Bumped from the FanPosts. -- Travis
Philadelphia Flyers Prospect camp is due to start July 9th and there are quite a few players you will want to keep your eyes on if you make your way to Voorhees next week. Now, we're probably all going to be looking at the Flyers recent draft picks like Scott Laughton, goalie Anthony Stolarz, and Shayne Gostisbehere.
There will probably also be quite a few people looking at the players with Flyers ties like Greg Coburn, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Chase Hatcher. But there are a number of players who may be flying under the radar that you, and hopefully the Flyers, should take a look at.
The Flyers signed Jason Akeson as a Free Agent after the 2011 season. Akeson was coming out of the OHL where he tied for the league lead with 108 points. Akeson put up 56 points in his rookie year with the Phantoms, most of any Phantoms rookie since the lock out. Akeson isn't a big time goal scorer, but he is a great passer and playmaker. He could put up very good points playing with players like Sean Couturier who can snipe or Wayne Simmonds who can crash the net.
Clapperton went undrafted in his first draft eligible year (2012). In his rookie season in the QMJHL Clapperton put up 55 points in 56 games. Clapperton shouldn't have gone undrafted with numbers like that but his size is an issue. Standing only 5'9 and weighing 166 lbs, Clapperton was the smallest player in the draft. While he may be small he wouldn't be the smallest player in the league, not by a long shot. Clapperton would tower over Buffalo Sabres forward Nathan Gerbe who is only 5'5. If Clapperton continues to put up numbers and continues to put on weight he could easily turn into an NHL player.
Nick Cousins was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 Draft. In his draft eligible year Cousins put up 68 points in 68 games. Last year Cousins put up 88 points in 65 games playing with Sault Ste. Marie in the OHL. He has consistently improved year after year and has an added pugnaciousness that would definitely endear him to Flyers fans.
Fyten is an over age player from the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. He missed the entire regular season with a knee injury, but returned for the playoffs where he scored 5 points in 6 games. In 2010-11 Fyten put up 54 points in 52 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes; that's the same number of points that Flyers 2011 4th Round Pick Marcel Noebels put up in 66 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds. Fyten lives up to his name with his willingness to drop the gloves. The linked video shows Fyten's first fight after missing the entire year with a knee injury. I think he still has the ability to throw down. He could try and find a spot on the roster as a fighter, but I think he will try to do the same thing that Wayne Simmonds is doing; fighting while still putting up points. He's a camp invitee so he's not under contract, and if the Flyers sign him he would likely spend a few years in the AHL, but if Fyten puts up points in the minors he could be a valuable asset down the road.
The Flyers signed Andrew Johnston as a free agent out of the SJHL, a Canadian Junior A league based out of Saskatchewan. Johnston good numbers, 81 points in 58 games, but it is a level below the three Major Junior leagues. Johnston is going to Union College in the fall. Union is coming off a Frozen Four appearance this past season and is where Flyers 2012 3rd Round Pick Shayne Gostisbehere and Camp Invitee Greg Coburn currently play. Johnston stands at 6'1 and if he continues to develop and get bigger he could turn into a quality NHL player. Matt Read put up comparable numbers playing Junior A before going to play NCAA. If Johnston can put up similar numbers to Read in college, there is no reason that he can't be a similar quality pro.
Matt Mangene was signed as a free agent out of the University of Maine following the conclusion of the college season. Mangene put up 37 points in 40 games with the Blackbears which is pretty good. It's even better when you find out that Mangene put up those numbers playing defense. The Flyers are converting Mangene to forward, at least for this camp, and this could lead to Mangene becoming a very talent two way forward.
Parks was the Flyers 5th Round draft pick back in 2010. He just played his first year at North Dakota and put up 22 points in 42 games. Not bad points for a freshman, but Parks put up 18 of those 22 points in the final 21 games of the season, including North Dakota's run through the WCHA and NCAA tournaments. Parks will likely spend two or three more years in the college ranks, but if he continues to improve he could turn into a quality NHLer.
Sorkin is a Camp Invitee, meaning that the Flyers don't have him under contract, who is currently playing at the University of New Hampshire. Last season, in his Sophomore year, Sorkin put up 35 points in 37 games. Sorkin is likely headed back to UNH but that doesn't mean the Flyers can't sign him to a contract coming out of camp. Sorkin has good height (6'3") making him the biggest skilled winger at camp. Other players like Derek Mathers and Mitch Elliot are bigger but are fighters not point producers. Sorkin has to continue to get bigger, but it would be wise for the Flyers to sign Sorkin and allow him to return to college and continue to improve. The Flyers have gotten very good at finding gems out of college hockey. Sorkin could be another one.
