A lot of ups and downs in this report. First pro goals, cold streaks, guys getting named to World Junior rosters, other guys getting cut from World Junior rosters, it’s been an emotional couple of weeks for many of the Flyers’ young prospects.
A dumb graphic the Flyers posted on their website that shows Sanheim’s points over 2 partial seasons and Morin’s over parts of 3? Why not leave out the point totals entirely? Maybe I’m just upset about what happened..
Forwards in the Professional Ranks
Scott Laughton (2012 – 1st Round)
After assisting on Wayne Simmond’s bomb of a slapshot goal in the first period of Saturday’s tilt with Carolina, Laughton was finally able to tally his first NHL goal (18th game FYI). Here’s a link to the youtube clip of the goal. It was definitely one to remember. He showed a great burst of speed wide and it was nice to see him get the shot away quickly. He surprised Carolina goalie Anton Khudobin, who’s been getting surprised a lot this season at 0-7-2 (sheesh!), by taking the puck from his backhand and quickly unloading a shot low blocker. Wonderful stuff. Now up to 1 goal and 3 assists in 13 NHL games (this season), it was great to see Scott get that monkey off his back. He’s been playing some great hockey, but just hasn’t gotten a bounce. More info on the Flyers’ 5-1 win here.
Nick Cousins (2011 – 3rd Round)
Cousins played the hero this past Saturday, scoring the winning shootout goal in a massive 44 save win for Anthony Stolarz. To be honest I had hoped Cousins would be playing that role a little bit more often this season, but there’s obviously been a drought in the offensive department for the entire club. While he’s not entirely to blame he certainly has to shoulder some of that after not registering a point since the last prospect report 2 weeks ago (13 points in 25 games)! I stated last time that his offense was due for a resurgence.. uhh oops? That’s not to say he isn’t trying as this past weekend Cousins registered 7 shots in 3 games. He’s not a high volume shooter and tends to try and make an extra pass, so when he’s shooting this much it’s tough to say he’s not at least trying to generate offense.
Taylor Leier (2012 – 4th Round)
A goal and 2 assists in 2 weeks is nothing to celebrate, but I guess it’s more than a lot of Phantoms have accomplished in that span. Taylor scored on Sunday in a spirited 3rd period between Lehigh Valley and Albany as the teams exchanged the lead before heading to overtime. It ended in heartbreak for the Phantoms when Tim Sestito scored the OT winner, but the rare 3 goal outburst in the 3rd period was promising. Leier also assisted on the Phantoms lone goal on Friday vs Binghamton scored by linemate Stortini. While the Leier-Jones-Stortini line continued to be effective in generating shots it was time for a change as Cousins swapped lines with Jones recently. Due to a subsequent injuries to Jones and Leier however the lines look like they might be shuffled again depending on the health of certain players.
Jason Akeson (Free Agent)
One of the real drivers of play at the AHL level, Akeson had 2 goals and 2 assists in 3 games before everything seemingly went wrong for him this past weekend. He was held off the scoresheet for all 3 Lehigh Valley games despite registering 8 shots in that span. 4 points in 6 games is still one of the best performances from the Phantoms roster in that timeframe, and while it’s not gargantuan it certainly seems so when the team can’t put the puck in the net. He now has 5 points in 8 AHL games, and should probably have even more given his proven track record. He could easily start rolling and reach a point per game, but will that get him another promotion? It’s tough to think anything short of dominance will get him another chance with Berube. He’s taken Leier’s spot at LW with Blair Jones recently, and while I’m not a huge fan of that the lines definitely needed a good shake.
Petr Straka (Free Agent)
Mired in the same slump as frequent linemate Cousins (although not quite as bad), Straka had promising stat lines this past weekend with some different linemates. He registered 7 shots against Binghamton which is great to see, and finally got one to go in on Saturday vs. WBS. 10 shots through 3 weekend games, but just 1 goal and 1 assist in 6 games over 2 weeks. The numbers haven’t added up for Petr just yet and he was demoted to the 3rd line because of that. He’s taken a great deal of shots and a player like Cousins appears to be a natural partner to feed him the puck; something just hasn’t clicked for them as a secondary scoring unit. Straka was demoted to a line with Powe and Hextall this weekend; 11 points in 23 games isn’t what anyone had hoped for, but it isn’t disastrous either.
