Monday, November 4, 2013

Flyers Prospects Weekend Review: Novermber 1st-3rd

A weekend review on a Monday? Madness!

The Phantoms are on fire of late. The went undefeated over the weekend and are on a four game winning streak. More impressive, they've only allowed one goal in each of the last four games. Lets get into how some of the players performed.

Tye McGinn scored two goals for the Phantoms Friday before getting called up to the Flyers Saturday. It was pointed out during the game that McGinn now has as many goals (3) in the AHL as he does in the NHL. McGinn has 3 points in 6 games in the AHL.

Petr Straka had his best weekend to date, picking up his first two goals on Saturday night. Straka has a great shot so it was only a matter of time before started scoring, and hopefully now he can start scoring consistently. He is right now second on the team in point per game average (.777 PPG) behind Kris Newbury, 2nd in total points, and he leads forwards in +/- and is second on the team behind Oliver Lauridsen.

Nick Cousins also had a great weekend picking up three assists in two games. Both of Cousins' assists Saturday nights game on goals by Straka, I speculated before the season that a Cousins/Straka combination could help both of them reach the next level. Hopefully we see them paired together for a good bit longer. Cousins has 8 points (2 G, 6 A) in 11 games.

Jason Akeson picked up an assist on Saturday, he's tied with Straka for 2nd on the team in points with 7.

Mark Alt also picked up an assist on Saturday after picking up an assist for the Phantoms Wednesday. Alt, who was pushed further down the line up because of Bruno Gervais, now has 4 points (1 G, 3 A) in 10 games so far this season. Many equally sized star defensemen score between .4 and .55 PPG in their first AHL season. If Alt can do that the Flyers could have a monster on their hands.

Cal Heeter has been arguably the most impressive Phantom in their recent stretch. He's started 3 of their last four and has stopped 99 of the last 102 shots he's seen.

Scott Laughton was back on point coming off a bit of a down weekend at the end of October. Laughton picked up a goal Saturday night and hit the score sheet on all five of Oshawa's goals Sunday. Laughton ended with 3 goals and 3 assists on the weekend and has 25 points (14 G, 11 A) in 13 games in the OHL this season.

Anthony Stolarz also saw a return to form after being pulled in games twice last weekend. He stopped 60 of the 63 shots he saw over the weekend raising his season save percentage to .930 which leads the OHL.

Samuel Morin picked up a goal and an assist in three games over the weekend, but he was a -2 for the weekend and his team continued to struggle. Morin now has 8 points (3 G, 8 A) and a -5 in 13 games.

Taylor Leier had another strong weekend with the Portland Winterhawks. He had two goals and an assist in his two games over the weekend and he's tied for 15th in scoring in the WHL. The WHL has yet to name their team for the Subway Super Series, but Leier's recent offensive outburst will hopefully be enough to help him make the cut for team WHL.

Tyrell Goulbourne picked up another fight in his game Friday night but was held out of Kelowna's game Saturday. It is unknown if this is because of injury or whether he was a healthy scratch.

Robert Hagg skated for 14:42 Friday but was held to less than ten minutes of ice time in his game Sunday. I have noticed that he usually picks up more hits in games that he plays less than 10 minutes, so he is willing to take a more physical defensive role if need be. European leagues are taking a short break, Hagg will probably play with Sweden's junior team during this time.

Valeri Vasiliev, after playing less than 10 minutes in two consecutive games, played a game in the MHL (the Russian junior league) Thursday. He didn't hit the score sheet with Spartak's junior team, but he did when he returned to the big club Friday. Vasiliev picked up his second assist in 19 games and skated for just over 16 minutes. Vasiliev will likely be named to the Russian Subway Super Series team this week.

Jakub Kovar stopped 27 of 31 in a shoot out victory on Friday. Kovar was playing at an unreal pace leading up to this small step back. Kovar will likely play a least a game or two for the Czech Republic in the Karjala Tournament during the KHL break.

Shayne Gostisbehere picked up 3 assists in his game on Friday and now has 7 points (1 G, 6 A) in 7 games. Gostisbehere probably can't keep up this pace (he hasn't really been able to do it this season, he's had two 3 points games this season) but if he can stay at a Shattenkirkian pace of .76 PPG he can be ready to make an NHL impact sooner rather than later.

Reece Willcox picked up an assist and was a +1 in two games this weekend. Willcox is more of a defensive defesemen so I don't think he'll pick up tons of points this year. One cool thing that Willcox's Cornell team does is track blocked shots, at least at home games. Willcox picked up 5 blocks in his two games this weeknd.

Michael Parks picked up an assist in 2 games over the weekend. Parks has 5 points (1 G, 4 A) in 6 games. Nick Luukko didn't impact the score sheet but he did help his Vermont team split with #2 Notre Dame over the weekend. Petr Placek has yet to play for Harvard this season.

In the American Junior leagues, Terrance Amorosa picked up 2 assists over the weekend, he has 5 points (all assists) and a +7 in 10 games so far this season. Fredric Larsson was a -1 on Friday but considering his team gave up 5 even strength goals that's not so bad. Larsson didn't play in the team's second game of the weekend. David Drake ended up a -1 on the weekend. Merrick Madsen stopped 21 of 23 in a shoot out victory. He has raised his save percentage to .900 on the season.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Flyers Prospects Weekend Review: October 25th-27th

Another late report, I'll get this thing right eventually. It was a good weekend for the Flyers but a bad weekend for their prospects.

