After being rumored the last few days, the Philadelphia Flyers have made it official inking Mikhail Vorobyov to an entry-level contract. It will be a three-year deal starting next year, and could signal a desire for the 20-year old to cross the ocean and make his debut on North American soil. The Russian center could make an impact at the AHL level right away in 2017-18.
Vorobyov played the whole season for Ufa in the KHL, scoring 11 points in 44 games but really turned heads at the World Juniors when he recorded 10 assists in just 7 games. He led the entire tournament in that category, and helped the Russian squad to a bronze medal. Like any mid-round pick, his game is not without warts, but he has both the size and skill to develop into an NHL player should he continue to take steps forward over the next few seasons.
If his performance at the World Juniors is any indication as to how he’ll play against players his own age, he’ll be able to hold his own soon enough. His low point total in the KHL this season is mostly due to the fact that he played under 10 minutes most nights, partly because of his poor showing in the faceoff circle. With added responsibility for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, those totals could balloon.
For the Flyers who struggled through a disappointing season, Vorobyov adds to a re-stocked cupboard of young players. Signing Mike Vecchione out of the NCAA ranks, and the continued development of Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov and German Rubtsov to name just a few is giving Philly fans a light at the end of the dark tunnel. If they can lock down Spencer Foo, another NCAA standout who has previously been linked to them, it would already be a successful spring even without a playoff berth.