Philadelphia Flyers Midterm Top 25 Under 25, No. 17: Brandon Manning

Alan Maglaque-US PRESSWIRE

Another defenseman who's looked OK in limited appearances with the Flyers, no one seems to be quite sure exactly what kind of a player Brandon Manning is.

Brandon Manning

Position: Defenseman
Birthdate: June 4, 1990 (age 23)
Acquired via: Signed as an undrafted free agent in November 2010
Current Team/League: Adirondack Phantoms, AHL
Nationality: Canadian (Prince George, B.C.)
Size: 6'1", 195
Contract: $675,000 per year through 2014

If at any point in this article it feels like things may be getting a little repetitive, I would understand. This is the third straight piece in our 25 Under 25 series that's centered around a defenseman currently playing in Adirondack who we've seen do an OK job in some limited action for the Flyers. However, our panel has decided that out of Oliver Lauridsen, Marc-Andre Bourdon, and Brandon Manning, Manning is the one that we're the most interested in. Just by a hair.

Admittedly, I haven't seen a ton of Manning. He's played 10 games at the NHL level -- four in 2011-12 following a Kimmo Timonen injury, and six last April when the entire Flyers blue line was on the shelf. I didn't think a whole lot of him either way in those games -- which, for a young defenseman, is usually not a bad thing. Obviously it's tough to get a good read on a guy who plays limited minutes in a ten-game timespan.

He's in the midst of his third full season with the Phantoms, and across 156 games there he's registered totals of 17 goals, 42 assists, and 347 penalty minutes. In a similar fashion to Marc-Andre Bourdon (who we talked about yesterday), Manning's penalty minutes have gone up this year -- which is largely to say he's been doing more fighting. Whether he's been doing so in order to be noticed by the organization or for some other reason, no one really knows.

One thing we can tell, though? Manning's doing a decent job at least trying to create offense for the Phantoms. He's put up 19 points in 46 games, as of this writing, which is tied with Bruno Gervais for the best among the team's defensemen. He also is a guy who apparently just isn't afraid to try and put the puck on the net -- he has 131 shots on goal, which is the most of any Phantoms player. A guy who can get his shots through is always good to have.

So what exactly does Manning project to be if he ever makes it to the NHL? It seems like there's some disagreement out there on the matter. Corey Pronman, of ESPN and formerly of Hockey Prospectus, ranked Manning as the fourth-best prospect in the entire Flyers system last offseason, to the surprise of many. Here were his thoughts on the B.C. native:

The Good: Manning has a good physical game, as he is a very competitive player who battles well in his own end and he can land quality hits. Manning displays value in both ends, as he makes good defensive reads and can excel in a shutdown role. He makes a good first pass and can flash solid offensive instincts.

The Bad: Manning is not devoid of offensive skill, but overall, he is a below-average offensive player. His skating could be a tad better as well.

Not a bad overall outlook, I'd say, but one that (in my opinion) leads one to think Manning leans more towards a defensively-oriented defenseman.

Now, that acknowledged, here's what Jason Lewis of Hockey's Future had to say about Manning just four days ago, in a Flyers prospect update, about Manning's year this season in Adirondack:

Manning still struggles with the defensive part of the game at times and gets out of position to deliver hits or pinch in the offensive zone. With so much talent coming up the pipe behind him in Morin, Hagg, and Gostisbehere, it is hard to imagine Manning will have much bigger of a window to make the NHL. He is having a solid season but his deficiencies in his own zone will probably keep him out of the Flyers defensive group and in the AHL for now.

So what do we know for sure here? We know Manning can be a physical player who uses his size and strength to his advantage. After that? Seems like there may be some disagreement. Is he good offensively or is that the part of his game holding him back? Can he be a shutdown guy or is he a problem in his own zone?

All in all, I guess it's still tough to get a good read on the guy. Which isn't a great thing to say about a guy who's been in the AHL level of the system for three years now. I guess if you're a pessimist you say that two different people watched him and one said he wasn't very good offensively and the other said he wasn't very good defensively ... while if you're an optimist, you'll say that one said he's pretty good defensively and the other said he's pretty good offensively.

It looks like there are flashes of potential for Manning all over the place. The issue appears to be that he may be running out of time to take that potential and pull all of it together into a quality NHL defenseman. We'll see what the Flyers do with him this summer since they still have his restricted free agency rights, but Manning should continue to be an interesting one moving forward.

How we voted for Brandon Manning:

Albert Allison Charlie Collin Kelly Kevin Kurt Travis
20 20 15 14 17 17 18 15

Who we voted for at No. 17:

Albert Allison Charlie Collin Kelly Kevin Kurt Travis
Petr Straka Oliver Lauridsen Mark Alt Valeri Vasiliev Brandon Manning Brandon Manning Mark Alt Petr Straka
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