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 producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.
The topic: What to make of the Flyers not signing Samuel Dove-McFalls?
The Flyers made an interesting decision Thursday to not sign prospect Samuel Dove-McFalls to an entry-level contract, but it definitely did not come as a surprise.
Dove-McFalls was a fourth-round pick in 2015 with limited offensive upside. He dealt with a knee injury in 2015-16 that limited him to 29 games with Saint John, but worked hard to prove himself this season. He scored a career-high 17 goals and 53 points in 66 games. Still, that was not enough to get an entry-level contract.
At 20 years old, he is draft eligible again. Saint John traded his rights Friday to Rimouski, which means an overage season in the QMJHL is another possibility for Dove-McFalls. Another option on the table for the forward prospect is signing an AHL contract. He doesn't project to be anything higher than a fourth-line player. He was one of two fourth-round picks in 2015 with Mikhail Vorobyov being the other. They already signed Vorobyov, who will be competing for a regular spot in the Phantoms' lineup next season.
Sure, it's disappointing to see a fourth-round pick wasted. If the Flyers didn't select Vorobyov, who has higher upside and was one of Russia's best players at the world juniors, six picks after Dove-McFalls, I would be more critical of this decision to let Dove-McFalls go. But losing a projected fourth-line player is not a loss worth dwelling on.
It's a shame for Dove-McFalls, who impressively rebounded from an injury-stricken season by putting up career highs across the board. His 17 goals, 36 assists, 53 points and plus-21 rating were all personal bests in his fourth junior season.
Just last week, Dove-McFalls expanded on how he had become more explosive after a summer of training and also shifted to wing at times to show his versatility for a chance at the next level (see story).
But that wasn't enough to convince the Flyers to keep the 2015 fourth-round draft pick. The Flyers obviously know more than we know about Dove-McFalls. Maybe they had already seen his potential and know they're about to stock the prospect cupboard even more with the June 23-24 entry draft.
It happens - not all draft picks sign and make their way through the system.
From what I've read, Dove-McFalls is a role forward. The Flyers made their decision and it won't be a game-changer by any means. But Dove-McFalls did his job this season, which should only help his next chance with a new organization - and good for him.
It's been a run of tough luck for Dove-McFalls and Thursday's decision by Ron Hextall and the Flyers' brass was just the latest installment. The knee injury a couple years ago was the start, and though he produced a resurgent season this year in the "Q" to help lead Saint John to the Memorial Cup, it still wasn't enough to earn an NHL contract.
Sure, it's a tough pill to swallow for the kid. But it's a stark reminder that hockey is a business at the end of the day. And from the Flyers' standpoint, you can't blame them for this decision.
The fact of the matter is that Dove-McFalls, at this point in time, projects to be a depth forward. And that's fine, there's nothing wrong with that at all. That's a valuable role in the NHL. But the Flyers have so many of that type player on the roster now and in the system.
The glaring need is for impact, scoring forwards who can provide a jolt on the ice and on the scoreboard. That's why it was so important to get a guy like Oskar Lindblom in the fold earlier this week. He has the ceiling to do both of those things sooner rather than later.
The bottom line here is the Flyers just need more offensive upside out of their prospects right now. The bright side here for Dove-McFalls is that he can re-enter the draft now, and after the solid season he had, he could well find a new NHL home come the weekend of June 23-24.