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Provorov, Sanheim among Flyers' top five prospects

by Brian Compton

The Philadelphia Flyers are experienced on defense, with three of their six regulars 28 or older. But an influx of young, talented defensemen is on the way.

Led by Ivan Provorov, the Flyers are about to get younger and quicker on defense within the next two years. Provorov, drafted with the No. 7 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, hopes it won't even take that long.

"I'm taking it one day at a time, but my long-term goal is to make the team," Provorov said during development camp last month. "I'm going to try to do everything that I can, and we'll see what's going to happen in September."

Here is a look at the Flyers' top five prospects, according to

1. Ivan Provorov, D

How acquired: 1st round (No. 7), 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Brandon, WHL: 60 GP, 15-46-61

Provorov (6-foot, 201 pounds) was the youngest member of Russia's silver medal-winning team at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. The 18-year-old then helped Brandon reach the Western Hockey League championship series, scoring two goals with 17 assists in 13 playoff games.

"We've added what we feel like is a top prospect on defense," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said. "Elite hockey sense, real good competitor, 200-foot player."

Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

2. Travis Sanheim, D

How acquired: 1st round (No. 17), 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Calgary, WHL: 67 GP, 15-50-65

Sanheim, 19, made a huge jump in his second season at the junior level with Calgary, more than doubling his offensive production. The 6-foot-3, 181-pound defenseman likely will need another year of seasoning in the WHL, but Sanheim has a bright future and could be a mainstay in Philadelphia once he is NHL-ready.

"I think my first year in the Western Hockey League, I was just trying to kind of find my game and getting my feet wet," Sanheim said at development camp. "I think [last] year I definitely took on a bigger role with the Calgary Hitmen and played more minutes and just kind of improved in all areas of my game."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

3. Shayne Gostisbehere, D

How acquired: 3rd round (No. 78), 2012 NHL Draft

Last season: Flyers: 2 GP, 0-0-0; Lehigh Valley, AHL: 5 GP, 0-5-5

Gostisbehere (5-11, 170) is coming off a tough season; he tore his ACL in November and did not return. The Union College product participated at development camp, where he deemed himself ready to play this season. Flyers brass is hopeful that watching as many games as Gostisbehere did after having knee surgery will be beneficial in the long run.

"I want to get a year of pro hockey under my belt, not just seven games," Gostisbehere, 22, said. "I think I just want to get out there and play some games right now. Of course, everybody wants to be on the Flyers, but most importantly for me right now, I just want to get on the ice and play a game."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

4. Scott Laughton, C

How acquired: 1st round (No. 20), 2012 NHL Draft

Last season: Flyers: 31 GP, 2-4-6; Lehigh Valley, AHL: 39 GP, 14-13-27

Laughton, 21, split last season between the Flyers and Lehigh Valley. He was demoted in February after being unable to produce despite centering Philadelphia's second line. But the Flyers remain high on Laughton (6-1, 190), who is projected to be a solid two-way center for years to come.

"I am ready to be an NHL player and be a reliable one," he told the Flyers website. "I am excited to come to camp and prove that I belong here. I definitely want be here to start the year. But if I am playing and learning in the minors, then that's what it takes. I don't want to play for five years and be out of the league. I want to be a reliable guy for 10-15 years."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

5. Samuel Morin, D

How acquired: 1st round (No. 11), 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: Rimouski, QMJHL: 38 GP, 5-27-32

Morin (6-6, 202) impressed at training camp last September before being sent to junior for another season. He helped Canada win a gold medal at the 2015 WJC but missed five weeks because of a broken jaw. The 20-year-old returned in time to help Rimouski win the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championship, scoring one goal with 10 assists in 19 playoff games.

"I think I improved a lot [last] year," Morin said. "My offensive side is better. I got a lot of experience. I won the gold medal with Team Canada, I won the (QMJHL) championships, a lot of great experience for me. I really enjoyed it."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17


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