FLYERS SIGN SWISS DEFENSEMAN MARTI
Yesterday, the Flyers announced the signing of 22-year-old Swiss defenseman Christian Marti to an an entry-level contract. Marti has spent the last two seasons playing in the Swiss National League for Geneve-Servette HC (GSHC) after previously playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.
Marti was one of five European free agent players whom I profiled last year as a potential NHL contract candidate in my Flyers blog of May 31, 2014
. This is what I wrote at the time:
The former Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL) defenseman went home to Switzerland this year and had a solid season in NLA for Genève-Servette HC. His name has popped up a few times as someone who may have slipped beneath the radar on the NHL Draft. Marti turned 21 in March.
The main intrigue point on the player is that he is both big (listed at either 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3 and about 210 pounds) and mobile. He also plays pretty physical style compared to the majority of Swiss-trained players, who tend to be very technical. There is some puck-moving upside to this player from the Blainville-Boisbriand streams I saw during his time in the Q.
The primary question mark on the player is the degree of his hockey sense versus his upside as he matures. Even in NLA, he had some ups and downs this season on a very good GSHC team. His coach, Chris McSorley, gained confidence in him as the season progressed.
For whatever it's worth, one of Marti's teammates on GSHC, forward Kevin Romy, is a former Flyers draft pick. More significant is the Blainville-Boisbriand connection, because the Flyers have a good pipeline to the talent there. Ian Laperriere is part owner of the team and his close friend, former NHL player Joel Bouchard, runs the show for the Armada. Bouchard was a Flyers development camp instructor in 2012 at Lappy's request.
During Marti's season with the Armada, his teammates included recent Flyers signing Danick Martel. Marti played for Switzerland at the 2011-12 and 2012-13 World Championships and gave a solid accounting of himself in the latter tourney in particular. Nevertheless, he went undrafted and unsigned by NHL clubs -- despite some rumors of interest -- and went back to play pro hockey in his home country.
In addition to Romy, Marti's GSHC teammates included several former NHL players such as Matt D’Agostini, Paul Ranger and Taylor Pyatt. Over the defenseman's two seasons with GSHC, he has recorded five goals and 15 assists for 20 points in 82 games, along with a plus-14 rating.
Marti's 2014-15 campaign was affected by shoulder problems that limited him to 32 of his team's 50 games. However, he is healthy now and played well when in the lineup.
It is likely that Marti needs some AHL seasoning before he is potentially ready to challenge for an NHL job. As such, it would not be a surprise if he spends next season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
For more information on NHL teams increased emphasis on scouting in Switzerland, including a section on the Flyers, click here
2015 IIHF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: FLYERS UPDATES
* Team Canada opened the tourney on Friday with a 6-1 blowout win against overmatched Latvia. Claude Giroux (18:49 TOI) and Sean Couturier (9:59 TOI) did not figure in any of the scoring. Brayden Schenn did not play in the game. The Canadians return to action on Sunday against Germany.
* On Friday, the host Czech Republic team played to a seesaw 5-5 tie with Sweden through 65 minutes of hockey before Tre Kronor won in a shootout. Jakub Voracek collected a pair of assists for the Czech team, including one on a power play deflection goal by former Flyers teammate Jaromir Jagr. Voracek took a hooking penalty in the last minute of regulation that carried over into OT but the Swedes did not capitalize. In IIHF competition, a regulation win is worth three points, an overtime or shootout win is worth two and an overtime or shootout loss is worth one. The Czechs play Latvia on Saturday.
* Early on Saturday morning U.S. time, Team Austria staged a late comeback to defeat Switzerland via shootout, 4-3. Michael Raffl scored in the final minute of the third period to force overtime. Overall, Raffl skated 19:23 of ice time. He was unable to convert his shootout attempt, firing the puck over goalie Reto Berra's net. Michael's brother, Thomas Raffl, also scored for the Austrians in regulation. Mark Streit (23:38 of ice time) generated three shots on goal but did not figure in any of the Swiss scoring. The defenseman was minus-one on the day. Austria plays Sweden on Sunday, while Switzerland plays France.
* Denmark dropped a hard-fought 4-3 shootout decision to Slovakia on Saturday. Phantoms defenseman Oliver Lauridsen logged 22:58 of ice time for the Danish team. He was plus-one with one shot on goal and took a first-period cross-checking minor. The Danes play Finland on Sunday.
FLYERS CHL PROSPECT PLAYOFF UPDATES
* WHL: The Calgary Hitmen got resoundingly ousted from the playoffs in their semifinal series with the Brandon Wheat Kings, losing 8-2 in Game Five on Friday night. Three of the underdog Calgary team's losses in the series were by lopsided scores (9-4 in Game One, 8-3 in Game Four and 8-2 in the elimination game). The other two games, including the Hitmen's lone win, were overtime decisions. In Friday night's game, Flyers 2014 first-round pick Travis Sanheim was held without a point and was minus-three (one was an empty-net goal). Flyers 2014 sixth-round pick Radel Fazleev assisted on a Pavel Karnaukhov power play goal that gave Calgary a short-lived early 1-0 lead.
* WHL: The Kelowna Rockets took a three games to two lead in their semifinal series with the Portland Winterhawks with a 2-1 overtime win on Friday night. Flyers 2013 third-round pick Tyrell Goulbourne left the game early for the Rockets with an undisclosed injury. Game Six be on Sunday in Portland at 8 p.m. EDT.
* QMJHL: Flyers 2013 first round pick Samuel Morin and the rest of the Rimouski Oceanic open their President's Cup Final series with the Quebec Remparts on Tuesday. Game time will be 7:00 p.m. EDT.
FLYERS ALUMNI FANTASY HOCKEY CAMP
The Flyers Alumni will host a fantasy hockey camp from August 21-24 in Atlantic City, open to anyone age 21 and older. Instructors and Alumni participants will include Bernie Parent, Brian Propp, Ian Laperriere, Todd Fedoruk, Andre "Moose" Dupont, Dave "the Hammer" Schultz, Joe Watson and Bob "the Hound" Kelly.
The registration deadline is June 1. Participation costs $3,000 apiece but it is free to register a spot
online. Over on the Flyers' Alumni website, there is more information
on camp-related activities and on-ice schedules.