Adirondack Phantoms 2009-10 preview

By Chris Shafer

When the storied Wachovia Spectrum was set to be torn down in order to make way for the Philly Live project, an entertainment district to be placed in the heart of South Philadelphia’s sporting complex, the Philadelphia Phantoms no longer had a home to return to for the 2009-10 season. Throughout the course of the year, they wore special jerseys commemorating the final year of the Spectrum and their final season of being a parking lot away from their NHL affiliate.

Comcast Spectacor sold the Phantoms to the Pittsburgh-based Brooks Group who moved the team to Glens Falls, NY for at least the time being. They will play at Glens Falls Civic Center where the Adirondack Red Wings played from 1979 until 1999 and be called the Adirondack Phantoms, but the long-term plan is to move the team back into the Philadelphia region.

Forwards

As they moved to a new location, the Phantoms were likely expecting to get their hands on former second overall selection James vanRiemsdyk. Thanks to a stellar camp by the young power forward, Adirondack will have to get their supply of goals from other players. That does not mean that offense will necessarily be hard to find though.

While another highly anticipated power forward, Patrick Maroon, gave his best attempt to make the Flyers’ opening day roster, an injury before the start of training camp set him back. He will be returning to the Phantoms for at least the time being along with Andreas Nodl, who split time between the NHL and AHL last season. Nodl has had a hard time finding his scoring touch since leaving college but is hoping for a big season.

The Phantoms two leading forwards, Jonathan Matsumoto and Jared Ross, will be returning for another season after struggling to make the Flyers’ deep offense.

Winger David Laliberte will also be spending the season in Adirondack after making it through to one of the Flyers’ final training camp cuts with Maroon. During the 2007-08 season, he split between the AHL and ECHL, but he found his scoring touch late last season helping lead the Phantoms into the playoffs.

Jon Kalinski will have his first full season of AHL action after spending time on the Flyers as well as injured reserve last year, and a familiar name in Tomas Sinisalo, who put up quite a fight in rookie camp, will be making his North American debut after spending a number of years in Finland with TPS Turku. He is of course the son of Ilkka Sinisalo who played a number of years in Philadelphia, where Tomas was born.

Defense

With the exception of prospects Mike Ratchuk and Oskars Bartulis as well as veteran Sean Curry, the Phantoms’ defense in 2009-10 will have completely changed.

With nine defenders currently on the roster and the recently waived Randy Jones possibly joining the team after Danny Syvret‘s graduation to the Flyers, it will be hard to earn playing time on the blueline in Adirondack.

Prospects Kevin Marshall and Marc-Andre Bourdon have both had outstanding careers in the QMJHL, and after solid camp outings, they will look to prepare for their NHL careers in Glens Falls. They will be joined by prospect Joonas Lehtivuori, who also had a great training camp and will be competing hard for playing time.

David Sloane and Logan Stephenson have also earned AHL contracts out of training camp. They will also look for playing time on the Phantoms, but it might be tight.

Goaltenders

There will be plenty of competition for the back-up role since recent European acquisition Johan Backlund is likely penciled in as the starter. Both starting goaltenders from last season, Scott Munroe and Jean-Sebastien Aubin, have moved on.

The three-way competition has begun for prospects Nicola Riopel, a fifth-round selection this past summer, Jeremy Duchesne, a fourth-round selection from 2005, and Michael Teslak, who went undrafted.

Prospects at Philadelphia’s camp

vanRiemsdyk had a spectacular summer and found his way on to the Philadelphia’s roster. His speed, hands, and abilities are up to an NHL level already though it may take some time before his entire game is fully polished.

Andreas Nodl, who had plenty of time with the Flyers last season, was dropped to the Phantoms earlier than expected to work on his game after a quiet offseason.

Maroon and David Laliberte stood out in training camp but were among the last cuts. Maroon was held back this summer by injury problems, but if he succeeds in Adirondack, there may be a roster spot on the wing with his name on it late in the season. When he returned to training camp action healthy, he was able to put on a show of his spectacular hands and fore-checking abilities.

Kevin Marshall had a great camp and showed a lot more of his offensive upside than people expected. He times his shots from the point well and can certainly blast them home. With the Flyers’ line-up pretty much set there was always a plane to Glens Falls waiting for him though.

Bartilus performed very well at camp as did Lehtivuori, but once again it would be a tight fit on an already set NHL roster. Marc-Andre Bourdon, on the other hand, showed that he could use more time working on his game at the AHL level despite glimpses of superior offensive ability.

No goaltending prospects in particular stood out during camp, but Adam Morrison performed fairly well before being sent back to the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL.