|08/09 Regular Season||39||0||7||7||-6||36||17:28||1:45||46||48||29||7|
By making the Flyers out of training camp, the 18-year-old rookie surprised many. As the year began, the team had four injured defensemen (Derian Hatcher, Mike Rathje, Ryan Parent, and Randy Jones) leaving only three from the team that made the Conference Finals the year before. Adding to Kimmo Timmonen, Braydon Coburn, and Lasse Kukkonen were new-comers Ossi Vaannanen and Steve Eminger. With such a mediocre top 5, it was no surprise the Flyers kept their recent #1 pick with the club for the NHL-allowed 10 games. He had 5 assists and was a -2 through those 10 games, where he impressed many with his skating, hitting, vision, and confidence. He hung around into January, but once Parent and Jones returned, ice time was hard to find. He ended up playing four games at wing, including one in the playoffs, and went both 2 weeks and 3 weeks between starts on defense. Finally, Holmgren sent him back to his WHL team where he was an integral part of their push to the playoffs, playing up to 35 or 40 minutes a game before returning to Philadelphia.
It is pretty obvious that Luca Sbisa has a future in the NHL. His play in the first half of the year was very good for an 18 year old kid who is undersized. (Only Ryan Parent weighs less) Andrew Alberts is the only unsigned defenseman from last year's team, leaving Sbisa to be the likely final piece. If the team goes out and gets a defenseman as so many are clamoring for, that may change. Even then, many would rather see Sbisa in the lineup than Randy Jones, myself included. So, as it is right now, he's the #6 defenseman. But some time in Adirondack (that's strange) could only help his development and his time there probably wouldn't last long.
Going forward, the Flyers look solid on the blueline for a long time. With Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle, Ryan Parent, Luca Sbisa, and Kevin Marshall all 24 or younger, there is no shortage of talent. Now about that free agent defenseman...
After the jump, some highlights.
Luca Sbisa vs. Dominic Moore (via chaosof99)
Luca Sbisa Levels Scott Glennie & Drop Gloves w/ Schenn (via iamlightning)
Up next in our Grading the Flyers Series: Darroll Powe