July 06, 2018
By: Steve Degler
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are coming off their best season since moving to Allentown in 2014. The team advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, falling to the eventual Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies. With last year barely out of the rear view mirror, it's time to look ahead to 2018-19.
Flyers General Manager Ron Hextall has made it a priority to build his organization by acquiring young players and developing them into NHL talent. There is no reason to believe the Phantoms will take a step back in the coming season. There should be a lot of youthful talent on the Phantoms, plus the Flyers have surrounded them with high quality veteran players.
There has not been any free agent activity regarding Lehigh Valley thus far. But that is okay. When you look at the older players who are under contract for the coming season, you have to be optimistic. Greg Carey, Chris Conner, Corban Knight, Phil Varone, T.J. Brennan and Colin McDonald are all slated to return. That is a ton of talent, experience and leadership returning to the Orange and Black.
You have to think that some of the younger Phantoms will play their way to Philadelphia this season. Travis Sanheim and Oskar Lindblom both are strong candidates in this category. Hextall is looking for a center. If he stays in-house, could Mike Vecchione or Mikhail Vorobyev be the guy? Phil Myers will be another one to watch in camp. Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon compared Myers' development to that of Sanheim's the previous season. It's not likely that all of them are Flyers. Some will be back with the Phantoms to start the season.
The biggest name on the board is Carter Hart. The Flyers have been searching for that franchise goaltender since Hextall was between the pipes. Many see Hart as the key guy to get the Flyers back into Stanley Cup contention. Most believe he will spend a year in the AHL and then head to Philadelphia. Expect him to be paired with a veteran netminder (or two) to help him make the transition to the pro game.
Sprinkle in the likes of Cole Bardreau and Danick Martel along with a Nic Aube-Kubel, add Carsen Twarynski and Pascal Laberge to the mix, and you have a pretty good recipe. Home opener is October 6 at PPL Center!