Future Flyers Report: What impact will Anthony Stolarz's season-ending injury have on future?

Future Flyers Report: What impact will Anthony Stolarz's season-ending injury have on future?

The Future Flyers Report lives to see another week.

With the AHL regular season now over-- spoiler alert: the Phantoms clinched a playoff berth -- and the CHL and SHL playoffs ongoing, there is still plenty of hockey to discuss.

So before this week begins, it's time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers' prospects still playing. This week, we'll feature a goalie who suffered a season-ending injury and a pair of Swedes who find themselves in the SHL final.

Anthony Stolarz, G, 23, 6-6/210, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
While the Phantoms clinched their playoff ticket last Wednesday night with a 2-1 shootout win over the Wilkes/Barre-Scranton Penguins, they did so at the expense of Stolarz, who suffered a serious lower-body injury and was seen on crutches after the game.

After Lehigh Valley clinched home ice in the first round last Friday with a comeback 5-4 win over Providence, coach Scott Gordon confirmed Stolarz will miss the postseason and will be out three-to-four months, according to Highland Park Hockey's Tony Androckitis.

With his season over -- one that saw a few call-ups and NHL games -- Stolarz now heads into the summer with several questions to be answered. Since the Flyers re-signed Michal Neuvirth, they now have the option to protect either Neuvirth or Stolarz in the expansion draft, which will take place from June 18-20, but selections will be announced June 21.

Expansion draft aside, there are other questions surrounding Stolarz and the Flyers' goaltending situation in 2017-18. Despite re-signing Neuvirth, Hextall and Steve Mason both did not shut the door on Mason coming back next season last week, though Mason made it clear he's not open to returning if it was another season of platooning in net.

Mason also made it known that he is open to mentoring a young goalie -- such as Stolarz -- and understands the Flyers have a few kids coming up in the ranks; he just doesn't believe platoons work with goaltenders and rightfully pointed to Tampa and St. Louis as examples.

All signs still point to Mason leaving, however. Hextall said he believes Neuvirth will bounce back after a tough 2016-17, and gave pause when asked if he believes Stolarz will be ready for a full-time NHL backup job, leaving the door open for the team signing a short-term veteran backup netminder. There is also the slim possibility Hextall brings back both Mason and Neuvirth, promising Mason the No. 1 job. The answers to these questions will begin with the expansion draft because the Flyers have to protect either Neuvirth or Stolarz. If Neuvirth is unprotected and Vegas drafts him, it would then be likely Hextall tries to re-sign Mason. If Stolarz is unprotected and Vegas drafts him, Stolarz leaves. Then there's the possibility Vegas stays clear of both goalies no matter who's unprotected.

Goaltending will once again provide plenty of entertainment as the offseason approaches. There are several different scenarios that could play out that directly impact Stolarz. For now, though, the 23-year-old will spend the summer rehabbing his lower-body injury.

Stolarz finished 18-9-0 with a 2.92 goals-against average and .911 save percentage and one shutout in 29 games with the Phantoms this season. It was an up-and-down campaign in Lehigh Valley, but he did perform well in an extremely small sample size with the Flyers.

Oskar Lindblom, LW, 20, 6-1/192, Brynäs IF (SHL)
As expected, Lindblom will be coming to North America full-time for the 2017-18 season, Brynäs IF coach Thomas Berglund confirmed to Swedish newspaper Expressen. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said last week that Lindblom has "come a long way since his draft year," and hopes the Swede will be here competing for a spot in training camp.

On the ice last week, Lindblom played a major factor into Brynäs IF beating Frölunda, 4-3, in seven games to advance to the SHL final, which began Sunday with HV71. Lindblom picked up two assists in Brynäs' 6-0, Game 6 win over Frolunda last Wednesday. He had a goal in Brynäs' 5-2 loss in Game 1 of the final against HV71 on Sunday.

