Flyers European prospects 2009-10 review

By Chris Shafer

Since defenseman Denis Bodrov has finally made his journey to North America in dramatic fashion after virtually cutting all ties with the KHL, the Flyers are slowly moving their European prospect pool  over. A few more could possibly make the journey to Adirondack this offseason.

And in an almost desperate search for depth at the goaltending position, Philadelphia is pressing hard on 21-year-old Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky from Novokuznetsk Metallurg of the KHL as well as 22-year-old Finnish goaltender Jussi Rynnäs from Ässät of the SM-Liiga.

They are also talking with Denis Bodrov’s brother, Evgeny, a center from Kazan Ak-Bars of the KHL and draft pick Mario Kempe, 21, who is now playing with Rögle BK of the SEL, in order to add depth to the forward position.

Andrei Popov, RW – Chelyabinsk Traktor (KHL)

6’0, 187 lbs.
Acquired: 7th round, 205th overall, 2006

It is more likely than ever that Popov finally makes the trip overseas this offseason to join the organization that drafted him in the seventh round back in 2006. There is absolutely no question that the Flyers are interested in him and may even have a contract waiting for him.

A lot of this interest began thanks to the incredible start that Popov had in his fourth straight season of KHL action. To say that he broke out offensively would be an understatement. Up until an injury, Popov was among the league leaders of the KHL while leading his own team offensively. When he returned, he got back into rhythm a little slower than he hoped and only managed to finish in third place on his team in scoring with 15 goals and 11 assists for 26 points in 50 games. He accomplished all of this on the third line at center, which is not his natural position.

Popov, should he join the Phantoms, will bring an immediate presence to their lineup. Currently the 21-year-old is participating in the Russian junior (MHL) postseason with Chelyabinsk Traktor’s affiliate. While he only managed an assist in four KHL playoff games this year, he has been absolutely dominant at the junior level. With 10 points in four games during the second round of the MHL playoffs, he was named the best forward of the round.

Simon Bertilsson, D – Brynäs IF (SEL)

6’0, 185 lbs.
Acquired: 3rd round, 87th overall, 2009

Though Bertilsson’s shoulder has not been 100 percent since early February, he was one of Brynäs’ most important skaters down the stretch. This after returning from other injuries that not only limited his season but destroyed his hopes of making Sweden‘s 2010 World Junior Championship roster.

His absence from the WJC is something that Bertilsson expects to rectify next year. He’s already been named to Sweden’s U19 team that will play three games between April 14th through 18th. That team is, in many ways, a preliminary preparation for the next WJC.

It was a slow year for Bertilsson’s production from the blueline thanks in part to missed games and a number of injuries. Even so, he was one of Brynäs’ top players even when only producing a goal and three assists in 32 regular season games.

Brynäs IF is expecting the 18-year-old Simon Bertilsson to return to their lineup next season. With four other defensemen expecting to leave from his blueline unit, he will be expected to carry a much greater load.

Joacim Eriksson, G – Leksand IF (Allsvenskan)
6’2, 187 lbs.
Acquried: 7th round, 196th overall, 2008

What’s next for the previously unknown seventh rounder who broke Ed Belfour’s franchise shutout record with Leksand IF? The 19-year-old Eriksson has all kinds of interest from Elitserien teams as well as the Flyers, but it seems that Philadelphia is not going to press the issue. While it is still possible he heads over to North America, the organization wants to be patient with him. This means he will probably be joining the SEL for the 2010-11 season.

After a record-breaking season with Leksand IF of the Allsvenskan including eight shutouts, a 2.40 goals-against-average, and a .926 save percentage in 38 games, Eriksson has only come to dominate the Kvalserien tournament for qualification to the Elitserien next season. In six games he has a 2.33 goals-against-average and a .922 save percentage. Needless to say, there are quite a few interested parties in Eriksson’s development.

Jakub Kovar, G – Ceske Budejovice HC (Czech)
6’0, 176 lbs.
Acquried: 4th round, 109th overall, 2006

The 21-year-old Kovar’s career is in limbo right now. While his numbers went up slightly, he played in fewer games as Roman Turek remained the starter for Ceske Budejovice. In 17 games, he earned a 2.46 goals-against-average and a .915 save percentage.

If there is good news for Kovar, it is that he is no longer stuck behind Turek. However, there is also bad news. Ceské Budejovice did not extend his contract, making him a free agent. It is not known if the Flyers are going to try to sign him, but at this time, it seems that they have other interests to pursue in net.