One word that is to be never uttered in Philadelphia is 'rebuilding,' and now that has been avoided, the Flyers can focus and turn to the immediate season. The rebuilding years may turn into a rebuilding year as the Flyers made a dramatic turnaround and the future looks bright.
Through drafting and developing – along with some shrewd trades - the Flyers have an embarrassment of riches under the age of 30 at forward. With Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne, Scott Hartnell, Joffrey Lupul and Scottie Upshall patrolling the top three lines, the Flyers look set for a while. Unfortunately, they do not have same situation on defence, but with the additions of Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle - who are both under 25 - it is a good start.
The Flyers' next forward crop is quickly on the way, with James Van Riemsdyk, Claude Giroux, Andreas Nodl, Jonathan Matsumoto and Patrick Moon having the potential to one day contribute at the NHL level. They have the talent to play on the top three lines in the NHL, so the next couple of years in their development are crucial. Of this mix of forwards, Van Riemsdyk and Giroux will get a crack at a full time roster spot next season.
The defence looks promising with Luca Sbisa, Ryan Parent, Oskars Bartulis, Danny Syvret, Kevin Marshall and Michael Ratchuk. All six of them are capable of playing at the AHL level, but it will take some time to see which develop their craft into NHL defencemen. Sbisa and Parent have ability to be a full time NHL defenceman next season and only the issue remains of not enough ice-time to go around.
They do not have an elite goaltender in the system to groom but third round pick Jacob DeSerres from Seattle in the Western Hockey League does show some promise. It is imperative that the Flyers try to draft a couple of potential netminders in the next two NHL drafts.
Now that Paul Holmgren has put his full stamp on this team, it will be interesting to see how he manages all these assets with his most recent free agents and this upcoming draft. The Flyers should focus on netminders and skilled centres for the next couple of NHL drafts because they currently have a lack of talent and depth in those areas.
James Van Riemsdyk – Left Wing, 19 (1st round 2nd overall 2007)
Currently with New Hampshire (NCAA)
A lanky winger at 6-3 and 205 pounds, he should become a great power forward to go with his skating ability and puck skills. He has surprising hands and can feather passes as easily as letting loose a lethal slap shot. He's a smart player who is patient with play development and has shown high end playmaking ability. He's also a difficult player to remove from the slot when he is planted in front of the net and he draws a lot of attention, which opens space for his linemates. His improvement in the defensive game and good habits (like keeping his feet moving using his size when fighting for body position) has made him a more complete player. This is not to say he still doesn't need some fine tuning, but he has the tools and work ethic to be a solid two-way player. He had a great year offensively for a freshman, with 34 points in 31 games with 36 penalty minutes, and has followed it up with 27 points in 23 games as a sophomore. The true indication of his development was his dominant play at the WJC for the U.S. the last two years. He could play in the NHL as early as next season and could also be a Calder Trophy candidate. It all depends how quickly he adapts to the tempo and the speed, so the Flyers should be patient and put him in a situations to succeed early. He has the potential to be a Top 10 goal scorer in the NHL if he masters net presence like former Flyer greats Tim Kerr and John LeClair.
Claude Giroux – Right Wing, 21 (1st round, 22nd overall, 2006)
Currently with Philadelphia (AHL/NHL)
Last year was the third season in a row that Giroux broke the 100-point barrier in the QMJHL, which has gained him considerable notoriety. In 187 games, he has amassed 321 points along with an impressive plus-82 rating. He's a highly gifted playmaker that has the hockey sense, puck skills and vision to be a top NHL player. He's also a very talented puck carrier, slippery with fast fluid movements and he seems to pick up momentum while in possession of the puck. His quickness, agility and speed causes defenders headaches and he's a threat anytime he's on the ice. A dangerous shooter who has a quick accurate release, Giroux is a menace on the power play or 4-on-4. He has a knack for clutch games and always manages to find a way to contribute. He's a spunky little winger that plays a gutsy game despite being undersized at 5-11 and 180 pounds. He's also reliable defensively since he uses his smarts and quickness to cause pressure and disrupt passing lanes. Giroux has made a quick adjustment to the pro ranks, posting 34 points in 32 games in the AHL while picking up four points in a 10-game stint in the NHL. He has the potential to be a top line winger on the Flyers roster within two seasons and will push the veterans for ice time.
