Chuck Fletcher, the new general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers, is not expected to give the current roster much of a leash before he starts to make changes to it.
If the team can turn around its inconsistent season this month, then expect the locker room to remain intact. However, should the Flyers continue to sputter – they have three wins in their last 14 games – the GM will pull the trigger on a trade or two.
At his introductory press conference last week, Fletcher said that he will first look internally to improve the club – as he did this past week when he called up Phil Varone from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League (AHL) after Sean Couturier was listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
So rather than look at possible trade scenarios, let’s follow Fletcher’s approach and see who his best internal options are this year (only players in the AHL are eligible to play for the Flyers) and next season.
1. Carter Hart
The 20-year-old goaltender is projected to get the keys to the No. 1 job with the Flyers but not any time soon. Hart is still adjusting to his first season in the AHL and is clearly not ready for the jump.
Through 17 games with the Phantoms, he owns a less-than-stellar 3.05 goals-against average and .901 save percentage.
2. Philippe Myers
The 6-foot-5 defenseman has improved defensively (he is a plus-5 in plus/minus) and provided offense with five goals and 11 assists in 26 games. Myers is likely the first call-up if a Flyers D-man goes on the injured list, but with an already young and struggling defense to contend with, it’s doubtful Fletcher remains with another pup on the blue line for any length of time this season.
3. Mikhail Vorobyov
The center’s stay in Philadelphia lasted the first seven games due to poor play after making the Flyers out of training camp. He’s looked more like himself recently with the Phantoms and would add creativity, speed, skill and hopefully look more comfortable if called up again.
1. Sam Morin
The hulking, stay-at-home defenseman would have been on the former list but a lower-body injury will keep him from returning to the Phantoms until February. He nearly made the team last September and, if healthy, will enter next season as a top candidate to break camp with the Flyers.
2. Morgan Frost
Following a campaign where he scored 42 goals and had 70 assists in 67 games last year with Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), the 2017 first-round pick is on pace to exceed those numbers this year with 20 goals and 38 assists through 32 games.
At 6-foot, 185 pounds, only his lack of size and strength held him back from possibly making the Flyers this fall.
3. Isaac Ratcliffe
At 6-foot-6, 200 pounds, size, and strength are not one of Ratcliffe’s shortcomings. Like Frost, Ratcliffe is expected to surpass last year’s impressive numbers (41 goals, 27 assists in 67 games) this season (20 goals, 14 assists in 29 games) with the Guelph Storm of the OHL.
The 19-year-old will play for the Phantoms in 2019 and be a potential midseason option for the Flyers.