Philadelphia Flyers have promising group of prospects at junior level

By Alessandro Seren Rosso

Taylor Leier - Philadelphia Flyers

Photo: Forward Taylor Leier is one of three prospects who will represent the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2014 World Junior Championships. (courtesy of Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The Philadelphia Flyers have a good number of prospects in junior hockey. Over the last few seasons, the organization has focused on developing and improving their blue line depth, as many of their current defensemen are already past their prime.

The Flyers currently have nine players in North American junior leagues, including two former first-round picks in Scott Laughton and Samuel Morin.

OHL

Scott Laughton, C, Oshawa Generals
Acquired: 1st round (20th overall) in 2012

Laughton is having a spectacular season with the Oshawa Generals, managing 24 goals and 26 assists through only 29 games. He plays in all situations for the Generals, but has been especially deadly on the penalty kill, where he leads the OHL with four short-handed markers.

Known for his leadership ability, Laughton was recently named Team Canada's captain for the 2014 World Junior Championships. He is expected to be a key contributor for the team and will utilize his two-way style of play to shutdown opposing forwards.

Already signed to an entry-level deal, Laughton will likely join the NHL as soon as his junior season is over.

Anthony Stolarz, G, London Knights
Acquired: 2nd round (45th overall) in 2012

Stolarz has been very strong in his first full season of Canadian junior hockey. Through 26 starts, he has a 20-3-1-0 record, a 2.50 goals against average, a .926 save percentage, and three shutouts – all of which rank among the top five in the league.  

The 19-year-old has learned to make better use of his 6'6 frame, which should help a lot in the transition to pro hockey. He will represent the United States at the 2014 World Junior Championship, where he is expected to backup presumed starter Jon Gillies (CAL). Stolarz is also scheduled to appear in his second consecutive Memorial Cup, as the London Knights play host this year.

QMJHL

Samuel Morin, D, Rimouski Oceanic
Acquired: 1st round (11th overall) in 2013

The top defensive prospect of the organization, Morin is having a good season in Rimouski after winning the U18s Gold Medal with Team Canada in Russia last spring. He currently has four goals and 13 assists through 28 games, already surpassing his season totals from 2012-13. He also has 57 penalty minutes, including one fighting major.

In September, Morin signed an entry-level deal with the Flyers, but despite making a good impression in training camp, the franchise decided to return him to juniors. The 6'6 defenseman has all the tools to have a very good pro career in the NHL and, assuming he continues to develop this year, should vie for a spot on the Flyers roster in 2014-15.

WHL

Tyrell Goulbourne, LW, Kelowna Rockets
Acquired: 3rd round (72nd overall) in 2013

Tyrell Goulbourne might be the next in a long line of enforcers for the Flyers. The 19-year-old is well known around the Dub for his fighting abilities and will often drop the gloves with much bigger players. Through 29 games this year he has dropped the gloves six times and has a total of 48 penalty minutes. He also has five goals, nine assists, and a plus-two rating.

At this point, the 19-year-old does not look like much of an offensive threat, though he could develop into an effective third or fourth-line energy forward.

Taylor Leier, LW, Portland Winterhawks
Acquired: 4th round (117th overall) in 2012

Leier is amidst a breakout season with the Portland Winterhawks. Named the team captain at the start of the season, Leier currently has 22 goals and 21 assists through 31 games. The 19-years-old is not very large at 5'11, but plays aggressively and physically. Though he possesses a lot of intriguing offensive upside, Leier will need to add more strength and improve his defensive game to succeed at the professional level.

He will join Laughton and Team Canada for the 2014 World Junior Championships in Sweden.

NAHL

Merrick Madsen, G, Minot Minotauros
Acquired: 6th round (162nd overall) in 2013

Madsen is having a rough season with the Minot Minotauros, where he has split starts with 20-year-old undrafted goaltender Brandon Wildung. Through 12 starts, Madsen has a 6-6 record, a 2.54 goals against average, a .911 save percentage, one shutout.

At this point, Madsen is considered a long-term project, though his combination of size, mobility, and agility make him intriguing. He is committed to Harvard for the 2014-15 season, and will likely play out his college eligibility.

USHL

Terrance Amorosa, D, Sioux City Musketeers
Acquired: 5th round (132nd overall) in 2013

Another long-term project on defense, Terrence Amorosa is a player with good size at 6'1 and high offensive potential. The 19-year-old is currently making the adjustment from high school level hockey to the USHL, and is finding his game in the process. He currently has seven assists, 22 shots, and a plus-nine rating through 21 games.

The blueliner is committed to the Providence College for the 2014-15 season.

David Drake, D, Des Moines Buccaneers
Acquired: 7th round (192nd overall) in 2013

A tall defenseman with a projectable 6'4 frame, David Drake is another long-term prospect in the Flyers defensive pool. The 18-year-old is in his first full season of USHL hockey after splitting the 2012-13 season between the Chicago Fury of the MWEHL and Des Moines. He plays a fairly safe, stay-at-home style of game, and has done so even at lower levels of hockey.

Drake will most likely take the NCAA route of development and, over the next few years, show if he has any NHL potential.

Fredric Larsson, D, Youngstown Phantoms
Acquired: 4th round (111th overall) in 2012

A tall, aggressive defenseman, Larsson decided to cross the Atlantic this past summer after playing a season with the Brynas J20 squad in Sweden. A very raw defenseman, Larsson has good size at 6'3 and plays with an extremely physical edge to his game. He has shown marked improvement this season, particularly in his own end, and is learning to make smarter plays with the puck.

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