Acquired via: Signed as an undrafted free agent in March 2011
Current Team/League: Adirondack Phantoms, AHL
Contract: $715,000 through 2013 (final year of contract)
The Flyers have a tendency to keep things in-house. They like recycling players into upper level managerial positions. They like bringing players back in elaborate homecomings. Hell, they even drafted Nick Luukko, son of then-Comcast Spectacor President Peter Luukko.
Jason Akeson must be thankful for the Flyers cult of family: he may have gotten his chance at the pros because of it.
After Akeson went undrafted in 2008, he returned to the OHL, scoring admirably after the rest of his draft classes were gone. He continued there, an overager who put up crazy numbers. Still, it probably wasn't his ideal situation: being passed over twice, watching as others progressed, unsure of his own future.
Akeson was good, too. Maybe a bit of a late bloomer, but still, very talented. Fast, a good stick-handler, with great vision and playmaking abilities. From thehockeynews's scouting report:
Assets: Has good scoring instincts and a nice shot. Can be used on the power play as a result. Overall, he plays with good hockey sense in all three zones.
Sound like anyone you know?
Enter Claude Giroux, close friend of Akeson, and oh yeah, NHL superstar.
When Giroux moved from hometown Hearst to Akeson's native Orleans, the two became friends quickly and their friendship has only grown over the years. They train together in the summers in Ottawa, they golf together, they play beer pong together. I mean, that's a storybook friendship if I've ever heard one.
Whether Giroux played a role in the Flyers offer to Akeson--it certainly couldn't have hurt-- the friendship is well-documented throughout the years. And inevitably, Akeson did sign with the Flyers. It was a no-brainer for both sides, really. Akeson would finally get his chance at the majors, while the Flyers gave up nothing to take a low-risk, high-reward chance.
In the 2011-2012 season with the Adirondack Phantoms, Akeson lead the AHL for most assists by a rookie. He's continued to develop at the AHL level, honing his offensive talent while developing his defensive game (which has been the major drawback for him).
In his debut with the Flyers, on a line with Jake Voracek and yes, best bud Claude Giroux, Akeson scored. It was his second shift and his first shot on goal. He was playing in Ottawa, in front of friends and family and also in front of his mom who had just recently beaten cancer. Pretty special moment.
Akeson will eventually get a real chance at the NHL when the Flyers are in need of a top six forward, because no one is keen on wasting his talent on a bottom six role (and his build isn't quite right for it anyhow). Unfortunately for him, there's just no room for him right now. Akeson becomes a free agent again this offseason, so soon, the Flyers must make a decision as to whether or not they're still putting stock in his value.
If all goes as it should, Akeson will continue to blossom in the AHL and, once the opportunity arises, he'll start paying off for the Flyers in spades.
How we voted for Jason Akeson:
Who we voted for at No. 12:
|Anthony Stolarz||Mark Alt||Petr Straka||Samuel Morin||Anthony Stolarz||Zac Rinaldo||Jason Akeson||Tye McGinn|