The left wingers the Flyers have been using lately - Michael Raffl, Nick Cousins, Dale Weise, and Chris VandeVelde - have combined for just 19 goals this season.

Greg Carey, a sturdy left winger who plays for the Flyers' top affiliate in Lehigh Valley, went into Wednesday's action tied for the AHL lead with 21 goals.

And, so, yes, Carey is opening some eyes among the Flyers brass.

The undrafted Carey is a late bloomer at 26. The 6-foot, 195-pounder was signed as a free agent July 1 after scoring 26 goals for Springfield in his first full AHL season.

"His shot is probably one of the best in the American Hockey League," Phantoms coach Scott Gordon said. "He can overpower goalies. Sometimes his shots come out of the net just as fast as they go in."

Carey has always been a natural scorer, but he has improved his two-way play this season, Gordon said.

After scoring 72 goals in 48 games in the Ontario Junior Hockey League in 2009-10, Carey spent four years at St. Lawrence University, recording 185 points, including 84 goals, in 152 games.

He was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the nation's top collegiate player, in 2013 and 2014. An academic all-American, Carey finished second to Johnny Gaudreau in 2014, the year the Hamilton, Ontario, native signed a one-year entry-level deal with the Coyotes. (Many NHL teams, including the Flyers, were also pursuing him at the time.)

Carey scored 15 goals in 30 ECHL games, then finished tied for 11th in the AHL with 26 goals last year. This season, he has been on a tear. Carey has 11 goals in his last 14 games, and he leads the AHL with 13 power-play scores.

"The rest of his game is coming along, too," Gordon said. "He's certainly applied himself, defensively, in the last month or month and a half - more than he did at the beginning of the year. He was one of our highest minus guys for a while, but he's getting close to being even now in his plus-minus." (Carey is at minus-3.)

Gordon, who spent two-plus seasons as the Islanders' head coach, was asked if he thought Carey had the ability to play in the NHL.

"He has an NHL shot. I don't think anybody would tell you anything differently," he said. "The rest of his game has to come together, but I would never say never. There's plenty of guys out there who have shown that if you work on your shortcomings, the opportunities will be there and somebody will see you. It's just a matter of being at the right place at the right time, and not cheating yourself in the time [you put] in to get better."

Added Gordon: "Everybody down here has something they need to get better at. I'm not singling him out. I could go through our whole team and say that."

Gordon said Carey has improved his "positioning on starting and stopping. He's made a lot of strides."

Since Brayden Schenn moved to center on Nov. 27 (the day the Flyers started a 10-game winning streak), the club has been short on scoring from left wing.

Meanwhile, several former Flyers left wingers, or their ex-farmhands, have been productive around the league, including Edmonton's Patrick Maroon (18 goals), Toronto's James van Reimsdyk (16), and Columbus' Scott Hartnell (11).

scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull