Best Of The Best: The Flyers First Team Prospects

By pbadmin

CENTER
SIMON GAGNE- If there is one position that the Philadelphia Flyers are a little short on as far as organizational depth is concerned, it would be the center position. And that is almost humorous because at the NHL level, it is difficult not to trip over a center as one walks to the First Union Center since the Flyers have about eight players that could play the pivot on most any NHL team.

The one sure fire future gem at the center spot for the Flyers would be the Quebec Ramparts Simon Gagne. Gagne is a very good skater but it is his hockey sense that has the faithful of the Delaware Valley excited about his pending debut as a pro. He should be invited to go to camp with the Canadian National Junior Team later in the fall which should only help Gagne hone his skills as the Flyers keep an eye on their top offensive prospect.

Tickets could go on sale for Gagne’s first pro game as soon as September of next year, but a cup of coffee with the big club after the 99-00 QMJHL season is finished is a more realistic timetable.

LEFT WING
Mike Maneluk- I know. I know. Maneluk is skating the preseason as Eric Lindros’ right wing on the Philadelphia Flyers top line. But the Flyers are reportedly looking for an established NHL top flight RWer and that should drop Maneluk back a couple of lines and into his normal left side position. And that is not too bad for a player that cost Philadelphia one dollar to pry him out of the Ottawa organization

Maneluk has great wheels and a nice pesky attitude. Unfortunately, he also is missing several things, namely NHL size and he has yet to show that he has the ability to be a player that can be as committed in the defensive zone as he is in the offensive one. A recent graduate of Billy Barber’s “Defense…what is that??” system with the AHL Philadelphia Phantoms, Maneluk will benefit from playing under Roger Neilson and he should collect a NHL size paycheck this year.

And about that dollar trade….was it an American buck or a Canadian one?? I hate to think that my team’s top RWer is worth .64 cents on the open market.

RIGHT WING
BRIAN WESENBERG- Wesenberg has looked real sharp in a couple of preseason games this fall and that vaults him to the top immediate prospect list on the starboard side. He has good size and his skating has improved by leaps and bounds since he waddled in from Anaheim a couple of years back. He has a nice nose for the net and his possesses that uncanny ability to draw penalties when the opportunity presents itself.

Brian’s rise to the top of this list, does not bode well for Paul Healey. Healey was said to be getting a long look at this training camp but Healey has been shuffled back to the Phantoms and his future may be brighter if he moves to another organization.

DEFENSE
JEFF LANK- Lank is another player that has opened eyes in camp this year. Jeff’s safe, unspectacular play and Roger Neilson’s system seem to be a marriage made in heaven. Lank seems to know his limitations and his solid positional play may give GM Bobby Clarke the courage to peddle a veteran defenseman to shore up other deficiencies on the big club. If Lank can show a little nasty streak before the exhibition season closes, he could be earning the fatter terms of that two-way contract he signed if Clarke makes some room for him on the NHL squad. DMITRI TERTYSHNY- What does the Philadelphia hockey world really know about Dmitri Tertyshny??

He is very fast. He is in fabulous shape. (His bodyfat percentage makes Rod Brind-Amour look chubby.) He has a nice offensive game. He is willing to eat pizza three times a day. (Pizza is the only thing he can order in English) And he is going to need a season in the AHL to acclimate himself to the North American game.

Tertyshny is truly an intriguing prospect. If he learns to play a stronger brand of man to man defense, one could see him quarterbacking the Flyers power play in about a year.

GOALTENDER
JM Pelletier- Pelletier gets the nod over the other “goalie of the future” in the system Brian Boucher because Pelletier seems to have more of a NHL starters attitude than the soft spoken Boucher. His confident demeanor is so refreshing in an organization full of guys that automatically mumble at the first sight of a microphone.

Pelletier must learn to curb his unorthodox style a little and stay on his feet a bit more but he should beat Boucher to the number one goalie spot now held by John Vanbiesbrouck. And if you don’t believe me, go ask JM himself….he’ll tell ya.

An in-depth Philadelphia prospect chart will be ready for Hockey’s Future on Monday.