Yes, it is just a pre-pre-season game with only rookies involved but for Flyers fans this is a huge night. Wells Fargo Center will be sold out, as the fans get their first look at Nolan Patrick and so many of the rookies in orange and black.
The last couple of seasons have been tough for the Flyers as they did everything they could to erase the mistakes of Paul Holmgren.
The bright spots have been few and far between but namely Ghost, Provorov and Konecny. The difference in the farm system from 2011-2017 is astronomical and this game is the precipice of the waiting period Flyers fans have been stuck in. Tonight, is the beginning of the future of the Flyers. It’s the culmination of four spectacular drafts, and should be a bright star of hope for Flyers fans to hold onto going forward.
Today we are going to highlight the five players who may break the lineup to start the season that will be playing this evening.
Nolan Patrick- Center- 2017 1st round pick- #64
Let’s start with the obvious one, Nolan Patrick is a near lock to make this team. General Manager Ron Hextall has done a very good job of stating that Patrick will have to earn his spot, but his moves in the offseason show that he is purposefully left spots open for these rookies to take for their own. The 6’2 center will more than likely slot into the 3C role this year with a good amount of power play time as well. This will be the first time fans will be able to see him in game action with fellow Flyers. He will definitely be lining up with Connor Bunnaman (2016 4th round pick, Kitchner Rangers), the two have been on a line all week during the rookie camp.
Chances of making opening lineup: 99.999999%
Samuel Morin- Defenseman-2013 1st round pick-#50
The 6’7 behemoth is in his final rookie camp and heading into camp he will be in the best position to make the big club on the defensive side. Morin is a defensive defenseman, a term that is really going out of style but his size and speed combination should give him a shot to play in the new NHL. This is not the Mike Rathje, Derian Hatcher build who couldn’t skate and got sped out of the league. Morin is ridiculously strong and a good penalty killer. Flyers fans got a brief look at him last season for just the one game but he looked like he belonged. Morin will try to prove that’s the case starting tonight. Look for him to take one of the two open spots in the defense to start this season.
Chances of making opening lineup: 90%
Oskar Lindblom- Left Wing-2014 5th round pick-#54
The diamond in the rough, who may turn out to be the Flyers best rookie this year. Lindblom has spent the past few seasons playing in his home country of Sweden and finished last year as one of the SHL (third best professional hockey league in the world) best scorers. Strong on the puck and great around the net, Lindblom brings a goal scorer’s touch that the Flyers’ have missed dearly in previous years. Look for him to slot on the left wing in a middle six role and could be the heir apparent to the Brayden Schenn/Scott Hartnell role on the power play. But with the transition to North American hockey, there is still a chance that Hextall gives him some seasoning in Lehigh Valley but I would be shocked.
Sanheim was Hextall’s first draft pick for the Flyers and we are finally going to see what the kid can do. The 21-year-old, was one of the best defenseman in junior hockey before making his way to Lehigh Valley last year and being the top defenseman for the Phantoms last year. Sanheim needed to make strides in his own zone and he did just that. Of course, he can still be better and there’s a chance that Hextall will send him down again to start this season to iron out the rougher spots. But from an offensive standpoint, in addition to his size and speed, Sanheim is ready. Expect him to break onto the Flyers at some point this season and be a mainstay from then on, it just may not be from day one.
Chances of making opening lineup: 40%
Phil Myers-Defenseman-UDFA 2015 signing-#61
The last of the big named defensive prospects is a 6’5, right handed shooting monster. Myers does everything right and his offensive prowess makes every person who has ever seen him play wonder how he was never drafted. The kid has some serious fire power and he is tough as nails, impossible to skate around. Myers is the least polished of the defenseman, having spent the entirety of his career in juniors. So getting some pro experience with the Phantoms will be good for him, but with a stellar camp and his right handedness maybe he makes the team from day one. It’s slim but the idea of Sanheim/Myers being an NHL pairing very, very soon should excite all Flyers fans.
Chances of making opening lineup: 5%
So that’s our list, and if anyone was wondering why Robert Hagg wasn’t included he is not at rookie camp and will not be playing tonight. The game will be streaming live from the Flyers website at 7pm. Hockey is back in Philadelphia and thank you, Nolan Patrick for that.