5 players to watch for 2017 Flyers development camp

5 players to watch for 2017 Flyers development camp

General manager Ron Hextall doesn’t have high expectations for the incoming prospects during the Flyers development camp. It’s more a process of understanding expectations, learning how to be a professional and meeting some of the organization’s prospects in the process (see story).  

While you won’t be treated to up-and-down scrimmaging that showcases individual skills, here’s a look at five of the more intriguing prospects to keep an eye on:   

1. Oskar Lindblom (No. 54)
Everything about the 20-year-old (turns 21 on Aug. 15) left winger suggests he’s ready for the NHL, and the Flyers feel the same as he signed his entry-level deal back in May. 

Lindblom was named the top forward for 2016-17 in the Swedish Elite League, where he put up 26 goals and 35 assists for 61 points in 72 games between the regular season and playoffs.

The Flyers have produced very few late-round gems in the draft, but Lindblom appears to be a steal in Hextall’s first draft with the Flyers as he was selected in the fifth round (138th overall) of the 2014 entry draft. He fell mostly because his skating was below average, and we’ll see how much he’s worked on that during the development camp.

Overall, Lindblom has size, added muscle and plays a solid all-around game that certainly makes capable of scoring goals.

2. Philippe Myers (No. 61)
The Flyers’ blue line cupboard is stocked with young talent, and with Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin expected to be the frontrunners for spots on the big club, Myers has become somewhat of the forgotten guy. 

NHL analyst Bob McKenzie tweeted back in January that Myers looked close to being NHL-ready based on the D-man’s play at the 2016 World Junior Championships. Myers is slightly smaller in build than Morin, but he has a big shot (scored 27 goals in a season and a half in the QMJHL). 

Hextall was blown away during a free-agent tryout in 2015 after Myers went undrafted the year before. Myers suffered a concussion during the WJC that kept him out until mid-February.

It will be very interesting to see him with the other prospects this week.

3. German Rubtsov (No. 63)
There was something unique about Rubtsov when Hextall made him the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft as he selected the Russian over some big, highly skilled wingers. 

Hextall admitted the organization did more character digging on Rubtsov than perhaps any player he’s drafted. Rubtsov did not participate in the team’s prospect camp a year ago, so this will be our first look at him. 

Rubtsov carved up the QMJHL in the short amount of time he played, and in all likelihood, he will return to Chicoutimi for next season. 

From what little I’ve seen from Rubtsov, he has really good hockey sense and is the ideal two-way center Hextall prefers.

4. Morgan Frost (No. 68)
Of the five prospects listed here, Frost is the youngest and furthest away from making the NHL. However, the name should stick with you considering he’s the player the entire scouting department was sold on when Hextall decided to add a late first-round pick when the Flyers traded Brayden Schenn to St. Louis.  

You may have also read Frost’s (now deleted) tweet from 2013 when he called the Flyers s--- following the team’s 7-0 blowout to the Capitals. Frost was just a kid and he’s obviously wised up as scouts and analysts rave about his smarts. 

Frost also has excellent acceleration on the ice, which is much needed for a team that lacks overall speed.    

5. Carter Hart (No. 79)
With Michal Neuvirth and Brian Elliott signed to respective two-year contracts, one of the goalie prospects should emerge to be “the guy” for the 2019-20 season.

Right now, Carter Hart appears to be the frontrunner. He was the No. 1 goaltender in the CHL with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League last season.

Phantoms goalie Alex Lyon referred to Hart as “so physically gifted” and, impressively, he’s also incredibly mature for an 18-year-old with a deep understanding of the history of the goaltending position. 

After he backstopped Team Canada to the silver medal at the World Junior Championships, Flyers fans can see for themselves the next franchise goalie since the guy who drafted him. 

Museum of Sports is Lou Scheinfeld's next South Philly 'labor of love'

Museum of Sports is Lou Scheinfeld's next South Philly 'labor of love'

For the past 51 years, Lou Scheinfeld has had a penchant for embracing new ventures.

He left the Daily News in 1966 to take over "the new sports arena," the building he named The Spectrum. After closing the doors some 40-plus years later, Scheinfeld was named vice president of development at Comcast-Spectacor and he worked exclusively in the development of XFINITY Live!  

Now at the age of 81, Scheinfeld is knee-deep into his latest endeavor: The Museum of Sports, located in the heart of Philadelphia's sports complex.

"I've been doing it for six years. I started pro bono and I'm still doing it pro bono. It's a labor of love," Scheinfeld said.

We walked around the 25,000-square foot Jetro warehouse (currently stocked with nothing but cocoa butter). It is located next door to Lincoln Financial Field across Darien Street where The Museum of Sports will one day open its doors. It's an ideal location considering its proximity to I-95, the sports complex and the museum's ability to piggyback off the nine million fans who attend nearly 400 events every year.

"The key is we wanted to be in the sports complex," said Rick Berger, director of development. "People from Philadelphia have been coming to games their entire lives. There are just so many memories that we have growing up and there's not a home for them. So what the museum will be is a home here at the sports complex to honor, cherish the memories we have as Philadelphia sports fans."