I want to point out one big name forward that isn't at Flyers prospect camp. Marcel Noebels was the Flyers 2011 4th Round pick. He's 6'3, 210 lbs, and played on arguably the best line in junior hockey last year with the Portland Winterhawks. Noebels is already under contract and he is not injured so he should be at camp. It's just a theory but I think that Noebels could be being held out of camp because they expect Noebels to have a good shot at making the team next season. When I saw Noebels wasn't invited to camp it reminded me of Matt Read not being at the Flyers/Capitals prospect game last year. The Flyers didn't have Read play so they got a chance to look at the other prospects. If Noebels were to make the team it would most likely be on the fourth line. Noebels is a great two way forward. He has the size and defensive abilities to play on the 4th line but still has the skill to potentially be a top six forward. This is just a theory though.
Michael Boivin is a 6'1 right hand shot defensemen who just finished up his junior year at Colorado College. After a quiet freshman year and an sophomore year that had him missing most of the first half due to injury. Boivin had a break out junior year, scoring 25 points in 33 games. It isn't unheard of for defensemen to be late bloomers, but Boivin could just be benefiting from playing against younger players. But that doesn't mean that he can't turn into a solid defensive prospect. Erik Gustafsson was putting up comparable numbers as a junior at the same age in college and he is one of our top defensive prospects.
Hamonic was draft eligible in 2012 and was ranked 140th among North American skaters, in front of players like Flyers 3rd round pick Shayne Gostisbehere. He plays for the Tri-City Americans in the WHL where he put up 4 points in his first season. Justin's brother, Travis, currently plays with the New York Islanders and is a budding defensive defenseman superstar. He has similar size to his brother when he was draft eligible, but his lack of points might have scared teams off in the draft. If Justin can become and equally good defensive defenseman he will no doubt end up in the NHL.
The Flyers signed Blake Kessel out of the University of New Hampshire last off-season. The younger brother of Phil Kessel scored a goal and put up 17 assists in his rookie year with the Phantoms. Kessel has very good size, 6'2 210lbs, which makes him big enough to be a defensive defenseman in the NHL. If Kessel can make himself a more defensive defenseman while still maintaining the scoring ability he had at UNH, scoring 65 points in his last two seasons, he could become a great NHL player.
Lauridsen is a 6'6 Danish defenseman who the Flyers took in the 7th round of the 2009 Draft. Lauridsen played at St. Cloud State for three years and played his rookie year with the Phantoms last year. He isn't a point producer putting up only 22 points through his entire college tenure and had only 6 assists last year with the Phantoms. But you can't teach height, and with his size and wingspan he could be a formidable defenseman.
Each year the Flyers like to bring in a few local players into prospect camp. David Thompson is from Glen Mills, PA and played for the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers a few years ago. After leaving the Jr. Flyers he went to play in the British Colombia Hockey League, another Junior A league in Canada. He put up 30 points in 60 games last year and was the Alternate Captain. According to eliteprospects.com he is slated to go back to the BCHL and then go to Penn State in 2013-14. He may be a long way off, and may have only gotten a look cause he's local, but If Thompson continues to develop he could be one of the first NHLers to come out of Penn State.
Chris Williams already has NHL size, 6'2, 215, and put up 36 points in the BCHL. Another local player, from Pottstown, PA, Williams is now where Thompson is going to be next year. A year older than Thompson, Williams is on his way to play for the University of Alaska-Anchorage in the fall. He too appears to be a bit of a ways off from making it to the pro's but he could make an impact if he produces at the college level.
I didn't include Brandon Manning, who is also going to camp, because he spent time with big club this season, so everyone knows he is NHL capable.
As for goalies, both Flyers 2nd Round Draft pick Anthony Stolarz and Free Agent acquisition and former Ohio State goalie Cal Heeter. Another intriguing option is camp invitee and Quinnipiac University goalie Eric Hartzell who has had a GAA around 2.20 and a Save % of .920 over the last two seasons. Hartzell stands at 6'4, making him as tall as other Flyer goalie prospects like Heeter and Stolarz, but I don't expect the Flyers to sign Hartzell. With Stolarz, Heeter, the big Finn Niko Hovinen, and Jakub Kovar who started for the Czech national team in World Championships, still in the Flyers system I don't think they're is room for a talented prospect like Hartzell. Also, it should be said that goalies in these camps are kind of like shooting dummies. Most goalies will get lit by uncontested forwards trying to show off their skills. So don't rush to hit the panic button if you see Anthony Stolarz getting picked apart in camp.
Prospect camp is an optimistic time, just in case you didn't get that from me saying that 14 late round or undrafted prospects could be great pros. It's something that I think all Flyers fans should experience if you have the opportunity.