*UPDATE* Big news for Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim as they’ve both been named to the Canadian World Junior Selection Camp (link to TSN article). There are 10 defensemen named and 7 will likely be carried to the WJHC in Toronto.
No doubt the Flyers are struggling mightily at the NHL level; as I write this I’m watching the Rangers dominate them in the first period at MSG. Strong play from Emery and a goal from GROSSMANN?!.. have kept them in this 1-1 game so far but the ice is tipped pretty far in New York’s favour. This team is tanking; Hextall may not admit it, but he knew this was coming. We all did. The team is bad, and management is saddled with bad contracts. Bad, bad, bad.
Forwards in the Professional Ranks
Scott Laughton (2012 – 1st Round)
If there’s a positive storyline in the Flyers’ system as a whole it has to be Scott Laughton. With the Flyers bottoming out after a decent start to the season, we’ve finally seen a lengthy call-up for Laughton (6 games) and some increasing ice time (15-17 minutes a game). Since my last piece 2 weeks ago Laughton has yet to register a point but you can’t really blame him since he’s getting 3rd and 4th line minutes with wingers like Lecavalier and Umberger who have been blackholes. The good news on that front is Saturday he played with Simmonds and Raffl. That’s some good company. If the Flyers weren’t playing so poorly there’s a good chance he could have contributed some offense.
Laughts in the Orange and Black! (Image c/o flyers.nhl.com)
He is seeing lots of shorthanded time which is great since he projects as a 2-way player but he’s only been so-so in that role. The Flyers’ PK in general has had a rough stretch so he’s not entirely to blame for poor defensive work. He did have some really nice forechecking sequences at the end of the first in this Saturday matinee vs. the Rangers.
Nick Cousins (2011 – 3rd Round)
The Laughton call-up is great for Scott’s personal development, but also a hindrance to Lehigh Valley as he’s the most consistent forward they have. In his absence players like Cousins have had some difficulty leading the AHL club (2-3 record). Since Laughton’s recall Nick has been facing tougher competition, and it hasn’t been the best 6 game stretch; 2 assists, 5 shots and 14 PIMs! That’s not exactly the type of production you want out of an offensive leader especially since he’s playing with Gordon and Straka on the 2nd line. If he can rebound and continue at his current production level (13 points in 19 games) he would end the season with around 50-60 points which is definitely an acceptable target.
Taylor Leier (2012 – 4th Round)
The Laughton absence has caused the total opposite effect for Taylor Leier. Since the demotion of Blair Jones from the NHL, Leier has suited up with he and Stortini. This trio has been a solid line for the Phantoms and Leier’s production (4 goals, 1 assist and 24 shots) in that time is a testament to how well they’re working together. With 7 goals in 19 games (4assists) and functioning as a trigger man with the 2 veterans doing the dirty work, there’s no reason to believe he can’t keep up his pace. Definitely nice to see he can put the puck in the net at the pro level seeing as he’s a 2-way player much like Laughton.
Jason Akeson (Free Agent)
I hadn’t listed Akeson in the last report because I thought he had legitimately graduated to 3rd-4th line NHL player. Turns out Berube isn’t his biggest fan. His utilization by the Flyers’ coaching staff has been unfair as he’s been grinding out shifts with Rinaldo for the most part. He’s not a grinder. I watched him closely during his NHL stint and he was trying to throw too many hits. That isn’t his game, or at least it shouldn’t be. I suspect Berube took him into his office and said something like, “listen kid you’ve gotta play with more mustard.” Jason, of course was later sent to Lehigh Valley, probably quite confused. Didn’t get a fair shake, tough to say whether he can be an effective NHL player. 1 assist in 2 AHL games since the demotion.
Petr Straka (Free Agent)
I’m really glad to see Straka sticking in a scoring role this year and if he rides shotgun with Cousins for the season he’ll have a good offensive showing. 2 goals on 15 shots in the past 2 weeks is enough to give him 9 points in 17 games. He’s had a dip recently (much like linemate Cousins), but a bounce back should be coming for that unit. Too much skill there for them not be effective AHL players.
Oskar Lindblom (2014 – 5th Round)
At the time of the first report Lindblom had played just 7 games of the Swedish schedule. He’s been a fixture in the line-up for Brynas since as he’s now up to 12 pro games. He’s had 2 goals and 2 assists this season and is obviously being sheltered on a team that’s not a SHL superpower (8th of 12). The main thing here is that he’s 18 and playing professionally which has to be a good thing for him moving forward. As I mentioned in the previous article, he’ll be a strong candidate for the Swedish World Jr. Team which will be a great time to see him showcase his skills.
