All three CHL leagues closed out their seasons this past weekend and the playoff teams are gearing up for the chase for the Memorial Cup. All 3 leagues are starting their playoffs this Thursday night and quite a few Flyers prospects will be making playoff appearances. Here’s how your future Flyers performed this year and what you can expect from them in the playoffs and next season.
Connor Bunnaman – C (Kitchener Rangers)
66 GP, 27 G, 23 A, – 7
Bunnaman took a small step back this year after tallying 52 points in 64 games last year. It appears he might’ve hit a plateau in his development, but is eligible for both a OHL 5th year and AHL, but will more than likely spend another year in juniors. Kitchener finished 2nd in the west and will face Guelph in the first round. Bunnaman is the second line center behind Sens prospect Logan Brown, but Bunnaman should have a hand in what should be a first round win for Kitchener.
Anthony Salinitri – LW (Sarnia Sting)
67 GP, 27 G, 31 A, + 7
Salinitri matched his point total from last season with 58, but became a huge asset on the penalty kill for Sarnia. Salinitri hasn’t drawn a contract from the Flyers yet, and it’s likely going to take a big-time playoff performance for him to get one. Sarnia gets Windsor in the 3-6 matchup in the west, and Salinitri knows he’s playing for a contract, so he’ll be hoping to make a splash in a series they’ll be favored to win.
Maksim Shushko – LW (Owen Sound Attack)
60 GP, 31 G, 29 A, + 13
Shushko took a huge step forward from his 32 points last season, and has played his way into an entry-level deal with the Flyers. That being said, he’ll more than likely remain with Owen Sound next season. Owen Sound finished fourth in the west and have their work cut out for them when they take on fifth-seed London. Shushko is on a roll heading into the playoffs and he will continue to play with 100 point scorer Nick Suzuki on the first line, which should help him build on that momentum.
Matthew Strome – LW (Hamilton Bulldogs)
65 GP, 37 G, 31 A, – 2
Six points better than his 2016-17 total, Strome played a huge role in Hamilton securing the top seed in the east. He’s got some questions as far as skating goes, but with hands like this he can certainly make things happen infront of the net. Unless he has an unbelievable showing in the playoffs or rookie camp, Strome will likely remain with Hamilton for another year. Hamilton faces Ottawa in the first round of the playoffs, and they’re 9-1-3 since losing 10-0 to Sault St. Marie on February 16th. He’s had a rough past few games, but if Little Strome can catch fire at the right time with the talent around him, Hamilton has their sights set on a Memorial Cup run.
Isaac Ratcliffe – LW (Guelph Storm)
67 GP, 41 G, 27 A, – 28
Just going to go ahead and ignore the plus/minus, but Ratcliffe has caught absolute fire in the past couple weeks and it’s come at the perfect time. Ratcliffe is 6’6″ and a beast of a forward who’s capable of going off for games like this, where he just seems to find a way to put the puck in the net without explanation. Guelph hasn’t enjoyed the same recent success as Ratcliffe has had individually, they’re coming into the playoffs 3-8-6 over their last 17 games and are going to have their work cut out for them facing the third best team in the OHL, in Kitchener.
Morgan Frost – C (Sault St. Marie Greyhounds)
67 GP, 42 G, 70 A, + 70
Soo’s first line of Boris Katchouk (85 points), Morgan Frost (112 points), and Taylor Raddysh (83 points) is absolutely filthy, and Frost lead the way with plays like this. Frost finished the season second in the OHL in points to Sens prospect, Aaron Luchuck (115). There are some genuine questions about his size, but Frost’s speed and quickness should be enough to give the former first rounder a shot with the Flyers next season. As far as the playoffs go, Soo dominated the regular season with 116 points (19 more than second place Hamilton’s 93 points) and there really isn’t any clear team that can stop them. Until someone finds a way to stop that top line, Soo is going to roll through the OHL playoffs.
Carsen Twarysnki – LW (Kelowna Rockets)
68 GP, 45 G, 27 A, + 4
Twarynski scored at will this year (exhibit A, exhibit B) on his way to an entry-level deal with the Flyers. He went from 17 goals last year to 45 this year, and a monster 18 on the power-play. Twarynski will be 21 next year, so he’ll likely be playing in the AHL to start the season, but if he continues to improve this quickly with the Phantoms he could earn himself a chance with the Flyers sooner rather than later. Kelowna won the B.C. division and will face Tri-City in the first round of the western conference playoffs. Kelowna went 3-1 against TC in the regular season, but 2 of those wins came in overtime and all 4 games were separated by just 1 goal each, so this series is a candidate for a full seven games.
Carter Hart – G (Everett Silvertips)
41 GP, 1.60 GAA, .947 sv %, 31-6-1-3, 7 SO
It was a record breaking year for our little future Vezina winner. Carter Hart lead Canada to a WJC championship, won WHL goalie of the year for a third straight time, WHL western conference player of the year, posted the WHL’s second best GAA ever, and lead Everett to the number 1 overall seed in the west. Can he add a Memorial Cup title to that resume? With the current contract situation in Philly we’re at LEAST another year away from seeing Carter in the NHL, but it’s looking like it’s going to be worth the wait. Everett plays Seattle in the first round of the western conference playoffs, they went 6-4 against them in the regular season. A hot goalie can win you a cup, and Everett is going to be looking to Carter Hart who seemingly is on a constant hot streak to take them all the way to the Memorial Cup.
German Rubstov – C (Acadie-Bathurst Titan)
GP 49, 15 G, 28 A, + 7
It was a season of ups and downs for the 2016 first round pick. Rubstov showed flashes of brilliance at certain times, and impressed during the WJC, but overall was streaky. The good news is that he was healthy for the entire season, unlike his passed two, and he’ll likely have one more year in juniors to give himself a chance to earn a pro contract. Acadie-Bathurst secured the second overall seed and the Q’s 1-16 playoff format pits them against Rubstov’s former team, Chicoutimi in the first round. AB should have an easy time with the 2-15 matchup and if they can get some consistent production from their fringe guys like Rubstov, they’re right in the discussion for the QMJHL title.
Pascal Laberge – C (Quebec Remparts)
64 GP, 17 G, 30 A, + 1
Laberge had a terrible start to the season, but really turned a corner once he got traded to Quebec from Victoriaville at the end of 2017. And not for nothing, he ended the season strong with a 9 game point streak before being held without a point in his last 2 games. Laberge looks to have found his old game, but he also likely has another year of juniors ahead of him. If he keeps his late season play up next year, he’ll earn himself a contract. Quebec draws Charlottetown in the 8-9 matchup and that series is always a good one with the Q’s 1-16 format. It’s a crapshoot but Quebec will like the way they matchup with C-town.
If you’re keeping track, that’s a perfect 10/10 Flyers CHL prospects that made the playoffs in their respective leagues this year. There’s a damn good chance that you’re going to be seeing at least 1 Flyers prospect hoisting their league trophy and maybe even the Memorial Cup come May.