It hasn’t been the smoothest start to the New Year for many of the Flyers Prospects, especially Scott Laughton who’s dealing with a nasty looking concussion (see link below). Most prospects at the AHL level have been struggling as well, but there are some bright spots even in Lehigh Valley as Nick Cousins and.. oddly enough Oliver Lauridsen have recently exploded. Nicolas Aube-Kubel continues to rip through scoresheets in the QMJHL, Travis Sanheim has gotten back on the horse after missing out on the World Juniors, and Michael Parks buried a few beautiful goals for U North Dakota.
Forwards in the Professional Ranks
Scott Laughton (2012 – 1st Round)
Laughts added a goal in the last 5 NHL games he suited up for. He’s been a steady defensive presence in the bottom-6 for the Flyers but it’s pretty clear he doesn’t have much confidence in his offensive abilities. While that lack of confidence might just be a combination of his utilization and linemates it would be nice to see a little more offensive output. Perhaps the most pressing news facing Laughton is the probable concussion he suffered when he was hit by Matt Niskanen on January 14th. Yup, wow.. surprised he even got up. It certainly left his head spinning as he took his time making his way to the bench which is never a good sign. The Flyers aren’t in great position in the standings (more info here from Kim Pollock!) so it’s probably a good time not to rush the young center back from getting his bell rung. If Philly opt to tank and make a few moves coming up to the trade deadline Laughton should get increased ice time. It’s never easy for Ed Snider to admit defeat so that’ll only happen if the Flyers really start to bomb, but it’d be nice for Laughton.
Nick Cousins (2011 – 3rd Round)
In the last report he’d been starting to get a rhythm going as he had a stretch of 5 points in 8 games after having a truly sluggish December. Over the last 2 weeks it appears Cousins is the only Phantom who can put the puck in the net regularly. He’s been on a 2-points-per-game pace with 5 goals and 5 assists through 5 games.. which is pretty astounding given he only had 18 points in 33 games before this streak. If you do the math he’s up to 28 points in 38 games which is much more respectable. Nick registered at least a point in 4 of the last 5 games and his best effort came in the Phantoms 5-1 home win on Saturday where he had a hat trick and added an assist over Binghamton. This is the Cousins everyone would love to see on a more regular basis. The extraordinary scoring rate isn’t sustainable of course, but it’s nice to see he can score like this at the AHL level even for a short spurt.
Taylor Leier (2012 – 4th Round)
2 assists and a -3 differential in the last 5 games isn’t the bounce back I wanted to see from Leier as he came off an injury. He has put 8 shots on net during those games, but it just hasn’t been going his way lately. His total this year is now 17 points in 35 games and as I said in the last report a 40 point season wouldn’t be a horrible total for the rookie. He started really hot this season, but has been a zombie lately with 3 points in 10 games and a -8 rating. Hopefully we see Taylor turn it around a finish strong as a Phantoms drive towards a playoff spot.
Jason Akeson (Free Agent)
17 points in 20 games means Akeson has cooled over the past week or so. He had popped 9 points in 8 games over the Christmas season, but has managed just 3 assists over the last 4 games as his hot streak has sort of tapered. He’s still putting the puck on net with 12 shots in those 4 games so it’s only a matter of time before the start going in for him again. He’s now up to 4th on the team in scoring despite playing just 20 of the 38 games on Lehigh Valley’s schedule this year. Tough to believe he’ll be in the AHL for the entire year with the Flyers struggling.
Petr Straka (Free Agent)
Straka has been stinking up the joint lately with 2 goals in 13 games, including the most recent stretch where he’s been scoreless for 5 straight. 13 points on the year (36 games) is to put it simply, bad. He’s been playing very poorly. This is not what anyone had hoped for as his pace has now dipped below what he totaled last season. Improved play from Straka could really help in Lehigh Valley’s stretch run. If they hope to make the playoffs the coaching staff will need to coax more from the likes of guys like Straka and Leier. Without secondary scoring the just won’t make it.
Oskar Lindblom (2014 – 5th Round)
Oskar’s suffered from the World Junior hangover much like Swedish teammate Hagg. He went into the tournament riding high after scoring 5 points in 5 games for Brynas in the Swedish league, but he’s come out slow in the New Year. After the disappointing 4th place for Sweden, Lindblom has a single goal in 4 games of action. It might not be a whopping 48 points in 53 games like Florida’s Aleksander Barkov had as a 17-year-old but Lindblom has 5 goals and 5 assists in 21 professional games as an 18-year-old rookie. He also dominated the World Junior tournament alongside William Nylander and Axel Holmstrom. So things are looking up for the young winger. It’s not out of the question that he’ll make a run for an NHL job within the next season or two.