Luca Sbisa – Defence, 19 (1st round 19th overall 2008)
Currently with Lethbridge (WHL)
The Swiss defenceman who came to the WHL to develop his game has adjusted quite well to the North American ice surface and the rougher style of game. On the offensive side he has shown the ability to make a good first pass out of his zone, but sometimes has a tendency to make too many high risk plays. He needs to make better use of his options and not go for the home run pass, even although his passes are crisp and accurate. He has realized that the time and space on international ice does not exist in North America and has improved in this area. He shows very good puck skills and can stickhandle well and does not panic with the puck often. He is an excellent overall skater with the initial quickness to separate and has the foot speed to lead the rush up ice and be a fourth attacker. He has the agility to look one way and turn and skate with the puck going the other but he will need to add some core strength. Sbisa has a good slap shot from the point that is not overpowering, but has accuracy for tips and rebounds. He makes smart plays in the offensive zone with the puck and recognizes the situation and makes appropriate adjustments. He does a really good job of getting the puck on the net, even from a bad position and he gets it away quickly without being blocked too often. On the defensive side of the puck, he has improved in judging the speed angles and plugging the gaps, especially considering he once played on a lager ice surface. To his credit, he will step up and show the timing to make a hit on open ice but he does not have the power yet to make it really hurt. In the corners and in front of the net, he must use his body position as does not have the needed strength to win one on one battles that way. He can get neutralized out of the play and has some difficulty distributing the puck on the boards at times if he takes a hit, but that does not happen often since he moves the puck so quickly. Overall, he shows good consistency in his play and logs significant ice time. He can get caught taking a bad holding or hooking penalty if he loses body position, but not often. He shows maturity and commitment coming over to North America and is a good teammate in the dressing room. He is a smart blueliner with a good offensive upside and the potential to be a top four defenceman in the NHL.
Ryan Parent – Defense, 21 (1st round, 18th overall, 2005 – Trade Nashville)
Currently with Philadelphia (AHL)
This intelligent two way defenseman has shown the poise and hockey sense to control and slow the game down in the defensive zone. Parent does possess more offensive ability than indicated by his statistics and he makes a smart first pass out of his zone and in transition. He has good size at 6-2 and 205 pounds and the mobility to one day be a top three defenceman. Parent showed his ability to shut down opponents at the WJC as he was paired with Marc Staal in the tournament two years ago. He is one of those players who does not get the accolades, but teammates and coaches rave about his importance to his team. He does not do one thing great where he can make fans jump out of their seat, but Parent could be one of those players that's the glue of the blueline. His injuries have set back his development slightly this season, but he has such good habits and work ethic he is expected to play full time next year. Parent had a solid rookie season in the AHL last year and picked up eight points in 53 games. He earned a 22-game stint in the NHL and did not look out of place. He could develop into a top defensive defenceman in the NHL.
Andreas Nodl – Right Wing, 21 (2nd round, 39h overall, 2006)
Currently with Philadelphia (AHL)
The Austrian lit up the WCHA with 36 goals and 90 points in 80 games for the Huskies along with five game-winning goals over the last two seasons. Considering Nodl is a first year pro, he did not take long to get a call up to the NHL. He sees the ice well while reading and anticipating the developing play and puts himself into the right position. He moves the puck well, uses his linemates and can get away a pretty good wrist and slap shot. He works pretty hard on all aspects of his game and is demonstrating vastly improved coverage in his own end. He's particularly dangerous on the power play, but he has not scored as many power play goals as he would like with 18 in college. At six feet and 200 pounds, Nodl has NHL size and skill. But he will need another year in the AHL before challenging for a roster spot.
Patrick Maroon – Left Wing, 20 (6th round 161st 2007)
Currently with Philadelphia (AHL)
He's a potential late-round steal for the Flyers, as the big-bodied winger has surprised many at his level of success as a rookie in the AHL. Maroon has made a tremendous leap coming from a Tier 2 junior league (from the NAHL to the AHL) in a span of two seasons. A 6-4 and 225 pounds, he brings a load and is very tough to move and handle once he parks himself around the net. He displays soft hands around the net and has the ability play in high-traffic situations. Like all prospects, he will need to continue work on his skating and defensive game before taking the next step. Finding the consistency in those areas at the NHL level will allow him to exploit his size to a greater ability. He is currently on pace for more than 25 goals and 50 points as a rookie, but it remains to be seen if it can translate to the NHL game.
