Sunday, December 8, 2013

World Juniors Preview

For the first time in years, the Flyers will have a handful of their top prospects at the WJCs. Some are virtual locks to represent their countries, while a couple others still have some work to do in the preliminary camps to secure a spot on the roster. I'll take a look at the Flyers' picks who have a chance to play in Malmo.


C- Scott Laughton, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Laughton has been dominant in the OHL this year.  Posting 47 points (24G, 23A) in 28 games after an early demotion from the Flyers, Laughton has shown he may be too good for juniors. But with the CHL-NHL agreement, the Flyers weren't able to send him the AHL and had no choice but to return him to Oshawa. Laughton has done everything for the Gens. He has been a force on the powerplay, penalty kill, and in even strength play. He was rewarded for his stellar play when he was given the captaincy for Team OHL in the Subway Series. As a guy who can play in any situation and plays both ends of the ice, Laughton is a lock to play for Canada in Sweden.

LW- Taylor Leier, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

Taylor Leier has been a pleasant surprise for Portland this year. His Memorial Cup tournament was cut short last season, after taking a high hit from Saskatoon's Dalton Thrower. Leier was concussed and some thought it might affect his game next season. But Leier has come out blazing hot this year, sitting at 7th in overall scoring in the WHL with 43 points. He will have to prove that his numbers aren't inflated from being on an offense juggernaut like Portland. Canada still has to trim its roster down by 3, with Leier being a player on the bubble. He did impress in the WHL's super series games, so if he can continue to play like he has, he will be in Malmo.


D- Valeri Vasiliev, Spartak Moscow (KHL)

Vasiliev is a question mark for me. Can’t say I’ve seen him or the most of the other Russian defensemen play, but he has played in 25 games for Spartak Moscow this year. The 2012 7th rounder has represented Russia before, at the U19’s and the Ivan Hlinka. As a 19 year old with KHL experience, it seems like Vasiliev should have a decent shot at making the Russian team.


D- Robert Hagg, MODO (SHL)

Robert Hagg has already secured a spot on the Swedish team. Hagg was a last minute addition to team Sweden last year, when Hampus Lindholm went down with an injury. He was very impressive in Ufa, and was often getting minutes in key situations for the Swedes. Hagg has been up and down for MODO this year, and hopes to get on track with a good showing at the World Juniors on home soil.

United States

G- Anthony Stolarz, London Knights (OHL)

Stolarz has been a brick wall for the London Knights this season. His numbers are among the OHL's elite and he has shown vast improvement after making the transition from the NCAA last year. Stolarz is a lock to play for the United States in the WJCs. He leads the OHL in SV% (.927) and sits at 4th in GAA (2.45). Some would credit his numbers to a good London d-corps, and Stolarz will have to prove his critics wrong in camp. He will likely be the backup for the US, with the NCAA's best netminder, Jon Gillies (Providence) having the edge. Gillies has posted ridiculous numbers this year and was on last year's WJC team, making him the favorite to start. It will certainly be a battle in camp.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Prospect Profile: Petr Straka

Petr Straka
Another free agent acquisition by Paul Holmgren has a chance to prove himself this upcoming year. Petr Straka is a 92 born Czech forward, who was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2nd round of the 2010 entry draft. Before being drafted, Straka was coming off a great rookie season in the QMJHL with Rimouski Oceanic, where he finished with 64 points in 62 games played. He was second on his team in scoring as a 17 year old. But the following two years were riddled with injuries and he reportedly grew out of favor with his coach. His point totals were down, as he finished with 25 points in his second year and 37 the following season. Though he had a good playoff in his final year with Rimouski, scoring 10 goals and adding 12 assists in 21 games, his decline in play was steep enough for Columbus to not offer him a contract.

Straka reentered the draft in 2012, but was not selected. He had offers to attend some NHL camps, but those were quickly off the table due to the lockout. So Straka returned to the QMJHL as an overager and was traded from Rimouski to Baie-Comeau. In his overage season with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Straka returned to form. He led the team in scoring with 41 goals and 41 assists, totaling 82 points in 55 games played. He added 25 more points in 19 playoff games before Baie-Comeau fell to Halifax in the finals. On April 11, during that playoff run, Straka was signed to an entry level contract by the Flyers.

