Breaking Down Philadelphia Flyers' Top Defensive Prospects
My focus now shifts to the defensive side of the game.
The Flyers' forward prospects are pretty weak as a unit, but their defensive counterparts look strong. They have a nice combination of offensive- and defensive-minded blueliners who all have a lot of upside.
Unlike the top forward prospects, all of these defensive players have an extremely good chance of making a serious impact in the NHL at some point.
Here is an analysis of the Flyers' top five defensive prospects.
According to NHL Central Scouting's final assessment of the 2013 season, Robert Hagg was the eighth-ranked European skater available at June's entry draft. TSN.ca's Bob McKenzie also had him as a first-round prospect in his draft rankings.
Luckily for the Flyers, he fell to them in the second round. The two-way defenseman is talented and has room to grow.
He will go back to play for MODO in Sweden for the time being, which should help his development over the next year or two. The 18-year-old already has impressive vision and is a phenomenal passer.
He has the upside of a top-pairing guy if he becomes more consistent in his own end.
Over the past two seasons, Brandon Manning has played a total of 10 games with the Flyers without having much to show for it. However, the offensive defenseman has looked good in the AHL.
Manning is a great skater who controls the puck well. He has a solid shot from the point and the potential to be a decent power-play quarterback.
With that being said, he needs to get a lot stronger defensively if he wants to have staying power in the NHL.
Taken 11th overall in June, there is a lot of pressure on Samuel Morin's big shoulders. Listed at around 6'6" and a little over 200 pounds, Morin is a towering presence on the ice.
He is still a really raw player who needs to work a lot on carrying the puck and making good decisions.
In his own zone, however, Morin is a punisher who has the potential to be an elite shutdown NHL defenseman.
Shayne Gostisbehere is undersized at 5'11" and 160 pounds, but he is still just 20 years old and has time to bulk up. His diminutive size aside, Gostisbehere is an electrifying offensive talent.
The Union College star is a phenomenal skater who passes really well and can also chip in some goals. He has great instincts and just needs to work on positioning and strength in his own zone before making the jump to the NHL.
The son of former Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman John Alt, Mark is a big, athletic presence on the blue line who has already had some ups and downs during his young career.
Alt has a ton of natural ability, but does not provide any offense and has been inconsistent on the ice. The 21-year-old seems like he just needs to make better decisions with the puck and put everything together.
If he does that, an NHL future is imminent.