical contact.

In Philly: I expect Andrae to start the season with the Flyers. He will be given every chance to succeed. Flyers management is fully behind Andrae.

4. Tyson Foerster, F, 6-2, 203

Draft Position: 1st round in 2020, No. 23 overall

Skinny: “I think he has played really good,” coach John Tortorella said Foerster joined the team in March. “That’s how we keep their motivation — telling them how well they’re playing. And he has.” Foerster has a quick shot and is impressive with the puck on his stick. Plus, he’s skilled at blocking shots.

In Philly: Foerster has a tremendous opportunity to grab a top-nine position in Philadelphia. That would seem to fit his progression as a first-round pick.

5. Oliver Bonk, D, 6-2, 180

Draft Position: 1st round in 2023, 22nd overall

Skinny: Bonk is only 18 years old. He is known for his shutdown defense. He is a right-handed shot, an asset in the NHL. He’s already big and has room to grow. He likes to move the puck. “He [Bonk] is a great young man. He is going to be a very solid National Hockey League defenseman,” Flyers president Keith Jones said.

In Philly: Bonk is young, so don’t expect to see him with the Flyers for 2-3 years. When Bonk arrives in Philly, he isn’t going anywhere else. He could be a Philly fixture for a decade. Bonk has a very big upside.

6. Bobby Brink, F, 5-8, 166

Draft Position: 2nd round in 2019, 34th overall

Skinny: Brink is working his way back from hip surgery. He is a skilled offensive player. In his final year at the University of Denver, Brink scored 14 goals, 43 assists for 57 points in 41 games as the Pioneers won the 2022 NCAA championship. 

In Philly: Brink could be close to playing in Philly. Is he physically 100 percent? Will he start the season in the AHL? Expect to see him in Philly sooner rather than later.

7. Egor Zamula, D, 6-3, 177

Draft Position: Free agent signed by the Flyers in 2020.

Skinny: Zamula is big but lanky. He’s effective with the stick and taking away ice from opponents.

In Philly: Flyers general manager Daniel Briere keeps mentioning Zamula among the defensemen he would like to see play with the Flyers. If the Flyers truly want to play the kids, expect Zamula to start the season with the big club. Phantoms coach Ian Laperrière also has raved about Zamula.

8. Sam Ersson,  G, 6-2, 176

Draft Position: 5th round in 2018, 143rd overall

Skinny: Ersson made the most of his brief time with the Flyers last season, going 6-3 in 12 games. He was 24-17-1 with the Phantoms. Ersson recently signed a two-year extension worth $2.9 million ($1.45 AAV). 

In Philly: He’s already been with the Flyers, starting 10 games last season. He will be in a fierce battle in training camp for the backup job with Cal Petersen and Felix Sandstrom. Ersson could emerge from that battle playing behind Carter Hart in Philly.

9. Elliot Desnoyers, F, 5-11 183

Draft Position: 5th round in 2020, 135th overall

Skinny: Desnoyers was described this way by Elite Prospects: “He’s so much better off of the puck than he is on it. If you want a player who will selflessly run head-first through a brick wall if that’s what’s necessary for his linemates to succeed, then look no further than Desnoyers. He plays an honest brand of hockey in the defensive zone and never flees a moment sooner than his team has secured the puck.”

In Philly: Desnoyers said his goal was to play with the Flyers this season. He scored 23 goals and 21 assists (44 points) with the Phantoms last season. He played four games with the Flyers. Seems to have management’s eye, too.

10. Ronnie Attard, D, 6-3, 207

Draft Position: 3rd round in 2019, 72nd overall

Skinny: Attard has a pro’s body. He’s also aggressive and likes to hit. He gained valuable experience in the spring playing for Team USA in the World Championships. He thinks offense from the back end.

In Philly: This season, possibly. The Flyers want to start breaking in their young defensemen and Attard has the size and experience. If he plays with confidence, he could find himself on the roster coming out of training camp.

Plus Three More … 

Carson Bjarnason, G, 6-3, 186

Draft Position: 2nd round in 2023, 51st overall.

Skinny: Bjarnason was the top-ranked North American goalie by NHL Central Scouting. The Flyers traded with the Blackhawks to move up to draft Bjarnason. “In the net, I think I have a calm sense of aura and a certain stoicism to my game,” he said after being drafted.

In Philly: The Flyers’ goalie shelf is quite stocked. Figure Bjarnason will take three years to challenge for a roster spot.

Alex Bump, F, 6-foot, 200

Draft Position: 5th round in 2022, 133rd overall.

Skinny: He transferred out of Vermont after the coach was fired this summer. He’s only 19. He already has a pro-sized body and he’ll only get stronger. He’ll play at Western Michigan this season.

In Philly: Sooner than you might think. Bump has offensive skills with the puck and has a superb shot. He was one of the better players in the Development Camp scrimmage.

Hunter McDonald, D, 6-4, 207

Draft Position: 6th round in 2022, 165th overall.

In Philly: McDonald will benefit from a second and maybe third season at Northeastern. He certainly has the size and the defensive instincts to move forward.

And Don’t Forget:

  • Goalie Alexei Kolosov, a 2021 third-rounder who is on a one-year loan to Dinamo Minsk. Politics aside, he could be a future Flyers’ goalie. Politics not aside, it’s impossible to rank goalie Ivan Fedotov.
  • Alex Ciernik, a 2023 fourth-rounder. Scored against Rangers in Rookie Series. Earned praised from Flyers management.
  • Denver Barkey, a 2023 third-rounder. Undersized but also earned praise after his performance in Rookie Series.
  • Forward Cole Knuble, a 2023 fourth-rounder, who will be a freshman at Notre Dame.
  • Devin Kaplan, a third-round pick in 2022. Sophomore at Boston University who was invited to Summer Showcase with Knuble and Gauthier.
  • Defenseman Adam Ginning, 2018 second-rounder. Ginning might be on the Flyers’ roster this season.
  • Defenseman Helge Grans, obtained in the Ivan Provorov trade. He will make a serious run at a roster spot this season.

————

Last September, my Philly Hockey Now colleague Sam Carchidi ranked the top 10 Flyers prospects.

His List:

  1. Cutter Gauthier
  2. Emil Andrae
  3. Tyson Foerster
  4. Wade Allison
  5. Bobby Brink
  6. Noah Cates
  7. Egor Zamula
  8. Tanner Laczynski
  9. Ronnie Attard
  10. Elliot Desnoyers
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