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Prospect Snapshot: CHL and collegiate players

Get caught up with quick hits on all Flyers prospects in the junior ranks

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

The sheer abundance of Flyers prospects playing across a variety of junior and collegiate leagues in North America and junior and pro circuit Europe - to say nothing of those suiting up for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the American Hockey League - can make it tough for fans to keep track of everyone. Each month, we will track the progress of all Flyers prospects in the system, with separate roundups of Phantoms players and those in other leagues in North America and Europe. 

Here's a look at how Flyers prospects in the CHL (Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League), NCAA and NCAA-track juniors (USHL) have fared entering the weekend games that start Nov. 3.


Ontario Hockey League

Morgan Frost (C, Sault. Ste Marie Greyhounds): 

Rights Status: Frost signed an entry-level contract with the Flyers on Aug. 3, 2017. His contract slid to the OHL this season.

Notes: The Flyers "other" 2017 first-round draft pick after Nolan Patrick, enjoyed a spectacular opening weekend to the OHL regular season that was highlighted by a penalty shot goal after being fouled on a shorthanded breakaway, a picturesque power play assist, a couple bursts of speed to gain separation and several nifty stickhandling sequences on zone entries. Frost went through a bit of a dry spell after his fast start, but turned things up a notch again from mid-October to early November. He has posted seven points (three goals, four assists) and 21 shots on goal over his last three outings and has at least one point in eight his last nine games. Overall, the skilled forward has posted 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists), a plus-15 rating, 18 penalty minutes and 50 shots on goal through the first 16 games of his draft-plus-one season.


Connor Bunnaman (C, Kitchener Rangers): 

Rights Status: Bunnaman signed an entry-level contract with the Flyers on April 21, 2017. His contract slid to the OHL this season.

Notes: A burgeoning power forward who found a scoring touch last season, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Bunnaman was named Kitchener's new captain prior to the season. He put forth a good all-around showing during the Flyers' Rookie Camp in September and scored in bunches during the OHL preseason. However, points were hard to come by at the start of the season and Bunnaman was also set back briefly by a bout with the flu. A streak scorer at the OHL level, the player has gotten red hot again of late. Bunnaman has racked up eight goals and 10 points over his last eight games. Overall, Bunnaman has eight goals and 12 points in 14 games, with 2 PIM. He has won 58.2 percent of his faceoffs (85-for-146) to date.


Isaac Ratcliffe (LW, Guelph Storm): 

Rights Status: Ratcliffe signed an entry-level contract with the Flyers on Aug. 3, 2017. His contract slid the OHL for the season.

Notes: The Flyers moved up in the second round of the 2017 Draft, trading three picks to land one in order to select the 6-foot-6, 204-pound Ratcliffe with the 35th overall pick. He remains an intriguing bundle of raw materials that the organization knew would take time to polish and refine. The lack of bonafide playmaking forwards around him has likely cut into Ratcliffe's early-season production in his draft-plus-one campaign to date, although the team has a respectable 7-6- 2 record despite being widely outscored at five-on-five. Virtually every game, Ratcliffe has shown flashes of why he's considered a high-ceiling talent. The raw statistical numbers to date aren't too pretty but, placed in context, are no cause for alarm this early in a season. To date, Ratcliffe has posted five goals and nine points in 15 games, 14 penalty minutes and a minus-12 rating. The latter number, while unsightly, is in line with what the team as a whole has done. The Storm only have a pair of plus-rated players and no one higher than plus two. All five of the team's leading scorers to date (Ratcliffe is fifth) are between minus-nine and minus-13. 


Maksim Sushko (RW, Owen Sound Attack):

Rights status: Sushko is a draft-plus-one player selected in the fourth round (107th) overall of the 2017 NHL Draft. The Flyers hold his NHL signing rights until June 1, 2019.

Notes: The Belarusian forward flew under the radar last year in his first North American junior season but showed hints of potential to moved up in the Owen Sound lineup. On Oct. 14, 2017, however, the entire OHL took notice as the 18-year-old winger racked up a four-goal game in a 12-6 shellacking of the Oshawa Generals. Sushko, who is still working on improving the consistency of certain aspects of his all-around game, continued scoring regularly after his breakout night. Sushko's six-game point streak was snapped in a 5-4 loss to Windsor on Oct. 29. To date, Sushko is fourth on his team in scoring with 14 points (nine goals and five assists, none of which have been power play points) in 12 games. Two of his goals have shorthanded, leading the Attack in that category. Sushko will play for the Belarusian national under-20 team in the 2017-18 World Junior Championships in Buffalo come late December to early January.