The Phantoms were shut out Friday night, but bounced back with their second win of the season Saturday. Multiple people including coach Terry Murray and commentator Bob Rotruck thought the team play significantly better in the game they were shut out in than the game they one.

Cal Heeter was the big reason they won Saturday night. He stopped 35 of 36 in what was his second best statistical game as a pro. I don't think he'll overtake Yann Danis as the starter but it was a great game.

Jason Akeson picked up an assist on Sunday and took four shots. He in his normal position as the team leader in points with a goal and 5 assists on the season.

Kyle Flanagan picked up a goal and assist in only his 3rd game of the season. Flanagan is a really skilled player that has been bumped a little bit because he is playing behind similar players like Akeson and Nick Cousins. Maybe he can get himself in some more games after this performance.

Marcel Noebels picked up 2 assist and was a +2 in what has been his best game of the season so far. He has 3 points (all assists) in 7 games.

Nick Cousins was originally given an assist but it was later given to Noebels. Petr Straka sat out the win Saturday, with McGinn and Newbury returning to the line up and the coaches decision to play Kyle Flanagan bumped Straka from the line up. He'll be back soon, the only player currently on the Phantoms to have a higher point per game average than Straka is Akeson.

Scott Laughton finally came back to Earth a little bit after his hot start. He only picked up a goal, an assist, and a fight in his three games this weekend. He wore the 'C' over the weekend while regular captain Josh Brown was out with a suspension. He is still averaging over 1.70 PPG and is still on a goal a game pace. Today he was named to the OHL team for the Subway Super Series.

Anthony Stolarz had a great game on Thursday picking up a 35 shot shut out. Then he was pulled in the next two games giving up 6 goals in 53 games. He was pulled before the 10 minute mark in his last game of the weekend. This has kind of been the book on Stolarz so far in his junior career. He can reach soaring heights yet can still have these bad stretches. Is is something to worry about? I don't think so, most young goalies go through similar spells, that's why it takes much longer for goalies to develop into NHL goalies.

Sam Morin picked up an assist and took 9 shots over two games this past weekend in the QMJHL. He was a -1 on the weekend and his team still doesn't have a good record when he's in the line up.  Morin, like Laughton, will battle the Russians in the Subway Super Series for Team QMJHL.

Tyrell Goulbourne had what was probably his best weekend of the year so far. He picked up a goal and an assist Friday night then dropped the gloves for the third time this season on Saturday. So far this season Goulbourne has 8 points (3 G, 5 A) and 3 fights in 13 games.

Taylor Leier picked up 2 goals and an assist in his two games over the weekend. He was also +2 on the weekend raising him to a +8 on the season. Remember that he was even just 6 games ago. Leier has 18 points (8 G, 11 A) in 15 games. The WHL has yet to name their Super Series team, and I'm really interested to see if he will be named to the team. He's right now 18th in scoring among eligible forwards, but his defensive abilities may make him an essentially part of the team.

Robert Hagg has had a solid run of games, averaging over 14 minutes a game in his last three games. He's also picked up 4 shots in that 3 game span.

Valeri Vasiliev played his most minutes of the season last thursday, skating well over 16 minutes in a regulation game. He was boosted by his team only skating 6 defenseman (they usually dress 8). He played just under 15 minutes on Saturday but played less than minutes on Monday and reportedly left the game in the second period today, skating less than 6 minutes. I want to know how this injury could affect if he is on the Russian Super Series team. Vasiliev is a shoo in for both that team and the Russian World Junior team, especially if Nikita Zadorov sticks with the Sabres.

Jakub Kovar is red hot an propelling his Avtomobilist club back into relevancy. He picked up a 28 shot shut out earlier today and in his last 7 games he has a .950 Sv%, a 1.67 GAA, and a 4-2-1-0 record (since the KHL has a 3 point system OT or shoot out wins are worth 2 points, basically he has 4 wins, 2 shoot out wins, a shoot out loss, and 0 regulation losses). Avtomobilist is currently in a playoff position because of Kovar, outside of this stretch Avto is 3-2-1-10. That means they have more points in this stretch of games than they had in rest of the season combined.

Shayne Gostisbehere and Union only had one game over the weekend. He didn't pick up any points and was a -2. He did take another 7 shots, giving him a total of 32 shots in 5 games. Wow.

Nick Luukko picked up his first goal of the season in the College Hockey Face-Off Saturday Night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Reece Willcox had a bit of a rough opening night ending with a -2. But Willcox, who compares best with the Flyers Nick Grossmann, was and will be likely playing against the other teams top competition.

Petr Placek was held out of both of Harvard's first games.

Terrance Amorosa picked up an assist Friday night and was a +3 on the weekend. David Drake and Fredric Larsson didn't hit the score sheet and both were -1 on the weekend. Merrick Madsen stopped 31 of 34 in a 3-1 loss in his only action of the weekend.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Flyers Prospects Weekend Review: October 18th-20th

Another late report, but lets get into.

The Phantoms had a bad weekend and are off to a slow start but luckily for them and the Flyers a bunch of their top prospects are performing well.

Nick Cousins had the best weekend on the team. He picked up his first two goals of the season and added another assist to his point total, giving him five points (2 G, 3 A) in 6 games. There are a lot of great junior players that struggle in their rookie season in the OHL, but Cousins' scoring pace is making it look like he could be ready for NHL action at some point this season.

Jason Akeson and Petr Straka each picked up an assist over the weekend giving them both a total 5 points (all assists). Akeson had a rough outing Friday going a -4 in a 6-3 lost, but he is still tied for the team lead in points with Straka, Cousins, and AHL regulars Ben Holmstrom, Rob Bordson, and Flyers cast off Bruno Gervais.

Marcel Noebels picked up his first assist of the season. I wouldn't be surprised if he saw more points come his way after Tye McGinn got called up.

Brandon Aldeson picked up an assist on one of Cousins goals. He was skating with Cousins and Straka at the time.

Scott Laughton is keeping up his incredibly hot start. He picked up a hat trick Friday night (scoring his second short handed game winner of the season) and picked up another pair of goals Sunday (another one being short handed). Laughton has 17 points (10 G, 7 A) in only 8 games. Provided Sean Monahan or Nathan MacKinnon don't get sent back to junior, Laughton is probably the favorite to be the 1st line center on the Canadian Junior team.

Anthony Stolarz had a weekend to forget. After getting benched Friday night against Laughton and the Oshawa Generals he gave up 4 goals on 19 shots and got pulled after 45 minutes in his game Saturday. He dropped to 5th in GAA in the OHL, though he is still tied for 3rd in the OHL in Save %. We know that a terrible game doesn't mean the end of the world, it is probably just an example of a young goalie getting roughed up a bit. I'm confident we will see the Anthony Stolarz earlier in the season next weekend.

Sam Morin had another 2 point weekend, picking up both his points in the middle game of a three game weekend. He has 5 points in 8 games and is a -2 so far on the season. My big question with Sam Morin is why his team doesn't play as well when he's in the line up. His Rimouski Oceanic were projected to be one of the best teams in the CHL this season and have been consistently ranked in the top 10 of Canadian junior teams. Without Morin Rimouski has a record of 6-1; with Morin they are 2-4-2. Their two wins came against Sherbrooke who is second to last in the QMJHL and Shawinigan who are not only last in the Q but probably the worst team in the whole CHL (they actually lost to Shawinigan in OT on Friday, giving them their only win so far this season).

Taylor Leier had his best weekend since the first of the season. He picked up 4 points (1 G, 3 A) including a his first 3 point game of the season. After hitting a cold stretch Leier is back into the offensive form we've become accustomed to so far this season. Leier has 14 points (5 G, 9 A) in 11 games. Portland plays again Tuesday.

Tyrell Goulbourne picked up his first goal of the season last Wednesday and scored again this weekend. Goulbourne scored 14 goals last season. Goulbourne picked up another fight Wednesday, but he still only has two fights on the season. He is playing a more expanded role and has 6 points (2 G, 4 A) in 10 games. Kelowna plays again Tuesday night.

Shayne Gostisbehere had an impressive weekend even though Union got swept in back to back games by Lake Superior State. Ghost scored a game tying goal in 4 of 4 play late in their game Friday night. Gostisbehere didn't get on the score sheet Saturday but it's not for a lack of trying, Ghost did his best Spinal Tap impression and turned it up to 11 Saturday night, putting a total of 11 shots on net. He has 1 goal, 3 assists, and 25 shots in four games. Nobody on the Flyers has that many shots, the highest shooting defenseman is Mark Streit who has 12 shots, in twice as many games.

Michael Parks picked up a a goal and three assists over the weekend, finally getting back to the level he was on at the end of his Freshaman season. He now has 4 points in 4 games after this weekend.

Nick Luukko's Vermont Catamonts were off this weekend. Reece Willcox's Cornell Big Red and Petr Placek's Harvard Crimson were in pre-season action but they I can't find the stats anywhere so I don't know how they did. Cornell and Harvard start regular season play this upcoming weekend.

Robert Hagg picked up an assist in his game Saturday, skating just 10:27. Hagg played again earlier today with Modo's Junior team picking up an assist on their first goal. Don't look at this as Hagg being sent down he's just getting some extra ice time. Modo is in a bit of a lull period and Hagg has been seeing the ice less than the organization probably wants. Expect him to be in the line up Thursday for Modo's next game. Bill Meltzer is speculating that Hagg could see some more ice time with Modo losing one of their top 4 defensemen. Hagg has 4 points (all assists) in 14 games in the SHL.

Valeri Vasiliev skated just under 15 minutes Saturday and just over 13 minutes Monday in a close game. Vasiliev has moved down the depth chart a little bit to the 5th defenseman role, but he is still playing a role and usually gets a shift or two in OT. He has an assist and is +1 in 14 games. He is averaging 14:38 of ice time not including the game he left early due to injury. Vasiliev will likely be named to the Subway Super Series team later this week.

