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5 flyer forwards battling for the future of the NHL

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General Manager (GM) Chuck Fletcher didn’t make any flashy offseason additions to the Philadelphia Flyers. Just months after his vow to “aggressively reorganize” the roster in response to a dismal 2021-22 season, while coveted free agent Johnny Godreau goes to the Metropolitan Division’s opponents. Despite the backlash received by the organization, a large part of Fletcher’s reasoning was to allow proper assessment of young players for 2022-23.

“Some of these guys are young now but have some experience, like guys like (Morgan) Frost and (Owen) Tippett, (Wade) Allison and (Tanner). Even Radzinski is now 25. At some point, he has to seize the opportunity and go beyond what Mike Yeo (former interim head coach) talked about last year. and getting these reps hopefully they can grow and keep moving forward regardless of the score the game stays the same.

–Chuck Fletcher

Young defenses like Egor Zamra, Cam York and Ronnie Attard need time to develop, whether it’s for the big clubs in the NHL or the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League (AHL). . But his five forwards on the current roster are looking squarely at the NHL’s future. They will no longer be considered players of NHL ability if they fail to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them by teams that are not expected to be in contention this season.

Morgan Frost

Frost entered the NHL with the highest expectations of the five players on the list. He scored his 100-plus points in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in 2017-18 and his 2018-19, skyrocketing promising rankings after two consecutive seasons. His sluggish start to his NHL career has been attributed to a combination of injuries and poor performance. The 23-year-old failed to capitalize on a prominent hole in his position at Philadelphia center last season after a mountain of injuries piled up.

Morgan Frost, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / Hockey Writers)

The most disconcerting aspect of Frost’s game in the 2021-22 season was the apparent lack of confidence he displayed in the pack. The Flyers apparently allowed him to play in the NHL at certain points by default due to the incredibly thin staff they had. They haven’t built a rhythm, but it looks like a small step of momentum has carried over into 2022-23.

New head coach John Totorella allowed him to play no less than two minutes per game on power plays through the first four games. The young centerman carried the puck in a much better stance. His quickness in the neutral zone makes him look like a different player from those who were demoted to Lehigh Valley in February.

Related: Frost, Tippett Handed Golden Opportunity with Flyers in 2022-23

Frost scored two points in the season opener against the New Jersey Devils and had an assist against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. A good start on the stat sheets looks like a positive step for former Sue Ste. No lineup spot will be handed to a former first-round pick by default this year, as the NBA relegation already proved. Frost either continues to win ice time or falls out of favor within the organization again, which is probably better this time around.

Noah Cates

The most impressive flyer in pre-season and training camp has had a great start in the first four games and continues to build momentum. Noah Cates continues to play effectively in all three zones, especially in his 50-50 pack, an area where the Flyers have struggled in his 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons. is winning He scored the winning goal against the Lightning, completing an unlikely comeback in a moment that hinted at his talent for winning hockey.

Noah Cates Philadelphia Flyers
Noah Cates, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / Hockey Writers)

Noah Cates played four seasons in Minnesota Duluth, skated two Frozen Fours, and won one NCAA National Championship. He spoke after making his NHL debut in March about “the energy and dignity that a winning team has” and how he wants to be a leader within the organization that needs to develop those traits. His outstanding expected goals of 58.04 in a 5-5 percentage (xGF%) in 16 games for the Reds backed up his bold statement.

He made a successful transition to the center position and firmly established himself as a regular lineup member of the Flyers. It was a target. He won’t leave Tortorella’s grace any time soon.

Wade Allison

The day after the season opener, Allison turned 25. The early part of his professional career was kept off track, mainly due to injuries. His unquestionable intensity will appeal to fanbases that have missed the passion of the franchise’s all-time greatest players, as well as organizations looking for a player to go all out and make a splash. As long as he doesn’t go on injured reserve for overly aggressive play, I will continue to pay him some respect.

Wade Allison Philadelphia Flyers
Wade Allison, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Allison could be successful as a power forward. He scored the only goal of the season in a greasy play in front of the New Jersey crease on opening night. His physicality in front of the opponent’s net, his play and his willingness to drop the glove and stand up for his teammates is a small sample that looks good for his size and if Allison can keep it up for long, the organization will be able to do just that. You can get a position within

Tanner Lakzinski

A hip injury ended Radzinski’s 2020-21 season with just 14 AHL games and 5 NHL games. His four years in the NCAA began to look like a bad thing when an injury to his opposite hip forced him to miss most of the 2021-22 season. The clock suddenly ticked, and some within the organization even questioned whether he had faith in his body and his abilities on the ice after returning from a hip injury. , getting his first serious shot at landing a full-time role at the age of 25.

Laczynski is playing a clever game of 200 feet and, given the right opportunity, could chip in offensively in the second scoring role in the second half six minutes. But Tortorella doesn’t seem thrilled with the former Ohio State Buckeye.

Tortorella said before the game that by picking up Sedlák, the Flyers could send a young player (named Laczynski) to the Phantoms. Here’s what he said about Radzinski’s first three regular season games when I followed up:

Tortorella spoke in the same tone just before York’s relegation after a crushing effort by the young defense during preseason. You will be kicked out of the lineup. If changes are made, Radzinski has a chance to regain his footing and make a strong appearance in the AHL to take the position.

Jackson Cates

Totorella didn’t say much about Hayden Hodgson after training camp, but a tip from the front office convinced him to give the 26-year-old a spot in the season opener lineup. The experiment didn’t last long, as training camp standout Jackson-Cates took Hodgson’s place before the second game. Noah’s decision to call out his 25-year-old brother shows Tortorella’s renewed emphasis on merit and accountability.

Jackson brings the same qualities as Noah as the type of player that coaches consistently admire. The Flyers shouldn’t expect him to be a consistent point he’s a producer at his NHL level. However, he has to play a useful role as a swing player between the NHL and AHL.

“We have a lot better depth this year than we have the last two years, so I think there will be a lot of kids in the Lehigh Valley if we run into injuries that we think will happen during the season. You can put it on,” Fletcher told media on Oct. 12.

When Tippett returns to the lineup from an upper body injury, he will rejoin the fray of players vying for the future of the NHL. It may be, but the Flyers now have a sense of direction with young talent. A player will emerge in 2022-23.