CHL Prospects Recap
Overall, it was a successful season for Flyers prospects playing in Canada’s top junior league, the CHL. All eight of them took significant steps forward into one day becoming NHLers, and all will play in the playoffs for their respective teams. Let’s take a look at how they performed over the course of the regular season.
Samuel Dove-McFalls (C/LW, Saint John Sea Dogs): After missing majority of last season with a knee injury, Samuel Dove-McFalls was healthy this season and showed why the Flyers selected him in the 4th round of the 2015 NHL draft. The 19-year old forward is known for doing a lot of the little things right on the ice, but this year he showed he has some offensive upside to his game. He began the season playing LW on the Sea Dogs’ top line, but after they acquired big sniper Julien Gauthier from Val-d’Or, Dove-McFalls moved into a shutdown 3rd line center role, where he thrived. The Montréal native put up a career high in goals, assists, points, and shorthanded goals. Dove-McFalls averaged 0.81 points per game over the course of the season, a huge increase from last season where he managed 0.41 points per game. Dove-McFalls was also strong on the faceoff dot this season, winning about 54% of his draws. The Sea Dogs were the best team in the QMJHL this season and therefore will be heavily favored to defeat the Rimouski Océanic in the first round of the playoffs. Dove-McFalls will be coming into the playoffs hot, having 13 points in his last 11 games.
Dove-McFalls’ 2016-17 Stats: 65GP, 17G, 36A, 53PTS, +21
Pascal Laberge (RW, Victoriaville): Pascal Laberge’s numbers this season are nowhere near as impressive as last season. After putting up 68 points in 56 games (1.21 points per game) last season, Laberge put up just 32 in 46 games (0.69 points per game) this year. The 6-foot-1 winger suffered a concussion back in October and never got back into his regular form since then. When healthy, Laberge spent time on the 1st line on an inconsistent Victoriaville team. Laberge has very good playmaking ability and a little bit of feistiness to his game. The 2nd round pick of the Flyers will hope for a bounce-back season next year, and maybe get a shot at cracking Team Canada’s roster for the 2018 World Juniors. For now, Laberge’s focus is on the playoffs, and his team will be the underdogs going up against fellow Flyers prospect German Rubtsov and the Chicoutimi Saguenéens.
Laberge’s 2016-17 Stats: 46GP, 12G, 20A, 32PTS, -11
German Rubtsov (C/LW, Chicoutimi): It was a season filled with ups and downs for Flyers 2016 first round pick, German Rubtsov. The Russian forward began the season with HC Vityaz in the KHL, Russia’s top professional league. Unfortunately for Rubtsov, he received very limited ice time with Vityaz. For several games, he got less than two minutes of ice time and therefore was unable to generate any points in 15 KHL games. He was sent down to the MHL, a junior league in Russia. It was quite obvious that Rubtsov was too good for the MHL, as he tallied 15 points in 15 games on a team with not much talent on it. After his stint in Russia, Rubtsov headed to Canada for the 2017 World Juniors. He played a limited bottom-6 role for Team Russia and was limited to just 5 games due to injury. After this point, things started to go uphill for the 18-year old, as he was able to get his KHL contract completely terminated. Rubtsov headed to the QMJHL to play for the Chicoutimi Saguenéens. He played as Chicoutimi’s top-line left winger for the rest of the season, and in 16 games, Rubtsov tallied 22 points! Rubtsov was a big difference maker for the Saguenéens as they went 11-4-1 with him in the lineup. Unfortunately for Rubtsov, with two weeks left in the season, he got injured yet again, which forced him to miss the rest of the regular season. His injury will be re-evaluated before the start of Chicoutimi’s first round playoff series against Victoriaville, and he is expected to be back healthy for that series. Rubtsov is known for his strong two-way play, high hockey IQ, and strong playmaking ability. Now that the injury-prone Rubtsov is in North America permanently, he will hope to continue his development next season, whether that is in the AHL with Lehigh Valley, or back in the QMJHL with the Saguenéens.
Rubtsov’s 2016-17 Stats: KHL: 15GP, 0G, 0A, 0PTS, -4
MHL: 15GP, 7G, 8A, 15PTS, +2
2017 World Juniors: 5GP, 0G, 0A, 0PTS, -1
QMJHL: 16GP,9G, 13A, 22PTS, +11
Philippe Myers (D, Rouyn-Noranda): It is becoming harder and harder to believe that Philippe Myers went undrafted. The 6-foot-5 smooth-skating defenceman had a terrific season, when healthy. Many were impressed by Myers’ play at the 2017 World Juniors for Team Canada. But his tournament was cut short after suffering a concussion after a hit by Minnesota Wild prospect Luke Kunin. After missing over a month of action, Myers finished the season for Rouyn-Noranda tallying 15 points in his last 15 games. He finished the season over a point per game with 35 points in 34 games. Myers and the Huskies will look to go deep in the QMJHL playoffs after winning the title last season. The Flyers prospect will have the task of shutting down top 2017 NHL draft prospect Nico Hischier and the Halifax Mooseheads. Next season, Myers will try to crack the Flyers roster out of camp, and if not, Lehigh Valley will be the destination for the 20-year old.