Oskar Lindblom (2014 – 5th Round)
Recently hitting a hot streak Lindblom now has 9 points. He’s had 2 goals and 3 assists in 5 games, bringing his total to 17 games played in the Swedish League. In news that’s sure to make GM Ron Hextall happy, he’ll be joining fellow Flyers’ prospect Robert Hagg as a Swedish World Junior team member in a few short days. Lindblom probably won’t be a huge stand out, but there’s no question he should figure into the top 12 forwards and hopefully he finds some chemistry with one of the bigger names. If he find himself on a line with William Nylander (TOR) or Jacob de la Rose (MTL) things could get very interesting.
Kevin Goumas (Free Agent)
Goumas has continued to suit up for each and every contest in a checking role. It’s tough to envision him putting anything on the board in terms of offense (just 3 points in 25 games now), but at least he hasn’t been catastrophically bad in goal differential (-3). I’m no expert, but seeing as the offense is struggling maybe it’s time to give Goumas a shot at being a top-6 forward? Surely he deserves some time with players not named Rosehill or Fyten. Give the guy a break!
Brandon Alderson (Free Agent)
His demotion to Reading (ECHL) has certainly kickstarted some offense as he’s up to 6 points in 8 games. Brandon was a pretty good power forward type player in junior and I don’t think that kind of skill just vanishes. With some injuries popping up (Jones and Leier had some bumps and bruises on Sunday) it might be a good opportunity to recall Alderson and give him a shot (hopefully in a non-Enforcer role this time). It can’t hurt to try a few different things.
Forwards in College or Junior
Michael Parks (2010 – 5th Round)
4 points in 4 games for Parks after a slight slip in production as U North Dakota have bounced back with a 3-1-1 record in recent weeks. Parks plays with scoring leader Drake Caggiula, a smallish and undrafted Ontario native who never got a chance in the OHL. Caggiula is a player that must have been overlooked by OHL scouts because to lead a NCAA team in scoring (a No. 2 ranked NCAA team at that) is no small feat. By the sounds of UND articles written about these two, Caggiula is the offensive weapon and Parks is the defensive presence who rides shotgun. If that’s the case it’s very possible Michael could be a nice complimentary player at the pro level. He’s up to 20 points in 19 college matches this season which is just behind Caggiula who has 22.
Radel Fazleev (2014 – 6th Round)
A big event in Calgary, the annual Hitmen Teddy Bear Toss for charity was a week ago and boy was it something to see. If anyone hasn’t seen a Teddy Bear Toss THIS is the one to see (note: watch closely at about 40 seconds for his moonwalk goal celebration, nice touch). Personally I had seen a few before at the junior level in Halifax, but Calgary’s event was truly a spectacle. Radel had the great fortune to score the Teddy Bear goal which made it rain stuffed animals for literally a couple of minutes as fans chucked them to the ice surface. It took about a half hour for staff to clean up the bears and cart them off the ice to be donated to needy children in the area. Aside from this feel good moment Faz has had 4 points in 5 games and is now up to 29 points in 32 games on the year. The Hitmen have been riding a hot streak lately (7-3) and more minutes and responsibility from Fazleev big reasons why. On a sad note, Radel wasn’t selected to the Russian World Junior team. It’s easy to say this was a misstep by the Russians, but they usually take very few prospects who defect to North America (6 of 30 players this year).
Nicolas Aube-Kubel (2014 – 2nd Round)
Desperately needing some bounces after going goalless for a couple of weeks, Aube-Kubel has dropped 9 points in his last 6 games. That brings him up to 27 points in 28 games. Really nice to see a rebound in his offensive production as the struggling Val d’Or Foreurs chug along in the basement of the QMJHL. He’s been piling up shots lately while producing a few goals, but his big game came on December 7th vs. Saint John when he potted 4 assists in a 5-4 loss. Nicolas has been playing with small (5’8″) but skilled leading scorer Anthony Richard (2015 draft eligible) who had a hat trick in that same game, and has 47 points in 35 games this year. That’s a bit of a change as far as I know; since it was well known Aube-Kubel was drawing top defensive assignments. Nice to see him getting an offensive chance and making the most of it.
Tyrell Goulbourne (2013 – 3rd Round)
Goulbourne’s league leading Rockets were in Calgary this past Sunday and it wasn’t exactly the performance I had hoped for. Tyrell did score, but the goal was negated as the referee had the intention to blow the whistle on a goal mouth play. Seems like the blue paint is his honey-hole so to speak. This goal could have gone either way, but the game couldn’t have. The Hitmen went on to win 4-1 without the services of Jake Virtanen or Travis Sanheim who were both with the Canadian World Junior team at the time. Tyrell did have an assist on the lone Kelowna goal, and generally was around the net all night. The Rockets are 4-2 in their last 6.. which is kind of a lull for them so far (26-5-3). 1 goal and 2 assists in that time for Goulbourne gives him 22 points in 26 WHL contests. His ongoing quest to play hockey and not run around being an idiot is quite remarkable.