Petr Straka is a right winger who is very gifted offensively. He has a great shot, good speed, and a slick pair of hands. The crafty forward has shown he can score at the junior level and also set up goals. He has a lot of areas that need improvement though. He needs to work on his two way game as well as his strength and physical play. He also needs to be more consistent. Because of these flaws, Straka is best suited for a top six role and will likely get that with Adirondack next season. If he is able to continue to score and show growth in other aspects of the game, Straka may have a chance to be called up to the Flyers at some point.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Prospect Profile: Tye McGinn

Tye McGinn
Tye McGinn might be the most NHL ready prospect the Flyers have right now. He may not have as much potential as a Scott Laughton, but he has shown that he is more than capable of playing in the NHL as a 4th liner. He was chosen by the Flyers in the 4th round of the 2010 draft, and they may have found a sleeper.

McGinn's junior career started with the Ottawa 67's in the OHL, where he played with his older brother, Jamie, who is now with the Colorado Avalanche. Tye put up 11 points in 59 games as a 17 year old. He was cut by Ottawa after one season. He then decided to take his talents to the Quebec League, where he joined the Gatineau Olympiques. McGinn was Gatineau's best player in his final two seasons with the club. He led the team in scoring in 2009-2010, putting up 62 points, finishing with 27 goals and 35 helpers. McGinn's final year in juniors as a 20 year old was injury plagued. He ended up only playing in 42 games, but still finished 2nd on the team in goals with 31. McGinn was an integral part of his team's success and chipped in 13 points in 14 games during Gatineau's 2011 playoff run.

Tye McGinn made his AHL debut on October 11, 2011 with Adirondack. McGinn had an alright first year in the AHL, posting 18 points in 63 games. But he showed vast improvement in his second professional season, where he started to find his offensive game. He scored 11 goals and added 4 assists in 33 games before getting recalled to the Flyers.

McGinn made his NHL debut on January 22 against the New Jersey Devils. He was used as a 4th liner and immediately became a fan favorite because of his willingness to play a rough and tough, grind it out type of game, something that Flyers fans love. He also showed that he was not afraid to drop the mitts and was even able to chip in a bit offensively with the big club. He was getting a solid amount of ice time, he averaged 12:43 and even got some time on the power play, and looked to be a good fit with the Flyers. But on February 25th, he sustained a broken orbital bone in a fight with Mike Brown of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He recovered but was sent back down to the American Hockey League, and would only suit up in two more games with the Flyers. He ended the season with 2 goals and 3 assists in 18 games played in the NHL.

Tye McGinn is 6'2 and 205 pounds, and he plays like it. He is a strong kid with good hockey sense and uses his big frame to get in position around the net. McGinn has a solid chance to play for the Flyers next year. He is a capable fourth line player and assuming no one else is signed this offseason, there is also a vacancy on the third line. He may be a candidate for this spot, but has to improve his offensive game. McGinn has shown flashes of offensive potential in juniors and in the AHL but has to show that he can hang in the NHL. He will likely be in competition with fellow prospect Scott Laughton for a spot on the roster. If McGinn fails to make the Flyers out of camp, there is no question that he would be at the top of their call up list.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Prospect Profile: Marcel Noebels

Marcel Noebels
In the 4th round of the 2011 entry draft, the Flyers selected the Tornisvorst, Germany native, Marcel Noebels. Noebels had come over from DEL, German Ice Hockey League, the season before and played for a bad Seattle Thunderbirds team in the WHL. Noebels had a decent rookie campaign with Seattle, potting 28 goals and adding 26 helpers. Following his first WHL season, Noebels wanted to return to Germany to play for Krefeld Pinguine in the DEL. But the Flyers advised him to remain in juniors and he obliged. He started off 2011-2012 with 24 points in 31 games before being traded to a stacked Portland Winterhawks team. He kept up his solid play with Portland, adding 34 more points before season's end. Noebels continued to chip in for the Winterhawks, tallying 23 points as they made a playoff run. Portland ended up losing in the WHL finals to Edmonton.

Due to the NHL lockout, there was more top-end talent on the Phantoms roster. This left Marcel Noebels on the outside looking in at the start of the 2012-2013 season. Noebels instead made his North American professional debut with the Trenton Titans in the ECHL. Through his first 31 games, he recorded 11 goals and 19 assits and was named to the ECHL All-Star team. It became apparent that the 20 year old was ready for the American Hockey League. On New Year's Day, Noebels was recalled to the Phantoms. Noebels didn't miss a beat in the AHL as he continued to produce, finishing third on the team in goals with 13 and also added 10 assists in 43 games. Following the season, Noebels represented Germany in the World Championships. Noebels suited up in three games for the senior squad, but recieved limited playing time and did not record any points.