Matthew Strome (LW, Hamilton Bulldogs):

Rights status: Strome is a draft-plus-one player selected in the fourth round (106th overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft. The Flyers hold his NHL signing rights until June 1, 2019. 

Notes: It is no secret that the biggest challenge for Strome to advance his hockey career is to improve his skating; something that will be a laborious process with a potentially high yield. Other forwards of similar profiles, including former Flyers draftee Patrick Maroon (now a member of the Edmonton Oilers) and retired longtime Detroit Red Wings winger Tomas "Demolition Man" Holmstrom, have navigated the process successfully. Strome's Hamilton team has struggled for goals this season, tallying just 35 times in its first 14 games (6-4-4 record). There is not a question, however, if Strome has good hands or finishing ability when he gets to scoring areas. He is second on the team with five goals (no one has more than six) and has seven points overall (ranking third) even while missing two games. 


Anthony Salinitri (C/LW, Sarnia Sting): 

Rights status: Salinitri, who will turn 20 on March 5, is draft-plus-two player selected in the sixth round (172nd overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft. The Flyers hold his NHL signing rights until June 1, 2018.

Notes: A versatile alternate captain for a powerhouse Sarnia team, Salinitri is an all-situations player for his team. Sarnia has steamrolled its way to a 14-1-0 start to the season and stung opponents for a whopping 83 goals while only yielding 36. On a club with so much firepower, Salinitri is more of a "glue guy" who can be deployed on either side of special teams and who can contribute to productive even-strength shifts in a variety of ways while also chipping in some offense. He isn't big (5-foot-11, 170 pounds in his Draft year) but competes hard. Offensively, Salinitri has produced 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 15 games to rank sixth on the team in scoring. Four of his assists arose on the power play, and one came shorthanded. 


Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL)


German Rubtsov (C/RW, Acadie-Bathurst Titan): 

Rights status: Rubtsov signed an entry-level contract with the Flyers on March 2, 2017. His contract slid to the QMJHL this season. 

Notes: A long-rumored trade came to fruition on Nov. 2, when the Chicoutimi Sagueneens traded Rubtsov to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. The Flyers' 2016 first-round pick has moved around frequently over the last calendar year and dealt with injury issues last season. This season, the gifted 19-year-old Russian been healthy but had the start of his regular season delayed a full week by paperwork and legal clearances. Once he rejoined Chicoutimi, he tried to stay focused on what was within his control -- playing the game - while awaiting a trade from the rebuilding Sagueneens. While with Chicoutimi (5-8-2 record, second-fewest goals scored in the league), Rubtsov posted 11 points in 11 games (three goals, eight assists, plus-1) to tie for third on the team in scoring and five points off the team lead. Keep in mind that Rubtsov played in four fewer games than the team's other top offensive players. He also played wing as well as center. Now, Rubtsov will be joining an Acadie-Bathurst team (7-5-5 record) that ranks 10th the circuit offensively and can benefit from his two-way abilities as well as his point-producing abilities. Side note: the general manager of Rubtsov's new team is former NHL player Sylvain Couturier, the father of Flyers' top-line center Sean Couturier (who also holds a small ownership share in the club).


Pascal Laberge (C/W, Victoriaville Tigres): 

Rights status: Laberge signed an entry-level contract on July 14, 2016. His contract slid to the QMJHL this season. 

Notes: Coming off a disappointing and injury-marred 2016-17 season, Laberge has dressed in 13 of 15 thus far for the Tigres (7-7-1 record). He has always been known as a streak scorer, who can rack up points in bunches when he gets hot. Laberge put together a five-game point streak early in the season, including a three-point night against the Quebec Remparts on Oct. 12. Subsequently, the draft-plus-two-year forward cooled off a bit offensively. He has one point (an assist) over his last four games but was one the Tigres better players in a 4-1 road loss to Acadie-Bathurst on Oct. 29 despite not registering a point. Laberge put three shots on goal and was involved in several scoring chances on a night where the home side largely dictated the play. Overall, Laberge is tied for fifth on his team with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 13 games. He has netted a pair of game-winning goals for his side and two power play goals. Laberge is plus-six at even strength and 62-for-134 (46.3 percent) on faceoffs.