Defensemen in the Professional Ranks
Shayne Gostisbehere (2012 – 3rd Round)
In an interview just a few days ago, GM Hextall stated Ghost is right on schedule in terms of his rehab. He’s now a month past having surgery to repair a torn ACL. His recovery period was never really specified so it’s tough to say what ‘on schedule’ means. It’ll likely be sometime in late January at the earliest. No setbacks so far, so I’ll take that as a good sign.
Robert Hagg (2013 – 2nd Round)
Hagg’s offensive contributions have finally settled down a bit after he was riding a mid-40s to 50 point pace earlier in the season. He had his lone assist in the last 6 games on Sunday when he was also +3. He’s a big contributor in all areas of the game for the Phantoms (11 points in 25 games) and will leave a BIG hole in the line-up for the Holiday season. He’s going to be missing in order to participate in the World Juniors, and will be absent for 5 or 6 LV games while playing for Sweden. This is going to be a tough pill to swallow for the rest of the AHL defense, and it’ll be interesting to see how the coaching staff adapts to this. Congrats to Robert though, the World Juniors are such a special event for young players. There’s no thrill quite like representing your country.
Mark Alt (Free Agent)
1 point in 6 games for Alt isn’t at all the impact I hoped he would have after returning from injury. As far as I know he’s been getting top-4 minutes and he and Manning have been paired together frequently on the Powerplay. Things just aren’t going right offensively for Lehigh Valley, and some improved play from Alt could go a long way in tilting the shot differential for the Phantoms. Due to his recent play I’m tempering my expectations a bit after I had been quite high on him last year.
Jesper Pettersson (2014 – 7th Round)
I said Pettersson would have an uphill battle before him if he wants to make himself into a legitimate top-4 AHL defender. He’s played in 3 of the last 6 games. He certainly doesn’t appear to be making much progress. He was a reach in the 7th Round, not a big deal if he doesn’t turn out. Still just 20-years-old, lots of time to develop at the AHL level. The one plus to Pettersson’s game is that he can provide the toughness that coaches so adore, but stay out of the box. Just 13 PIMs in 20 games. That’s a lot fewer than I would have guessed based on his style. 1 fighting major and 4 minor penalties; not bad.
Valeri Vasiliev (2012 – 7th Round)
I took a mini heart attack when I saw that Vasiliev wasn’t on the active Omsk Avangard roster any longer, but I’m not so sure it’s anything to panic about. It looks as though he’s only played a single KHL game since the last update, and I can’t find evidence he’s played in the lower tier Russian leagues so he may be on the injured reserve. If anyone can read Russian and feels like sifting through some KHL transfers and updates, let me know!
Defensemen in Junior or College
Travis Sanheim (2014 – 1st Round)
After the joy of being named to the World Junior preliminary roster it’s tough to take the let down of being cut. It was pretty surprising to me because I don’t think there’s a defenseman on the roster for Canada that can create offensive opportunities the way Travis can by rushing the puck. I’m thinking this probably a case where Sanheim went in and had a bad camp. He’s been beaten out by Joe Hicketts (DET) and Madison Bowey (WSH) both of whom are just barely ahead of him in the WHL defensemen scoring race. Perhaps Sanheim can leapfrog them while they’re away at camp, his 31 points in 30 games could have him on target to get some votes for WHL defender of the year. Hopefully this let down doesn’t affect his play, he’s been so SO good this year.
Sam Morin (2013 – 1st Round)
Sam has cooled off offensively after piling up a few points (just 9 points in 12 games now on the year), but he’s probably had the World Junior camp on his mind. Unlike Sanheim the towering Frenchman wasn’t cut from the U20 roster and it’s very likely we’ll see him suiting up in the Red and White come Christmas season. It’s tough to overlook the upside of having a 6’7″ behemoth to throw around 150 pound opposing players. The thing that’s obviously notable about Morin’s stat sheet this season is the fact that he’s staying out of the box. 16 PIMs in 12 games is almost nothing compared to previous seasons of 121 and 117 PIMs. Discipline was huge when the Flyers coaching staff were talking about Morin after the development camp so it’s a positive to see him cutting back on meaningless minors.
