Philadelphia Flyers prospects thin yet competitive at AHL level

By Jashvina Shah
Photo: Petr Straka's 17 goals are already three better than the 14 he had for the Lehigh Valley Flyers in 2015-16. (Courtesy of Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire)

Photo: Petr Straka’s 17 goals are already three better than the 14 he had for the Lehigh Valley Flyers in 2015-16. (Courtesy of Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire)

 

 

The Philadelphia Flyers AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley are in the middle of their division this year, and have seen some of its key players skate at the professional level. Meanwhile, other top Flyers prospects are competing in the CHL. That means the Phantoms don’t have the same talent they’ve had in the past.

Still, some solid prospects have remained in Lehigh Valley, including Nick Cousins, Robert Hagg and Mark Alt. The Phantoms also have some rookies, including Samuel Morin.

AHL

Anthony Stolarz, G, 21

Stolarz is the team’s only goaltending prospect playing professional hockey. He’s in his second season with the Lehigh Valley phantoms. He was called up briefly by the Flyers, but didn’t play in any NHL games. The biggest difference between this year and last year is that Stolarz is the team’s starter. Through 25 games, the goaltender has a team-high .920 save percentage. Stolarz finally seems to be getting the playing time he needs to develop.

Michael Parks, RW, 23

Parks is in his first year of professional hockey, but has only played in three games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He has an assist so far. Last season, Parks concluded a four-year career at North Dakota with 92 points. At the collegiate level, Parks was known for his speed, but was lacking in size.

Cole Bardreau, RW, 22

Bardreau signed a contract with Philadelphia’s organization after graduating from Cornell. As a senior with the Big Red, Bardreau scored a career-high 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) over 30 games. He joined the Phantoms after his season ended, appearing in 15 games and netting two points. Through 17 games this year, Bardreau has six points. The U.S. NTDP alum isn’t expected to score, so should fill more of a defensive forward role.

Petr Straka RW, 23

Straka is in his third season with the Phantoms, and he’s on pace to shatter his previous career high of 27 points, as he already has 26 through 38 games this year. After making noticeable improvements over his time in Lehigh Valley, he is second on the team in scoring, and his 17 goals are second in the AHL. Straka was expected to be a lower-line forward or a just an emergency call up, but he could end up having a bigger impact on Philadelphia’s organization.

Brandon Alderson, RW, 23

Alderson is in his third season in professional hockey. He played in 71 games with the Phantoms during his first season, but spent the past year split between the AHL and the ECHL. It appears as though Alderson will be a career minor leaguer. This season, Alderson has four points in five games with the Reading Royals. In 18 games with the Phantoms, Alderson had one assist.

Taylor Leier, LW, 21

Leier is Philadelphia’s top left wing prospect. The 21-year-old is in his second season of professional hockey. After putting up 31 points last season, Leier has 19 points through 34 games this season. The forward also spent size games in the NHL, where he was scoreless for the Flyers. Leier has adjusted to the professional level, and was actually a top-line forward for the Phantoms before suffering an injury last year.

Danick Martel, LW, 21

Martel was signed in March 2015 and played in five games. This year, Martel has 19 points in 31 games—making him one of the team’s top scorers. The forward was a scorer at the QMJHL level, where he recorded 102 points over 64 games his last year. Martel’s 5-foot-8 frame is a concern, but he’s been productive for the Phantoms so far.

Tyrell Goulbourne, LW, 21

Goulbourne has been an interesting story for the Flyers. Over his time with the Kelowna Rockets, he was considered a grinder with a gritty aspect of his game. There weren’t many expectations for Goulbourne, though, who many assumed was just a fighter. But the forward signed an entry-level deal with the Flyers after his time in the WHL. He might not be the highest-scoring Phantom with just 13 points in 39 games, but there are parts of his offensive game to like.

Nick Cousins, C, 22

Cousins has quickly become on of Philadelphia’s go-to callups. And with Scott Laughton’s graduation to the pro ranks, Cousins is the best center left in the system. Cousins has also been producing more offensively than what was expected, and led the Phantoms last year with 56 points. This season he has 31 points through 31 games. He was also called up to the Flyers and played four games. During his time with the Flyers, Cousins served as the fourth-line center, which will most likely be his role if he joins the team full time.

Samuel Morin, D, 20

Morin is one of two top defensive prospects playing at the professional level. The other is Shayne Gostisbehere, who’s been a mainstay with the Flyers. Unlike his fellow defensive prospects, Morin is actually a defensive defenseman. He’s a smart player as well, but isn’t looked at to add much offense. Morin is in his first season of professional hockey, and has five points through 28 games.

Mark Alt, D, 24

Alt is now in his third full season with the Phantoms. He’s played in almost every game, netting 12 points through 38 contests. Alt has appeared as a call up for the Flyers in the past, but hasn’t yet this season. There are many talented blueliners in the Flyers system, but he is one of the team’s higher-rated defensive prospects and has been playing better than expected at the professional level.

Robert Hagg, D, 20

Hagg is in his second professional season with the Phantoms, making this his second year playing the North American game. Hagg rounds out the group of the team’s top defensive prospects but still needs to develop in the AHL. Last year especially, the defenseman struggled with consistency. This year, Hagg has four points in 30 games for the Phantoms.

Christian Marti, D, 22

The Flyers signed Marti in May, but he’s only played in six games for the Phantoms. He missed playing time with a shoulder injury, returning to the team in early November.

ECHL

Jesper Pettersson, D, 21

Pettersson is in his second professional season. After playing in 51 games with the Phantoms last year, Petterson joined the team to start the season. This season he’s spent time in both minor leagues. Pettersson is a gritty defenseman, but his 5-foot-9 frame has been a concern.

Maxim Lamarche, D, 23

Lamarche has spent most of this season in the ECHL, where he’s playing in 21 games. The defenseman has spent much of his time over the past three years in the ECHL and appears to be a career minor leaguer. He has three points in ten AHL appearances this year.

Derek Mathers, RW, 22

Derek Mathers has spent much of his professional hockey career playing between the AHL and the ECHL. He is currently in the ECHL, and has two points in 19 games. He also appeared in three games with the Phantoms this year.

Best-performing Non-junior Prospects

Merrick Madsen has been one of Philadelphia’s best performing prospects so far this year. Through seven starts for Harvard, Madsen has a .940 save percentage and has four shutouts. Fellow collegiate hockey player Mark Friedman is Bowling Green’s top-scoring defenseman with 12 points through 19 games.

Both Laughton and Gostisbehere have stuck with the Flyers this year. Laughton has 12 points through 41 games, while Gostisbehere has 16 points in 23 games.

Player of the Month: Shayne Gostisbehere

Shayne Gostisbehere - Philadelphia FlyersAfter starting the season with the Phantoms, Gostisbehere was called up in the middle of November. He hasn’t been sent down since. The defenseman is making an impact for the Flyers offensively, and has seven goals. Three of those tallies have been in overtime.