But it was his performance in Game 7 on Saturday that stood out most, as he registered two goals and an assist in Brynäs' 3-1 series-clinching victory. He helped Brynäs take a 1-0 lead in the opening minute, throwing a shot off Frölunda goalie Johan Gustafsson's pads, leaving a rebound for Juuso Ikonen to put in. He then scored his first of the game, backhanding a rebound past Gustafsson to put Brynäs up, 2-0. With Brynäs up, 2-1, Lindblom capped off his game with a wicked wrister past Gustafsson to secure the win for Brynäs.

It was the type of effort Brynäs has come to expect from Lindblom this season. The winger has consistently been the team's best player and one of the SHL's top players all season long.

"A fantastic player who has had a grim development this year," Berglund told Expressen. "I've never seen a player who had such a development. He really has gone from strength to strength, both as a player and as a person."

Felix Sandstrom, G, 20, 6-2/187, Brynäs IF (SHL)
Sandstrom deserves just as much credit for Brynäs IF's advancing to the SHL final as Lindblom does, as the goaltender came up with two enormous performances in goal in Games 6 and 7 to help Brynäs come back from down, 3-2, to win the series, 4-3. Let's highlight his Game 7 performance, an effort that saw Sandstrom turn away 37 of 38 shots in a high-pressure situation. He consistently answered the bell, positioned himself well and didn't bend in a win-or-go-home game. His lone blemish saw a puck bounce off his own defenseman. An incredibly impressive performance for a 20-year-old in that situation, especially considering he pitched a 32-save shutout in Game 6 down 3-2 in the series.

Carter Hart, G, 18, 6-1/181, Everett (WHL)
Hart will get a taste of professional postseason hockey … at least as a backup. Hart joined the Phantoms on Sunday, according to The Everett Herald's Jesse Geleynse, on an amateur tryout contract (ATO). He will back up Alex Lyon in the postseason. It's unlikely he will play, however. With Hart's season coming to an end after Everett was swept by Seattle in the second round of the WHL playoffs, Hart was free to Lehigh Valley on the ATO. Hart finished the 2016-17 season 32-11-6 with a 1.99 goals-against average and .927 save percentage with nine shutouts. He led the WHL in GAA, save percentage and shutouts. He was named the WHL Western Conference Goaltender of the Year. He was one of two WHL goalies on Team Canada during the world junior championships.

Quick hits
Philippe Myers was pointless in three games for Rouyn-Noranda last week. The Huskies were 1-2 in Games 3, 4 and 5 against Chicoutimi. They face elimination Monday in Game 6.

• Saint John swept Val-d'Or in its second-round series and is now 8-0 in the postseason. Samuel Dove-McFalls had an assist in both Games 3 and 4 and a goal and two assists in four games vs. the Foreurs. His team will face either Rouyn-Noranda or Chicoutimi in the semifinals.

Carsen Twarynski picked up a goal in Kelowna's 7-2 win over Portland last Wednesday. He was suspended for the Rockets' 6-2 win in Game 5 Friday. Kelowna faces Seattle next.

Mark Friedman made his professional debut in the Phantoms' regular-season finale Saturday night. Friedman registered an assist and finished as a plus-3 in Lehigh Valley's 4-1 win over Binghamton that clinched the Phantoms 101 points on the season.

• The Phantoms will face the Hershey Bears in the first round beginning Friday night. This is the first 100-point season for Lehigh Valley during the 76-game season era. The last time the Phantoms had a 100-point season was 2004-05 when they won the Calder Cup.

Travis Sanheim played a key role in Lehigh Valley's comeback win last Wednesday against Providence that clinched the Phantoms' playoff berth, picking up two assists.

Future Flyers Report: Alex Lyon helps Phantoms inch closer to playoff berth

Future Flyers Report: Alex Lyon helps Phantoms inch closer to playoff berth

The Flyers' season ended Sunday night, but hockey is still being played. The AHL regular season is wrapping up this coming weekend, while the CHL and SHL playoffs are still ongoing.

