Hockey returned to the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday as the Flyers hosted the Islanders in a rookie game. The Flyers got a chance to look at, and showcase, their talented prospect pipeline, which ESPN recently ranked as the NHL’s top farm system.
With players fighting to make the Flyers, Phantoms or to leave their mark before heading to their respective junior leagues, here are a few of the standout players from the game, which the Islanders won, 4-3, in overtime.
This summer’s second overall pick hardly disappointed in his professional debut, and most important, looked 100 percent healthy. He showed off his smooth skating, phenomenal vision, deft passing ability and the often-overlooked strong defensive side of his game. His skill was on display when he dug out a puck in the corner and found a teammate in the slot for a one-timer, on a cross-ice pass he nearly threaded through three defenders for an easy tap-in goal on a power play and in OT after he his shot hit the post.
It was just one game against rookies, but if the 6-foot-6, 227-pound defenseman continues to play as well as he did against the Islanders, Morin is a lock to make the Flyers. He was steady, physical – dropping opponents to the ice with bone-jarring checks to the delight of the crowd – cleared the real estate in front of his own net and added an assist. He plays the type of game that will turn him into a quick fan favorite.
Although the 2014 third round pick is not ticketed for the Flyers in the near term, Friedman proved he needs to be on their radar. Flashing uncanny speed, the defensemen turned in impressive plays on defense and offense and was named one of the stars of the game. His top defensive play was when he raced from behind to catch an Islanders player on a breakaway, tied him up and did not allow a shot. At the other end, he scored off slap shot from just above the faceoff dot to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead. After playing three seasons at Bowling Green University, Friedman signed an entry-level contract in March and should have a spot reserved on the Phantoms’ blueline.
The highly-touted defenseman didn’t hurt his cause to make the Flyers, but he didn’t help it, either. The 2014 first round selection had ups – scoring a goal off his own rebound in the first period – and using his body to bump players off the puck. However, he also had downs, like when he mishandled the puck on the power play that led to a breakaway, and too often was beat in his own end. He needs more consistency to earn a job with the Flyers.