The following is a listing of statistics and updated reports
on Philadelphia Flyers prospects still alive in their respective playoffs through Thursday, April 29. Skaters are listed alphabetically on a level-by-level basis. Goaltenders
are listed separately at the bottom of this page.
For additional information on these and all other players
in the Flyers farm system (including additional stats, transactions, awards,
etc.), consult the Flyers Weekly Prospect Statistical
Note: Phantoms defenseman Les Borsheim turned 25 on
Tuesday (4/27/04) and, thus, no longer qualifies for prospect status per Hockey’s Future criteria.
Joni Pitkanen, Defenseman
Pitkanen has had his fair share of ups-and-downs in his
first Stanley Cup Playoff stint. Overall, however, the rookie defenseman
has played reasonably well, while appearing in all eight of the Flyers’
postseason games thus far. He continues to see plenty of action on the power
play, and has seen his average ice time jump from 11:56 in the quarterfinals
against the New Jersey Devils to 15:06 in the semifinals against the Maple
Leafs. Of course, his increased responsibilities have to do mainly with
the fact that the Flyers’ defensive unit has been in a state of flux. Kim
Johnsson will be returning to the lineup for Game 4 tonight, which will
allow Sami Kapanen to ease back into his usual forward position. This,
in turn, should restore some sense of the unit back to some sense of normalcy.
It will be interesting to see what changes and adjustments head coach Ken
Hitchcock makes to the blueline corps. Pitkanen has been paired mostly
with veteran Mattias Timander of late. The duo has been shaky in the last
two games against Toronto, and currently boasts a team-high minus-7 combined
Patrick Sharp, Center
Like Pitkanen, Sharp has struggled some in his first postseason
at the NHL level. The former University of Vermont standout has appeared
in seven of eight games for the team, serving as the fourth line center.
Sharp has been skating with Branko Radivojevic and one of Donald Brashear,
Radovan Somik or Todd Fedoruk during the Toronto series. Whatever the combination,
however, the line has had a difficult time dealing with the Maple Leafs’
physically aggressive forwards. Presently, Sharp is tied with three other
players for second-worst on the team with a minus-3 rating. He has averaged
8:06 per game in the playoffs, down slightly from 9:56 in the regular season.
Sharp is generally known as a sound, smart two-way player. He will get
a chance to turn things around tonight, as Hitchcock has shown no inclination
of making a major change to his checking line units.
PHILADELPHIA PHANTOMS (AHL)
Calder Cup Playoff Semifinals (vs. Norfolk Admirals)
Game 1 – Phantoms 1, Admirals 2
Game 2 – Admirals 2, Phantoms 1 (OT)
Game 3 – Phantoms 3, Admirals 1
Game 4 – Phantoms 2, Admirals 1 (3
Game 5 – Tonight at Norfolk
Game 6* – Tomorrow at Philadelphia
Game 7* – Monday at Philadelphia
Phantoms lead best-of-seven series, 3-1
* = if necessary
B.J. Abel, Center
Abel scored the biggest goal of his young career on Wednesday
night. His triple overtime tally at Norfolk gave the Phantoms a 2-1 win
in Game 4 and a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven semifinal series. Aside from
his shining moment, the rookie pivot has done a fine job as a checking
line player against the Admirals. He is currently tied for second on the
team in playoff scoring, and has played very well defensively. Abel proved
himself to be a steady, consistent performer during the regular season.
Still, his strong performance to this point in the postseason has been
a pleasant surprise for the organization.
Jeff Carter, Center
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Carter, the top prospect in the Flyers’ farm system, has
yet to record a point since signing an amateur try-out contract with the
Phantoms right before the start of the playoffs. Still, the talent and
skill level of the 19-year-old center has been evident in each of his four
games for the team. His strong, effortless skating style, playmaking ability
and work ethic have impressed head coach John Stevens and his staff. Stevens
has used Carter mostly on checking lines and on the powerplay to this point,
pairing him with veteran forward P.J. Stock. The London, Ontario native
has responded with spirited play, helping out defensively and getting his
nose dirty when the situation has called for it. Carter’s biggest weakness
right now is simply a lack of experience. On some shifts he looks like
the most talented player on the ice. On others, he looks a bit lost and
unsure of himself and his assignments. This is to be expected of a player
his age, however. The Calder Cup Playoffs are a big jump from the Ontario
Hockey League in terms of style, pace, intensity and level of competition.
Carter still has a ways to go, but he has adjusted and fit in very nicely
to this point.
