Thanks to a "win now" philosophy in Philadelphia, the Flyers prospect pool is low on junior-level talent. Many of the recent selections from Canadian juniors are older as well which means they are closer to graduating to the professional level.
Adam Morrison, G – Saskatoon Blades
Acquired: 3rd round, 81st overall, 2009
February 9th, 1991, 6’3, 185 lbs.
There’s no question that the goalie portion of the Flyers prospect pool has not been the deepest in recent memory, but finally it seems like the organization has a couple of netminders with potential to reach the NHL. Morrison is definitely moving up the ranks with his play so far this season.
Last year he was a backup to Branden Holtby, selected in 2008 by the Washington Capitals, but with the onset of this season, Morrison has taken over as the starter in Saskatoon. In 16 games he has posted a record of 10-3-3 and is sixth among WHL goalies with a goals-against-average of 2.40. His save percentage of .918 is tied for second.
Meanwhile, Morrison’s Blades sit atop the entire WHL and are 10-0-1 in their last 11 games played. Thanks to his efforts the team is tied for first defensively with only 57 goals allowed so far.
Jacob De Serres, G – Brandon Wheat Kings
Acquired: 3rd round, 84th overall, 2008
March 18th, 1990, 6’2, 180 lbs.
When the Flyers selected De Serres out of the Seattle Thunderbirds of the OHL back in 2008, they had high hopes for him as he was coming off a 20-win breakout season. He still split time pretty evenly with former Lightning first-round selection Riku Helenius, but after Helenius moved on, De Serres was expected to keep up his winning ways.
2008-09 did not work out as De Serres would have liked. His poor play earned him another trip to the back-up seat on the bench behind Calvin Pickard (2010-eligible). The start of this season saw De Serres back on the bench once again, but he was traded to the Brandon Wheat Kings soon after.
Hoping for a chance to start fresh, De Serres took full advantage of being on a new team. In his first game with the Wheat Kings, he only let one goal past him while stopping 28 other attempts on the way to a win. Since then he has only had one other very good game between the pipes. Despite his 4-2-0-1 record since being traded, he has remained inconsistent, letting in soft goals at times. It is becoming more and more crucial for De Serres to take any opportunity he can to show he can still be an NHL-caliber goaltender. With a goals-against-average of 3.92 and a save percentage of .875, things aren’t looking good for him.
Eric Wellwood, LW – Windsor Spitfires
Acquired: 6th round, 172nd overall, 2009
March 6th, 1990, 5’11, 179 lbs.
It certainly has not hurt Wellwood to play on the same team as two probable top-five selections for next June in Taylor Hall and Cam Fowler. The stacked Windsor Spitfires are leading the pack in the OHL, and while Wellwood himself isn’t the reason for it, he’s been able to boost his offensive play with all of the surrounding talent.
Wellwood was drafted for his defense and was even worked out on the blueline this summer during camps with the Flyers. He has the potential to be a very solid two-way forward even at the NHL level, but this offensive flurry may only be thanks to the depth of the offensive potential of the unit around him. In 25 games so far, he has scored 14 goals and added 14 assists.
Zac Rinaldo, LW – London Knights
Acquired: 6th round, 178th overall, 2008
June 15th, 1990, 5’11, 180 lbs.
After a decent offensive display for an agitator in 2008-09 with two different teams, there might have been something special in the Flyers sixth round draft pick from 2008.
So far in 20 games this season with the London Knights, Rinaldo is keeping up with his pace for penalty minutes from the second half of last season. Offensively, though, he is nowhere near where he was last season. He only has four goals for seven total points in 20 games, but he is known for doing his damage with his fists, not on the scoreboard. He understands his job with the Knights and does it well. With six fights and 86 minutes in the box already this season, he is still doing his best to provide a spark for his team wherever and whenever he can.
Tyler Hostetter, D – Erie Otters
Acquired: Signed as a free agent, 2009
January 30th, 1991, 5’11, 195 lbs.
Hostetter, a Pennsylvania native, came into Flyers camp this summer as a free agent hoping to earn a contract. The defenseman was signed to an entry-level deal thanks mostly to his intensity on the ice. He showed he could compete with some of the other Flyers prospects.
Though Hostetter’s team, the Erie Otters, sit near the bottom of the Midwest Division in the OHL, the 18-year-old has been crucial to their team. With 14 points so far in 23 games, he leads all defensemen on the team in points and is -4 on a very minus team.
David Labrecque, C – Shawinigan Cataractes
Acquired: 6th round, 153rd overall, 2009
January 27th, 1990, 6’0, 178 lbs.
The Flyers drafted Labrecque this past June, hoping he would become a dominant offensive weapon at the NHL level. He proved he could score in the QMJHL, but in such an offensive league, he will not be proving much unless he takes it to the next level. So far this season he has remained consistent offensively, but has not been shown much improvement. In 21 games, the Flyers only non-professional center has scored five goals and 11 assists.
His defensively play has been suspect as well, which was one of the biggest concerns with Labrecque when he was drafted. Though he got a long look this summer during training camp, he needs to show much more if he plans on making the jump to the NHL level. It will take more than just consistent scoring in the QMJHL.