Philadelphia Flyers: 5 takeaways from last night’s rookie game

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: Nolan Patrick poses for photos after being selected second overall by the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: Nolan Patrick poses for photos after being selected second overall by the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The kids were on full display last night as the Philadelphia Flyers took on the New York Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center in a rookie game. They did not disappoint.

1. Nolan Patrick is even better than I thought he’d be

He looked every bit the player Ron Hextall, and the Philadelphia Flyers brass thought they were getting when they drafted him #2 overall.

While it’s been clear from his time at rookie camp that he has uncanny hockey sense, seeing that skill translate over to game-speed was a lot of fun to watch. Whether it was him using his body to create space or superior positioning to create scoring chances, it was evident that he knows how to remain active and valuable even without the puck. A skill that is surprising to see in an 18-year old.

Nolan also flashed his plus passing skills numerous times last night, creating dangerous chances for his teammates. Unfortunately, they were unable to finish them. But in those instances, you could see that that part of his skillset set him apart from his peers last night.

2. Mikhail Vorobyev was the best forward that played last night

Considering all the praise that I just heaped on Nolan Patrick it might come as a surprise to see me say that Vorobyev was the best Flyers forward last night, but he was.

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Mikhail was all over the ice last night. He was disrupting the Islanders in the neutral zone, winning board battles, and setting up scoring chances. The highlight of the evening was the set-up he created for Travis Sanheim’s goal.

During that sequence, he takes the puck to the far boards and keeps his head up. He reads that Islanders #52 doesn’t see Sanheim cutting to the near-post and hits him with a laser of a pass that leads to a goal and a 2-1 lead.

In another sequence, Vorobyev executes a nice little give-and-go with fellow Russian Ivan Kosorenkov.

Ron Hextall and the Philadelphia Flyers might have found a gem in the 4th-round.

3. Ivan Kosorenkov might have played himself into a contract

The undrafted Russian did himself a lot of favors last night, playing a strong game, especially in the offensive zone.

Because of his familiarity with fellow Russian Vorobyev, it made sense to put them on the same line and boy did it pay dividends. Their forward line was easily the most impressive last night, getting numerous high-danger chances and creating good outcomes all game.

Many weren’t sure what to expect from the undrafted winger, but after a strong rookie camp and his stellar play last night, he might have an entry-level contract waiting for him.

4. Mark Friedman was spectacular

Considering the wealth of defensive prospects the Philadelphia Flyers have, I don’t think many expected Friedman stand out as much as he did.

What blew me away immediately when watching him last night was his speed. Holy cow can this kid move. He regularly left Islanders in his wake as he made his way up the ice. And while it was impossible not notice his wheels, the little guy can bring the body too.

He seems to play with a chip on his shoulder because of his size (5’10 185lbs.), but it was evident that he doesn’t play that small. He had no issues banging around with the Islanders last night and played a very aggressive game in his own end. Friedman was breaking up entries, throwing his weight around, and effectively neutralizing any Islander who dared cross him. It was an absolute blast watching him play.

He capped off all that superb play with a goal set-up by the Flyers best forward, Vorobyev.

5. Sam Morin is big and bad and Flyers fans already love him

No player received more cheers than Sam Morin last night. That is probably because the enormous man-child stands 6’6, weighs 225 lbs., and isn’t bashful about throwing that weight around. An attribute appreciated by the Flyers faithful.

Every bone-crunching hit he made last night, and there were many of them, was greeted with a cheer. I think many Flyers fans they look at Morin and see Chris Pronger. And while that comparison makes sense physically, Morin does not possess the same skill.

Morin’s skating ability for a kid his size still is impressive, even more so in person. He also made some good reads and had some good exit passes when given time and space, but when met with pressure, he panicked. I recall a couple of bad turnovers in his end when met with an aggressive forecheck.

He is going to have to keep refining those puck skills to become a NHL-caliber defenseman but if he does, look out.

The Philadelphia Flyers prospect pool is deep, skilled, and fun

I know the result of last night’s game (4-3) was a letdown but seeing the young guys take the ice was a treat last night. This team has skill, toughness, and speed.

Next: Philadelphia Flyers: Brian Elliott will be a difference maker

Just a few years ago this team sported one of the worst prospect pools in the NHL. In three years Ron Hextall made in the best in hockey according to NHL draft guru Corey Pronman (behind a paywall).The Flyers are set-up for success and we have Ron Hextall to thank for it.