So there will be at least one more Future Flyers Report after today. With that said, it's time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

In this week's report, we check in on the Phantoms' playoff push, how Harvard fared in the Frozen Four and see how the Flyers' CHL prospects are doing in the playoffs. Let's dig in.

Alex Lyon, G, 24, 6-1/201, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
For a while there, it appeared as if Lehigh Valley would have no problem clinching a playoff berth, but that hasn't been the case over the last few weeks. The Phantoms' postseason push has been slowed down by inconsistencies and a difficult Atlantic Division. However, the Phantoms' magic number to secure their playoff spot is down to one point with three games left, and a big reason why was Lyon's performance in net in a 4-2 win over Springfield on Saturday night. The 24-year-old netminder turned away 44 Thunderbird offerings and allowed just two goals in an outstanding effort. It was Lyon's second start last week, as he allowed three goals on 29 shots in a 3-2 OT loss to Hershey last Wednesday. 

Merrick Madsen, G, 21, 6-5/190, Harvard (NCAA)
Madsen's junior season came to an end last Thursday when the three-seeded Crimson fell to two-seeded Minnesota-Duluth, 3-2, in heartbreaking fashion during their Frozen Four semifinals matchup. Madsen turned away 36 of 38 shots against the Bulldogs but surrendered the game-winning goal with 26.6 seconds left in regulation -- a tough pill to swallow for Madsen, who made several big saves during the semifinal match. Regardless of the bitter end, Madsen's junior season was a highly successful one. He finished the season with a 28-6-2 record in 37 games played and a 2.10 goals-against average, a .923 save percentage and three shutouts. His .848 winning percentage finished the season second in the nation behind Minnesota-Duluth's Hunter Miska. He's a finalist for the Ken Dryden Goaltender of the Year Award, the top goalie in the ECAC, and an all-Ivy League first teamer.

Samuel Dove-McFalls, C, 19, 6-1/207, Saint John's (QMJHL)
One of just four Flyers prospects remaining in the CHL playoffs, Dove-McFalls scored the game-winning goal at 9:38 in overtime in Saint John's 2-1 victory over Val-d'Or in Game 1 on Friday. He was held pointless with four shots on goal in the Sea Dogs' 4-1 win in Game 2 Saturday night. In six playoff games, Dove-McFalls has just two points with 20 shots and a plus-3 rating. Dove McFalls, a 2015 third-round draft pick, has until June 1 to sign an entry-level contract before Flyers lose his exclusive rights, according to CapFriendly.com.

Philippe Myers, D, 20, 6-5/209, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
Myers continued to produce for the Huskies last week. In Rouyn-Noranda's 5-2 first-round series-clinching win over Halifax last Monday, Myers got the Huskies off to a 1-0 lead with a power-play blast. He later added an assist on the Huskies' fourth goal. Rouyn-Noranda scored Chicoutimi in the second round, and Myers had an assist in the Huskies' 6-2 win Friday in Game 1. The Saguenéens won Game 2 Saturday. The series resumes Tuesday.

Carter Hart, G, 18, 6-1/181, Everett (WHL)
After a 64-save, five-overtime win to send Everett to the second round last Sunday night, Hart and the Silvertips find themselves in a 2-0 hole to the Seattle Thunderbirds after dropping Games 1 and 2 on Friday and Saturday night. Hart yielded seven goals in the two games, allowing three on 33 shots in Game 1 and four on 15 shots in Game 2. The Silvertips will look to get back in the series Tuesday night when the series resumes.

Quick hits
• After an impressive first-round series performance, Carsen Twarynski is pointless in two games against Portland in the second round. Kelowna, however, is up 2-0 in the series.

German Rubtsov's season is over with a broken hand, Chicoutimi announced last week.

Robert Hagg picked up an assist in the Phantoms' 4-2 win over Springfield on Saturday night. He was called up to the Flyers Sunday and made his NHL debut in the season finale.

• Brynäs IF goalie Felix Sandstrom allowed 12 goals, stopping 63 of 75 shots in three games against Frolunda last week in his team's second-round playoff series.