Kevin Goumas (Free Agent)
He’s been a healthy scratch quite a bit lately playing just 6 of 12 games, but he did add an assist on Sunday. He set up one of the extremely rare Oliver Lauridsen goals to register his 4th point of the season (31 games). I’ve been preaching that Goumas deserves more time on a so-so Phantoms roster, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to get it unless there’s a string of injuries. While that might be good for Kevin I don’t think it would be great for Lehigh Valley. So let’s just put a pin in Goumas for now and hope he can contribute in a checking role.
Brandon Alderson (Free Agent)
His recent call-up to Lehigh Valley from Reading of the ECHL appears to have been merely as a space-filler as his role has been minimal. He’s registered 5 shots and chalked up a -3 rating over the last 2 weeks. Brandon has tried to make an impression by getting on the scoresheet the only way he knows he can anymore which is by taking penalties. To be fair 15 of his 19 PIMs came in the game against Binghamton on Saturday where he fought Max McCormick and was ejected since it was a Secondary Altercation to the Lauridsen vs. Thompson fight. At least he got the takedown!
Forwards in College or Junior
Michael Parks (2010 – 5th Round)
Coming back from Christmas Break strong, Parks has 4 points in 3 games to get back up to a point-per-game pace at 23 in 23. His most impressive game came this past Saturday against Niagara where he buried 2 goals. It was a 0-0 tie until he opened the scoring midway through the 2nd and North Dakota rolled to a 5-0 victory after that. Parks also capped the scoring 13 minutes into the 3rd with his second on the night; both were at even strength. There are highlights which might be available here although sometimes the player doesn’t seem to work for me. Parks breaks in at about 4 minutes into the video and just barely puts it in after a nice deke. His second comes at about the 9 minute mark where he finishes a tap in on a beautiful pass by MacMillan. He showed good instincts in driving to the wide post on that play, nice goals.
Radel Fazleev (2014 – 6th Round)
After flirting with a point-per-game pace Faz has slowed a bit and sits at 35 points in 45 WHL contests. It’s not as if his play has been poor lately as he’s netted a goal and added 3 assists in 6 games, it’s just not quite as stellar as it happened to be before Christmas. This smattering of points is certainly a step in the right direction as he had just a lone assist in the previous 6 games. I had thought Radel might burst onto the WHL scene and surprise a lot of people by getting near the top of the league in scoring, but the Hitmen as a team haven’t been as strong as I had hoped. That plays a big part in how his numbers have fleshed out.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel (2014 – 2nd Round)
Aube-Kubel has been destroying the QMJHL lately even though Val d’Or are struggling to tread water (Photo TC Média – Alex Drouin)
The Foreurs have hit another rough patch as they’ve gone 1-4 in the last 2 weeks of play. That 1 win though was a huge one; a 10-2 victory over the Victoriaville Tigres. Aube-Kubel was happy to throw up 5 points (2 goals and 3 assists) in that 10-2 drubbing, but a big reason to be excited is that he’s also had at least a point in all of those 4 losses (4 goals and 1 assist). That gives Nic 6 goals and 4 assists in 5 games as he continues his breakneck scoring clip. Since early December to this point he’s put 30 points up in 17 games which gives him 48 points in 39 games as he closes in on his career high of 53 set last year. No doubt he’ll surpass that mark as he’s had a surprisingly great offensive year after starting in a much more defensive role. More info on Nicolas here from Matt Bernot!
Tyrell Goulbourne (2013 – 3rd Round)
2 fights and 3 assists in 5 games. Yes he fought twice, but the main thing is he didn’t take stupid instigators or get misconducts. If he can keep his head on straight, and still play on the edge he can be a very effective WHLer (and likely Minor Pro player). 26 points in 37 games is a pretty nice total for Tyrell to sit at especially given that he’s a pugilist by trade. There’s no doubt he’ll blow by his career high of 37 points playing for his powerhouse Kelowna team; the question will be how high can his point total climb and can he transition into a legitimate pro. It’s easy to compare Goulbourne to Zac Rinaldo, but Tyrell has already had a 37 point season and headed for more. Rinaldo managed 30 in his best junior season. They’re similar, but perhaps Goulbourne has a bit more finesse, only time will tell.
