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Meltzer's Musings: Prospect Prospectus, Draft Talk, Memorial Cup

May 22, 2013, 9:26 AM ET [300 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Updates on Flyers 2010 to 2012 Draft Classes

The quality and depth of a draft class generally takes three to five years to judge accurately. Beyond a team's first-round pick, a draft can be retroactively deemed a success if at least one or two other players eventually make it to the NHL. Following are updates on the Flyers' 2010, 2011 and 2012 draft classes.

2010

Among the members of the Flyers' 2010 draft class, only three are still property of the organization. Only one is under entry-level pro contract. The team did not have first-round or second-round selections that year:

* Third-round pick Michael Chaput was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets organization in the deal that brought ex-Flyer Tom Sestito to Philadelphia. Chaput dressed in 73 AHL games this season for Springfield, scoring 13 goals and 32 points.

* Fourth-round selection Tye McGinn made his NHL debut this past season, dressing in 18 games (3 goals, 5 points, 19 penalty minutes). Continued work on his skating and ongoing development as a two-way player will be the key to cracking the Flyers' roster on a full-time basis.

* Fifth-round pick Michael Parks saw his sophomore collegiate season at the University of North Dakota get off to a delayed start as the result of a leg injury. It took him a little while to get going. He produced seven goals and eight points in 25 games after scoring 13 goals and totaling 22 points in 42 freshman games.

* Sixth-round pick Nick Luukko showed some progress from his freshman to sophomore seasons at the University of Vermont, particularly on the puck-moving and offensive sides of his game. Luukko had three goals and 10 points in 36 games. He played well in Vermont's game against Penn State at the Wells Fargo Center.

* Seventh-round choice Ricard Blidstrand was not offered an entry-level contract prior to the expiration of his rights last June. He signed with Swedish pro team Västerås and spent the past season on loan to Division One team Kallinge/Ronneby in the third tier of Swedish hockey. He is slated to start next season with the same club.

* Seventh-rounder Brendan Ranford was not offered an entry-level contract. He played an overage season in the WHL this year.


2011

The Flyers have four of their six picks in the 2011 NHL Draft under contract. Two have already played at least one full season at the professional level.

* First-round pick Sean Couturier is preparing for his third NHL season. I will address his prognosis for next season in a future blog.

* Third-rounder Nick Cousins will take the next step in his career in 2013-14. He's already shown that he can be a high-scoring junior level player. Now he has to work on his skating and two-way play as he prepares for his rookie season at the AHL level with the Adirondack Phantoms. If he is to have an NHL future, it will likely be in a third-line capacity and he may need at some point to make a transition from center to wing. To his credit, Cousins will spend the summer in Voorhees working on his skating and undergoing an intensive off-ice regimen designed to add muscle to his frame.

* Fourth-round pick Colin Suellentrop has developed into a decent all-around defenseman at the OHL level. However, if the Flyers intended to sign him to an entry level contract, they probably would already have done so. The organization rarely waits this long on signing decisions for draftees they project as future pros, and it's not as if Suellentrop would be a complicated signing. His signing rights expire on June 1.

* Taken two spots after Suellentrop in the fourth round, Marcel Noebels was signed to an entry-level contract in the summer of 2011 and made his pro debut this past season. After starting the season with the ECHL's Trenton Titans -- where he had dominant months of October and December sandwiched around a poor November -- he spent the remaining 43 games in the AHL with the Phantoms. Noebels showed promise in tallying 13 goals and 23 points as a rookie with the Phantoms and later dressed in three World Championship games for Team Germany. The more I see of Noebels' game, the more he reminds me of Ruslan Fedotenko at the same age. However, Noebels still has work to do on his skating and two-way consistency to get to same point Rusty was at in 2001, just before Fedotenko made the jump to the NHL level and never looked back.

* Sixth-round choice Petr Placek appears unlikely to have a professional hockey career in his future. After two collegiate seasons, the big Czech-born forward is still a fourth line player. However, he has two more seasons of NCAA eligibility remaining and he's getting a Harvard education in the process.

