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April 10, 2023

Flyers prospect watch: Who's impressed with the playoff bound Phantoms?

Olle Lyscksell, Emil Andrae, Tyson Foerster and the Phantoms came up with two big wins over the weekend to secure a spot in the AHL's Calder Cup Playoffs.

With two big wins over the weekend, the Phantoms clinched their spot in the AHL's Calder Cup Playoffs, affording the chance for a number of Flyers prospects to gain some valuable postseason experience down in the minors. 

As for the Flyers themselves...welp...

But hey, they've been clear that this is a rebuild now. The focus fully, finally, shifted toward tomorrow a while ago, so how are some of the names of tomorrow coming along?

Here's a quick rundown:

Olle Lycksell led the way through the weekend with two goals and an assist across Friday's win over Charlotte and then Saturday's clinching victory over Springfield, which included the game-winner and third unanswered from Lehigh Valley in the latter. He has five points in total (three goals, two assists) over his last three games and 44 points (13 goals, 31 assists) in 50 games for the entirety of his first season in North America, and with three games still left on the Phantoms' schedule. 

The 23-year old Swede played a limited role in the bottom six during his short stints with the Flyers earlier this season, and with a good playoff run down in the AHL, he should be well-positioned to try and take on more going into training camp at the end of the summer. 

Tyson Foerster notched an assist in each game this weekend and continues to be involved constantly within the Phantoms' offense, just like he showed he can be for the Flyers when he got his call-up. The 2020 first-rounder has made some huge strides this year and will likely stand to make a couple more over the next few months starting with the Phantoms' playoff run. 

• Likewise, Elliot Desnoyers, the 21-year old fifth-rounder from 2020, continues to keep pace as well. He had the go-ahead goal against Charlotte on Friday then notched the primary assist on Cooper Marody's tally that put the Phantoms up three by that point. In his first AHL season, the left winger now has 22 goals and 42 points through 62 games, maintaining the confidence that the Flyers can very much move forward with him as a middle-late round prospect that Chuck Fletcher at least hit on during his tenure as general manager. 

Emil Andrae, the lefthanded defenseman who could be on the Flyers' blueline sooner rather than later depending on how this offseason goes, seems to be getting increasingly comfortable in his jump from Sweden to North America. 

Against Springfield on Saturday, with the Phantoms down 3-1 in the third but on the man advantage, the 21-year old rifled a point shot through traffic for his second AHL goal and the one that kickstarted Lehigh Valley's comeback of three unanswered for the playoff clinch. He also had the secondary assist on the Phnatom's first tally late in the second. 

Andrae's puck-moving prowess has been a boon to the Phantoms since coming over, and with his entry-level contract kicking in for 2023-24, it may serve Philadelphia well at some point down the line next season too. 

• Another Swedish defenseman who has quietly impressed is Adam Ginning. The 23-year old registered an assist against Charlotte and went plus-3 during the 5-2 win. For the season, he has only three goals and 16 assists for 19 points through 65 games, but more than anything, when he's on the ice, the Phantoms aren't getting scored on as he carries a plus-25 rating.

And yes, plus-minus can be a fragile stat to gauge player performance, but when it's that high for a defenseman, it has to be taken note of. 

The Phantoms won't play again until Wednesday at Bridgeport, and with Ronnie Attard returned back to Lehigh Valley and the Flyers set to face Columbus in their final home game on Tuesday night, John Tortorella expressed that he'd like to get one more look at a Phantoms defenseman. 

Ginning, the 2018 second-rounder, could be the one to get the honor. 

• Goaltender Sam Ersson also put in a solid weekend of work for Lehigh Valley, stopping 29 of 31 pucks against Charlotte on Friday and then 33 of Springifeld's 36 shots on Saturday. With the Phantoms, the 23-year old Swede is 24-14-1 with a .905 save percentage and will be key to how far they can go in the postseason. 

Ersson held up well when he was up with the Flyers, and definitely has favor with Tortorella and the rest of the organization, but for now, the reps for him were really only available down in the AHL. The likelihood is that there will be more for the 2018 fifth-round pick to do up in the NHL next season, and staying with the 2018 draft is the final point. 

Jay O'Brien, who the Flyers selected 19th overall several years ago may still have a future in the NHL, but it won't be in Philadelphia. 

Over the weekend, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported that the Flyers wouldn't be signing O'Brien ahead of the expiration of his draft rights on August 15. 

In turn, the Flyers will be getting a compensatory second-round pick back while the 23-year old O'Brien will be free to go to free agency. 

With two first-round picks in 2018, former GM Ron Hextall took Joel Farabee at 14 and then Jay O'Brien at 19, with both coming out of the U.S. National Development Program. 

Farabee was well on his way up after the selection, and even after a down year following neck surgery this season, very much still can be. 

O'Brien, however, both through struggle and injury, went backward. His freshman season at Providence College didn't work out, leading him to Tier II junior hockey in the BCHL for a reset of sorts. To all his credit, he did turn it around and came back with a solid collegiate career at Boston University, which ended last week in the semifinals of the NCAA Frozen Four. 

But while he was at it, he fell out of the Flyers' picture. 

So now he'll go look for a shot elsewhere, while his selection, which was curious even at the time, will go down as another massive misstep during a Hextall era that only seems to get retroactively worse with age. 

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