Ben Eager, Left wing
Eager has been a scratch in each of the Phantoms’ first
four playoff games, though it is uncertain at this point as to why. The
physical power forward did not travel with the team to Norfolk for Games
3, 4 and 5, fueling speculation that he is suffering from some sort of
undisclosed injury. On one hand, that scenario makes sense. Eager is one
of the more promising young forwards in the Flyers system, and holding
him out of important playoff games for any reason other than injury would
seem counterproductive to his development. On the other hand, the Phantoms
are a team loaded with forward talent, and the coach staff may simply feel
that it is in both the team’s and Eager’s best interest to have the 20-year-old
sit and learn from the press box for the time being. It will be interesting
to see what happens when the team returns to Philadelphia.
Brett Engelhardt, Center/Right wing
Engelhardt appeared in only two regular season games with
the Phantoms after signing an amateur try-out contract on March 22nd. He
was a healthy scratch for Games 1 and 2 against Norfolk, then was sent
home and removed from the team’s postseason roster. The hard-working forward’s
future with the Flyers organization is uncertain, but appears to be in
Joey Hope, Defenseman
In a strange way, Hope benefited from the hand injury
suffered by Flyers star defenseman Kim Johnsson. Because Johnsson was unavailable
for the team’s Game 3 at Toronto on Wednesday, Dennis Seidenberg did not
travel with the Phantoms for Games 3, 4 and 5 in Norfolk, just in case
the NHL team would need his services. Hope, a scratch in each of the Phantoms’
first two playoff games, was given the opportunity to play, and he as responded.
He notched an assist in Game 3 and put in a solid, all-around effort in
Game 4. He will stay in the lineup at least until the team returns to Philadelphia.
Randy Jones, Defenseman
Jones was reassigned to the Phantoms last Wednesday, just
in time for the start of the team’s semifinal series against Norfolk. He
had been with the Flyers as an injury insurance policy for the previous
week, but did not see any postseason action for the NHL team. As was the
case during the regular season, the Quispamsis, New Brunswick native has
been one of the Phantoms’ steadier performers on the blueline in the playoffs.
He has formed a smooth, effective defensive pairing with Freddy Meyer through
four games, and has continued to rack up loads of icetime in all situations.
Jones is currently tied with John Slaney for the team lead in scoring among
defensemen and Ian MacNeil for the team lead in assists in the second season.
James Laux, Defenseman
Laux has been a healthy scratch for each of the Phantoms’
first four postseason games. There was some speculation that he would be
inserted into the lineup with Dennis Seidenberg staying in Philadelphia
while the Phantoms traveled to Norfolk for Games 3, 4 and 5, but Joey
Hope (a scratch for the first two games) got the call instead. The
Cherry Hill, New Jersey native continues to practice hard and will be ready
to play if he gets the chance.
Freddy Meyer, Defenseman
Yet another rookie defenseman making waves for the Phantoms
in the postseason, Meyer has been very effective in each of the team’s
four playoff games thus far. The former Boston University standout has
played well alongside defensive counterpart Randy Jones. He has provided
the team with his usual brand of all-around play, contributing in all three
zones. Meyer, who found the back of the net 14 times during the regular
season, has yet to record his first professional playoff goal. However,
he does lead all Phantoms defensemen and ranks second on the team in shots
with 16 (forward Kirby Law has 20).
Stefan Ruzicka, Right wing
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Ruzicka enjoyed a successful professional playoff debut
for the Phantoms, scoring a powerplay goal that stood up as the contest-winner
in Game 1 against Norfolk last Wednesday. The Slovakian-born rookie was
part of an effective forward line in that contest, lining up alongside
fellow 19-year-old Jeff Carter and veteran P.J. Stock. The trio stayed
together in Game 2, but was not nearly as solid. Head coach John Stevens
decided to scratch Ruzicka for the next two games in Norfolk. The mega-talented
right wing still has a lot of learning to do, especially when it comes
to playing defense and keeping his emotions in check. His talents speak
for themselves, however, as just about everyone who watched him play in
the two games in Philadelphia gave rave reviews about his skill level and
future potential. Ruzicka is unlikely to get back into the lineup for tonight’s
Game 5, considering that Stevens will probably not want to tinker with
his lineup after winning the first two games at Norfolk.
Dennis Seidenberg, Defenseman
Seidenberg returned to action for the series against Norfolk
after missing the final 42 games of the regular season with a broken leg.
