Mikhail Vorobyev

Russian prospects Mikhail Vorobyev, Ivan Kosorenkov show their skills in Flyers rookie game

Russian prospects Mikhail Vorobyev, Ivan Kosorenkov show their skills in Flyers rookie game

Fans flocked to the Wells Fargo Center to check out Nolan Patrick and the organization’s stocked pantry of defensemen.

And yet, it was a pair of Russians who seemed to generate the most buzz during Wednesday night’s rookie game that saw the Flyers lose to the Islanders, 4-3, in overtime (see observations).

The pairing of center Mikhail Vorobyev and right winger Ivan Kosorenkov displayed a unique chemistry on a line with Carsen Twarynski. Vorobyev led all Flyers rookies with a pair of assists, including one play in which he spotted a pinching Travis Sanheim on a backdoor cut.

“Even on my goal there, Vorobyev, his vision to be able to find me backdoor,” Sanheim said. “I thought that was pretty good on him, and I thought all night they were both working hard and creating quite a bit.”

Vorobyev displayed an ability to hold the puck on his stick and wait for plays to develop, whereas other young centers might not have the patience to wait for a lane to open up. Selected 104th overall in the 2015 draft, Vorobyev signed his entry-level deal back in April and will report to the Phantoms when the season begins.

“You can see his skill level — he’s going to make some plays,” Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon said after serving as head coach for this game. “He’s a big body, especially up the middle to have a guy with that size and skill, he’s going to be a nice option for us.” 

Kosorenkov, who is slightly smaller than Vorobyev, has learned to speak understandable English. He came to the Flyers during the team’s development camp back in July after he went undrafted playing one season for Victoriaville in the QMJHL, and was invited back for the team’s rookie camp. Watching Kosorenkov Wednesday, he’s built like a mini version of Blues superstar Vladimir Tarasenko, with a burst of speed once the puck is on his stick and an ability to protect the puck in traffic, an element he’s been working on.

“We learned this thing in development camp, protecting the puck in the corners and battling every day,” Kosorenkov said. “I really worked on that this summer in camps. I think I improved in this area. I know it's very important for the NHL game and the North American game.”

Kosorenkov is hoping he has shown enough throughout development and rookie camp to earn his own entry-level deal, and spending more time in the U.S. will only prove beneficial for both players. 

“Obviously it’s going to be a little harder for them, they don’t speak English that much," defenseman Sam Morin said. "When they get past this language barrier, it’s going to be so much easier for them. I understood them a little bit when I came here, but their skills are unreal. It’s impressive. All those guys are good with the puck.”

News and notes
• One word to describe Nolan Patrick’s first game in a Flyers sweater would be steady. The second overall pick in the June draft felt no pain three months removed from core muscle surgery.

“I felt great until that last play in overtime,” Patrick said. “I ran out of gas going in on the offensive and then trying to get a backcheck. Other than that, I thought I played a good game for my first game since March.”

• Defenseman Phil Myers left the game with a lower-body injury and did not return for precautionary reasons. It’s not known when Myers sustained the injury, but it forced the Flyers to play with five defensemen, where fatigue and a lack of familiarity clearly played a part in third-period breakdowns.

“Our D was pushed to the limits, especially when we were stuck in the zone so much they couldn’t get their gaps,” Gordon said. “I think that’s something where you’re playing an exhibition game, there hasn’t been a lot of system work, so you’re going to get guys who are a little bit off the page.”

• John Stevens, the son of the former Flyers coach (2006-09) with the same name, scored the Islanders' first goal that tied the game at 1-1.  

“Yeah, it was pretty special. I grew up going to games here my whole life pretty much,” Stevens said. “A lot of people in the building are the same people that are here when I was growing up. So it is a pretty cool experience.”

Flyers-Islanders rookie game observations: Some prospects impress in 4-3 OT loss

Flyers-Islanders rookie game observations: Some prospects impress in 4-3 OT loss

In front of a sizable Wells Fargo Center crowd somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-13,000, the Flyers surrendered a two-goal lead before losing to the Islanders, 4-3, in overtime of Wednesday night's rookie game.

The Flyers received all three goals from defensemen (James de Haas, Travis Sanheim, Mark Friedman), while dominating the opening period, outshooting the Islanders, 18-8. However, the Flyers were unable to generate any sustained offensive pressure over the final 35 minutes of regulation.

Goaltender Alex Lyon started the game and stopped 13 of 14 shots. Carter Hart, a 2016 second-round pick, came in with 9:53 remaining in the second period and stonewalled the Isles, stopping 19 of 22 shots. Hart had no chance on New York’s third-period goal that cut the lead to 3-2.

