Flyers 2008-09 AHL/ECHL prospects review

By Joe Scanlon

The Philadelphia Phantoms enjoyed a successful regular season, finishing with a record of 43-30-2-5 and narrowly edging out the Binghamton Senators for the final playoff spot in the East division. Just a few weeks before the playoffs were to begin, the Phantoms found themselves out of playoff contention by 12 points. They were able to finish the season strong by putting together a 7-2-0-1 run which helped catapult them into the post-season.

They did not perform well once they got to the playoffs, however, being swept out of the first round by one of the league’s top teams, the Hershey Bears. The Phantoms mustered up just six goals to Hershey’s 14 in the series.

On April 28, it was announced that for the 2009-10 season, the Phantoms will be relocated to Glen Falls, NY, which is over 250 miles away from Philadelphia. Head coach John Paddock and his entire coaching staff are expected to return.

In the ECHL, the Mississippi Sea Wolves finished the season 28-35-7-1 and did not qualify for the ECHL playoffs. They finished with the second lowest point total in the league. The Seawolves have since ceased operations.


Forwards

22-year-old Jonathan Matsumoto was one of the most heavily relied upon Phantoms this year. In just his second full AHL season, Matsumoto was able to establish himself as a big point producer thanks to his creativeness with the puck. The Ottawa native enjoyed an extremely solid campaign, scoring 29 goals and 34 assists. His 63 points were good for second on the team only to Jared Ross. He excelled in the play-making department this year, which will aid in helping him earn a sniff at the NHL in 2009-10.

Patrick Maroon really came in and impressed a lot of people this season. The size that he possesses is something you can never have enough of on your team. Maroon, who turned 21 less than a month ago, stands 6’4 and 225 pounds with a stature that is strikingly similar to that of Milan Lucic. As it turns out, he is a really good player on top of that. In his first season with the Phantoms, Maroon was fourth on the team in points, recording 23 goals and 31 assists. His 54 points were good enough for sixth in the American Hockey League among all rookies. Maroon was also there to mix it up every now and then when he was needed. The organization is excited to see what Maroon can do for an encore.

Jon Kalinski showed some promise by scoring 17 points this year but was limited to only 46 games. His strong two-way game paired with his ability to agitate could make him a good asset in the future.

The undersized yet highly skilled Jared Ross led the Phantoms in point scoring for the second straight year. His 29 goals and 40 assists was just too much for the Flyers to ignore. Ross got the call and played 10 games in the NHL this year, and competed for the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Having spent almost half of the season with the Flyers this year, it is fair to say that Andreas Nodl is one of the more NHL-ready players on the team. Nodl’s time was split almost equally between the NHL and AHL, playing 38 games with the Flyers and 39 games for the Phantoms. The 22-year-old Austrian was a key role player for the Flyers down the stretch and was able to re-join the Phantoms just in time for the playoffs.

The Phantoms lineup had a good amount of secondary scoring scattered throughout. David Laliberte played well, scoring 28 goals and 20 assists in 70 games. After putting up six goals and one assist over a four-game stretch, Laliberte was named the AHL’s player of the week for the week of April 5th. Long-time Phantoms forward Boyd Kane proved he can still put up the points, scoring 17 goals and 26 assists in 58 contests.

Rob Sirianni bounced around between both the ECHL and AHL this year. He posted 17 goals and 16 assists in just 18 games with the Wheeling Nailers. Once he got to Philadelphia, he became a solid point producer with 25 points in 49 games.

Rounding out the forward ranks are Jeff Szwez, Matt Clackson, and Nate Raduns. Clackson was a willing and able opponent for the opposing AHL fighter this year. His 263 penalty minutes really stand out. Szwez performed reliably by doing a little bit of everything. He was able to put up some points and be a reliable two-way forward while bringing some sandpaper to the lineup. Raduns, who played one game with the Flyers this season, scored five goals and nine assists in 70 games with the Phantoms.  

Defense

Danny Syvret emerged this season as one of the league’s top all-around defensemen. Syvret was named a first team AHL all-star after putting up 12 goals and 39 assists for 51 points. He had a brief stint with the Flyers as well. After his banner season, it’s no longer a secret that Syvret can produce at the AHL level. It’s time to see if he can take that next step.

Michael Ratchuk showed plenty of promise in his rookie season. The 21-year-old Buffalo native recorded five goals and 12 assists in 77 games. Ratchuk is part of a nice core of young defensemen the Flyers organization has assembled to go along with Luca Sbisa, Kevin Marshall, and Marc-Andre Bourdon.

Oskars Bartulis was one of only four other players on the Phantoms to skate in all 80 contests this season. The 22-year-old defenseman registered two goals, 11 assists, and a -4 rating over the course of the year. Bartulis will be representing Latvia in the upcoming World Championships in Bern, Switzerland.

The 6’5 Sean Curry had a decent year offensively for the Phantoms. He scored five goals and 13 assists for 18 points which was good enough for second on the team when it came to points by a defenseman. On the other side of things, Curry was a woeful -17 on the season.

Nate Guenin was solid, notching 14 assists in 62 games while leading all Phantom defensemen with a +14 rating. Jason DeSantis also got a good amount of playing time, skating in 56 contests this season. The Phantoms were also able to obtain the services of veteran Lasse Kukkonen, who proved to be a solid addition, thanks to the Flyers salary cap woes.

Chris Zarb led the Mississippi Sea Wolves defensemen in goals (5), while adding 11 assists and a -2 rating. Zarb was limited to just 37 contests for the Sea Wolves this season, his first in the ECHL after attending Ferris State University for three years. Zarb also played in four games for the Phantoms.

Goalies

Jeremy Duchesne was the only Flyers goaltending prospect playing in either the AHL or ECHL this season. While playing back-up to Ryan Munce in Mississippi, Duchesne went 3-7-2 with a 4.77 goals against average and a .878 save percentage. His numbers don’t exactly sparkle, but he did play on one of the poorer teams in the league. Although he saw two games in the AHL last season, his performance this years shows he may not have the ability to be anything more than a minor league back-up netminder.