In the meantime here’s about the only recent highlight I can find of Oskar on Youtube. He scores at 2:33 on a messy play in the slot. Nice shot though.
Kevin Goumas (Free Agent)
The University of New Hampshire product still has just 2 points in the young season. He hasn’t registered much on the scoresheet in the past 2 weeks and it’s tough to see him mustering much when his linemates have typically been of the Brett Hextall-Jay Rosehill-Austin Fyten variety. He’s going to need some injuries to guys like Cousins if he wants a chance at cracking the top-6 and getting any sort of role other than part-timer.
Brandon Alderson (Free Agent)
I said last time that Alderson’s 4 points in 13 games was in line with what I expected, but since then he’s failed to do much other than head to the penalty box. His 28 PIMs in 17 games is a lot for a guy who had only 42 in 71 games last season. Clearly he hasn’t been able to get his offensive game going so he’s started trying to be a pest. It hasn’t worked; he was sent to Reading of the ECHL which is obviously a step in the wrong direction. Hopefully a spell in the E will give him a little reality check (he has had a goal and an assist in his first 2 games with the Royals).
Forwards in College or Junior
Michael Parks (2010 – 5th Round)
Just 2 points in the last 4 games for Parks after a hot start (16 points in 15 games total) for U North Dakota. During that 4 game span Parks has had 9 shots but the puck won’t go in for him. UND are 2-1-1 in that time and the games have been tight, they could use some goals from him. Parks’ 2 assists both came in the most recent game against Omaha where he apparently made a beautiful touch pass to captain Stephane Pattyn for a shorthanded marker. Highlights require a subscription.. boo..
Radel Fazleev (2014 – 6th Round)
To my surprise Radel has really established himself as a dependable WHL scorer. Trailing only overager Adam Tambellini and tied with fellow Flyer prospect Sanheim, Fazleev has 25 points through 27 games. He’s been especially good of late with 5 assists and a goal in 6 games for Calgary. At around 1:30 of the highlight vid below Fazleev takes a puck off the wall from a Vancouver Giants defender and breaks for the net. Early in the season I would’ve expected a pass, but he’s clearly getting comfortable with the puck and he just roofs a shot.
Fazleev has recently been bumped to the top powerplay unit, continues to get shorthanded minutes and he was also on the ice to grab an assist on an empty-netter at the end of the game against Swift Current. What’s not to love about a kid that’s excelling in all situations?
Nicolas Aube-Kubel (2014 – 2nd Round)
A player who’s fallen off the wagon recently, Aube-Kubel hasn’t had a goal in the last 5 games and has just 18 points in 22 games for a Val d-Or team that has put some big numbers on the board recently but are last in the QMJHL West division (12-14-4). They were blown out 11-1 on Saturday at the hands of a not that amazing Victoriaville team. To Nicolas’ credit he was only on the ice for 2 of those 11, 1 of which was a powerplay marker. Aside from the blowout the Foreurs have thrown up 18 goals over 3 games. Despite the 18 markers, Aube-Kubel has had just 2 assists.. something doesn’t add up here.
It seems he’s not getting the offensive ice time that 2015 draft eligibles Anthony Richard (36 points), Shawn Ouellette (19 points) and 2016 draft eligible Julien Gauthier (31 points) are receiving. Tough assignments might kill his offensive production, but perhaps his defensive play will improve.
Tyrell Goulbourne (2013 – 3rd Round)
Thankfully he’s has cooled off and my expectations of the pugilist have decreased. Just 2 goals and 2 assists in 6 games since the previous update when he had 15 points in 14 contests. Still, his 12 goals in 20 games are of interest. Then again you have to take it with a grain of salt since the Rockets (22-3-3) have scored 3 goals or less just SIX times in 28 games. Rourke Chartier (2014 – 5th Round, San Jose) leads the league with 48 points in 27 games, and draft eligible linemate Nick Merkley has 46.
Defensemen in the Professional Ranks
Shayne Gostisbehere (2012 – 3rd Round)
Nothing to see here, move along.