Oskars Bartulis – Defence, 22 (3rd round, 91st overall, 2005)
Currently with Philadelphia (AHL)
The Latvian is a smart two-way defenceman who can contribute offensively and has improved defensively. He is beginning to grow into his body at 6-2 and 195 pounds and it would not hurt if he added more power and strength. For a rookie defenceman last year in the AHL, he had a solid season picking up 21 points in 57 games with an impressive plus-10 rating. It should not be too surprising, since he has shown good puck sense and the ability to move the puck in junior. His numbers from the QMJHL over the past three seasons with 103 points in 171 games with a plus-43 rating and 191 penalty minutes showed is constant improvement and well rounded play. He skates well and uses his mobility to move the puck out of danger or maintain possession while support arrives. He plays a more physical game than you expect and can be used on both special teams. He gained valuable experience at the Memorial Cup two seasons ago, but Bartulis still needs another year before getting a chance at the NHL.
Michael Ratchuk – Defence, 20 (2nd round, 42h overall, 2006)
Currently with Philadelphia (AHL)
He's not exactly a hulking physical presence at 5-11 and 180 pounds, but he plays an offensive puck moving puck possession style. He left college only after two years and showed improvement from Year 1 to 2 by doubling his point production from 12 to 24. Although he only saw three games of regular season action in the AHL, he did register three points and did not look out of place. This season as a rookie in the AHL he has shown the hockey sense to play at this level despite his size and that shows moxie. Ratchuk is a smart, savvy defenceman that thinks the game quickly and shows the hockey sense and ability to handle the tempo and speed of the pro game. He has the quickness and agility along the speed to be an effective new NHL defenceman. Over the next little, he must continue to add strength to his frame and refine his defensive game and is at least two years away from getting a sniff at the NHL. He has the potential to play a role on the blueline in the NHL with an offensive upside.
Kevin Marshall – Defence, 19 (2nd round 41st overall 2007)
Currently with Quebec (QMJHL)
He's a tough, hard-nosed defenceman who is perfectly happy going out and taking care of his own end and exacting punishment upon anyone that lingers around the crease. A decent-sized defender at 6-1 and 210 pounds, he plays the game tough and with intensity. He does not have the hockey sense offensively or the creativity to contribute much at the next level. He makes short, simple passes and prefers to get the puck off his stick into the hands of other players. His skating has improved, but he will need to continue to work on his agility to combat speedy forwards in tight quarters. Without the puck, he is solid and dependable and takes pride in not being scored on 5-on-5 - a student of defensive hockey. He is beginning to figure out all the little nuances of playing on the blueline and if he continues to improve his gap control, angling, maintaining position instead of going for a hit and keeping his feet moving he could be a player. He's a tough, hard-nosed throwback type player who has accumulated 396 penalty minutes in three seasons. He is a long term project for the next three to four years, but there are tools in the tool box to work with.
Jacob DeSerres – Goalie, 18 (3rd round 85th overall 2008)
Currently with Seattle (WHL)
He's a solid goaltending prospect who has good size at 6-1 and 208 pounds. He has the athletic ability to compete at the pro level and has got the chance to be a full-time starter this season after backing up last year. To his credit, DeSerres has taken his game to another level. He has improved his overall mechanics in the crease and has been more consistent handling rebounds while being aggressive. Like most young netminders, he must work on tracking the puck in traffic and maintaining composure under duress and he seems to possess the natural poise. He skates pretty well and does not get caught out of position to often and can flash quick feet when shuffling around the crease. The one important thing about developing goalies is patience and the Flyers are in no rush with him. In four years, they will have a better idea of his potential then.
Jonathan Matsumoto – Centre, 22 (3rd round 79th overall 2006)
Currently with Philadelphia (AHL)
He had three successful years in college where he amassed 113 points in 110 games along with 135 penalty minutes. His poor plus-minus rating of minus-29 was more a reflection of the team than his overall defensive play. Last season as a rookie in the AHL, he looked solid with 20 goals and 44 points in 77 games with respectable plus-4 rating. He is on pace to improve on those numbers as a sophomore, which is an encouraging sign. He needs to add some weight and strength to his 6-foot, 185-pound frame if he wishes to play at the next level. He has very good speed and makes up for his size with the quickness and agility to be a dangerous weapon, especially 4-on-4. He shows the hockey sense and vision to play at the pro level and always finds a way to be effective. His overall defensive game is getting better and once he uses his speed along with good body position and an active stick, he will get a shot at the NHL.
