Latest Updates on the Philadelphia Flyers' Top Prospects

Brad Kurtzberg@@sealshockeyContributor IDecember 12, 2013

Latest Updates on the Philadelphia Flyers' Top Prospects

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    Samuel Morin was the Flyers' top pick in this year's draft.
    Samuel Morin was the Flyers' top pick in this year's draft.Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    While the Philadelphia Flyers are off to a disappointing start to the 2013-14 NHL season, the team still has some promising players in their system. Here is an update on some of the top prospects for the Flyers and how they are performing this season.

    The top prospects are not necessarily the players putting up the gaudiest numbers in the minors in juniors. They are the players with the most potential to become productive NHL players. Those players with the most potential are ranked higher with those who are ready to break into the lineup sooner being ranked ahead of those who are further away in the case of ties.

    Feel free to comment on any of these prospects or to mention any players you feel may have deserved to be on this list but were omitted. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.

5. Brandon Manning

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    Manning is intense and competitive.
    Manning is intense and competitive.Elsa/Getty Images

    Brandon Manning is 23 and has already played a total of 10 games with the Flyers over the past two seasons.

    The native of Prince George, BC, has two goals and nine points in 23 games this season playing for the AHL's Adirondack Phantoms. He is on the team's top defensive pair.

    Manning stands 6'1" and weighs 195. He was not drafted, but his intensity made it impossible for the NHL to ignore him.

    In the annual "Future Watch" issue of The Hockey News, general manager Paul Holmgren said, "Brandon is good with the puck and he's developed nicely for us. He's a pretty good defender, but what we like about him is he's very competitive."

    The Flyers have a decision to make on Manning after this season since his contract is up and he can become a restricted free agent.

4. Shayne Gostisbehere

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    Gostisbehere is having a strong season at Union College.
    Gostisbehere is having a strong season at Union College.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Shayne Gostisbehere is off to a blazing start at Union College this season.

    The 20-year-old native of Margate, Fla., has six goals and 15 points in 15 games which is especially good for a defenseman.

    Last season, he was a big reason why Union made it to the Frozen Four.

    Gostisbehere is an offensive-minded defenseman who is learning when to pick his spots. He also has a nasty side which Philadelphia fans will certainly appreciate.

    He's listed at 5'11" and only 160 pounds, although he did put on some bulk over the summer.

    "When I have the chance to take the body I can take it, but I'm not going to knock a guy into the second row," Gostisbehere told's Adam Kimelman. "Putting weight on is what I needed to do. I feel I've been doing that and I need to keep on doing that."

    His college coach, Rick Bennett, has also been pleased with Gostisbehere's progress and even made him an alternate captain this season.

    "He's very willing to learn and he just competes so hard in practice and in games," Bennett explained to Kimelman. "That's why he's developed so much."

    If he can add a little more bulk and play a bit better in his own zone, Gostisbehere can make the jump to the NHL, although he will probably need at least one AHL season to adjust to the pro game.

3. Robert Hagg

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    Hagg is a great skater and a potential two-way defenseman.
    Hagg is a great skater and a potential two-way defenseman.Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    Defenseman Robert Hagg was the Flyers' second-round pick in this year's NHL draft and is playing for Modo of the Swedish Elite League this season.

    Hagg is a strong skater and projects as a two-way defenseman.

    He is already playing against grown men in Sweden, despite the fact he is just 18 years old. He is already 6'2" and weighs 204.

    It's been an uneven season so far for Hagg who has to adjust to the size and speed of his opponents. He has scored one goal and five points in 28 games this season. Like many younger players, he has struggled at times and looked good at others.

    The good news for the Flyers is that Hagg made the latest cut to play for Sweden at this year's World Junior Championships. This will give the Flyers a chance to see how Hagg does against his peers.

2. Samuel Morin

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    Morin is expected to become a shutdown defenseman.
    Morin is expected to become a shutdown defenseman.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Samuel Morin is projected as a shutdown defenseman. At 6'6" and 202 pounds, he certainly has the size to get that job done.

    Morin is still just 18 and is playing for Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL. In 23 games so far this season, Philadelphia's top pick in this year's NHL draft has scored four goals and accumulated 13 points. He has a minus-five plus/minus rating.

    Morin was passed over by the coaching staff of Team Canada and did not make the roster for this year's World Juniors.

    It wasn't necessarily because Morin wasn't playing well. Willy Palov of The Halifax Chronicle Herald explained the reason was that Morin and fellow high draft pick Darnell Nurse are, "aggressive, all-around defenders who spend their share of time in the penalty box. There is a different refereeing standard at the world juniors that would work against those players’ strengths."

    While the decision will deny Morin a chance to play against the best teenagers in the world, he will have a chance to make the necessary adjustments in his game.

    Bigger defensemen tend to take a bit longer to develop but so far, Morin is coming along as expected.

1. Scott Laughton

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    Scott Laughton is considered the best prospect in the Flyers' system.
    Scott Laughton is considered the best prospect in the Flyers' system.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Scott Laughton played five games for the Flyers last year before being returned to his junior club, the Oshawa Generals.

    This season, the 19-year-old native of Oakville, Ontario, is putting up extremely impressive numbers. He has scored 24 goals and 50 points in just 29 games.

    Laughton's strong performance has earned him a spot at Team Canada's final camp to qualify for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships.

    The biggest concern the Flyers have about Laughton right now is typical: He needs to add a bit more bulk. Laughton is listed at 6'1" and 190 pounds.

    Once he adds some more strength and bulk, Laughton should be ready for the NHL.