Robert Hagg (2013 – 2nd Round)
Several injuries to the Phantom defense has forced guys like Flemming and Delisle into the line-up as semi-permanent replacements and because of that Hagg has had an increased role. Since the last update he’s has a goal and 2 assists while firing 14 shots (8 in 1 game vs. Hershey) at opposing goalies. He’s now registered 11 points in 19 games, and LV will need him to keep his level of play high to compete. Continuing at that kind of pace (44-ish points) would seem lofty to me since he’s not known as an extremely talented offensive player. But who knows? Maybe the increased ice time will bring him that much closer to being able to hold a regular NHL shift on both sides of the puck. He’s also only taken 2 minor penalties in the past 2 weeks; for a defenseman to play as much as he has and spend as little time in the box as he has is simply wonderful.
Mark Alt (Free Agent)
The defenseman returned to the line-up November 26th after a shoulder injury. He missed 11 games and since his return he hasn’t been a huge factor in the offense, but also hasn’t been a liability on the back end. He’s seeing time with Brandon Manning on the powerplay which is where I hope Alt can excel in Ghostisbehere’s absence. Hagg will probably get the choice assignments, but Alt’s pairing with Manning will probably face stiffer competition. Just 1 assist in 3 games since coming back; total of 3 points in 8 games so far. He’ll probably need some time to catch up to the pace after suffering the early injury. I’m sure management hopes he can be a decent Ghostisbehere replacement for the time being.
Jesper Pettersson (2014 – 7th Round)
Pettersson’s been a scratch in recent games likely due to Alt’s return.. and well, the fact that he doesn’t contribute offensively at all. He’s one of those players that people will describe as ‘sandpaper’, or ‘gritty’. That much is true, but his 2 assists in 17 games are the reason he’s in the pressbox in favour of Delisle, Lauridsen and Flemming. Those 3 guys are pretty much going nowhere from an NHL standpoint so when you’re behind them on the depth chart you’re in for an uphill battle.
If you’re into ‘sandpaper’ type players here’s Pettersson getting the best (I guess? He’s off camera a bit) of Matt Puempel of Binghamton.
Valeri Vasiliev (2012 – 7th Round)
For what it’s worth Vasiliev has already popped his first professional goal this season since moving on to Omsk Avangard from Spartak. He’s had 1 goal and 2 assists for 3 points in 25 KHL games. Buried on a roster that includes many more experienced players (not to mention former Flyer Erik Gustaffson /heart skips a beat) Vasiliev appears to be the 7th defeseman. That means that even when he’s drawing in he’s probably not seeing much ice. Tough to develop in that situation, but dressing for 25 of 33 games as a number 7 isn’t the worst thing in the world.This will be his second season filling that type of role so I’m hoping for some progression.
Quick vid of Vasiliev getting belted by Ivan Nepryayev last year. They’re teammates now! Pro sports are fun!
Defensemen in Junior or College
Travis Sanheim (2014 – 1st Round)
The Hitmen have continued their mediocre run through the WHL season. The 3-3 record through the past 2 weeks would seem pretty dull if it wasn’t for the play of Travis Sanheim. Skip to about 1:25 of the following highlights and rejoice in the talent that is Sanheim.
That was a shorty by the way. Oh and Fazleev made the pass to him when he was streaking. Sanheim has caught fire again with 3 goals and 7 assists in 6 games, while taking just a single minor penalty. He’s actually tied with Fazleev for 2nd on the team with 25 points through 27 games. In case you’re wondering that puts him behind only Hicketts, Bowey and Provorov among WHL defenders for points. He’s also tied for the goal lead among defensemen with 10.
Sam Morin (2013 – 1st Round)
Recovering from a fractured jaw, Morin returned to action on the 22nd of November and has picked up where he left off in his 19-year-old season. In 4 games he’s piled up 2 goals and 3 assists, along with a healthy amount of shots. He’s fired 31 at the net now in just 9 games. It’s pretty clear he’s using his frame to his advantage on both sides of the puck at this stage in his junior career. If he can be a point-per-game player at the junior level it would go a long way in cementing his place among the Flyers’ prospects.
A highlight of Morin I’d label as ‘not-that-great’. On the first Mooseheads goal he’s the big oaf just standing in front of his own net while Jets’ prospect Nik Ehlers takes about 10 or 11 whacks at the puck and scores. I know coaches have been on him about not being as physical, and not taking penalties, but in this situation.. just grab the guy and throw him!
Mark Friedman (2014 – 3rd Round)
Friedman added another assist in 2 more games for Bowling Green, but he’s just not seeing the minutes he needs to improve by any sort of meaningful amount. That however is a general problem when you’re a rookie in the NCAA. Coaches tend to lean heavily on their older players. That makes a heck of a lot of sense since Friedman is still a boy at 18; the men he’s plays with and against are up to 24-years-old.