For the Islanders, Mitch Vande Sompel scored the overtime winner, while Sebastian Aho tied it with 1:32 left in the third period.

Flyers forward Connor Bunnaman had three opportunities to win it in overtime with a breakaway, a shot from in close and a penalty shot, but was denied on all three by Islanders goalie Mitch Gillam, who stopped all five shots he faced.

This summer's No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick went scoreless but looked strong and had a nice backhand attempt in the first period.

Defenseman Phil Myers left the game with a lower-body injury and did not return for precautionary reasons.

Flyers' three stars:

• Mark Friedman (D) — While most eyes were focused on Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim, Friedman simply went about his business and turned in a very solid effort. Looked calm and relaxed. Displayed speed on a couple of puck rushes. Was very positionally sound playing alongside Morin. The 2014 third-round pick scored on a slap shot from the right side of the blue line that gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead.

• Mikhail Vorobyev (C) — The Flyers' best center on this night displayed his creative side working in tandem with right winger Ivan Kosorenkov (see story). The chemistry between the two Russians was obvious. Vorobyev displayed some keen vision and strong passing ability as he assisted on a pair of goals. The line of Vorobyev-Carsen Twarynski-Kosorenkov was the Flyers' most productive line 5-on-5.

• Travis Sanheim (D) — Aside from a mix-up between Sanheim and playing partner Myers that led to the Islanders' first goal, Sanheim gave us a little bit of everything. The 2014 first-round pick didn’t get rattled playing the puck in his own end, while also engaging in rough play with Islanders winger Travis St. Denis. He loves to jump in on the offensive end. His pinch led to the Flyers' second goal. Without an official timekeeper, I’d venture to guess Sanheim led the Flyers in ice time.

End to End: Which prospect are you most eager to see at Flyers rookie camp?

End to End: Which prospect are you most eager to see at Flyers rookie camp?

Throughout the offseason, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End today are CSNPhilly.com reporters Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Which Flyers prospect are you most eager to see at rookie camp?

Dougherty
With rookie camp beginning Monday, the rookie game Wednesday and training camp Friday, there are a plethora of young players worth watching before the regular season begins. Let's stay away from Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom. Even the defensive prospects, too. We're all going to have our eyes on Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers.

The one prospect I am most looking forward to seeing during rookie and training camp is Russian center Mikhail Vorobyev, who popped at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championships. Vorobyev doesn't figure to factor into the forward competition this season, as it will be his first season in North America. Vorobyev will spend his first season in Lehigh Valley.

But there are plenty of reasons to watch Vorobyev. He was an unknown talent in Russia until the world juniors, and the Flyers selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft "probably because he was in Russia — he was hidden a little bit," GM Ron Hextall said in July. This will be our first chance to see Vorobyev in a competitive camp with the Flyers.

Vorobyev showcased a skill set that I don't think many of us knew he had over here during the world juniors, and the Russian factor was a part of it. In the KHL, he had a solid role as a 19-year-old with Salavat Yulaev Ufa, but it wasn't a role in which he was able to flash what he can do offensively. Once with his peers at the world juniors, he displayed playmaking and vision that created some buzz among Flyers fans.

What he will pan out as an NHL prospect still remains an uncertainty, but I believe he has the potential to blossom as a middle-six pivot. He's a player that I am going to keep my eye on this season at Lehigh Valley, and I think during camp, he'll be a prospect to watch — largely because we still haven't seen much of him.

Hall
Every which way, Sanheim looked like an NHL defenseman at July's development camp.

He has filled out physically, standing at 6-foot-4, 199 pounds. His offensive game is impressive, without a doubt his biggest strength. And his skating has improved to the point in which it looks fluid and natural.

Oh, and his confidence is not lacking — exactly what you want to see from the 21-year-old.

"I feel like I'm ready, I'm going to compete for a spot," Sanheim said in July. "Until somebody tells me differently, that's my goal. I'm coming to make the Flyers."

So I'm curious to watch Sanheim compete at camp and see how NHL-ready he looks with the Flyers' brass closely evaluating. With a little bit of time last season, the 2014 first-round pick grasped the learning curve at the AHL.

"He did a really good job last year from start to finish — got a lot better," Hextall said this summer. "The adjustment on the first month, month and a half, where he was going too much up ice, a little bit irresponsible and all of a sudden, a month, month and a half in, figured that part out. That was a huge step for him. He got better, he got better throughout the year and he needs to continue on that."

Morin and Hagg are the likely candidates to fill the Flyers' two open spots on the blue line, but Sanheim is out to prove he's just as much the part.