Young Flyers and their prospects ‘ready for increased roles,’ says Alain Vigneault
The coach believes the Flyers' young players and prospects will be ready to make their mark next season.
After a strong rookie year, left winger Joel Farabee figures to get more playing time with the Flyers next season.
He’s not the only young player who could crack the lineup. Center Morgan Frost and defenseman Mark Friedman might also be regulars — their roles will be affected by other offseason moves — and right winger Nic Aube-Kubel, one of the Flyers' most physical forwards after being recalled from the Phantoms, should continue to build off his 36-game rookie season.
In addition, prospects like Connor Bunnaman, Wade Allison, Linus Sandin, and Tanner Laczynski are close to being NHL-ready.
“I believe we’ve got a lot of kids right now that are ready for increased roles,” coach Alain Vigneault said Monday in a conference call with reporters. “I believe there are a lot of players that were up and down during the year that are close to knocking on the door. Now, does that mean they’ll figure it out and find a way to contribute and help this team win and stay in the NHL? That’s usually why you have training camp and why you go through different phases of a season. Then if you’ve got to adjust your lineup, you do that.”
Vigneault said Frost, an AHL All-Star last season, has “tons of potential. If he can put it together and figure it out, he’ll be a real good player for us. He has taken some strides this year. There are still a lot of strides to be taken.”
The Flyers want Frost to add some weight and muscle.
General manager Chuck Fletcher will explore the trade and free-agent markets, although he is high on his farm system.
“The one thing I find about this organization is we’ve got a lot of these young players right now that are pushing and probably need an opportunity to see if they can’t make this league,” Vigneault said. “It’s going to be interesting. I don’t know when we’re going to restart, I don’t know how long we’re going to have, but I’m hoping that everyone in this organization sees the great opportunity they have this two, three, four, five months to work on their conditioning, to work on their skill, to really work on their game.”
Samuel Morin, 25, who is coming off a second surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, figures to spend most of the season with the AHL’s Phantoms, Vigneault said. Because of injuries, the 6-foot-7, 230-pound defenseman has played a total of 28 games — eight with the Flyers, 20 with Lehigh Valley — over the last three seasons.
“He’s been working out and doing his rehab,” Vigneault said. “I think Sam hasn’t played a lot of hockey in the last three years, so he’s going to have to find a way to play some hockey. That’s probably not going to be with the Flyers. He’s probably going to have to go in the American League and get 50, 60 games staying healthy under his belt. ... He’s got to get a chance to play.”
Comcast Spectacor reached an agreement to sell three of its Flyers Skate Zones -- located in Northeast Philadelphia, Pennsauken, and Atlantic City -- to Black Bear Sports Group. Former Flyers captain Keith Primeau is a minority owner in the acquisition. ... Nate Thompson, a prospective unrestricted free agent, said he hopes to return but that his agent and the Flyers have yet to have any conversations. He was used as a fourth-line center — his unit spent lots of time against the Islanders' top players in the conference semifinals — and penalty killer. … Travis Sanheim said he and defensive partner Phil Myers “took a step back” in the Islanders series. “We probably weren’t happy with our last two games,” he said, “but we’ve come a long way as a pairing.” ... Ivan Provorov doesn’t believe the Flyers need to make a lot of offseason changes, and said the Flyers were “clicking on all cylinders” when the regular season was stopped.