By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
Rookie Camp is the precursor to training camp, and for many of the Flyers prospects, this five-day period is about showing improvement and making the right preparations for the season. For a few of these prospects, this is the beginning of a month-long journey to solidify a roster spot.
Of the 28 prospects that will take the ice for Rookie Camp, seven are camp invites looking for an opportunity to join the pipeline. Their sights are not set on making the NHL just yet, but more about finding a more permanent home within an organization. Among the rest of the 21 prospects are a handful that do have NHL hopes.
All eyes will be on two forwards in particular. Morgan Frost has been a highly-touted prospect for the last two seasons. His pro days have arrived. The question is whether he starts his professional career with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms or makes the Flyers immediately. Joel Farabee has also quickly entered the fray after an excellent freshman season at Boston University. He signed his entry-level deal in the offseason, instantly vaulting the 19-year-old into professional hockey. Like Frost, he is looking to start his first pro season in the NHL.
Frost has been through this process before. He was part of the last two training camps with the Flyers. In his first year, he wasn’t really on the radar for the NHL, especially with fellow first-round pick Nolan Patrick taking a lot of the attention. A 112-point season quickly changed all that. Frost got a decent look last season, but wasn’t quite up to size to make the NHL. He posted 109 points in his final OHL season and now appears ready to take another step in his career.
Farabee wasn’t even a participant in camp last season with his freshman year already underway. But throughout that season, he showcased his tremendous offensive skillset, pinpoint shot and puck-handling abilities. He didn’t just turn heads in the college game. His time at World Juniors was equally as impressive.
Both prospects will have plenty of competition when main camp arrives. But there are also a few other forward prospects trying to throw their name into the competition.
German Rubtsov, another former first-round pick, was off to a great start in his first pro season with the Phantoms before injury cut it short. He finished the year with six goals and 10 points in 14 games. Even his brief AHL experience will help him at Rookie Camp, but could work against him in main camp. Rubtsov is looking to prove otherwise.
Isaac Ratcliffe had a long season, reaching the Memorial Cup with the Guelph Storm in the OHL. The 6’6” winger showed his goal scoring ability throughout the season, scoring 50 goals and 82 points in 65 games and adding 15 goals and 30 points in 24 playoff games. Ratcliffe has proven to be a stellar scorer in juniors. He may fall a little short of the two headliners in this group, but he’s certainly high on the list and not too far off from the top prospect forwards in the organization.
You can also add Carsen Twarynski’s name to the list as well. Twarynski was the surprise of training camp last season, staying in the running for a roster spot until the very end of camp. His first full pro season with the Phantoms was a solid one with 10 goals and 24 points in 69 games.
Mikhail Vorobyev got a chance on the NHL roster out of training camp last season, the prospect that performed well in camp and earned a spot. The success he showed in the preseason was short-lived in the regular season though, as he scored one goal and had two points in 15 games. In 42 games with the Phantoms, Vorobyev had seven goals and 26 points, following up a rookie season where he had nine goals and 29 points in 58 games.
The Flyers have spent the last several offseasons stocking up on forwards through the draft. They certainly have their headliners in the group with Frost and Farabee, but there are plenty more right on their heels. Rookie Camp is often a time when a prospect may show he stands out among the rest of the group, setting the tone for training camp. Last season, that was Oskar Lindblom, who still qualified for Rookie Camp and was clearly a step above with his prior NHL experience.
The start of Rookie Camp this season marks the beginning of what should be a lot of competition to come over the next month.