Realistic 2013-14 Expectations for Philadelphia Flyers Rookies
Most will have no chance at all of making the Flyers' roster, some will end up in the AHL and a select few will be given a legitimate chance to have an impact in the NHL in the near future.
I tried to highlight guys that will have a legitimate shot at making some noise in the NHL this year. That's why highly-rated prospects like Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg, Anthony Stolarz and Shayne Gostisbehere aren't on the list along with AHL-bound, low-ceiling players like Jason Akeson and Cal Heeter.
With Erik Gustafsson officially moving on from "prospect" status and with Marc-Andre Bourdon's injury woes, Brandon Manning is currently the only Flyers defensive prospect with any hopes of sticking in the NHL.
Manning is a good offensive defenseman who does not have a good enough all-around game to threaten anyone's starting spot. Gustafsson, Hal Gill and Andrej Meszaros should fight for the sixth spot.
But as we know from last season, injuries can deplete the roster quickly, and I think Manning should end up being the team's eighth defenseman and play 25-30 NHL games.
Nick Cousins has really vaulted up the ranks in the Flyers system, and even though some fans (including myself) have liked him for awhile, everyone is just starting to realize that Cousins is a legitimate prospect.
He's going to have a hard time getting playing time in the NHL this season because of a crowded forward corps, but I wouldn't be surprised if he gets some call-up time with injuries in the middle of the season.
Even if he doesn't get NHL experience, I think he could surprise some people and light up the AHL for the Phantoms.
Tye McGinn is a scrappy left winger who made himself known in the NHL last year when some regulars went down with injuries.
McGinn is a big, imposing power forward who can hit and fight, but does not have a whole lot of offensive upside right now. This limitation may actually cause him to get overtaken by the next two guys on this list.
The left winger may just be kept on as the team's primary healthy scratch for awhile, although I could see him breaking through and playing 30-40 games for the big club.
Scott Laughton comes in as the Flyers highest-regarded prospect and the one who has the best chance to make a significant impact in the NHL this season.
The Flyers drafted him in the first round, and they want him to succeed and prove them right. He'll have every opportunity to win a spot on the wing, even though he's a natural center.
As of now, I think Laughton will make the team. My expectation is that he plays at least 50 NHL games this year, most on the third or fourth line.
Michael Raffl is a bit of a dark horse here, but the Austrian left winger was signed this past spring with the Flyers intending to give him every chance to make the NHL roster.
At already 24, Raffl has a lot of playing experience, and he has excelled recently on the Austrian national team playing alongside Thomas Vanek.
With each day of training camp and preseason, it seems like there is more and more praise for Raffl, and a higher likelihood of him making the team. If he does, I see him playing a full season with the Flyers and putting up 30 points.