Travis Sanheim had two assists in three games last week for the Phantoms. He has 35 points in 73 games this season, a solid first season playing professionally.

• After being held pointless in Game 1 against Frolunda, Oskar Lindblom had a two-assist game in Brynäs' 6-3 loss in Game 2 last Thursday and added another helper in a 4-3 Game 3 win on Saturday. The series, tied, 2-2, resumes Monday with Game 5.

Anthony Stolarz, who has been up and down between the Flyers and Phantoms, made one start in Lehigh Valley last week, a 3-0 loss to Wilkes/Barre-Scranton on Friday. He made 29 saves on 31 shots faced before being recalled up to the Flyers on Saturday.

David Kase saw his 2016-17 campaign come to an end Sunday when Piráti Chomutov lost its playoff series with HC Bílí Tygři Liberec. Kase finished the regular season in the Extraliga with three goals and nine points and added two markers and five points in 14 postseason games. He also played in eight games in the WSM-Liga, adding seven points.

Future Flyers Report: Colin McDonald provides insight on Travis Sanheim, Sam Morin

Future Flyers Report: Colin McDonald provides insight on Travis Sanheim, Sam Morin

Before this week begins, it's time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers' prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

In this week's report, we check in on a few Phantoms prospects with some insight from Lehigh Valley captain Colin McDonald, who was called up to the Flyers last Saturday.

Travis Sanheim, D, 21, 6-4/202, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
It took Sanheim a little while to fully adapt to the professional game, but he has consistently honed his two-way game at Lehigh Valley over the course of his first season. The 21-year-old's rookie season in the AHL finds him second among Phantoms defensemen in scoring with 33 points and goals, with 10, behind T.J. Brennan and third in assists with 23.

Last week, Sanheim picked up one assist in three games for the Phantoms, coming last Wednesday night in a 3-1 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Sanheim, a rare blend of size, speed, and skill, flashed his tremendous vision and ability against the Sound Tigers, banking a stretch pass off the wall onto the stick blade of McDonald, who then ripped a shot past Bridgeport goalie and Penn State product Eamon McAdam. Before the Flyers' 3-0 win over the Devils on Saturday, McDonald sang high praise of Sanheim's progression this season.

"It's taken him some time to adjust and that's normal," McDonald told reporters after Saturday's morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center. "But the second half, he's really coming into his own. You can see the confidence he's playing with, skating with the puck, moving with the puck, controlling that power play, where he wasn't taking that initiative early on. He really is controlling that. It's certainly nice to see. He's got a great future."

As pointed out by ESPN.com's Corey Pronman, Sanheim has generated more shots from the blue line during March, finishing the month with 49 shots on target in 14 games. Last week, he was credited with just four shots on goal. On the season, he has 157 shots. When a fan asked Pronman on Twitter if Sanheim reminds him of Chris Pronger, the ESPN writer said, "I think Sanheim is a mix between the next Chris Pronger and Shea Weber."

UPDATE: Pronman was being sarcastic with this lofty comparison:

Sam Morin, D, 21, 6-7/227, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Morin, who has spent most of this season paired with Sanheim but has since been moved onto a pair with Mark Alt, makes most of his noise off the stat sheet. His fights go viral among Flyers Twitter and his game is of the stay-at-home nature, but the 6-foot-7 blueliner does skate well for a player his size, something he works at vigilantly, McDonald said.

"I'm sure that's something people always tell him he needs to work on and he does," McDonald said. "He spends the extra time after practice. He works with the development coaches, the assistant coaches. He's doing everything he needs to to get a chance."

The 2013 first-round pick plays with a lot of snarl and nastiness. In mid-February, he was suspended for an unnecessary cross-check that injured Wilkes/Barre-Scranton's Garrett Wilson. He's already surpassed his penalty minute total from last season (118) through 68 games, with 120 this season. While McDonald's role with the Flyers is far different than his role in Lehigh Valley -- he'll be asked to provide energy from the fourth line with the orange and black -- the veteran described Morin as intensity player for the Phantoms with a lot of drive to make it as an NHL player, which some believe Morin will be a Flyer next season.