Jakub Kovar and Avtomobilist Yekaterinberg went 0-1-1 over the weekend including a game Monday, but Kovar stopped 65 of 70 shots over the two games. Over his last three starts Kovar has a .944 Save percentage and a 1.89 GAA, though Avtomobilist hasn't one any of those three games in regulation.

David Drake was back in the line up, he picked up his first assist of the season on Friday and was a +1 Saturday. Terrance Amorosa was a +1 over two games for the Souix City Muskateers. Fredric Larsson picked up an assist on the Youngstown Phantoms only goal in their game Saturday. Merrick Madsen was on the bench for both of the Minot Minotaros games this weekend.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Flyers Prospects Weekend Recap: October 11th-14th

A little late this week. I wanted to wait until after the Flyers prospect games on Columbus Day and than things just got away from me, but here we go:

The two most notable prospects this week were Tye McGinn and Michael Raffl who were both called up by the Flyers in time for Saturday's game. McGinn was easily the more impressive of the two with the Flyers. I don't want to go into too much because I'm doing a big McGinn post later. Raffl has played well and has created opportunities for the team. He picked up a goal and an assist with Adirondack Friday night before getting called up.

The Phantoms had a heart breaking weekend. After taking a lead early in their home and home with the Hartford Wolf Pack they ended up losing both games. They fell behind early in their Columbus Day matinee and didn't even get on the board until the middle of the third period. Though the Phantoms struggled, many prospects played well.

Petr Straka picked up three assist over the weekend giving him a total of 4 points in 4 games. He's tied for the team lead in points with Jason Akeson who also picked up two assists over the weekend (one Friday, one Saturday). Mark Alt picked up a power play goal Saturday, Nick Cousins got an assist on the play. Oliver Lauridsen picked up his first point of the season on Monday and he leads the team in plus/minus. Ben Holmstrom, Phantoms Captain and NHL long shot, has had a good start. He's picked up a goal and an assist over the weekend and he has 3 points on the season. Brandon Alderson sat out Monday's game after not picking up a point over the weekend. This opened the door for Kyle Flanagan to play his first game of the season. Marcel Noebels hasn't gotten on the score sheet yet (that may change with Tye McGinn out of the line up) but he does lead forwards in +/- with a +2. Derek Mathers, who the Flyers' drafted to fight, dropped the gloves with 2010 10th Overall pick Dylan McIllrath twice over the weekend. You can check out the fights over at but it looks like they drew the first fight with Mathers taking the second. Mathers has 3 fights in 4 games this season. If Jay Rosehill continues to struggle (which he will, let's face it) and continues to not fight he may see Mathers sooner rather than later.

Scott Laughton had another strong weekend. He picked up the game winning short handed goal on Friday and scored a goal and an assist; picking up points on both of Oshawa's only goals that game. He went pointless for the first time this season Monday in a 2-1 shoot out loss. He has 5 goals and 7 assists in 6 games so far this season.

Anthony Stolarz stopped 21 of 22 shots in a win on Thursday and reigned as the top statistical goalie in the OHL until late in his game Monday. Kitchner scored in the final three minutes of the game to tie and 15 seconds into the OT period to take the game, handing Stolarz his first loss of the season (even though he still hasn't lost in regulation). Stolarz stopped 36 of 39 and he played well during the game. The worst news for Stolarz over the weekend was how well Jon Gillies, Stolarz toughest competition for the starting job on the US world junior team, stopped 63 of 64 shots over two games in his season debut.

Laughton's Oshawa Generals battle Stolarz and the London Knights Thursday.

Sam Morin returned from injury for Rimouski's game on Saturday. He picked up a goal and an assist picking up his first points of the season. And though he didn't score in Rimouski's game Sunday he did pick up his first win with the team of the season. All around good return to the line up for Morin. Rimouski plays Wednesday.

Tyrell Goulbourne picked up his first fight of the season and a separate 10 minute misconduct in his only game of the weekend. Goulbourne was drafted as a fighter and a bit of a best, so I consider this a solid weekend. Kelowna plays Wednesday.

Taylor Leier scored an assist (that wasn't awarded to him until after the game) in a 7-4 victory for his Winterhawks. He finished a -1 and is a -2 on the season a far cry from his +41 last season. He does have 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in 8 games.

Shayne Gostisbehere and the Dutchmen of Union College opened there season with a pair of games against Bowling Green. Ghost didn't pick up a point in the season opener (but he was a +1 with 5 shots) but he nabbed 3 assists in the second game of the weekend. A good target for Ghost, PPG-wise, is .76 points per game. That's what Kevin Shattenkirk's PPG average was in his third year in the NCAA.

Nick Luukko didn't have a big impact with Vermont in their first game and then was out for their second game, unknown if this was because of injury or whether he was a healthy scratch. Michael Parks didn't factor in scoring and was even (+1/-1) on the weekend. Reece Willcox and Cornell don't play until Friday October 25th, Petr Placek and Harvard don't start their regular season until Saturday October 26th.

Robert Hagg had his lowest impact game last Thursday, skating for less than 10 minutes. He did register two hits in the game. Saturday he was back skating over 15 minutes and was a +1 for the game. Hagg has 3 points in 12 games and plays again Thursday.

