Acquired via: Signed as an undrafted free agent in March 2013
Current Team/League: Adirondack Phantoms, AHL
Contract: $925,000 per year through 2016 (two-way, entry-level contract)
There are some things that the Flyers do a lot. We know that, during Paul Holmgren's tenure as general manager of the team, they've always had a liking for undrafted players who slip through the cracks. We also know that sometimes they like to try and bring in guys who are familiar with other players or people currently in the organization -- think of Luke Schenn (Brayden Schenn's brother, obviously) or Jason Akeson (Claude Giroux's friend from home) just as a couple of examples.
When put that way, Brandon Alderson was an acquisition that probably wasn't surprising at all.
Signed by the Flyers last March to a three-year entry-level deal, Alderson had mostly been seen as the guy who'd been successful in his final year in juniors while playing alongside the Ontario Hockey League's third-leading scorer. You may know that scorer as one Nick Cousins, a Flyers prospect who will show up later on in this list.
At some point while watching Cousins, the Flyers saw something that they liked in his linemate as well. After three years of middling point totals and slight improvement across two different OHL teams (the Sarnia Sting and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds), Alderson's production took a big step forward last season in his overage year, and he finished the season just a shade under a point per game (28 goals and 36 assists in 67 points). The Flyers made their move last March, and signed the winger to a three-year entry level contract that would begin in the 2013-14 year.
With how this year has gone, it seems clear that at least part of the motive behind the acquisition of Alderson was to see if he and Cousins -- one of the team's more highly-touted forward prospects -- could keep the same kind of chemistry going that they had in the OHL last year. Even Alderson acknowledged as much, as he himself told Anthony SanFilippo of flyers.com that he thought that he "wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Nick" last September.
And after Cousins spent October and November in the Phantoms' top-six with different linemates, he and Alderson have been together on the team's third line since early December (typically with Petr Straka on their left wing). Has that worked out for both of them, and for the Phantoms?
It's tough to say. Alderson's only put up six goals and four assists in 40 games, presumably not quite as much as the team was hoping him to put forth. That said, even the team has acknowledged that they probably don't see him as a top-6, scoring type if he makes it to the NHL. Again from that SanFilippo piece:
"He slid through the draft a few times, but then all of the sudden, last season he seemed to start figuring it out," Pryor said. "He's got great size and moves really well. He looks like a player to us. Sometimes it takes guys a little longer to put it together. We'd seen a lot of him between our amateur guys and Laperriere - and yes it was because we were checking in on Cousins, but we had a good handle on him and a good feel for him.
Alderson, at 6-4, 205 seems more destined for a third line role if he's to make it to the NHL level where he can use his size to his advantage.
So while he's practicing these few days with the rest of the prospects, and however long he lasts in actual camp, Alderson hopes to make an impression on the Flyers coaching staff who he is working with, and the brass watching from their perch above the ice at the Virtua Skate Zone.
"I'm just thinking that I want to show them my game," Alderson said. "I'm a big, strong forward who can skate - that is my game. I like to force turnovers and finish checks. That said, I like to think I can put the puck in the net too. I like to think I bring a little bit of everything to the table and I'm willing to play anywhere in a lineup to help the team win."
The pessimist in me wonders a bit about a guy like Alderson, given that the Flyers have seen a lot of guys of his ilk -- y'know, guys who never project as much more than bottom-six forwards -- play out their entry-level deal for two or three years in the team's minor league system and get sent on their way shortly after. The results not being there in his first season with the Phantoms -- even despite his playing alongside Cousins for two months -- doesn't ease any concerns there.
But he's a year removed from a really good season, he just turned 22, and he sounds like he's got that good combination of size and speed that the Flyers would really enjoy and could really use, even if it's in the bottom six. Alderson's still got a ways to go to show how much more he can be than "Nick Cousins' winger for an overage year in juniors", and there's a decent chance that's all he ends up becoming. But he's still got time to be more.
How we voted for Brandon Alderson:
Who we voted for at No. 24:
|Tyler Brown||Eric Wellwood||Merrick Madsen||Eric Wellwood||Marcel Noebels||Marcel Noebels||Matt Konan||Reece Willcox|