Welcome to my new mailbag, a spot where I will answers questions from readers who reached out to me on Twitter using the hashtag #thnfutures. The idea behind this space is to bring you info on prospects and the draft, so anything in that world is game. There was a pretty good crop of questions right off the bat, so if you don't see yours answered this week, check back next Friday. Here we go:
Where do you think the Flyers rank in terms of defensive prospects as a core?
- Taylor Cascagnette (@TCascagnette)
With Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin and Shayne Gostisbehere, I'd put the Flyers right near the top of the NHL in that category. Some of the other contenders would be Carolina (Noah Hanifin, Haydn Fleury, Brett Pesce), Dallas (Julius Honka, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak) and Anaheim (Shea Theodore, Jacob Larsson, Marcus Pettersson). What's really interesting about Philly is the pecking order right now. Provorov has the skills and demeanor to jump straight from the draft to the NHL, but Gostisbehere deserves a long look after his lost season (torn ACL). Morin would benefit from a year of pro in the AHL, while I'd love to see Sanheim dominate the WHL and play a big role for Canada at the world juniors this season. And then there's Robert Hagg in the AHL, too.
Of course, the Flyers have so many NHL D-men under contract already that the kids might get blocked for now, but I'd love to see at least one get a shot.
What are the Memorial Cup host Red Deer Rebels looking like? Are they deep enough today to be impactful in May?
– Vince Gibbons (@the_vincanity)
Right now I'd say the Rebels have a lot of work to do. Haydn Fleury is obviously the biggest talent on the team and he's a legit No. 1 junior defenseman. Conner Bleackley (Colorado) rebounded from a disappointing Avs camp and will be a great leader in terms of offense and captaincy. Michael Spacek (Winnipeg) was a great add in the Import Draft, but my real concern right now is overall depth and goaltending.
If you look at this year's Memorial Cup, all four teams had either veteran netminders, NHL draft picks or both. When I spoke with coach Brent Sutter after hosting duties were announced, he hoped either Taz Burman or Rylan Toth would seize the job. There's still time for that, but I would consider it the biggest X-factor (barring a trade, of course).
Do you see Dylan Strome developing into a No. 1 center?
– Jason Ruechel (@jpru16)
I certainly do. Arizona was right to select him third overall, as NHL teams are built down the middle. Strome has great size and will only get stronger as the years pass. He has high hockey IQ and vision, while the playmaking skills that helped him to an OHL scoring title (and co-CHL title with Moncton's Conor Garland) are obvious.
Much like Travis Sanheim in WHL Calgary, I see 2015-16 as a year where Strome can take full ownership of the Erie Otters while also playing a huge role on Canada's world junior squad. Can you imagine Strome with Mitch Marner and Michael Dal Colle as his wingers? Dang.
The hope is that Strome becomes a Joe Thornton-type of NHLer and while that won't happen overnight, the Coyotes know they have a ton of potential on their hands.
Any information or insight on Denis Malgin?
– Randall (@puckfury)
Sure! Malgin, who was taken in the fourth round this summer by Florida, is a smaller Swiss center with great hands and hockey IQ. He certainly needs to get stronger, given his 5-foot-9 frame, and his shot could improve, but there are some nice qualities to his game. I expect him to continue his great international work at the world juniors. Though he was taken by Rouyn-Noranda in the CHL Import Draft, he planned on staying in Zurich to play for the top league's ZSC Lions for the upcoming season.