Valeri Vasiliev played just over 12 minutes on Friday and then skated over 15 minutes in his game Sunday. He took a penalty in overtime which meant he only played 39 seconds in the over time period. He is floating between the 4th and 5th defenseman spot.

Jakub Kovar had a rough start to the weekend giving up 4 goals for only the second time this season. He stopped 28 of 32 against the reigning champs Dynamo Moscow. He bounced back later in the weekend stopping 37 of 38 in a shut out victory. He has a .909 Sv% and a 2.72 GAA for the season but if you remove that catastrophic game against Barys he would have a 2.36 GAA and a .920 Sv%. Kovar plays again Thursday.

Jakub's younger brother Jan is  currently 3rd in the KHL in points with 21 and 1st in the league in assists with 15. He's behind his line mates Danis Zaripov and KHL legend Sergei Mozyakin who each have 23. If the Flyers want to bring over Jakub they may want to give a look to his stand out 23 year old brother.

Fredric Larsson had easily his best weekend to date in the USHL. He picked up an assist on the power play on Friday and scored his first goal of the season on Saturday. Larsson could be getting a more expanded role so we could be seeing a little more point production out of him soon. Larsson has 3 points (1 G, 2 A) in 8 games.

Terrance Amorosa picked up an assist in his only game of the weekend. Amorosa, who missed the early part of the season because of an injury, has 2 assists in 3 games. A strong offensive season would be great and would put the Providence College commit firmly in the minds of the Flyers front office.

David Drake had no impact in his first game of the weekend and didn't play in his team's second game of the weekend. It is unknown whether this is because of injury or not, but most players on the team have been sat for at least one game so it was probably just Drake's turn to sit.

Merrick Madsen stopped 18 of 21 shots in a 3-0 loss in his only start of the weekend. The Harvard commit has an .890 Sv% and a 2.68 GAA.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Flyers Prospects Weekend Recap: Oct. 4th-6th

The Flyers may have had a depressing start to the season but their prospects had another great weekend.

The Adirondack Phantoms opened their season this weekend with a game against the Hershey Bears Saturday night.

Brandon Alderson had a great game. He picked up an assist on the opening goal of the season scored by Phantoms captain Ben Holmstrom and then scored the game tying goal in the third period. Alderson is a bit of a surprise, a kind of the under the radar signing over the off-season, but I was really impressed with his play at prospect camp, in the rookie game, and with the Phantoms tonight.

Jason Akeson, coming off a strong pre-season with both the Flyers and Phantoms, picked up two assists including one on the over time game winner. If the Flyers continue to struggle with scoring we could see the Akeson join the Flyers sooner rather than later.

Tye McGinn tipped in a Nick Cousins shot for the Phantoms second goal. Cousins got bumped up to the first line with McGinn and Akeson after Newbury was recalled by the Flyers. Michael Raffl, Mark Alt, Matt Konan, and Petr Straka all picked up assists, Straka getting the primary on Brandon Manning's over time game winner.

The Phantoms had a strong performance on the penalty kill; shutting the Bears out on all 5 of their power play opportunities. This is great considering the Flyers are using the Phantoms to develop their prospects into stronger defensive players. Struggling somewhat was the Phantoms power play. Though they did convert on one of their four PP chances they gave up two short handed goals. That's something they can tighten up in the Future.

Scott Laughton was sent back to junior Thursday and is off to an explosive start. Laughton picked up two goals and two assists in his first game back, then picked up two assists in his game Friday night with the Oshawa Generals. He continued Sunday picking up a goal and two assists. For those keeping track at home Laughton has 9 points (3 G, 6 A) in three games. I know a lot of people consider Laughton as a depth forward, but this season in the OHL could change that. 1.70-1.80 PPG is the magic number (or more appropriately magic range) for Laughton. That is what top tier prospects Mark Scheifele and Ryan Strome averaged in their second OHL season after being drafted. Both of them are considered top line prospects. If Laughton could put up a similar average he could find himself on a track to stardom.

Now, don't think the Flyers should recall Laughton to help address their offensive woes. He was sent back to junior to develop. He had a great weekend but you can't develop over a weekend. This isn't like when Brayden Schenn was sent down to the AHL for a handful of games at the start of the 11-12 season, that was more of a wake up call/punishment. The Flyers want Laughton to develop at the junior level and development takes time.

Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne faced off against each other with their respective WHL clubs for a pair of games over the weekend. Leier picked up 2 goals (including one short handed Saturday night) and an assist over the weekend. Leier has 9 points (4 G, 5 A) in 7 games this season. while Goulbourne picked up 2 assists Friday night. Goulbourne also picked up 2 assists Wednesday night giving him 4 points (all assists) on the season. Goulbourne who was drafted partly (if not entirely) for his pugilism has yet to drop the gloves this season. Kelowna actually didn't have any fights until this weekend. Goulbourne had 36 fights over the last two seasons in the WHL, and so far this season only has a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. I would really like to know how the Flyers feel about his lack of fisticuffs.

