QUICK HITS: JULY 10, 2017
1) The Flyers prospects at Development Camp will take a break from on-ice sessions on Monday to participate in various off-ice activities. Tomorrow afternoon, the on-ice portion of the camp concludes with the annual 3-on-3 tournament. The yearly Trial on the Isle in Stone Harbor, NJ, is on Wednesday and will be the final event of this year's Camp.
2) The degree of confidence and self-analysis with which Flyers defense prospect Travis Sanheim now speaks to reporters is one of the most notable changes he's undergone since his first Development Camp and even since the start of his rookie pro season. No longer does he stare at the ground and speak only in the safest of cliches. He made a strong statement the other day in saying that he feels he is ready now to push for an NHL job in training camp and, until someone tells him otherwise, plans to be a Flyer next season. If he does get assigned to the Phantoms, he will do everything he can to earn his first NHL call-up and show he belongs.
This sort of blossoming self-confidence is wonderful to see in Sanheim. In the team's 2015 training camp, I felt that he was putting too much pressure on himself not to make mistakes and, as a result, didn't even come close to showing what he was capable of doing. In his AHL rookie year in 2016-17, he started to put the pieces together and figure out both his defensive play and the tough balance between when to be offensively aggressive and when to be safe.
There is room for Sanheim to grow even further in his game to where there is no question at all about his NHL readiness but he seems like he's got the right attitude to make that happen. There is nothing cocky or off-putting about Sanheim and probably never will be, but his added dose of belief in himself as a bonafide pro player on the rise was something he needed to develop and now has in his favor.
2) A local newspaper column this weekend erroneously stated that Flyers Development camp undrafted invitee Ivan Kosorenkov is an "overaged" junior in the Quebec League. The article added that a "rap against him" was that his stats were inflated by playing against younger players. This premise is incorrect.
Last season, Kosorenkov was of what would be considered traditional "draft +1" age for a player selected in the 2017 NHL Draft. He was 18 at the start of the season and turned 19 on January 22. This is NOT how an overager is classified. Few players are pro-ready in their draft-plus-one year, so Kosoronkov played with and against many players his age and older.
As a matter of fact, Kosorenkov would not even be considered an overager for the 2017-18 season. Although he will turn 20 midseason, he remains eligible to represent Russia at the 2017-18 World Junior Championships and, if the Flyers or another NHL team were to sign him to an entry-level contract, he would be slide-rule eligible next season (meaning that the first season of his pro contract would kick in for 2018-19 and would not count against the 50-contract limit per NHL team next season).
Lastly, draft-plus-two aged players are far from uncommon in any of the CHL leagues. It would be come 2018-19 in his case that the overager factor of inflated numbers due to playing against teenagers would be factored in taking scoring production with a grain of salt.
A more valid critique of Kosorenkov's output last season is the still-existing perception that it is easier to score in the Quebec League than the other CHL-affiliated circuits (Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League) and there is the least emphasis on pro-like structured play. The scoring numbers put up by "non-elite" prospects in the Q often get questioned for this season.
Add that to the "Russian factor" that still exists to some degree, and this likely played into why every team bypassed him again after he went unselected in 2016 following the IIHF doping violations disqualification the entire Russian national under-18 from participating in the Under-18 World Championships.
To summarize, being an "overager" in the Q was a non-factor for Kosorenkov's scouting profile, because he wasn't even close to having that designation. The concerns over the level of demonstrated commitment to a 200-foot game -- which are also referenced in the article --
were likely more on the mark as to why he slipped through the Draft for a second straight year.
3) On the second day of Development Camp, Kosorenkov finished out a routine side-boards puck battle drill by moving in with the puck and beating the goaltender one-on-one with on an wicked backhander. It is worth a look, just for the sheer torque that Kosorenkov generated and the placement of the shot, albeit under casual circumstances:
4) Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was asked about Kosorenkov and said that he was one of a group of bubble players the team considered drafting and that he wished the NHL Draft went back to having more rounds. That may very well be the case, but the Flyers had an extra seventh round pick in this year's Draft and they opted to trade it Montreal for a seventh-round pick in 2018.
While next year's draft is considered a deeper class than the 2017 crop, all drafts are more or less the same in terms of what's available by the late stages. Additionally, gaining an extra seventh round asset in a given draft is rarely tough to do.
In my opinion, if the Flyers considered Kosorenkov or other players draft-worthy with the extra pick they originally held, it didn't make much sense to flip the pick to Montreal and essentially defer having the asset until next year. It may have been better to simply use the pick this year and then, over the next season, pick up an extra final round pick for 2018 along the way.
For example, if the Flyers had drafted Kosorenkov or someone else from the CHL leagues, they'd have held his rights for two seasons without needing to sign him to entry level contract beforehand. Now, if the Flyers determine they were impressed enough by the player to want his rights, they'd have sign him to entry level contract before he'd slide back to junior hockey as Flyers property. The difference is one of development assessment time, an owed signing bonus and a two-way salary when the player ages out of slide-rule eligibility.
Sometimes, this can work out great. The Flyers pounced on Philippe Myers in 2015 and it now looks like a great decision because he is among the organization's top defense prospects. Most of the time, though, if there is a feeling that a bubble draft candidate is probably worthy of a selection, it's probably better to draft him rather than taking your chances with Development Camp and/or Rookie Camp invites and then making an immediate decision on whether to offer an entry-level contract.
5) On July 6, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms signed five players to AHL contracts for the 2017-18 season, including returning veteran scoring line forward Chris Conner, fellow forwards Derek Hulak and Matt Willows along with defenseman Frank Hora and goaltender John Muse.
Multiple people asked me on Twitter or Facebook what the signing of Muse was all about and what it meant for the incumbent Phantoms goaltenders. Quite simply, Muse is the replacement for Martin Ouellette, who has signed with the Charlotte Checkers in order to take his shot at moving up full-time from the ECHL level to the AHL. Muse will become the Phantoms' third-string netminder and the probable starter for the ECHL's Reading Royals.
The 28-year-old Boston College graduate has shown himself to be a solid AHL goaltender and could step right in on the Phantoms if either Anthony Stolarz or Alex Lyon is injured or is on NHL recall in the event that either Michal Neuvirth or Brian Elliott are sidelined.
In terms how the Muse signing affects Stolarz's or Lyon's status, it doesn't. He is simply a proven veteran option for when the Phantoms need someone. Hope that clarifies any confusion.
6) After a series of flight cancellations and delays, I am finally back in Philadelphia for the remainder of the Flyers Development Camp and to participate in the Toyota Flyers Charity Classic on Sunday. I will be doing the 5k walking/running course from the Wells Fargo Center to the Navy Yard and back as a member of Brad Marsh's "Ides of Marsh" team. Among my Ides teammates are Flyers Hall of Fame defenseman Joe Watson, Neil Little and many members of the Marsh family in addition to Brad (including former HockeyBuzz Detroit Red Wings blogger, Erik Marsh).
There are only two days left to
sign up online
to participate in any of the four Charity Classic events of your choosing. Fundraising is optional for participating individuals and teams but there are numerous incentives
for doing so.