Latest Updates on Philadelphia Flyers' Top Prospects
The Philadelphia Flyers are hoping the future is brighter than the present.
At present, Philadelphia is 4-8 overall and dead last in a Metropolitan Division that has just two teams with winning records. What's worse, the Flyers are second to last in the Eastern Conference and are tied with the Edmonton Oilers for the second-lowest point total in the NHL.
But there's optimism in the Orange and Black's future.
Eight of the team's currently rostered forwards, including captain Claude Giroux, are 25 years old or younger, while standout net minder Steve Mason is just 25 as well.
And for the first time in a long time, the cupboard isn't completely bare for Philadelphia.
Here's the latest update on the Flyers' top prospects.
Scott Laughton, F
Widely regarded as Philadelphia's top prospect, Scott Laughton is currently in his fourth season with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League.
After failing to stick with the big club out of training camp, the 20th overall pick in the 2012 draft returned to Oshawa and is currently second among all Generals in scoring with 20 points.
The 6'1", 177-pound forward has already managed 12 goals and eight assists in just 12 games and is on pace for the most productive offensive season of his junior career.
In just 12 outings, Laughton has already produced three multigoal games and six multipoint outings. Expect him to manage a spot on Philly's third or fourth line next season.
Nick Cousins, F
Nick Cousins was tabbed by Philadelphia with the 68th overall selection in the 2011 draft. Just over two years later, the 5'11", 177-pound forward is leading the Flyers' AHL affiliate in scoring.
In 11 games in Adirondack this season, Cousins has produced two goals, six assists and a Phantoms-leading eight points. The Belleville, Ontario native had managed just one assist and no goals in eight games in Adirondack over the prior two campaigns.
Cousins has scored at every level at which he's played, and that continues to be the case in the early stages of his professional career.
Like Laughton, expect Cousins to earn a spot on Philadelphia's third or fourth line next season.
Jason Akeson, F
Jason Akeson was signed by the Flyers as an undrafted free agent in March 2011. Since then, no player has registered more points in an Adirondack Phantoms jersey than Akeson.
In 149 games in Adirondack, the 5'10", 180-pound forward has produced 35 goals, 80 assists and 115 points. That includes seven points this season, which is good for second best among all current Phantoms.
The Orleans, Ontario native even managed a goal in his first and only NHL contest to date.
Look for Akeson to be called up this season if the Flyers need a roster boost. Otherwise, Akeson should crack Philly's lineup next year.
Samuel Morin, D
The Flyers desperately needed to restock their pool of defensive prospects this summer.
Philadelphia began addressing that directly with their first pick in the draft when the Orange and Black plucked Samuel Morin with the 11th overall selection.
A 6'6", 206-pound blueliner from Lac Beauport, Quebec, Morin notched four goals and 16 points to go along with 117 penalty minutes in 46 games with Rimouski Oceanic last season and is back in Rimouski this year.
In just 13 games so far, Morin has already produced three goals, eight points and 18 penalty minutes. The only downside for Morin so far is he's posted a minus-five rating overall this season and has been a minus player in six of 13 outings this year.
Morin is still a year or two away from joining the Flyers on a full-time basis but should be a mainstay on Philly's blue line for many years to come.
Robert Hagg, D
The Flyers don't traditionally use their early-round draft picks on defensemen. But the Orange and Black needed to restock their blue line so desperately that they snagged Morin in the first round and followed that by garnering Robert Hagg with the 41st overall selection.
A 6'2", 203-pound defender from Uppsala, Sweden, Hagg isn't a huge offensive contributor after notching just one assist in 27 games between MODO's Elitserien and U20 Super Elite league teams last season.
He's taken a modest step forward this year, though, producing four assists in just 19 games.
Like Morin, Hagg is a bit of a project on the back end for Philadelphia but projects as a top-six defender in the City of Brotherly Love within the next three years.
Mark Alt, D
The Flyers acquired defenseman Mark Alt as part of a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes in January 2013.
Philly then inked the 6'3", 205-pound defender to an entry-level pact in April, ending his three-year collegiate career at the University of Minnesota. In just six games with Adirondack last season, Alt managed a goal and two points.
In 10 games with the Phantoms this season, the St. Paul, Minn. native has already produced a goal, four points and nine penalty minutes.
Alt is still a raw talent, but his impressive size, fluid skating and two-way hockey sense make him a tantalizing addition to the Flyers' defense corps in a year or two.
Anthony Stolarz, G
Anthony Stolarz was grabbed by the Flyers with the 45th overall pick in the 2012 draft, and the hulking 6'6", 220-pound goaltender is Philadelphia's best prospect between the pipes.
The Jackson, N.J. native left the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks last season to join the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. And the move appears to have paid huge dividends.
After going 2-5 in just eight appearances with the Mavericks, Stolarz produced a 13-3-2 mark in 20 outings with the Knights a season ago.
Back in London this year, Stolarz is already 8-2-1 with a 2.44 goals-against average coupled with a .930 save percentage through his first 12 appearances.
Goaltenders often tend to need to more time before reaching the NHL ranks, but Stolarz appears to have the tools to be a capable netminder for the Flyers down the road.