The 5 Prospects Most Important to Philadelphia Flyers' Future
The Philadelphia Flyers may have won back-to-back games entering the week, but this is still a team with a long way to go.
Through the first 11 games, Philadelphia's offense has produced just 20 goals—the second-lowest total in both the Eastern Conference and NHL. Their defense is a patchwork of players acquired via trades and free agency, while their two goaltenders are both operating under just one-year contracts.
The Flyers are 3-5 under newly appointed head coach Craig Berube but still are a long way from where they want to be.
If this club has any hope of joining the NHL's elite, it will have to build from within.
With that, here's a look at the five most important prospects to the future of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Scott Laughton, F
Widely regarded as Philadelphia's top prospect, Scott Laughton is another in a long line of blossoming young centers for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Less than six months after being tabbed with the 20th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Laughton dipped his toes in the NHL waters, suiting up for five games before being sent back to his junior team, the Oshawa Generals.
Even though he didn't stick with the big club, Laughton made an instant impression by finishing his hits and playing with the kind of speed and intensity a young player has to in order to succeed at the NHL level.
The Oakville, Ontario native registered 23 goals and 56 points in 49 games with the Generals last season and has already produced 11 goals and 19 points in Oshawa this season.
He doesn't project as a high-end offensive contributor in the NHL but is a solid two-way center who should fit perfectly on Philadelphia's third line for many years to come.
Nick Cousins, F
Like Laughton, Nick Cousins is a two-way center who competes up and down the ice.
He plays with a combination of toughness and offensive upside much like Scott Hartnell, but at 5'11" and 175 pounds, he lacks the overall size Hartnell possesses.
Still, Cousins showcases above-average hockey sense and playmaking ability and has displayed a willingness and determination to get to the high traffic areas on the ice to convert scoring opportunities.
In 64 games last season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League, the Belleville, Ontario native recorded 27 goals and 103 points to go along with 83 penalty minutes.
Promoted to the Adirondack Phantoms this year, Cousins has already produced two goals and five points in just eight games.
Likely to reach full-time NHL status before Laughton, Cousins could bounce in and out of Philly's lineup this season and should be a regular on the team's third line next year.
Samuel Morin, D
Philadelphia claimed Samuel Morin with the 11th overall selection in last summer's draft.
Desperate to begin to build the team's defense from within, the Flyers used their first-round selection on a blue liner for just the second time in the last 11 years.
At 6'6" and 203 pounds, Morin is a tower of power on defense.
He's a physical presence on the back end who is routinely matched up against the opposition's top forwards. With a long stride, Morin is a powerful skater with an above-average reach to defuse scoring chances.
He's not an offensive defenseman by any means, but Morin still possesses a solid slap shot and produced four goals and 16 points in 46 games with Rimouski Oceanic last season.
The Lac-Beauport, Quebec native needs to learn to use his size more effectively in his own end and needs to bulk up to be able to compete at the NHL level.
Still, Morin projects as a top-four NHL defenseman and should be a regular on the Flyers' blue line in two years.
Robert Hagg, D
The Flyers valued growing their young defense so highly that the team used both its first and second-round selections in last summer's draft on blue liners for the first time since 1980.
After Philadelphia plucked Morin in the opening round, the Orange and Black snagged Swedish defenseman Robert Hagg in round two.
A 6'2", 201 pound defender, Hagg doesn't really excel in any one area right now. Rather, he's simply consistent in most facets of the game.
He tends to keep things simple but won't blow anyone away with his ability to rush the puck. Still, he possesses good size and doesn't shy away from the rough stuff.
Unlike a lot of European defensemen, Hagg isn't overly flashy but should be a solid depth defender who can play with some snarl for the Flyers down the road.
Anthony Stolarz, G
The Flyers have been looking for a long-term solution in goal since the days of Ron Hextall.
Anthony Stolarz could be that answer.
A massive net minder at 6'6", 220 pounds, Stolarz was grabbed by the Flyers with the 45th overall selection in the 2012 draft.
The Jackson, New Jersey native uses his impressive size to his advantage, limiting shooting options for the opposition. What's more, Stolarz isn't afraid to be aggressive even further by cutting down any possible openings for opposing shooters.
Stolarz began last season at the University of Nebraska-Omaha but left the Mavericks to join the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
The move paid huge dividends as Stolarz produced a 13-3-2 mark in 20 appearances in London last year while compiling a 2.29 goals-against average coupled with a .920 save percentage.
This season, he's picked up right where he left off, earning seven wins in his first 11 appearances.
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