Defensemen in the Professional Ranks
Shayne Gostisbehere (2012 – 3rd Round)
Maybe a month and half until his return; maybe more. Tough to say as the Flyers haven’t been extremely forthcoming about info. Wait and see.
Robert Hagg (2013 – 2nd Round)
It looks as though Hagg’s (and Sweden’s) disappointing World Junior tournament hasn’t done much to boost his confidence as he’s been fairly absent on the scoresheet lately. He’s registered 7 shots over the last 5 contests, and 1 of those has found the back of the net, but he hasn’t had a single assist since his return from playing for his country. His 14 points this year are second only to Captain Brandon Manning’s 25 among defensemen so Lehigh Valley could use more production from him. He was named one of Team Sweden’s top-3 players of the World Juniors as he anchored the blue line for what seemed like a tournament favourite. Ultimately Sweden failed to even medal and I think that’s weighing heavily on Robert right now. He’s only 19-years-old so it’s expected that he’ll struggle at times, but let’s just hope that doesn’t coincide with the Phantoms trying to sneak into 7th or 8th and make the playoffs.
Mark Alt (Free Agent)
Injured again with a broken hand.. not much to say about Alt. He’s been in and out of the line up with injuries and can’t stay healthy. 5 points in 19 games isn’t much to be proud of. He’ll need more than that if he wants to stay in the Flyers’ system. This season looks like a write-off unless he can end with a really strong push.
Jesper Pettersson (2014 – 7th Round)
Much like Alt there’s not much to be positive about here. Only Maxim Lamarche has fewer points (1) than Pettersson’s 2 among any defenseman who has dressed for Lehigh Valley. From what I can see he’s been a healthy scratch for 5 games in a row and ECHL call ups Brett Flemming and Adam Comrie have been in the line-up ahead of him. Not good. Second report in a row that Jesper’s section has become the Flemming/Comrie fan club.
Valeri Vasiliev (2012 – 7th Round)
4 games into his move to Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo from Omsk Avangard. No points on the board, no penalties on the board, +1 rating. Not much to be gained from that stat line, but at least he’s playing again. He wasn’t getting any ice time leading up to the trade so it’s probably been a nice change to be playing for Torpedo. In the meantime here he is getting fed by Mikhail Fisenko a couple months ago when he was still with Omsk!
Defensemen in Junior or College
Travis Sanheim (2014 – 1st Round)
Disappointment from not being selected to the World Junior roster had to be a factor in Sanheim’s questionable play over the Christmas break, but he’s now bounced back into usual form. 7 points in 5 games since the beginning of the New Year means he’s inched back near a point-per-game sitting at 39 in 41. Travis had one of his best and worst efforts recently against the Red Deer Rebels on the 14th. He had 3 assists in the 5-4 loss, but ended up giving too much room to Red Deer’s Connor Bleackley who scored the equalizer with the Hitmen leading late in the 3rd. Coaches and fans tend to remember those blunders (especially for defensemen) but it’s important to remember he drove the offense out to the 4-2 lead earlier in the game. Sanheim is now out with a minor injury and is listed as day-to-day; he’s missed 2 games.
Sam Morin (2013 – 1st Round)
Trying to prove Team Canada wrong for relegating him to number 6 on the depth chart during the World Juniors, Morin is off and running in January filling in the scoresheet. The big blueliner has amassed a goal and 5 assists in 4 games, all of which have been wins for the Rimouski Oceanic. He now has 15 points in his QMJHL campaign that has been shortened by his fractured jaw and stint at the World Juniors (16 games). Aside from the fact that he was basically used like that kid that plays the tree in the school play, it was great to see that he was highly regarded enough to wear the Maple Leaf. It’s even better to see him back in the Q dominating teenage forwards with his man-strength.
Mark Friedman (2014 – 3rd Round)
Friedman is scoring at a promising rate lately; a Freshman at Bowling Green, he’s amassed 6 points in 6 games since having just 5 in 16 games before Christmas. If he can hold the point every other game pace as a Freshman defenseman he’ll definitely raise a few eyebrows. He’s managed to stay out of the box (which was a problem for him early), put some pucks on the net (4 shots in 4 games), add some helpers (3 in 4 games), and even landed in the starting line-up lately. Absolutely nothing to complain about here.