Anthony Stolarz had a rougher weekend compared to his red hot start this season with the London Knights. After giving up 4 goals on 33 shots Friday nights Stolarz bounced back with a 26 save performance Saturday night. Stolarz won both games over the weekend and is undefeated with a .934 Save% and a 2.20 GAA. I speculated over the summer that there may be a bit of a battle between Stolarz and his back up in London Jake Patterson due to Stolarz's struggles and Patterson's success at the end of last season. This weekend showed me Stolarz is firmly planted as the Knights starter. Even if he struggles one night the coaches have the confidence to send him out the very next night to get the job done.

Samuel Morin sat out both of Rimouski's games of the weekend with an injury but he is expected to play in their next game.

Robert Hagg, after picking up his 3rd point of the season (all assists) during the week, found himself back on the first defensive pairing in MODO's game Saturday and skated just over 15 and a half minutes.

Valeri Vasiliev again finished 4th amongst defensemen on his team, Spartak Moscow, in TOI and shifts in their game Saturday. On the season he has 1 point and is a +1 (tied for team lead) and, excluding his first game when he left early, is averaging over 15 minutes of ice time a game.

Jakub Kovar stopped 27 of 30 shots in his game Sunday against HC Donbass (featuring former Flyers Michael Leighton, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Oskars Bartulis). He took the 3-0 loss. Kovar on the season has a .913 Save % and a 2.53 GAA, but if you take out his one rough game he has .927 Save% and a 2.06 GAA. Kovar's team Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg remains at the bottom of the KHL, but Kovar has been in net for every win.

Terrance Amorosa returned from injury over the weekend and picked up an assist in his first game back. He was a -1 in the Sioux City Musketeers second game of the weekend.

Fredric Larsson picked up his first point in his game Saturday with the Youngstown Phantoms.

David Drake was a -1 Friday night and recorded a shot Saturday night. Other than that he didn't factor in the score sheet for the Des Moines Buccaneers. Drake has yet to record a point.

Merrick Madsen  had an average weekend with the Minot Minotauros in the NAHL. After sitting on the bench for Minot's game Friday night Madsen gave up 3 goals on 32 shots in a 3-2 loss Saturday night. Since moving down to the NAHL Madsen is 1-1 with a .904 Save% and a 2.53 GAA.

Earlier in the week Darren Dreger reported that the Anaheim Ducks are looking for a defenseman and that they were talking to a few NHL teams, including the Flyers. Dreger also reported that the Ducks would be willing to move one of their young forwards to make a deal. Who could the Flyers get if they deal a defenseman to Anaheim? Well that depends on who they send. If they were to deal Andrej Meszaros, as a lot of people have speculated, there are a number of forwards that the Flyers could get in return. I don't think the Duck would be willing to send one of their top five forward prospects (Jakob Silfverberg, Emerson Etem, Rickard Rakell, Peter Holland, and Nicolas Kerdiles) in a deal for Mesz. Also I think that Stefan Noesen, Antoine Laganiere, and Charles Sarault who have all been recently acquired via trade and free agency are also off limits. The Flyers may be interested in young NHL regulars like Nick Bonino and Matt Beleskey but they are both important parts to that Anaheim team so I don't know if they are going to be willing to part with them.

I know, I said I list a few names that the Ducks might deal and then only listed guys who I don't think they would trade. Well here is who I think they could deal. My list starts with Devante Smith-Pelly and Patrick Maroon. Smith-Pelly made the Ducks as a 19 year old in 2011-12, he played 49 games but found a reduced role with the team in the lockout shortened season. He had an alright season in the AHL last year and perhaps could benefit from a change of scenery. Maroon was actually drafted by the Flyers in 2007 and he's been a solid AHLer since turning pro. He was almost point per game in 2011-12 in the AHL. He isn't afraid to drop the gloves and is generally a pretty feisty player. He played 13 games with the Ducks last year and started the season with the team this year. These two guys are probably the only NHL ready players who the Ducks would be willing to move. Prospect wise I think the best forwards the Flyers could get are William Karlsson, Nick Sorensen, Chris Wagner, Kevin Roy, or Max Friberg. Karlsson, drafted 53rd Overall in 2011, is under contract with the Ducks but he was loaned back to his team in the SHL for this season. He was one of the top scorers in Sweden's second league in 2011-12; putting up 45 points (12 G, 33 A) in 46 games as a 18/19 year old. He adjusted well to the SHL last season and is off to another solid start. He is considered a speedy, skilled, top six player. Sorensen was drafted 45th overall in this last draft may also be an option for the Flyers. He was just over point per game for the Quebec Ramparts of the QMJHL last year and has 3 points (all assists) in 2 games so far this season. Some have speculated Sorensen is destined for a depth role, but I think he is comparable to Matt Read. He will also likely be a teammate of Robert Hagg on the Swedish World Junior team. Wagner was a 5th round pick in 2010 and he had a monster sophomore season at Colgate University scoring 51 points in 38 games in 2011-12. He had a bit of a rough adjustment to the AHL but he's a tough defensive player with some offensive pop. Kevin Roy was drafted as a 19 year old in 2012 after leading the USHL in points. He started his NCAA career with a bang scoring 34 points (17 G, 17 A) in 29 games with Northeastern University. Finally, Max Friberg caught everybody's attention following a stellar World Junior performance in 2012. He was the top scorer on his team (2nd leading scorer in the tournament), won the Gold Medal, and was named to the tournament All-Star team along with top prospects Evgeny Kuznetsov and Mikael Granlund. He had a rough transition to the SHL after averaging 1.17 PPG in Sweden's third league as an 18 year old. He has made the jump to North America this season and has so far picked up a goal in 2 AHL games.

