Photo credit: Amy Irvin (38Photography)
The Flyers prospect pool isn’t just filled with defensive prospects. Some of the forwards have some decent potential as well. One such prospect from the Flyers 2012 draft and is not Scott Laughton. Taylor Leier was selected by the Flyers in Round 4, 117 overall from the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. Now currently with the Phantoms, he’s another prospect that will battle for a position on the roster in the near future.
Leier’s offensive numbers aren’t overwhelming, but he did have two near point per game seasons in the WHL. This will certainly boost his NHLe ratings. Rob Vollman’s formula for NHL-E’s can be used to determine a projection of how much Leier would score in the NHL.
Leier’s WHL totals 0.866 points/game; which translates to .225 points/game in the NHL or 18.47 points/82. His 50 game AHL sample comes to .52 points per game in the AHL, which translates to 0.2392 based on Gabriel Desjardins’s scoring projections, or 19.61 points per 82 NHL games.
Per the forward scoring chart at Pension Plane Puppets, Leier’s 18-19 NHL points projects as an average third line forward. GIven the fact the Flyers current third line involves RJ Umberger and Ryan White, there’s a spot for Leier in the NHL. White’s better served on the fourth line with VandeVelde and Bellemarre, and given the fact that Bellemarre is turning 30 soon and RJ Umberger’s career as a useful NHLer is pretty much done, Leier could step in as a bottom-six forward as soon as next season. Leier is likely an improvement over Umberger and comes on an ELC and therefore is far more cost efficient.
Leier’s reputation in the WHL was as a two-way forward who also killed penalties and had a strong defensive game. Should he translate that ability to the NHL, he’d be able to take some PK time and defensive time off Flyers tough minute heavy lifters Matt Read and Sean Couturier. If Leier scores at average third line rates and takes tough PK minutes off Couturier-Read, then the Flyers will be able to tap the untouched offensive potential of Couturier and see him blossom into the player who had two 96 point seasons in the QMJHL.