The Museum of Sports will be a three-story, 35,000-square foot entertainment center with the DePace collection of rare and priceless memorabilia serving as the museum's main attraction. South Jersey cardiologist Nicholas DePace has agreed to donate and loan his remarkably impressive collection of artifacts, which includes the famed bell from the 1926 heavyweight championship fight between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney that drew more than 120,000 fans to Philadelphia, Wilt Chamberlain's last game-used jersey with the 76ers, and even Jesse Owens' track uniform that he wore during his four-gold-medal-winning performance at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany.

Scheinfeld realizes the nostalgia of sports typically lures an older demographic with a sense of history. In order to attract fans of all ages, especially a younger crowd, developers are working on a 2,250-square foot, state-of-the-art arcade that specializes in virtual reality.

"The sports arcade is going to be like a Dave & Busters on steroids — high tech virtual reality," Scheinfeld said. "What's it like to row in the Dad Vail Regatta? What's it like to ride your bike up the Manayunk Wall? A lot of experiential, virtual reality stuff where you can actually feel like you're there."

Along with a rooftop, four-hole, mini-golf course, a retail shop and a restaurant, Scheinfeld also envisions the museum as the hub to attract other events.

"This building will be occupied every day with something," Scheinfeld said. "Press conferences, awards. If Mike Schmidt writes a book, we want him to sign it here. If Dr. J (Julius Erving) is selling his memorabilia, we want him to do it here. Every day, there has to be something going on here."

Staying operational and free of debt will be the museum's ultimate challenge. One of the main reasons the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto continues to thrive is the contributions of each of the 30 (soon to be 31) NHL clubs, which donate $50,000 each toward operating costs. That's $1.5 million the Museum of Sports won't have the luxury of collecting on an annual basis, so Scheinfeld knows it's imperative to keep expenses down. For a guy who checked his Spectrum mailbox daily to keep the arena from going under, Scheinfeld knows the importance of sticking to budget.

"It has to be a mean-and-lean operation," Scheinfeld said. "We can't open with 100 employees and debt. We want to open with no debt by having all these contributions and grants, and cover all these opening-day costs. From then on, it's sponsorships."      

With The Museum of Sports at a start-up cost of $7.5 million, Scheinfeld and Berger are on track to provide a unique, one-of-a-kind museum that will provide that "wow" factor.

When Scheinfeld was asked what his timeline is for the grand opening, he said jokingly, "Before I pass. I don't know the expiration date on that, but we think 18 months at the most, so that's late 2018 or early 2019."

Chris McMahon has become MLB attraction at West Chester Rustin High School

Chris McMahon has become MLB attraction at West Chester Rustin High School

Across the front of West Chester Rustin's uniform reads the word Knights, a close resemblance to the fictional team from the movie "The Natural."

And senior pitcher Chris McMahon could very well be Rustin's version of Roy Hobbs, Robert Redford's character in the legendary movie based on a ballplayer's remarkable natural talents.

"He's unique," Rustin High School head coach Bradley Harkins said this week. "He's just a tremendous athlete, and to see him excel in soccer, basketball and baseball — his parents have been phenomenal to allow him to play other sports. He could have chosen lacrosse and he'd be one of the best players on the team. I think that has helped him rise the way he has."

McMahon is unquestionably the best baseball player to come out of Rustin High School, which hasn't had a player drafted by a big-league team since the school opened its doors in 2006. But it wasn't until last season when baseball became McMahon's full-time extracurricular activity.

"Just playing three sports really helped with athleticism," McMahon said. "Using all types of muscles in your body. Specializing in one sport — some people have their reasons why they think it's good — I think playing all three, you're not missing out on anything. I tell people to play whatever you can until you can't."

In fact, McMahon wasn't even on a major-league scout's radar until his junior year at Rustin when he hit a four-inch growth spurt, climbing from 5-foot-10 to a lanky 6-2. The velocity on his fastball increased from mid-70s as a freshman to low-90s entering his senior season, and his control is equally as impressive, having surrendered only four walks in more than 53 innings.

"I wouldn't say we could see it get to this point," Harkins said. "We knew he was a good player. We knew he had a ton of potential. His sophomore year, he really turned it up. You could see his competitive nature on the mound. He continued to grow and get stronger. Really, every year he has grown by leaps and bounds. It's been pretty amazing."

And now those scouts' radar guns have been pointed squarely this season at McMahon, who is considered the top-ranked prospect in Pennsylvania and projected to be taken during the second round of next month's MLB draft. As many as 25 to 30 scouts have routinely showed up at Rustin, where they've had to install a pair of metal benches this season for scouts to stand on.

"It started pretty full throttle," Harkins said. "At the beginning of the season, we have typical southeast Pennsylvania weather. We were indoors at the All-Star Baseball Academy, and he was throwing a live bullpen to hitters. I walk into the door of a dozen guys waiting for us to get practice started.

"That was pretty eye-opening to see a dozen middle-aged men walking around our practice. Once the games started, they have been there in full force."

Last Wednesday, McMahon and the Knights saw their season come to an end, losing to Upper Merion in the quarterfinals of the District 1 Class 5A playoffs — and McMahon isn't exactly sure where he'll be playing next season. He's committed to the University of Miami next fall, but depending on the results of draft night, McMahon could forgo a collegiate career and jump right to the professional level.

"It's exciting. Only a handful of kids get to go through this," McMahon said. "Me and my family will sit down and talk about draft day and see what's best for me. ... It's fun, it's exciting. It can be overwhelming at times, but it's fun."