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A Flyers European Draft Anthology - Skaters part one

Today we look at skaters from Austria, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Finland

Janne Niinimaa
Remember Janne Niinimaa?

In my last article, I looked at the Flyers draft history of European goalies. Now, I am taking a look at skaters.

The Flyers have drafted 95 European forwards and defensemen from 13 different countries. That’s a lot of skaters! So, I’ve decided to divide them up by nation. Today, I’m covering Austria, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Finland. Here is a list of all of those players drafted:

Drafted European Skaters Part 1

Draft Round Pick Player Nationality Pos
Draft Round Pick Player Nationality Pos
2006 2 39 Andreas Nodl Austria RW
2017 4 107 Maxim Sushko Belarus RW
1982 3 46 Miroslav Dvorak Czech Republic D
1987 3 62 Martin Hostak Czech Republic RW
1988 12 245 Dragomir Kadlec Czech Republic D
1993 3 71 Vaclav Prospal Czech Republic LW
1993 3 77 Milos Holan Czech Republic D
1995 6 152 Martin Spanhel Czech Republic LW
1995 7 178 Martin Streit Czech Republic F
1998 7 195 Tomas Divisek Czech Republic RW
1998 9 243 Petr Hubacek Czech Republic C
1999 7 200 Pavel Kasparik Czech Republic F
1999 7 208 Vaclav Pletka Czech Republic LW
2000 9 287 Milan Kopecky Czech Republic F
2011 6 176 Petr Placek Czech Republic RW
2009 7 196 Oliver Lauridsen Denmark D
1986 2 23 Jukka-Pekka Seppo Finland C
1986 7 146 Sami Wahlsten Finland F
1990 9 172 Toni Porkka Finland D
1993 2 36 Janne Niinimaa Finland D
1997 8 214 Marko Kauppinen Finland D
2001 5 146 Jussi Timonen Finland D
2002 1 4 Joni Pitkanen Finland D
2006 4 101 Joonas Lehtivuori Finland D

13 of the 24 players in this list played in the NHL. Seven of them played solely for the Flyers. There’s quite a wide range of knowability in the list, so here’s a look at each draft pick who made the big time:

Andreas Nodl

NHL Games with Flyers - 127

Total Games - 183

Nodl played three and a quarter seasons in Philadelphia before being waived and picked up by Carolina in 2011-12. During that time he averaged 12:01 average time on ice, and recorded 28 total points (12 G, 16 A). Nodl now plays in Vienna for the Vienna Capitals, where he is the captain.

Miroslav Dvorak

NHL Games with Flyers - 193

Total Games - 193

I don’t think we’ll truly ever know how good Dvorak could have been, given he had to wait until he was 31 to be drafted. Under the communist-era rules in then Czechoslovakia, playing overseas under the age of 30 was prohibited for Czech athletes. From 1970 to 1981, Dvorak played in 325 Czech league games and scored 231 points. As a defenseman, that’s pretty good huh! He was able to play three seasons in North America for the Flyers, totaling 85 points. He later played in West Germany after leaving the NHL.

Martin Hostak

NHL Games with Flyers - 55

Total Games - 55

Hostak was a 6’3” center who only truly played a single season with the Flyers in 1990-91. He tallied 13 points in 50 games that year, and only played five games the next. There was very little information about him in English, however a translation of a Czech page I found reveals he was a point-per-game AHLer in 1991-92, scoring 63 points in 63 games. His time in North America would end, however, after that year. He went on to play in Sweden (289 points in 348 games) and he now serves as the GM for Aukro Berani Zlín of the Czech league.

Vaclav “Vinny” Prospal

NHL Games with Flyers - 77

Total Games - 1108

Honestly, I didn’t know that Prospal played over 1,000 games in the NHL. Took me by surprise! Anyways, good ol’ Vinny didn’t actually play for the Flyers all that much. He managed to play a year and a half before being traded to the Ottawa Senators (along with Pat Faloon) for Alexandre Daigle. When you think of Prospal, the image garnered (at least to me) is him in a Lightning jersey, as he did enjoy his best years of hockey in Tampa. He’s certainly not legendary, nor can he be considered a “great” hockey player. He was more in the range of “pretty good”, which isn’t a bad designation inherently, and was certainly (objectively) better than Daigle, who he was traded for.