Myers’ 2016-17 Stats: QMJHL: 34GP, 10G, 25A, 35PTS, +21
Connor Bunnaman (C/LW, Kitchener): Connor Bunnaman was a fourth-round pick of the Flyers in last June’s draft, and he was a goal-scoring machine this season for Kitchener. After scoring just 16 goals last season, Bunnaman more than doubled that total this season, scoring 37 goals, which was good enough to be tied for 10th in the entire OHL in goal scoring. The 6-foot-2, 210lb forward remained very consistent throughout the season. His longest stretch without any points during the season lasted just 4 games. His points per game total went from 0.55 last season all the way up to 0.81 this season. Bunnaman is still only 18 years old and will surely attempt to hit the 40-goal plateau next season. For now, his focus is on the OHL playoffs as his Kitchener side will be in tough against the Owen Sound Attack.
Bunnaman’s 2016-17 Stats: 64GP, 37G, 15A, 52PTS, -5
Anthony Salinitri (C/LW, Sarnia): The Sarnia Sting lost three top players at the start of the season, Pavel Zacha, Travis Konecny, and Jakob Chychrun, who are all making an impact at the NHL level. Without these players, Sarnia had to rely on Flyers prospect Anthony Salinitri to have a breakout season, and he delivered. After scoring just 30 points last season and scoring at a rate of 0.48 points per game last season, Salinitri had a breakout year, scoring 58 points and doing so at a 0.88 points per game pace. The sixth round pick of the Flyers is a skilled two-way forward who netted 4 short-handed goals this season and won roughly 50% of the faceoffs he took. Sarnia will be huge underdogs in the first round of the OHL playoffs as they take on a powerful Erie Otters team.
Salinitri’s 2016-17 Stats: 66GP, 28G, 30A, 58PTS, -19
Carsen Twarynski (LW, Kelowna): Twarynski was one of the more questionable selections by the Flyers in the 2016 NHL draft. He is your prototypical power forward who likes to engage himself physically. He began the season on a Calgary Hitmen team that struggled to score goals. The 6-foot-3, 200lb winger was traded from a struggling Calgary team to a more powerful Kelowna Rockets team in early January. His numbers with Kelowna are significantly better than they were with the Hitmen. He averaged 0.58 points per game with the Hitmen and 0.78 with the Rockets. Although he did not put up huge numbers offensively, Twarynski was a difference maker for Kelowna. The Rockets went 21-5-2 after acquiring the big power forward. Twarynski will be rolling into the WHL playoffs on a bit of a hot streak, scoring 4 points in his last 3 games. Kelowna will be the favorites in the first round of the WHL playoffs as they will face the Kamloops Blazers.
Twarynski’s 2016-17 Stats: Calgary: 36GP, 10G, 11A, 21PTS, -11
Kelowna: 28GP, 7G, 15A, 22PTS, +19
Carter Hart (G, Everett): What an incredible season Carter Hart had. He put up eye-popping numbers in the WHL and helped lead Team Canada to a silver medal at the 2017 World Juniors. Hart finished with the best goals-against average (1.99), highest save percentage (.927), and the most shutouts (9) of any goalie in the entire CHL. The 6-foot-2 agile goaltender helped lead Everett a U.S division title, and finish with the third-best record in the entire WHL. He is still only 18 years old and does not turn 19 until August. He certainly has all the tools and the potential to become a future starting goaltender at the NHL level. Hart and the Silvertips will be heavy favorites in the first round of the playoffs against the Victoria Royals.
Hart’s 2016-17 Stats: WHL: 34-11-2, 1.99GAA, .927SV%, 9 SO
2017 World Juniors: 4GP, 2.38GAA, .906SV%
The Playoff Matchups for Flyers’ Prospects
Saint John (Dove-McFalls) vs Rimouski
Rouyn-Noranda (Myers) vs Halifax
Chicoutimi (Rubtsov) vs Victoriaville (Laberge)
Sarnia (Salinitri) vs Erie
Kitchener (Bunnaman) vs Owen Sound
Kelowna (Twarynski) vs Kamloops
Everett (Hart) vs Victoria