Probably the best thing we could get from the Ducks is goaltending prospect Frederik Andersen. The Danish goalie was the best goalie in Sweden during 2011-12 and was arguably the best starter in the AHL last season. He's 23 years old, but with the Ducks bringing over Viktor Fasth last year, top goaltending prospect John Gibson waiting in the wings, and solid prospect Igor Bobkov in the organization Andersen may be expendable.

I think Andersen is probably the best thing we could get from the Ducks. If they are only trying to move a forward for a defenseman I think Karlsson or Sorensen would be the best options. But I think the Flyers are more likely to go after Patrick Maroon. He is already an NHLer and he fits the Flyers style. That's why they drafted him years ago, and they have a history of bring back players who were once in their organization.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Flyers Prospect Weekend Recap: 27th-29th


Lets take a look at what the Flyers prospects were up to this weekend.

Michael Raffl was sent down to the Phantoms on Friday and was forced to miss Adirondack's first pre-season game. He made up for that in their second pre-season game of the weekend scoring the Phantoms only two goals of the game.

Petr Straka picked up the primary assist on both of Raffl's goals. On the first one Straka forced a turnover and then found an open Raffl. The assist was more of, I think, a text book Straka play where he entered the zone took a shot with Raffl cleaning up the rebound.The faster Straka makes an impact in the AHL the better shot he has at making it up to the Flyers.

Jason Akeson also had great weekend. He picked up a goal and an assist in the Phantoms first pre-season game skating on a line with Kris Newbury and Tye McGinn. Though he didn't get on the score sheet in the second game Sunday he apparently played very well.

How Raffl and Akeson have preformed in the pre-season could be a big deal. A lot of people think the Flyers are looking for another winger. There is still a chance that Scott Laughton only plays 9 games before being sent back to juniors. The Flyers have a short period at the start of the season where things are kind of in limbo. This opens the door for guys like Raffl and Akeson to play there way into the NHL with a few games in the AHL. Akeson has played this game before, starting last years lockout season in the ECHL.

Taylor Leier had another strong weekend with the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL, After scoring a goal in a game tuesday, he picked up another goal in the Winterhawks game Saturday night. Possibly more important than the goal was the fact that before the game Leier was named Captain of the Winterhawks. Leadership is clearly something the Flyers look for in a player. The fact that he has been named captain of such a powerhouse team is a big deal. Leier has 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) in 4 games. Portland plays again Wednesday.

Anthony Stolarz had another strong game for the London Knights Friday night. He stopped 36 of 39 shots in a 6-3 win. Stolarz is starting to make a case for himself being the starter for the US World Junior team, but its still early and his main competition Jon Gillies hasn't even begun play this year. He didn't play in London's 6-3 loss Sunday. He currently leads all OHL goalies with a 1.50 GAA and a .957% Save percentage. London plays again Wednesday.

Tyrell Goulbourne had a minor weekend. He was a -1 in one game played and didn't drop the mitts. He did start the game, but he didn't factor in the scoring. Goulbourne, who I thought could take a step forward season, has yet to impact the score sheet or fight (what he was drafted to do). He and his Kelowna Rockets play again Wednesday.

Samuel Morin missed both of Rimouski's games this weekend and another game and their game Tuesday night with an injury. The injury, suffered in last Sunday's game against Quebec, isn't serious and he could be back in time for Rimouski's games next weekend.

In the USHL Fredric Larsson was a -2 with no points in two games for Youngstown. David Drake was even in a 4-0 loss for Des Moines. Terrance Amorosa is apparently being held out due to injury and has not yet played this season.

Merrick Madsen who was slated to to play with David Drake and the Des Moines Buccaneers but has since been demoted to the Minot Minotauros of the NAHL. It's a lower league, but it was the same league Anthony Stolarz was playing when he was drafted. I also don't know how long he'll stay in the NAHL considering how poor Des Moines goaltending has been so far this season. In his first game he gave up 2 goals on 20 shots.

Robert Hagg has had a slightly reduced role in his last two games with MODO. He has seen his ice time drop, but not significantly considering a handful of games his TOI has been boosted by playing in overtime. He didn't score over the weekend and remains with 2 points (2 assists) in 6 games. MODO plays again Tuesday.

Valeri Vasiliev is starting to get increased responsibility with Spartak Moscow. He picked up his first point of the season (an assist) in a game against Jakub Kovar and Avtomobilist Yekanterinburg. In his two games over the weekend he played over 16 minutes including multiple shirts in overtime in both games. That does mean he could see a drop in TOI when Spartak doesn't go into OT, but it also means he has more responsibility with the team. TOI may be hard to come by, Spartak usually dresses 7 or 8 defenseman with Deron Quint, arguably the best Defenseman in the KHL right now, gobbling up 25 to 30 minutes a night. Vasiliev is still regularly finishing 4th on his team in ice time and shifts. Vasiliev is currently playing HC Yugra and Vasiliev has skated just under 13 minutes, his minutes were probably reduced because of his Spartak trailing in one goal game. Spartak Moscow plays again Wednesday.