Milos Holan

NHL Games with Flyers - 8

Total Games - 49

There isn’t anything notable to say about Holan. He only played eight games as a Flyer and scored two points in the process. The most interesting thing about him is that he was traded in 1995 to the Ducks for Anatoli Semenov, who was a decent utility player most remembered for his 6 point playoff performance in 1994-95 as the Flyers would ultimately fall to the Devils in the Eastern Conference Final.

Martin Spanhel

NHL Games with Flyers - 0

Total Games - 10

Spanhel played in 10 games for the Blue Jackets from 2000 until 2002 — there is a notable trade tree involving Spanhel though. The Flyers traded him to San Jose who in turn traded him on the same day to Buffalo. However, along with Spanhel was a Flyer first round pick. That pick went from the Flyers to San Jose to Buffalo and ultimately was traded to Phoenix. Phoenix would use that 1996 pick to select Danny Briere.

Tomas Divisek

NHL Games with Flyers - 5

Total Games - 5

His only NHL point was a goal in 2001-02. Moving on…

Petr Hubacek

NHL Games with Flyers - 6

Total Games - 6

Same Story as Divisek but in 2000-01. Moving on again…

Vaclav Pletka

NHL Games with Flyers - 1

Total Games - 1

He was traded to Chicago for Eric Meloche, who at least played for the team. Interestingly, though, Meloche was previously a Flyer, but was traded to Chicago along with Patrick Sharp (cries a single tear) for Matt Ellison, who played seven games as a Flyer. Wow this franchise made some bad choices.

Oliver Lauridsen

NHL Games with Flyers - 16

Total Games - 16

I remember liking Lauridsen a lot when he was up with the Flyers, but it may just be nostalgia goggles or my bias towards continental players. His numbers, upon further inspection, weren’t that good. He’s the only Dane the Flyers have ever drafted though, so neat!

Janne Niinimaa

NHL Games with Flyers - 143

Total Games - 741

Oh hey a relevant player. Niinimaa played pretty well while he was here, and had a very impressive rookie season. He put up 44 points as a rookie, and 43 points the following season as both a Flyer and an Edmonton Oiler, where he was traded for Dan McGillis, one of my favorite Flyers ever. Niinimaa was part of the 1996-97 Flyers that made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final only to be swept by maybe the best set of teams in history, the 90’s Red Wings teams. Boy was he owned by Darren McCarty. All that being said, he had a fine career, even if it wasn’t with the Flyers for the majority of it.

Yeah this was just a bad sequence

Jussi Timonen

NHL Games with Flyers -

14 Total Games - 14

Jussi is the younger brother of Flyer legend Kimmo Timonen, though he did not enjoy the type NHL career Kimmo did. Jussi played in only 14 games, registering 4 points. He ultimately returned to KalPa in Finland, the team co-owned by Kimmo and Sami Kapanen.

Joni Pitkanen

NHL Games with Flyers - 206

Total Games - 535

Pitkanen was drafted fourth overall in 2002, and registered 116 points in three seasons with the Flyers. He did have injury problems, so he never did play a full 82 game season in Philadelphia. Despite this he led Flyer defenseman in ice time for his last two years. He was eventually traded to the Oilers after the abysmal 2006-07 season, netting a return of Jason Smith and Joffrey Lupul.

To round this out, here are some interesting overall stats and numbers from this list:

The Czech draft picks, thanks to Prospal, played the most NHL games with 1427. The Fins come in second with 1290, Austria are in third with Nodl’s 183 games, and Denmark are fourth with Lauridsen’s 16. As Maxim Sushko has not played in the NHL (yet), Belarus comes in last. Overall, these draft picks have produced 851 appearances for the Flyers (so far for the current prospects). For reference, as of February 5th, 2019, Claude Giroux has appeared in 791 games for the Flyers. Interestingly, even though the Czech players made more overall appearances, the Finnish players appeared more for the Flyers, 363 games compared to the Czechs’ 345.

Next article, I’ll take aim at the remaining nations the Flyers have drafted players from: Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K.

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