"He's just a high-energy guy," McDonald said of Morin. "He plays with a lot of emotion, a lot of energy. He'll stand up against anyone for anyone and I love that kid. Just wants to get better every day; he's just dying to make it and he will make it."

Scott Laughton, C, 22, 6-1/190, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Flyers fans are no stranger to Laughton, a 2012 first-round pick with 109 games in the NHL already under his belt. It seems like Laughton has been around forever, but he's still a young player trying to find out where his game fits in the professional game.

If Laughton's role with the Phantoms is any indicator into how the Flyers now view him long-term, the 22-year-old could be being groomed for a third- or fourth-line role, which shouldn't come as much of a shock because he fits more in that spot than a top-six role.

Laughton has enjoyed a solid season with Lehigh Valley as he tries to regain his confidence, potting 16 goals and 33 points in 54 games. He leads the Phantoms with a plus-15 rating and has centered McDonald and usually either Taylor Leier or Cole Bardreau. He's currently on a five-game pointless streak. In three games last week, Laughton fired five shots on net and finished as a minus-1.

"Scott's been my centerman all year and he's been phenomenal," McDonald said. "He's just a solid, all-around player. This is my first time really playing with him and to see it in person, to see it on a nightly basis, to be able to talk with him in practice about the way we want to play, the way we want to do things, he's got a high hockey IQ."

Carter Hart, G, 6-1/181, Everett (WHL)
On the same night the Flyers were officially eliminated from playoff contention, Hart again reaffirmed why the future remains bright in Philadelphia with an astonishing performance in net for Everett, which dispatched Victoria, 3-2, in five overtimes -- the longest game in CHL playoff history -- to win its playoff series, 4-2. Hart stopped 64 shots in 151:36 against the Royals, allowing both goals in the second period. Think about that. From 3:56 left in the second period until the end of the game, Hart didn't allow another goal. That's over another full game's worth of minutes -- almost two full games. That's incredible. Hart was excellent -- as he's been all season long -- in the entire series. In six games, Hart has a 1.58 goals-against average and .938 save percentage.

Quick hits
• Flyers developmental coach Kjell Samuelsson told Chuck Gormley last week that Phantoms defenseman Robert Hagg is "ready for the NHL."

• Sarnia forward Anthony Salinitri's season has come to an end, as the Sting were swept by the Erie Otters in the OHL playoffs. Salinitri had one assist and a minus-6 in four games.

Connor Bunnaman's season, too, is over, as Kitchener lost its series, 4-1, to Owen Sound. Bunnaman, who was suspended for Game 1, had four goals and a minus-8 in three games.

• With Victoriaville being swept out of the playoffs by Chicoutimi, Pascal Laberge's season is over. Laberge scored two goals and was a minus-three in the four playoff games.

Philippe Myers added two assists in Rouyn-Noranda's 6-5 triple-overtime win over Halifax in Game 5 on Friday night. Myers has six points in five games. Rouyn-Noranda can win its best-of-seven series with Halifax in Game 6 on Monday night.

• Saint John's swept Rimouski last week, winning, 5-2, on Tuesday and, 4-3, on Wednesday. Samuel Dove-McFalls added an assist in Tuesday's win. In four games, Dove-McFalls has one point, a plus-two rating and has won 61.2 percent of his faceoffs.

• Kelowna's Carsen Twarynski recorded an assist in the Rockets' 1-0 win over Kamloops in Game 4 last Wednesday. With Sunday's Game 6 win, Kelowna won the series, 4-2.

• Brynäs IF began its second-round playoff series on Sunday with a 4-3 win over Frolunda. Felix Sandstrom made his first start of the postseason, stopping 34 of 37 shots in the win.

Oskar Lindblom registered a goal and assist in Brynäs IF's 6-0 Game 6 win over Linkoping last Wednesday. He was pointless in the 4-3 win in Game 1 vs. Frolunda Sunday.