* Seventh-round pick Derek Mathers is under entry-level contract, which will kick in next season. He dressed in 12 games for the Phantoms at the completion of his OHL season with Peterborough. Arguably the best fighter in the OHL, Mathers found fewer willing opponents this past year and the OHL's more stringent fighting rules also served to reduce his PIM by 52 minutes compared to the 2011-12 season. He will continue to work on his all-around game as a rookie next season with the Phantoms. If he is to advance at the professional level, he will have to show he can contribute on the forecheck and defensively as well as dropping the gloves.


2012

The early returns on the Flyers' 2012 draft class are promising. All seven of the team's selections have made progress in the past year, and two players are now under entry level contract.

* First-round pick Scott Laughton had an NHL cup of coffee after the lockout and, apart from two suspensions for questionable hits, enjoyed a very solid season at the OHL level.

* Second-rounder Anthony Stolarz went from the low-level NAHL to major junior hockey (with a brief stay in the NCAA in the first half of the season) and generally played well in goal for the OHL champion London Knights. Stolarz has struggled late in the playoffs and the Memorial Cup but he is undeniably a better goaltender now than he was heading into the 2012 Draft. The Flyers signed Stolarz to an entry-level contract earlier this year. The slide-rule eligible contract will not count against the 50-contract maximum next year, assuming Stolarz returns to the OHL.

* Third-round pick Shayne Gostisbehere was a member of the gold-medal winning Team USA squad at the 2012-13 World Junior Championships and is coming off an excellent sophomore season at Union College. He is likely to play one more collegiate season before turning pro.

* The first of two fourth-round selections, Fredric Larsson established himself as a defensive mainstay for Brynäs' J20 team and even saw some power play time as a net-front forward. The hard-hitting defensive defenseman, who was the most penalized player (134 PIM in 41 GP) at the SuperElit level this year, is probably better suited to the North American game than the big rink and its accompanying refereeing style (which often penalizes clean contact). In the mold of a player such as Kjell Samuelsson and Oliver Lauridsen, Larsson has the potential to be a later-blooming prospect at the pro level.

* The second of the Flyers' two fourth-round picks, Taylor Leier progressed from a checking liner to the top six in the forward rotation for the WHL champion Portland Winterhawks. He continued to play an important role on his team's penalty killing units in addition to seeing his offensive responsibilities increase. Leier has been a standout in the Memorial Cup.

* Fifth-round selection Reece Willcox did not skip a beat moving from the Junior A level in Canada to a solid freshman season for Cornell University. Although his point totals (5 assists in 34 games) won't catch the eye, he showed himself to be a mobile puck mover as well as a responsible defender. Willcox's offensive role may grow in his sophomore campaign next year.

* Seventh-round pick Valeri Vasiliev graduated from the Russian junior level to become a regular starter at the KHL level for Spartak Moscow in the final 11 games of the regular season. A mobile defenseman with a physical edge to his game, Vasiliev's late draft selection -- after initially being rated as a potential second-round pick but dropping due to a shoulder injury and the usual signability question marks for KHL-track players -- was a low-risk, high-yield choice for the Flyers. If he eventually develops into an NHL player, it's a steal. If he falls short in his development or rejects an AHL spot for a chance to work his way up to the NHL, it's just a late-round pick. Vasiliev flirted with the idea of coming to North America this season to play for Waterloo in the USHL but elected to stay home.

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Memorial Cup Update

The OHL champion London Knights have been brutalized in their last two games by the WHL champion Portland Winterhawks and QMJHL titlist Halifax Mooseheads. On the heels of a 6-3 drubbing by Portland, the Knights got pummeled 9-3 by Halifax last night.

As expected, Anthony Stolarz served as the backup to Jake Patterson last night after Stolarz had a rough outing against Portland and was pulled after yielding four goals. Patterson fared no better against Halifax, getting lit up for five goals on 11 shots in the first period before being replaced by Stolarz (22 saves on 26 shots) for the remainder of the game.

Flyers prospect Taylor Leier and his Portland Winterhawks teammates are back in action tonight, taking on the tournament host Saskatoon Blades.

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Draft Talk

Earlier this month, I took a look at some potential first-round draft pick candidates for the Flyers if they hang on to the 11th overall pick. In upcoming blogs, I will look at a pool of potential later-round selections. Currently, the Flyers own the following picks:

1st round: #11 overall
2nd round: #41 overall
3rd round: #72 overall
4th round: No pick
5th round: #132 overall
6th round: #162 overall
7th round: #192 overall


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