Western Hockey League (WHL)

Carter Hart (G, Everett Silvertips): 

Rights status: Hart, who turned 19 on August 13 of this year, signed an entry-level contract with the Flyers on Oct. 2, 2016. His contract slid to the WHL for this season. 

Notes: The highly regarded goaltending prospect was sidelined by mononucleosis very shortly after being reassigned by the Flyers to Everett for the season. The two-time winner of the Del Wilson Trophy (WHL top goaltender award) and CHL Goaltender of the Year (2015-16) was recently named to Team WHL for the annual series of games - now called the CIBC Series, formerly the Subway Super Series - pitting the Russian under-20 national team against squads representing each of the three CHL leagues. The WHL team is up first, playing games on Nov. 6 and 7. A member of Team Canada at last year's World Junior Championships, Hart is once again in the mix to earn a spot on the roster. His primary competition for the starting job could be Vancouver Canucks prospect Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires, OHL). 


Carsen Twarynski (LW, Kelowna Rockets):

Rights status: As a draft-plus-two player selected in the third round (82nd overall) of the 2016 Draft, the Flyers hold Twarynski's NHL signing rights until June 1, 2018.

Notes: Twarynski, who will turn 20 years old on Nov. 24, spent time at the Lehigh Valley Phantoms training camp for an extended look after attending the Flyers' rookie camp and the start of full NHL camp in September. Ultimately, he was decided that he'd benefit more from an additional year of season as an older player in the Western League and receiving plenty of ice time than as one of the youngest players in the American Hockey League. If Twarynski eventually plays pro hockey, he will be counted upon as a role player rather than as an offensive-minded contributor. However, "overagers" in the CHL often do well offensively in their final season at that level. Twarynski has been no exception, posting 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in his first 11 games this season with Kelowna. His previous offensive highs in the Western League were 20 goals and 45 points in 2015-16 while a member of the Calgary Hitmen, where his teammates included Travis Sanheim and Radel Fazleev.


NCAA Hockey Programs


Wade Allison (RW, Western Michigan, NCHC): 

Rights status: As a collegiate sophomore drafted in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2016 Draft, the Flyers would hold Allison's NHL signing rights until Aug. 15, 2020 if he plays all four seasons on his collegiate hockey eligibility.

Notes: The 20-year-old sophomore power forward (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) is off to a strong start. Allison has a heavy shot and a willingness to battle in the trenches and has used those assets effectively in his collegiate career to date. Allison is second on his team in scoring, with nine points (two goals, seven assists, plus-four) through seven games. He is still working on areas of his overall game and discipline (15 PIM) but is the type of player who attacks every practice and game with gusto. 


Tanner Laczynski (C/W, Ohio State, Big-10): 

Rights status: As a collegiate sophomore drafted in the sixth round (169th overall) of the 2016 Draft, the Flyers would hold Laczynski's NHL signing rights until Aug. 15, 2020 if he plays all four seasons on his collegiate hockey eligibility.

Notes: Coming off a breakthrough all-around season that saw him win a roster spot on gold medal winning Team USA at the 2016-17 World Junior Champioships, the 20-year-old Laczynski is coming off a spectacular week of hockey after a bit of a slow offensive start. Laczynski is the reigning NCAA Player of the week after racking up five points in two games. He has nine points over his last four games overall. For the season, Laczynski has nine points in eight games (three goals, six assists, plus-six). A good test awaits with an upcoming weekend set of two games against Notre Dame. More than his offensive pop at the collegiate level, however, the Flyers organization is high on Laczynski for his versatility in being able to be plugged into a variety of different spots in the lineup. In his career to date, he's played well in a variety of different game situations. For example, Laczynski fared well as a fourth-line player for Team USA at the World Juniors last season, beating out some "big name" prospects due to his adaptability. 


Cooper Marody (C, Michigan, Big-10): 

Rights status: As a collegiate junior chosen in the sixth round (158th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft, the Flyers would hold Marody's signing rights until Aug. 15, 2019 if he plays all four seasons of his collegiate hockey eligibility.

Notes: A creative finesse center, the 20-year-old junior now plays a leading role in the Wolverines' attack. Set back last season by academic ineligibility during the fall semester, Marody has thus far benefited from being able to play a full season.