Dan Syvret – Defence, 23 (3rd round 81st overall 2005 Trade - Edmonton)
Currently with Philadelphia (AHL)
Although he does not have the ideal height for a defenceman at 5-11, Syvret is solid at 205 pounds and has excellent mobility. He could flourish in the new NHL with his offensive vision and once he develops his defensive game in the AHL. He has not been consistent enough overall in all aspects of the ice especially on the defensive but he has promise. After three-and-a-half seasons toiling in the minors with brief stints in the NHL, Syvret needs to show he can play there. This season, he has exploded offensively like his junior days with 41 points in 48 games so far and expectations have never been higher for him. He might be worth waiting on if he can learn to play better defence, as he can move the puck and could be a real late bloomer.
Philadelphia Flyers - NHL Entry Draft Record (1997 - 2003)
When looking at the drafting and developing record of a NHL organization it becomes an interesting blend of statistics and circumstances with perhaps some luck thrown in for good measure. Most of the time the General Manager receives kudos for a teams fortunes at the draft table when in reality it is usually never the case in today's NHL. For the most part there are three aspects that make the whole process work; first is the amateur scouting department's ability to evaluate and project talent which may be the most challenging of all. Next the organizations player development department must attempt to mold the prospects by giving the players tools to enhance his talents. Perhaps most importantly is the prospects responsibility to pay the price and sacrifice which generally requires a tremendous work ethic. If one of these aspects fails then the likelihood of a prospect turning into an asset to his organization and having a NHL career becomes remote.
The reason for the analyzing the years from 1997 to 2003 is to first give each NHL organization five years to develop their prospects as players from different leagues evolve differently. Secondly the years from 1997-2003 are the players that should be the building blocks of the core of your team as they will be in the 23-29 year old age range. What makes each organization unique is what they do with the picks they have as management will often trade draft choices for immediate help on their NHL and AHL teams. Now some players may be real late bloomers and eventually make the criteria set in this analysis down the road but at this stage it is fascinating to see the results.
Criteria of NHL games played that deem a player has been drafted and developed successfully.
||Forwards - Defenceman
||125-200 NHL Games required
||51-100 NHL Games Played
||100 NHL Games required
||25-50 NHL Games Played
|Pending Player - Represents a player who has a legitimate chance to make criteria
Philadelphia Flyers 1997-2003
Total: 7 yrs - 62 draft picks - 10 NHL Players = 16.1% success rate
Success in the first three rounds (1997-2003)
1st rnd Draft Choices: 7 total picks
Undeveloped Prospects: Maxime Ouellet 7yrs – 7 draft picks – 5 NHL Players = 71.4% success rate
2nd rnd Draft Choices: 4 total picks
Undeveloped Prospects – JM Pelletier, Pat Kavanagh, Jason Beckett, Ian Forbes, 7yrs 4 draft picks – 0 NHL Players = 0% success rate
3rd rnd Choices: 8 total picks, 3 pending
Undeveloped Prospects – Stefan Ruzicka, Rick Kozek, Alexander Drozdetsky, Kris Mallette, 7 yrs – 8 draft picks – 1 NHL Players = 12.5% success rate
Total: 7yrs – 19 draft picks – 6 NHL Players = 31.5% success rate in first 3 rounds
First Three Rounds - Developed vs. Prospects/NA vs. Euro
Developed players: (5) North American, (1) European
Undeveloped Prospects: (11) North American, (2) European
Success in the last six round (1997-2003)
4th rnd to 9th rnd Choices: 43 total picks
7yrs – 43 draft picks – 4 NHL Players = 9.3% success rate
Shane Malloy provides hockey prospect insight and analysis on his Prospect Insider feature on TSN.ca, Canada's leading sports website. Many sports networks, hockey magazines and major newspapers have drawn upon his expertise and knowledge. His passion for the game and involvement in grass roots hockey from the junior hockey to the National Hockey League is evident. He is currently a host and hockey event reporter on XM Sirius Satellite Radio (Home Ice 204) where he co-hosts a hockey radio show on Hockey Prospects and the Business of Hockey.
Prior to joining TSN, Malloy was the columnist-covering prospects for NHL.com for two years and a NHL and prospect columnist Fox Sports.com for six years.
This document is the intellectual property of Shane Malloy and cannot be used or duplicated in anyway without expressed written consent. Any use of this document without the expressed written consent of Shane Malloy will result in public exposure and legal prosecution.