Anthony Stolarz (2012)
Stolarz FINALLY got his first professional win November 21st, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. It was a good one too; a 36 save 4-0 shut out of the Worcester Sharks. He then took a tough loss to Springfield (31/34 saved) , got yanked after the 1st against Albany (11/14 saved), and won another game in which the Phantoms got badly outshot against Norfolk (35 of 38 saved). In the last report I said it would take an injury to Zepp for Stolarz to show what he’s made of and that’s exactly what’s happened. In the past 2 weeks Anthony’s gone 2-2 with a .926 s% and a 2.70 gaa. If Lehigh Valley were slightly better defensively his numbers could be astronomical.
Stolie the Goalie celebrates his first win (Photo courtesy of Just Sports Photography)
His save percentage on the season has improved to .919 and his goals against has mercifully dipped below 3 to 2.87. He looks like he’s settling in a little bit, and if he can end up splitting starts with Zepp instead of being relegated to a back-up role I’d be very pleased.
Merrick Madsen (2013 – 6th Round)
Still has yet to see any action behind Michalek who has actually improved since our last update! His gaa is 1.47 (down from 1.79) and his save percentage is up slightly to .946. Same problem as Friedman; there’s no ice for him here. These 2 are long term projects for the Flyers.
On the Fringes
Brandon Manning (Free Agent) 2 6 24 13
Maybe this IS a new and improved Brandon Manning? After last season’s 231 PIMs I dismissed Brandon as an AHL lifer. My thought pattern was simply – this guy’s probably too dumb to play at the NHL level. But now.. I don’t know what to think.. Manning is leading the Phantoms with 16 points in 17 games. Which means he’s picked up 8 points in 6 games over the last 2 weeks. 2 goals, 6 assists, 24 shots and 13 PIMs. I assumed Hagg or maybe Alt would be the big winners of the Ghostisbehere-Injury-Powerplay-Time-Sweepstakes, but it turns out it’s Manning.
Oliver Lauridsen (2009 – 7th Round)
Hahahaha.. Oliver, Oliver, Oliver.. throws a guy into the glass and then gets jumped by the diminutive Micheal Haley. Not the greatest decision by Haley considering he’s giving up 8 inches and something like 20 or 30 pounds. That’s about it for Lauridsen’s contributions. He’s much bigger than Pettersson which I assume is the only reason he’s dressed instead.
Marcel Noebels (2011 – 4th Round)
4 points in 12 Deutchen Eishockey Liga (German League) games. I would have really liked to see Noebels try his hand at playing in a better league. The DEL is lower in the hierarchy than the Swedish, Finnish, Russian, Czech and probably Swiss leagues. It’s a bad place to end up for a 22-year-old prospect.
Nick Luukko (2010 – 6th Round)
In the last update he had just 1 point in 10 matches. Nick’s recently added 3 assists in 5 games for Vermont; he had 2 vs. UMass Amherst and 1 vs. Maine. I may have been a little hard on Luukko in the last report, but it’s tough to see him advancing over the more highly-touted of the Flyers’ defense prospects. He is likely to be a Phantom sometime in the future.
Reece Willcox (2012 – 5th Round)
Recently scored his first of the season! Still has yet to register an assist! Which is fairly weird for a defenseman. It was a big game against Yale as Willcox got some rare powerplay time and buried just his 3rd goal in his entire NCAA career (75 games).
Terrance Amorosa (2013 – 5th Round)
Had an assist on the fairly meaningless 4th goal in a 4-0 beat down of Princeton which was his first point of his college career. He’s still only getting fringe minutes (6 games played of a possible 17) so seeing him put anything on the board is a step in the right direction. Clarkson are now 6-6-5 so hopefully Amorosa can steal some minutes from an under performing vet.
David Drake (2013 – 7th Round)
Keeps getting lots of minutes as a rookie for UConn, but the team is kind of a shambles. He’s added a lone assist to his lone goal for an anemic Huskies’ offense. 22 goals in 14 games for the entire team.
Maxim Lamarche (Free Agent)
Lamarche was briefly with LV earlier this season for 3 games, but he’s been in Reading for 13 games now and he hasn’t been the best while he’s been there. At least as far as the stat sheets go he’s been outperformed by ECHL regulars you’ve probably never heard of like Mike Marcou, Zach Davies and Adam Comrie.