Marcel Noebels is a big winger, listed at 6'3, 205 pounds, with a wicked wrist shot. He has shown his playmaking ability along with his scoring touch. He has been successful on the power play in both the ECHL and the AHL and has also played on the penalty kill.  Noebels has shown flashes of potential but has also had some stretches of inconsistent play. Next year is a big year for him, as he will likely be playing on one of the Phantoms top 2 lines. Noebels will need to continue to work on his skating and maybe start using his size to his advantage more often. If Noebels can continue to develop and come out hot next season, he may have an opportunity to play for the Flyers down the road.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Prospect Profile: Jason Akeson

Jason Akeson 

Jason Akeson is somewhat of a curious case, as he started the season in the ECHL and ended it in the NHL. After leading the Phantoms in scoring during the 2011-2012 season, Akeson probably felt a bit blindsided when he was demoted to play for the Trenton Titans of the ECHL at the start of the next year. But newly appointed coach Terry Murray may have been sending Akeson to Trenton for good reason, to give him a wake up call.

Akeson is a very gifted offensive player, he was over a point per game in 3 seasons in the OHL and posted 108 points as an overager in Kitchener during the 2010-2011 season. He has great offensive awareness, smooth hands, and a nice shot, which make him an attractive option for the power play unit. He may be able to hang with the best offensively, but Akeson struggles with the defensive aspects of the game, and this was the likely reasoning behind his demotion at the start of the season. But it didn't take long for his return to Adirondack. Akeson played 14 games for the Titans, posting 10 points, before getting recalled. The Phantoms got off to a terrible start and had some serious issues with scoring goals, something Akeson could help with.

Akeson again impressed with his play in the AHL, leading the Phantoms in scoring with 20 goals and 33 assists in 62 games. On April 27th, he made his NHL debut in the Flyers last game of season against Ottawa. He played on a line with Claude Giroux and potted his first goal on only his second shift of the game.  Akeson showed improvement with his two-way game after a season under the defensive minded Terry Murray, but still has work to do in that department. He'll also need to continue to get stronger if he wants a chance to become an NHL regular. He'll be a key player for the Phantoms next year unless he can turn some heads in training camp.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Flyers 2013 Draft Review

1st Round, Pick #11- D, Samuel Morin, Rimouski, QMJHL

With the 11th overall pick the Flyers selected Samuel Morin from Rimouski. Morin is a big defender at 6'6 205, who climbed his way up the rankings after a good season in the Q and an impressive U18 tournament, where he won gold with Canada. The thing that is most intriguing about Morin is his mobility. Morin moves very well for a player of his size. He also plays a very physical game, throwing big hits, fighting, and winning 1 on 1 battles. His offensive game needs work, but he has shown progress, scoring 7 points in 6 playoffs games after returning from injury. Some don't like the pick at number 11, but Morin has a lot of potential and if he develops, he will be a force in the NHL.

2nd Round, Pick #41- D, Robert Hagg, MoDo, SHL

Projected as a 1st round pick, the Flyers may have gotten a steal when they picked Hagg with their 2nd rounder. Hagg spent most of last season playing with MoDo's U20 team, but did get some time in Elitserien. He was very impressive as a last minute roster addition in the WJC, where he was matched up with opposing teams' top lines. Hagg is a two way defenseman, he is very skilled offensively and able to play the powerplay, but can also shut down opposing players. The one thing scouts say Hagg lacks is consistency. His play is up and down at times, but he is a very skilled defenseman and is probably closer to the NHL than Morin at this point.


3rd Round, Pick #72- C, Tyrell Goulbourne, Kelowna, WHL
Holmgren and the Flyers staff have taken a lot of flack for this pick, mostly for going with an agitator in the 3rd round. Goulbourne is an energy guy, fast skater, throws hits, and can fight. He has already been dubbed Zac Rinaldo 2.0 and it looks like he is deserving of that title. In Februrary of last season he managed to take down an opponent 6 inches taller than him. The reason people criticize this pick is because there is a consensus that he would have been available later in the draft. But who actually knows, the Flyers may have heard something and decided that it was the right time. Only time will tell if Goulbourne is a bust, but if he can develop into a full time 4th liner/fringe 3rd liner, it isn't a bad pick in my book.

5th Round, Pick #132- D, Terrance Amorosa, Holderness School, USHS-NH
There is not much info out there on Terrance Amorosa, but as it is with all late picks, he will be a project. According to his interview at the draft, Amorosa had a growth spurt 3-4 years ago, growing 6 inches. This was a big factor in him flying under the radar of major junior leagues. Amorosa is now at a good size at 6'2, 190. According to, he is a big kid who struggles in his own zone with coverages. Amorosa will play for Sioux Falls of the USHL next season and will likely go down the collegiate path in the future.