Jakub Kovar has gotten back to form after suffering a punishing loss to Barys Astana. In the two games since his 7 goal drubbing Kovar has allowed 3 goals in 50 shots. So far this season he has a .927 Save % and a 2.21 GAA. If you take out that one Barys game he has a .949 Save % and a 1.49 GAA. Kovar and Avtomobilist play later today and again Wednesday.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Flyers Prospect Weekend Recap: September 23rd-25th

With most AHL, Junior, and College games happening over the weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to do a Flyers prospect weekend recap. So here is the first weekend recap of the season.

Taylor Leier is off to a hot start with the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL. Skating with familiar linemates Oliver Bjorkstrand and Chase De Leo; Leier has posted four points (all assists) in his first two games. Leier is also wearing an 'A' for the Winterhawks this season. Leier and the Winterhawks are back in action Tuesday.

Anthony Stolarz is also off to a good start with his Junior squad in London. After skating on his home rink with the Flyers earlier in the week his started in the Knights opener on Friday. Stolarz posted a 30 shot shut out, which is especially impressive considering the Knights were without most of their stars (namely First round pick defensemen Olli Maatta and Nikita Zadorov, as well as lottery picks Bo Horvat and Max Domi).

Tyrell Goulbourne didn't pick up a point in either of the Kelowna Rockets' games this weekend. Goulbourne, who was drafted for his pugilism, didn't get in a fight either. He was, however, a +2 for the weekend.

Sam Morin probably had the worst weekend out of the Flyers prospects currently playing in the CHL. He didn't score and was a -2 in a weekend where his Rimouski Oceanic went 0-2. He registered 6 shots on goal (5 in his first game back) and recorded 1 hit.

Robert Hagg was in action Saturday for MODO. He picked up an assist and skated for just over 18 minutes. In four games this season MODO has seen three go into extra time and two make it all the way to a shoot out. Hagg plays again Tuesday.

Valeri Vasiliev played his second and third game after returning from a shoulder injury. He skated for just over 13 minutes in a game against SKA St. Petersberg on Friday (I was watching that game and I don't think he saw any ice time against SKA's Ilya Kovalchuk) and he skated 16:29 in a game Sunday against Severstal Cherepovets. The game against Severstal was second time he saw the ice in OT after returning from his injury. Vasiliev is taking a decidedly defensive role so far, he has only recorded one shot all season (he recorded 17 in 16 games last season with Spartak's top club) but he is still seeing a good amount of ice time, usually finishing 4th on his team in shifts and TOI.

Jakub Kovar, after having a monster debut, came back to Earth Sunday following a 7 goal shelling at the hands of Barys Astana. His numbers for the season are still good, a .919 Save % and a 2.50 GAA, but I think we'll see a little more of this throughout the season. Kovar is playing behind a weak team.

David Drake didn't put up a point and was even in his season opener with the Des Moines Buccaneers in the USHL. Des Moines lost that opener 6-4.

Fredric Larsson skated in both games for the Youngstown Phantoms this weekend. The Phantoms dropped both games to the US National Development Team by a combined score of 16-9 (starting to get the impression this really isn't a goalie friendly league) and registered a -2. That's not bad considering only one of the US goals on the power play while a third of Youngstown's goals were scored with the man advantage.

Both defenseman Terrance Amorosa and goalie Merrick Madsen sat in the press box (or whatever the USHL equivalent to the press box is) for the openers for their respective teams. Both played high school hockey in New Hampshire last season. Both were considered reach picks even though they were taken later in the draft (Amorosa, like David Drake, wasn't even ranked by NHL Central Scouting). This probably isn't what the Flyers wanted. Remember Anthony Stolarz started last year riding the pine in the NCAA with Nebraska-Omaha and bailed to go to London in the OHL. Stolarz was being heavily courted by a power house team in the CHL, I don't think such offers will come along for Amorosa or Madsen. Madsen will probably see game action a little sooner than Amorosa, his goalie partners struggled in the season opener. Amorosa only skated in one of his Souix City Muskateers pre-season games. Either way both already have NCAA commitments. Amorosa to Providence College and Madsen to Harvard. Madsen I thought looked good at Flyers camp this summer.

The Adirondack Phantoms announced their training camp rosters Sunday. All the names you expect are on the list outside of players like Oliver Lauridsen and Michael Raffl who are still with the Flyers. A couple interesting names on the Phantoms camp roster are undersized wing Guillaume Asselin, a once top prospect (considered a first round pick early in his draft year who went undrafted) who averaged more than a point per game in each of his last seasons in the QMJHL, and big defenseman Mark Nemec, who played last season with the University of Maine and was rather impressive in the Flyers fall rookie camp and prospect game.

NCAA teams don't start playing until October 4th and even then it is essentially a pre-season with most teams playing exhibition games against Canadian colleges. Flyers draft picks Michael Parks (North Dakota) and Nick Luukko (Vermont) start playing at this time. Shayne Gostisbehere and Union College start play October 11th, while Ivy Leaguers Reece Willcox (Cornell) and Petr Placek (Harvard) don't start play until the weekend of October 25th.