Through six games, Marody leads his team in scoring with seven points (one goal, six assists) and has put12 shots on goal. Marody is a plus-one at even strength. Six of his seven points have come in conference games, including a three-assist performance in a 5-2 win over Penn State on Oct. 28. Up next on the docket for Michigan is a pair of non-conference games against Ferris State.


Brendan Warren (LW, Michigan, Big-10): 

Rights status: Originally drafted by the Coyotes in the third round (81st overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft, Warren stepped from the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP) into the collegiate ranks at Michigan as a "true freshman" at age 18. If he plays through his senior year, the Flyers would hold his NHL signing right until August 15, 2019.

Notes: The Flyers acquired Warren's rights in the June 16, 2017 trade that sent forward Nick Cousins and the rights to senior Harvard University goalie Merrick Madsen to the Arizona Coyotes. A teammate of Marody's on the Michigan Wolverines, Warren primarily plays a third-line role as a responsible two-way forward. 

Through six games, the 20-year-old junior has posted a pair of goals. His collegiate offensive highs to date were five goals and 17 points in 38 games as a freshman in 2015-16.


Wyatt Kalynuk (D, Wisconsin, Big-10): 

Rights status: If Kalynuk plays all four seasons of his NCAA eligibility, the Flyers will hold his NHL signing rights until Aug. 15, 2021.

Notes: A late-bloomer drafted by the Flyers as a 20-year-old, the freshman blueliner has shown promising puck-moving ability and a good point shot early in his first season with the Badgers. Through nine games, the 6-foot Kalynuk has posted five assists, 12 penalty minutes and a minus-one rating. He's second in scoring among defensemen on the team. The Badgers host North Dakota on Friday and Saturday. 


Terrance Amorosa (D, Clarkson, ECAC): 

Rights status: Originally drafted in the fifth round (132nd overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft, Amorosa will turn 23 on Nov. 13. The Flyers hold the collegiate senior's NHL signing rights until Aug. 15, 2018.

Notes: The 6-foot-2, 205-pound defenseman has shown flashes of offensive ability before at the collegiate level. Now a senior, the player is a central figure on the Golden Knights' blueline. Through eight games, Amorosa has posted seven points (two goals, five assists) and is a team-best plus-six at even strength. Amorosa is third overall on his team in scoring and leads among defensemen. 


David Drake (D, UConn. Hockey East): 

Rights status: Originally tabbed in the seventh round (192nd overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft, the Flyers hold Drake's NHL signing rights until Aug. 15, 2018. 

Notes: A steadying presence and alternate captain for the Huskies, Drake will turn 23 years old on January 7. The senior blueliner often plays against other teams' better offensive lines. He has not recorded a point in eight games but that is not Drake's role. His collegiate offensive highs were three goals and seven points last season.


United States Hockey League (USHL)


Matej Tomek (G, Waterloo Blackhawks): 

Rights status: The USHL is an amateur league, so Tomek neither forfeits remaining NCAA eligibility nor loses a year he if returns to the collegiate ranks next season. He would be considered a junior season player. As such, the Flyers would retain his NHL signing rights until Aug. 15, 2020. The Flyers originally drafted Tomek in the third round (90th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft. It has been a mentally anguishing time for Tomek, following the recent untimely death of his father, but the Slovak netminder has found solace in hockey. Tomek only appeared in two games as a freshman (zero appearances) and sophomore at the University of North Dakota in 2015-16 and 2016-17. He was a backup goaltender for Slovakia at the 2016-17 World Junior Championships, appearing in two games. Needing playing time to develop his game, Tomek left North Dakota to step down one level and play at the USHL level. He's appeared in four games to date for Waterloo, posting a 2-2-0 record, 2.56 GAA, and .901 save percentage.


Noah Cates (LW, Omaha): 

Rights status: As a USHL player, the Flyers have up to five seasons from the 2017 Draft to make a decision on whether to sign Cates to an entry-level contract. If he plays all four seasons of his NCAA eligibility, the Flyers will hold Cates' NHL signing rights until Aug. 15, 2022.

Notes: A high school star in Minnesota, the 18-year-old Cates was drafted by the Flyers in the fifth round, 137th overall, of the 2017 NHL Draft. He's committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth starting in the fall of 2018. Cates has previous stints in the USHL with the Omaha Lancers, totaling 13 games over parts of the last two seasons. This year, he's spending his first full year with the team. Through eight games, Cates has two points (one goal, one assist) and a minus-two rating.

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