Next Gen Prospects: 10 players who could crack NHL rosters out of camp

Canada's Morgan Frost lines up for a faceoff during second period IIHF world junior hockey championship action against Russia. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

After two straight seasons of racking up 100-plus points, Morgan Frost is looking to make the jump this fall to the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.

The 20-year-old centre will be a name to watch coming out of Flyers camp after an impressive junior career with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

Frost tied for third in Ontario Hockey League scoring last year with 109 points even though he played just 58 games due to suiting up for Canada at the World Junior Championship. He was equally as impressive for the Canadians, scoring four goals and four assists in five games.

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The Aurora, Ont., native is one of several young players who has the potential to break camp with their NHL teams as they get underway this week.

Flyers assistant GM Brent Flahr said Tuesday there’s a couple of spots open on Philadelphia’s roster and a group of forwards who will challenge for those opportunities.

Flahr commended Frost for his high skill level and ability to make plays, although added there’s room for improvement and he’s interested to see how Frost does against bigger NHL talent.

Natural centres can often times expedite their arrival in the NHL by playing on the wing, and though Frost may get a look there during training camp, Flahr said the plan is for him to be a centre in the NHL.

“We’ll give him some different looks and obviously adjusting to the NHL is sometimes easier for players to start on the wing and move over to centre,” Flahr said in a phone interview. “At the same time, we see him as a centre long term and we’ll eventually move him back there.”

Philadelphia missed the playoffs last season after finishing with a 37-37-8 record.

The Flyers are already deep at centre with Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier and 2017 second-overall pick Nolan Patrick. They will also have a new look behind the bench with Alain Vigneault, who was hired as head coach in April to replace Dave Hakstol after he was fired mid-way through last season.

Flahr said he expects a much different style of play in Philadelphia this season.

“We gave up way too many chances, way too many goals against that were a challenge to be a playoff team,” he said. “This year, we think with the group we have, that we can do that (improve).”

At rookie camp, Frost played between fellow top prospects Isaac Ratcliffe and Joel Farabee. The Flyers are expected to break up the trio at main camp, but Flahr said they may find themselves together in the AHL.

And although Flahr said Frost has some junior habits that need to be broken, the organization would love for another young player to step up the same way goaltender Carter Hart did last year and revamp the team.

“You always hope so,” Flahr said. “There’s going to be a lot of competition and that’s healthy.”

Here’s nine other players who could crack NHL rosters this fall:

Noah Dobson, D
2018-19: 28 GP | 9 G | 7 A | 16 PTS (Acadie-Bathurst/QMJHL) 28 GP | 6 G | 30 A | 36 PTS (Rouyn-Noranda/QMJHL)

What more does the 19-year-old have to prove in junior? He’s won two-straight Memorial Cups with Acadie-Bathurst and Rouyn-Noranda and is one of the smoothest skating defencemen out there. He also worked to become more physical last season and it certainly showed during the playoffs.

Nick Suzuki, C
2018-19: 30 GP | 22 G | 23 A | 45 PTS (Owen Sound/OHL) 29 GP | 12 G | 37 A | 49 PTS (Guelph/OHL)

An abundance of skill and a lethal shot makes Suzuki a great scoring option for the Canadiens down the middle. He will need a really strong camp to make the team — and possibly a move to the wing — but if last season’s success with the OHL’s Guelph Storm during the playoffs and Memorial Cup is any indication, he’s ready.

Kaapo Kakko, RW
2018-19: 45 GP | 22 G | 16 A | 38 PTS (TPS/Liiga)

The next great Finnish player to land in the NHL is surrounded by pieces who will give him plenty of opportunity to succeed. And he’s got a lot of experience already playing against older opponents, especially last year in in Finland’s top pro league. If his overtime goal at rookie camp is any indication, Kakko’s going to have a good season for the Rangers.

Vitaly Kravtsov, RW
2018-19: 50 GP | 8 G | 13 A | 21 PTS (Traktor Chelyabinsk/KHL)

Kravtsov joins a fairly large group of Russians on the Rangers, led by off-season signing Artemi “Bread Man” Panarin. The ninth overall pick from the 2018 draft has experience in the KHL and playing alongside compatriots should help the rookie adapt and make the team.

Bowen Byram, D
2018-19: 67 GP | 26 G | 45 A | 71 PTS (Vancouver/WHL)

Avalanche GM Joe Sakic referenced drafting Byram as a reason why he could ship Tyson Barrie to Toronto this summer for Nazem Kadri. Byram joins a group of promising young defencemen in Samuel Girard and Cale Makar and should have every opportunity to make the team.

Owen Tippett, W
2018-19: 23 GP | 19 G | 14 A | 33 PTS (Mississauga/OHL) 31 GP | 14 G | 27 A | 41 PTS (Saginaw/OHL)

Tippett already has seven games and one goal of NHL experience under his belt from the 2017-18 season. The Panthers were ninth in the NHL last season with 264 goals and Tippett could add to that number this year. Some projections have him slotting in on the second line of Joel Quenneville’s squad.

Barrett Hayton, C
2018-19: 39 GP | 26 G | 40 A | 66 PTS (Sault. Ste. Marie/OHL)

Arizona already has a young team and Hayton making the squad could be another positive element. The Coyotes’ fifth-overall selection in 2018 had a strong season with Frost in Sault Ste. Marie and with Canada’s world junior team. He still has another season of junior eligibility left, but could make Arizona’s third line stronger.

Ty Smith, D
2018-19: 57 GP | 7 G | 62 A | 69 PTS (Spokane/WHL)

Smith is a smooth skating defenceman who may slide under the radar at camp due to the Jack Hughes hype. He’s racked up a ton of assists and with P.K. Subban’s arrival, would be a great option on the second defensive unit.

Logan Brown C
2018-19: 56 GP | 14 G | 28 A | 42 PTS (Belleville/AHL)

Brown has NHL aspirations and with the Senators going through a rebuild, it would make sense for him to get a lot of opportunities. He’s older than most players on this list and put up good numbers with AHL Belleville last season.

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