Mark Friedman (2014 – 3rd Round)
Bowling Green are ranked No. 13 in the NCAA and have been pretty solid. Friedman, a Freshman, hasn’t been a huge part of the offense with just 1 goal and 4 assists (16 games), but he is still leading the team with 33 PIMs. So he’s leading something, that’s good right? The Falcons are now off until a January 3rd/4th match up with No. 17 Robert Morris.
Anthony Stolarz (2012)
Stolarz and the Phantoms just couldn’t hold on in regulation to beat the WBS Pens, but as mentioned earlier, Nick Cousins came through in the shootout. A well deserved win for Anthony, but the team around him wasn’t all that inspiring. Despite being hemmed in for long periods of time Stolarz held on until Jean-Sebastien Dea evened the score at 1 with just 2 minutes remaining. Tough break to have the shutout broken in a game where he made a monumental 44 saves.
Riding a .922 save percentage over the past 2 weeks, Anthony continues to provide solid goaltending to an inconsistent Phantoms squad. It’s definitely been more of a baptism by fire type scenario than I think anyone had hoped. To his credit the young goalie has withstood some pathetic efforts by the AHL defense and held up his 92% save percentage for most of the year. If the Phantoms could stop the bleeding in the shot differential department Stolie might have a chance to have a wonderful rookie season.
Merrick Madsen (2013 – 6th Round)
In a rather consistent storyline, Madsen is still without a college start. Obviously with more rest between games there’s not much Madsen can do but wait around for starter Steve Michalek to get the mumps or something!
On the Fringes
Brandon Manning (Free Agent) 2 6 24 13
After sizzling for a couple of weeks with 8 points in 6 games, Manning’s offense has fizzled. He’s chalked up just 1 point in the last 6 games. He continues to play some good hockey for the Phantoms, but when you look at how far the shot totals tilt toward the opposition it’s hard to believe any of the Lehigh Valley defenders is doing much to turn the play up ice. Lots of bad Corsi ratings here.
Oliver Lauridsen (2009 – 7th Round)
Dressed for all 25 Lehigh Valley games so far this season.. to everyone’s dismay. 1 assist and 45 PIMs. Make no mistake his role is being diminished because of the influx of younger-more talented players. At this point he’s a spare part in the organization.
Marcel Noebels (2011 – 4th Round
1 point in his last 7 German League games (5 total in 19 games). For reference his teammate Barry Tallackson (former Devils farmhand and let’s say.. slightly better than average AHL player) has 15 points in 28 games. If Noebels can’t establish himself as at least a top-6 forward in the German league he’s pretty much toast.
Nick Luukko (2010 – 6th Round)
As I keep saying for a lot of defensemen in the Flyers’ system, climbing over some of the more talented younger guys (your Ghostisbeheres, Morins, Haggs, Sanheims) is going to be too much of a challenge for a lot of guys. Will Luukko’s Dad pull some strings with Mr. Snider and get him a contract. Who knows!? Either way Luukko is 3rd in defensemen scoring for a fairly strong U Vermont team. He’s making a case that he might be an acceptable AHL level defenseman; 6 points in 17 games has Nick on pace for a career best season in Hockey East.
Reece Willcox (2012 – 5th Round)
After registering just his 3rd NCAA goal before the last report, Willcox has added an assist! Similar situation here to Luukko, although Willcox seems to tend to an even more defensive game. He’s sound enough that Cornell’s staff had him on the ice in a 6 on 4 shorthanded/goalie pulled situation versus U. Denver. Definitely a plus for Willcox to be pulling important minutes like those for the Big Red, and he managed to pick up his assist on the game-clinching empty netter. Good for Reece.
Terrance Amorosa (2013 – 5th Round)
Amorosa has still played just 6 games to this point in the season, I’m starting to think this is an injury, but I can’t actually find anything concrete.
David Drake (2013 – 7th Round)
The UConn Huskies have played just twice since the last update; a 1-0 loss at Providence to Brown and a 6-4 loss at Lowell to UMass. A 3-8-4 record isn’t the greatest, but Drake is only a Freshman after all. He added an assist to his totals in the 6-4 loss to Lowell and now has a goal and 2 assists in 13 games. Lots of time to develop much like Amorosa.
Maxim Lamarche (Free Agent)
Maxim has been used of late with Bryant Molle, a 27-year-old veteran defensive defenseman for Reading. It’s not exactly the best place to be if he hopes to get back to the AHL. Lamarche will need to put up some numbers in the E to resurrect a dying career. That or get traded to an organization that has a few less defenders. Right now his development is pretty stagnant and the chances he turns into anything more than a pro hockey afterthought are getting worse.