Posts Tagged ‘Prospects’

All around the NHL, teams will have to make decisions on their rosters before Wednesday’s deadline.  In particular, the transformed Flyers are going to have to make some tough roster choices.

Right now there are 15 locks for spots (8 forwards, 5 defensemen, 2 goalies) on the current team ( Briere, Giroux, Hartnell, Jagr, Simmonds, Talbot, van Riemsdyk, Voracek, Carle, Coburn, Meszaros, Pronger, Timonen, Bobrovsky, Bryzgalov).  Blair Betts is a pretty safe bet. This leaves 6 or 7 spots open with about $7.7 million cap space.

Does first round pick Sean Couturier make the Flyers?

There are six forwards fighting for four jobs.  Two veterans, Andreas Nodl and Jody Shelley, along with four rookies, Sean Couturier, Matt Read, Zac Rinaldo and Brayden Schenn.  Shelley counts towards the cap while he serves his five game suspension, and could possibly be relegated to the 13th forward once his punishment is up.  Schenn has been hampered by an upper body injury, which may have opened the door for first round pick Couturier.  If he’s sent to the Phantoms, Schenn will get a chance to heal up and will get plenty of ice time to continue his development. Couturier has impressed enough to be considered among the final cuts, and it sounds like he will make the opening night roster.  Whether he’s on the roster for nine games, or the entire season remains to be seen.  If he plays 10 games, the first year of Couturier’s contract is used up and if he plays 11 games, his contract counts against the organization’s 50 (the Flyers are at the max).  So it’s possible he will be on the roster for the first nine games and sent back to junior.   (more…)

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The Flyers’ prospects met the Capitals for the fifth season in a row, the first of the series at a major arena.  The game, especially in the third, was intense as the youngsters from both clubs battled to leave their impressions in front of the big bosses.  However, at times, it looked like a typical rookie game with some sloppy passing and bad positioning.

Brayden Schenn battles for a loose puck during a faceoff.

Of course the eyes were two big names of the night were Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier.  Schenn got a large ovation during introductions from the estimated 11,000 fans. While he wasn’t spectacular on offense, he was defensively responsible, including helping kill a Capitals 2 man advantage in the first period.  Couturier got an assist on Blake Kessel’s power play goal and also played some penalty kill. However, showed he needs to work on his skating and will have to gain some strength before making the jump to the NHL.  Both will get a longer look when they join the Flyers when training camp opens Saturday.

Newly signed Blake Kessel left his mark on the game, assisting on the Flyers’ first goal and scoring the team’s second, on the powerplay.  Kessel impressed the fans in attendance, earning third star of the game.  He easily stood out the most of all defensemen and showed why he was an Hockey East all-star last season with New Hampshire.

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Yesterday, I spent the day at Flyers Development Camp, where Flyers prospects and invitees worked on drills to hone their skills with the Flyers’ development team, including Derian Hatcher, Ian Laperriere and Riley Cote.  Obviously at these camps, you won’t learn a whole lot about a player, especially doing repetitive drills.  Many of the drills were set up to see what the players could do, with the Flyers brass (including Paul Holmgren) watching.  The day was split into two sessions, defensemen early and forwards later.

Most of the fans’ eyes were on both Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier.  Schenn seemed to struggle in some of the early drills, but the team will probably take a deeper look at the young center during Flyers’ training camp in September.  Couturier showed some nice hands throughout the session.  His goal this year is to make the NHL, but between the Flyers’ lack of roster space and no need to rush him, he will likely find himself back with Drummondville of the QMJHL.

Zac Rinaldo is a curious case.  Not drafted by the Flyers for his scoring prowess, Rinaldo’s three years in the OHL got him 27 goals, 69 points and 669 PIM.  If you include postseason, he has yet to have a season under 200 PIM.  He had 331 PIM with the Phantoms in the AHL last year, and collected more suspensions (4) than goals (3).  So why is he even worth watching?  Well, it’s just development camp, but he looked impressive yesterday.  While some of his counterparts coasted through the drills, Rinaldo seemed to give his all throughout the morning.  If he can tone down his antics, maybe he can develop into solid role player.  That’s a big if though at this point.

Some other quick thoughts:

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The three of us continue our mock draft from Part I (1-15).

16. Buffalo Vladislav Namestnikov, C (London, OHL)
His speed and forechecking will be 2 valuable assets to the Buffalo Sabres system.  Another plus is his ability to switch from center to wing, making him fit on any line with little to no effort.

17. Montreal Zack Phillips, C (St. John, QMJHL)
Centering the top line at St John’s and improving his linemates scoring outputs in addition to his own makes him a great option if still available at #17.

18. Chicago Tomas Jurco, RW (St. John, QMJHL)
What hands he has, a real whiz with the puck.  A Youtube star already.

19. Edmonton Oscar Klefbom, D (Farjestad, SEL)
Will be a great addition to Edmonton’s defense, he adds decent size (6’4″, 200lbs), and a nice shot to the blueline.

20. Phoenix Joel Armia, RW (Assat, SML)
An intriguing prospect that can appear quite high for many teams from the 10 pick onward. His combination of size and skill would complement Phoenix well.

21. Ottawa John Gibson, G (USA U-18)
Already 6’3, 205 at age 17, he covers up a lot of net.  Lead USA to gold at the U18s.

22. Anaheim Brandon Saad, LW (Saginaw, OHL)
The Ducks will love Saad’s ability on the ice, speed is his greatest asset. Has a nice balance of offensive/defensive ability.

23. Pittsburgh Nicklas Jensen, LW/RW (Oshawa, OHL)
A strong skater with good scoring ability at the RW will fit well for the Pens in due time under a Dan Byslma system. Add in his size and you also may have a future net front presence.

24. Detroit Jonas Brodin, D (Farjestad, SEL)
Brodin is a good skating, two-way defenseman.  Plays a smart game in his end, and will fit right in with Detroit.

25. Toronto Boone Jenner, C (Oshawa, OHL)
The Leafs are going to love this guy, a shot blocker, board battler, and he’s not too bad at scoring either. And more all around good players, is exactly what Toronto needs in their system.

26. Washington Mark Scheifele, C (Barrie, OHL)
His size and skill down the middle would fit the Capitals to a T. As they recently have had an abundance of big players who still have skill and speed.

27. Tampa Bay Jamieson Oleksiak, D (Northeastern, HE)
The 6’7, 245 monster may need some more time to develop, but could eventually be Tampa’s Twin Towers with Hedman.

28. San Jose Scott Mayfield, D (Youngstown, USHL)
Extremely sturdy on his feet, smart, great puck carrier, but never afraid to fight or deliver a big hit when it’s needed. Could be huge for the Sharks in the future.

29. Vancouver Jonathan Miller, C (USA U-18)
While the Canucks can use a pure scorer in their talent pool. This late in the first round they may have to accept a project of a good two-way player who didn’t quite put it all together this past season. A worthwhile risk.

30. Toronto Tyler Biggs, RW (USA U-18)
A big, physical forward that likes to use his size and isn’t afraid to work hard.  Definitely a Brian Burke player.

Cujo picks: 16,19,22,25,28
Joey picks: 17,20,23,26,29
RD picks: 18,21,24,27,30