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November 09, 2023

Flyers prospect check: Matvei Michkov and Cutter Gauthier are doing just fine

Matvei Michkov and Cutter Gauthier, the Flyers' top picks from the past two drafts, are putting up big numbers.

It's been a tough stretch for the Flyers of late, having dropped five of their last six games, with the latest defeat coming from an NHL-worst San Jose Sharks team on Tuesday night. 

But the organization has always been open about this being a rebuild. 

The performance right now? Yeah, it's brutal. Though the Flyers' ultimate goal lies in building tomorrow, not necessarily competing today. 

So how's tomorrow looking? 

Checking in on the current group of big-name prospects, well...

• Yeah, Matvei Michkov is doing just fine over in Russia. After getting loaned to HC Sochi for more playing time, the 18-year old winger has nine points and nine assists through 20 games, doing it all with great awareness and an incredibly sharp shot. 

Since taking the massive gamble on Michkov at seventh overall in the draft back in the summer, the bet on the Flyers' part was never really on 'if,' moreso on 'when.'

The goal-scoring phenom already had a KHL contract with SKA St. Petersburg when the Flyers selected him, making for a situation where he likely wouldn't be available for an NHL jump until 2026, but general manager Danny Brière and the front office have been adamant about their willingness to wait, and so has the Flyers' fanbase in turn – though gripping to every major Michkov highlight coming out of Russia while it does. 

Hey, it's going to be a few years until Michkov gets here. Nothing wrong with getting excited about it in the meantime. 

Cutter Gauthier is also doing just fine playing for Boston College, with eight goals and two assists through 10 games, and also doing it with a wicked shot.

(That guitar celebration is pretty good too.)

Taken fifth overall in the 2022 draft by Chuck Fletcher's old regime as the "upside play," Gauthier opted to remain in college for a sophomore season, but the presumption for the 19-year old has been that he'll sign his entry-level contract and make the NHL jump once Boston College's run is over. 

The Eagles are playing well this year though, so that may have to wait until after a deep run into the NCAA Tournament in the spring.

MORE: Five thoughts on the Flyers during their latest losing skid

• Defenseman Emil Andrae cracked the Flyers' roster out of camp, and while he flashed promise and made some good plays, he was ultimately sent down to the AHL for more development minutes after the NHL speed proved to be too much. 

A second-round pick from the 2020 draft, the 21-year old garnered hype for his quick and decisive ability to move the puck, but adjusting to a smaller rink coming over from Sweden along with the much faster pace of the NHL was always going to be a tough ask of any defenseman. 

Andrae has only skated in three games since getting sent to the Phantoms, but that was due to injury. He returned to their lineup on Wednesday and registered an assist in a 4-2 loss to Springfield but also went minus-2. 

There's a lot of season to get in a groove, however, and if he can find it, another shot up with the Flyers will be back on the horizon soon enough. 

Samu Tuomaala has been an interesting one since training camp. The 20-year old Finnish winger, picked up as a second-round draft pick in 2021, can fly across the ice and unleash a lightning-fast snapshot, but it was clear in camp that he was still very raw as a complete hockey player. 

Right now though he has two goals and six assists in 11 games for the Phantoms, flashing some heads up playmaking:

And on this OT winner, great finish to the net:

It'll be interesting to see how he progresses this season up in Lehigh Valley.

• 24-year old forward Olle Lycksell got a brief look up with the Flyers last season, and so far has been progressing nicely down with the Phantoms in this one, putting up eight goals through 11 games, including a hat trick against Springfield back on October 20. 

Elliot Desnoyers is holding up with two goals and five assists up in Lehigh Valley, but after leading the Phantoms with 23 goals last season, it'd be better to see some heavier production out of the 21-year old winger. 

• Jumping back to the blue line, Adam Ginning has two goals and three assists in 11 games but is minus-6, and Ronnie Attard has a goal and two assists through eight games and is -4. 

Attard, just on relatively recent experience and standing, is likely closer to the Flyers' roster, but after Marc Staal got hurt and Andrae got sent down, it probably wasn't a particularly great sign for him that the move was to call up Louie Belpedio instead. 

• Wrapping up with the two recent junior prospects skating with the OHL's London Knights, first-round defenseman Oliver Bonk is holding up strong with 12 assists and a plus-2 rating through 15 games, while third-round center Denver Barkey has been cashing in regularly with nine goals and 19 points through those same 15. 

The 18-year olds are still, at minimum, about 2-3 years away, but the steady production is a good sign that they're on track. 

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