In the recent update of the Philadelphia Flyers page, I reshuffled the deck when it came to the new Hockey’s Futures’ Flyers Prospect Top 10 List and boy- o-boy did many of you out there notice. The feedback was both swift and strong. Players like Jesse Boulerice and Brian Wesenberg would sleep much better at night if they knew the rabid backings they already have attained in the Delaware Valley. A fan inquiring about the omission of Paul Healey from the latest list even used the Hockey’s Futures’ Message Boards, a spot in the HF Newsletter that all hockeyheads should check out.
Momma didn’t raise no dummy and I quickly got the feeling that there was a need for more information on the players just sitting on the outside of the Top 10 List looking in. The Flyers are finding that having your top farm team play 300 yards from your home rink does wonders for fan interest in your younger players. It also speaks very favorably on the depth in the organization. Three years ago I would have had trouble coming up with a Top 7 List. The club’s future as far as drafted prospects go, while not great compared to the best drafting NHL clubs, is certainly showing signs of regeneration after cleaning out the cupboards to acquire Eric Lindros in 1992.
Now a little more info on the boys on the bubble….
1.Jesse Boulerice- Boulerice is the kind of player that the parent NHL club needs so badly. As a matter of fact, he is too much so. Jesse needs only to learn how to walk on the proper side of that thin line that seperates ten minute misconducts from solid team play to push for a spot on the big club. Jesse skates well and has a surprising skill level for a guy who has been tatooed a “goon” the Canadian press. The kid can really play the game but he has to limit the number of times he “loses it” to become a NHLer.
The Flyers need big bodies with big heart. NHL clubs are just running Lindros and Leclair without fear of retribution from the Flyers. Jesse is a team player and because of that, reminds some of Matthew Barnaby (Jesse throw ’em better) and Matthew Barnaby does not allow his teammates to be run by the opposition. Jesse can fill that same niche for the Flyers. And they really need it.
2.Brian Wesenberg- Another tough ommission from the Top 10 List. We were really high on Wesenberg coming into this year until he played a few exibition games with the big club. Brian needs to jack up his skating if he wants to play in the NHL, especially with the recent importance put on team speed in the NHL. He still has time to improve and has made great strides in his strides since coming over in a trade from the Duck’s system a few years back.
Current Flyer Dan McGillis is skating like a different player this season after attending a special power skating camp last summer. Maybe Brian can enroll next summer because he has everything else in his game. We love his size and tenacity. He also understands team hockey and has that uncanny ability to draw penalties. The kid just has to get his skating up to move into the upper half of the Top 10 list.
3.Andy Delmore- Delmore actually played a few games in November with the Flyers and looked decent. He is an offensive defenseman that needs to patch some holes in his defensive game. He also seems to be the same type of player as Mark Eaton and the club is not shy about stating how they feel about the younger Eaton. The Flyers are deep in defensemen and Delmore may be pushed towards the back of that line.
Andy needs to work on his defense down low to jump up the depth charts. He is in a tough spot because he offense is compared to Eaton’s and his defense to that of fellow prospects Ryan Bast and Mikhail Chernov. And with Jason Beckett, Markko Kauppinen and Ian Forbes on the way up, those depth charts will become that much harder to climb.
4.Paul Healey- Healey may have read the handwriting on the wall this past week when fellow Phantom Richard Park was called up to the Flyers to sub for Mikeal Renberg instead of Healey. This time last year, it would have been Paul trekking across the parking lot to the Flyer’s instead of Park.
Healey is carving himself out a pretty nice AHL career with the Phantoms but at the age of 24, his best chance to play in the NHL may lie with another organization. His solid AHL stats (30+ goals a year) say that the guy should be given a shot to play in the NHL but the Flyers don’t seem to be listening. We like his game.
Please forward any questions about the Flyers prospects to the Hockey’s Futures’ Message Boards or mail me directly at HotTubJAD@AOL.com