Anthony Stolarz (2012)
A .905 save percentage in 3 games through a win and 2 losses hasn’t been Anthony’s best, but it certainly hasn’t been terrible. His .921 this year as a rookie is great and it’s easy to look past the unsightly 2.71 goals against since the Phantoms have allowed a ton of shots. He’s 6-8-1 and has the only 2 shutouts that Lehigh Valley have notched this year so he’s making a difference. With Rob Zepp in Philly it’s safe to say he’s the starter right now and Oulette the backup. He’s been okay in that role, but I wouldn’t complain if Stolie stole a game or two and pushed Zepp for the important starts when he eventually returns.
Merrick Madsen (2013 – 6th Round)
Success! Merrick made his first college appearance for Harvard on Saturday! Okay it wasn’t a start, Steve Michalek was pulled near the end of a messy 1st period after giving up 3 goals. Okay he wasn’t all that spectacular giving up 2 goals on 13 shots. You have to take the good with the bad.. he played 43 minutes of NCAA hockey and that’s good. With Michalek losing 2 of his last 3 starts and looking overworked I think it’s finally time Harvard give Madsen a start or 2.
On the Fringes
Brandon Manning (Free Agent)
Nick Cousins’ recent streak has catapulted him into the scoring lead for Lehigh Valley as Captain Manning has finally been eclipsed. Despite that Manning’s 25 points over 36 games have been very important on what can be a pretty porous defense. His only points over the last 5 games came in Saturday’s 5-1 win over Binghamton where he has 2 assists, but at the very least he’s managed to stay out of the negative with a +2 over that time. Brandon had 31 points last year for his best season as a pro and it appears he’ll definitely smash that total as he’s emerged as a real AHL leader.
Oliver Lauridsen (2009 – 7th Round)
I was kind of astonished that Lauridsen was a +6 after the last report and he’s followed up a promising couple of weeks with an even more impressive body of work. A Gordie Howe hat trick!? I know it surprised me too, but I guess Oliver likes St. John’s, Newfoundland because he accomplished the rare feat scoring a goal, an assist and fighting Blair Reilly on the 11th of January on the rock. Coming into the New Year with 2 assists in 33 games, Oliver added 2 goals and 2 assists while staying on the positive side of the puck with a +5 differential. 4 points in 5 games is probably the best hockey Lauridsen will ever play in his life so soak it in everybody.
Marcel Noebels (2011 – 4th Round
Noebels has played just 1 game over the last 2 weeks and he registered an assist in that game. He know has 14 points in 28 DEL games with Berlin. He had 9 points in 9 games before being lost to what Google translate tells me is a broken finger. Shame to see that injury during a time when Marcel was starting to push his game to the next level.
Nick Luukko (2010 – 6th Round)
8 points now in 23 games for the Catamount veteran. Luukko had a goal in Vermont’s 4-1 win over Dartmouth (his 2nd of the year) but other than that he’s been relatively absent from the scoresheet aside from a few minuses. 2 more points will tie his career high so that’s something to shoot for.
Reece Willcox (2012 – 5th Round)
Cornell are 2-2 since the last update. Willcox contributed an assist and a +3 rating in their 5-1 win over Union and was only a -1 in the other 3 games. He’s a stay at home type with just a humble amount of points over his entire career so it’s hard to say whether he can translate to the pro game successfully.
Terrance Amorosa (2013 – 5th Round)
Just the lone assist in 8 games for Amorosa. For those of you keeping a close eye on him, yes that means he’s played in 1 game since we last reported on him. At least he’s seeing SOME ice as of late. Tough to get an idea of the Freshman’s skill level when he doesn’t play regularly.
David Drake (2013 – 7th Round)
UConn haven’t been a strong team this year as they sit at 4-5-2 in Hockey East, but they have been kind of hot lately. They beat the Army team 6-3, then beat a much stronger UMass Lowell squad 2-0 before tying Notre Dame 3-3 (they led in that game 3-2!). They finally came back to Earth in the second half of the home-and-home against ND getting smashed 6-1. Drake hasn’t been much of an offensive force this year (4 points) and that trend continued as he didn’t register a point in any of those games, even against Army where 13 UConn players contributed. Despite that he continues to play top-4 minutes as a Freshman which is a good developmental step even on a sub-par team.
Maxim Lamarche (Free Agent)
After being shuffled between Reading and Lehigh Valley despite not really playing Lamarche is finally back in Reading and registered his 2nd goal of the season on Saturday. He has 8 points in 31 ECHL games and hasn’t been a regular call-up. He’s been passed over for the likes of Flemming and Comrie much like Pettersson has. Tough to imagine him as an NHLer, or even an AHL regular at this rate.