Under GM Ron Hextall, the Flyers philosophy has been to stockpile picks, hold onto prospects and be patient. Hextall has been very patient with young players and is loathe to give up on young talent who may have the potential to help the organization – be it a future with the NHL or AHL teams.
That brings us to the curious case of Samuel Dove-McFalls. Dove-McFalls was drafted by the Flyers in the 4th round of the 2015 NHL entry level draft with the 98th overall selection. He just completed his 4th season with the Saint John Sea Dogs.
The 20-year-old would appear to be a perfect fit to join the roster in Lehigh Valley. He possesses the skills and attributes the Phantoms are looking for and in some cases badly need.
He remains one of the few middle round draftees who has not been signed to an entry level contract. If the Flyers do not sign him by June 1st he will revert back to the draft pool and the Flyers will have lost his signing rights.
Dove-McFalls helped his team have a very successful regular season, earning the regular season title with 102 points. The Sea Dogs went on to win the Presidents Cup dispatching all competition on route to the title, barely breaking a sweat.
Dove-McFalls contributed along the way. He had a solid season with 17 goals and 52 points along with going plus-21. In the playoffs, he chipped in another 12 points in 18 games with a plus/minus rating of +11.
Weight: 202 pounds
Position: Left Wing/Center
Team: Saint John Sea Dogs
Hometown: Montreal, QC CAN
2017 Stats: Games: 65 Goals: 17 Assists: 36 Points: 53 +/-: +21
2016 Stats: Games: 29 Goals: 5 Assists: 7 Points: 12 +/-: -4
* 2016 missed 3.5 months due to serious knee injury
CHL Highlights: 2016/2017 QMJHL Champions
- Selected 4th Round 98th overall NHL Entry Draft
- Selected 3rd Round 47th overall QMJHL Entry Draft
He suffered a serious knee injury just 5 games into the 2015/16 season. He had to have surgery and missed 35 games. Even when he returned to the team, he admitted he was not 100% the remainder of the season.
While saying optimistic, he is aware of the upcoming deadline to be signed or return to the undrafted. He believes his ability to play either left wing or center adds versatility to his game that some others do not possess. Still, he reflects on the prospects.
“I don’t control what they do and what decision they make. All I can do is try to play my best. When the team does well, then everyone does well. Hopefully, that’s going to happen, that’s the plan.” Dove-McFalls recently said to CSN Philly
Dove-McFalls has kept in constant contact with Flyers development coach John Riley.
“[He] just sends me articles about pro athletes and what the pro life is all about,” Dove-McFalls said. “Not necessarily always just hockey — stuff that’s off the ice too. When he does come and watch me play, he focuses more on the hockey part.”
The Flyers prospect may not light up the goal sheet, but he plays a hard, consistent all around game. In the regular season he won 54.1% of his faceoffs and had 190 shots on goal. He continued that style of play in the playoffs winning 62% of his faceoffs 6th he also had the 7th most shots on goal in the playoffs.
In the Memorial Cup, Dove-McFalls had the 6th most shots on goal while winning 53% of his faceoffs while going up against some of the best the CHL had to offer.
He brings a 200-foot all-around game to the rink on a nightly basis. Saint John has superior special teams units. They were first overall in the QMJHL on both the power play and the penalty kill. McFalls contributes to both he plays on the number one penalty killing unit and sees time on the second power play team.
Dove-McFalls is a big, strong player and he utilizes that on the ice as a critical part of his game. He uses his size to win board battles and fend off attacking players. Once he has the puck opposing players find it very difficult to separate it from him.
In addition to putting other players into the boards or using his size to protect the puck he is also not afraid to drop the gloves to spur his team or protect a teammate.
The Phantoms are somewhat undersized in the forward ranks and Dove-McFalls would help in that area right away. His size and physical game would add a missing element from the Phantoms game and could help them be an even better team in the upcoming season.
Assuming he is signed, he would project to be a bottom 6 two way, physical forward who can kill penalties and will chip in offensively.
The Phantoms have several career level undersized AHL players. Taking a risk on signing Dove-McFalls to an entry level contract seems a pretty low risk proposition. But, it has to be done quickly before the Flyers lose his rights and he goes back into the draft pool.