6th Round, Pick #162- G, Merrick Madsen, Proctor Academy, USHS-NH
The Flyers selected goaltender Merrick Madsen of Proctor in the 6th round. Madsen, a California native, stands tall in net at 6 foot 4. It seems the Flyers have favored big, athletic goalies in the draft over the last couple of years (see Anthony Stolarz) and it may be paying off as Stolarz looks like a blue chip prospect. Madsen is a very raw player, but with his athleticism, size and wingspan, he may have a shot to develop into a decent pro goalie one day. Madsen will play for Des Moines in the USHL next season, before heading to Harvard.

Round 7, Pick #192- D, David Drake, Des Moines, USHL
Continuing the trend of stocking up on D-men in this draft, the Flyers selected David Drake from Des Moines of the USHL. Drake is listed at 6'3, 155, which means he will have to hit the gym and his local McDonald's for the next few years if he wants to play at a high level. Drake suited up in 12 games for the Des Moines Buccaneers last season, scoring 1 goal and finishing at -12. Obviously Drake has a lot of work to do, but so does every other 7th round pick.

Overall I give the Flyers a B- on this years draft. I really like the Morin pick and am a HUGE fan of grabbing Hagg in the 2nd round. Like others I'm not so high on the Goulbourne selection, but I won't pretend I've actually seen him play, so we'll see how his development goes. The rest of the draft is sort of a crapshoot but it looks like the Flyers got some decent project prospects. We will see how these prospects develop and be able to make a better judgement of Holmgren and Company's decisions in the future.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Flyers Potential Draft Targets

With the 11th overall pick in the NHL draft, the Flyers will have a lot of top end talent to choose from. Here are some of the players that might hear their name called by Paul Holmgren come draft day.

Rasmus Ristolainen, D, TPS, SM-Liiga 

Ristolainen is the most NHL-ready d-man in this draft besides Seth Jones. Playing the past two seasons in SM-liiga, Finland’s top league, Ristolainen knows what it takes to play with men. He isn’t a flashy player by any means but is extremely sound defensively. He’s a good skater who is still trying to find his offensive game, which some scouts say has been coming along. Ristolainen is a pretty safe bet to become a decent NHLer, but he may need another season in Finland or the AHL before making the jump.

Darnell Nurse, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL 

A 6 foot 5 defender who says he models his game his game after Chris Pronger, Darnell Nurse may be the perfect fit for the Flyers. With a strong tie to the city of Philadelphia (his uncle is former Eagles QB Donovan McNabb), don’t be surprised to see Holmgren take Nurse if he falls to 11. He is an intimidating force on the ice who uses his physical game to shutdown opponents. He is a good skater for his size and is regarded as one of the best athletes in the draft. With an improving offensive game and already impressive defensive tools, Nurse would be a steal for the Flyers if he fell to 11.

Josh Morrisey, D, Prince Albert, WHL 

Morrisey is a classic offensive defenseman. He’s a great skater with above average vision and a booming shot and can move the puck out of his own end, something the Flyers lacked at the NHL level. Morrisey and his 47 points were a vital part of leading Price Albert to the playoffs last season. He needs to work on his overall defensive game and strength if he wants to make the jump the NHL.

Anthony Mantha, RW, Val d’Or, QMJHL 

As a 6’4 190 winger and the QMJHL leading scorer, people may wonder why Anthony Mantha is not a top 5 pick. His consistency is the biggest flaw in his game. Scouts say Mantha is known to disappear at times and light it up at others. He has one of the best wrist shots in all of junior hockey and is a force when driving his way to the net. Even with all the knocks on him, Mantha surely knows how to put the puck in the back of the net. While the Flyers biggest need in the pipeline is defenseman, don’t be surprised to see them grab a winger with their first rounder.

Hunter Shinkaruk, LW, Medicine Hat, WHL

Hunter Shinkaruk is one of the most dynamic players in this year's draft. Doesn’t have blazing speed but is still fast and extremely shifty which allows him to get around defenders. His best asset is his stickhandling. Shinkaruk has some of the best hands in the draft and scored a number of highlight reel goals with Medicine Hat last season. Shinkaruk needs to get stronger in order to compete in the NHL but the thought of him on Claude Giroux's wing is something that would get Flyers fans very excited.

Other names to watch for: Ryan Pulock, Samuel Morin, Nikita Zadorov