The German-born rearguard was understandably rusty in Games 1 and 2, but
played well nonetheless. He was paired with the very steady Wade Skolney
in both games. Seidenberg did not travel with the team to Norfolk for Games
3, 4 and 5. He stayed in Philadelphia on the off-chance the Kim Johnsson-less
Flyers would need him in Game 3 of their playoff semifinal series against
Toronto. With Johnsson returning to the lineup and Sami Kapanen now a proven
defensive fill-in, Seidenberg’s immediate future looks to be with the Phantoms.
Expect to see him back in the team’s lineup soon.
Wade Skolney, Defenseman
Skolney has been his usual, quietly effective self in
the playoffs thus far. He has not been very noticeable against Norfolk,
which is probably about the highest compliment that can be paid to the
stay-at-home rearguard’s game. The rugged defender missed a handful of
games toward the end of the regular season while recovering from an assortment
of nagging injuries. Perhaps more than any other Phantom, he benefited
from the team’s 10 day layoff between the end of the regular season and
the start of the semifinal series.
Stephen Wood, Defenseman
Like James Laux, Wood has been a scratch in each of the
Phantoms’ first four postseason games. A rookie rearguard who joined the
team late in the regular season, he is very inexperienced and unlikely
to see any time this postseason unless injury befells the team’s defensive
unit. The organization is keen on the former Providence standout’s ability,
and plans to make him a big part of the team next season. For now, however,
his job is to watch and learn from the press box.
CANADIAN MAJOR JUNIOR
Rosario Ruggeri, Defenseman
Ruggeri saw his major junior career come to an end this
past week, when his Chicoutimi Sagueneens were eliminated by the Gatineau
Olympiques in the semifinals of the QMJHL playoffs, four games to two.
The aggressive rearguard has reportedly already agreed to terms on a professional
contract with the Flyers, but no public announcement has been made. At
any rate, Ruggeri is expected to begin his pro career next season with
the Phantoms. As for the series against the Olympiques, Ruggeri had his
struggles. He finished pointless in six games with a minus-5 rating. Only
one player on the Chicoutimi roster recorded a plus rating against Gatineau,
which ended up with a 30-12 scoring advantage for the series. Heading into
the semifinals, Ruggeri had four points (two goals, two assists), 16 PIMs
and a plus-one rating in 12 playoff games.
Bernd Bruckler, Goaltender
Bruckler had a huge season with the University of Wisconsin
Badgers, and is presently representing his native Austria at the World
Championships in the Czech Republic. The talented young netminder has not
seen any action, and it is doubtful that he will at this point. He is presently
number three on the team’s depth chart, behind starter Reinhard Divas and
second-stringer Claus Dalpiaz. Still, he is gaining invaluable international
experience just by being a part of one of the biggest, most competitive
annual tournaments on the hockey calendar. Team Austria finished the preliminary
round with a 1-0-2 record, and is currently 0-1-2 in the qualifying round.
The team is led by University of Minnesota standout and Buffalo Sabre draftee
Tomas Vanek, who has seven points (two goals, five assists) in just four
games thus far.
Antero Niittymaki, Goaltender
* Was credited with shorthanded
empty-net overtime goal at Hershey on April 11th
* Recorded an assist vs. Norfolk on 4/21/04
Niittymaki has been brilliant in the playoffs thus far
for the Phantoms. The Finnish-born netminder is coming off the best game
of his two-season stint with the team, a 49-save performance in a 2-1,
triple overtime win over the Norfolk Admirals in Game 4. His only loss
in the series to this point was a 2-1 overtime decision in Game 2. Niittymaki
has exhibited great poise and composure amid the pressures of his very
first playoff series in North America. He continues to get better and better,
and is quickly becoming recognized as one of the top young goaltenders
in the American Hockey League. Tonight, he will get the chance to further
enhance his reputation, as the Phantoms have the opportunity to advance
to the second round with a Game 5 victory.
David Tremblay, Goaltender
Thanks in large part to Tremblay’s terrific play, the
Gatineau Olympiques are headed to the QMJHL finals. The team will face
the Moncton Wildcats in a best-of-seven series for the President’s Cup
beginning tonight, with the winner going on to represent the circuit in
the Memorial Cup Tournament. The Olympiques advanced to the finals on the
strength of Tremblay’s memorable 25-save performance in a 3-2 win over
the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in Game 6 of the league semifinals on Monday
night. The first-year starter was sensational in the series, going 4-2
with one shutout, a 2.10 goals against average and a .890 save percentage.
He out-dueled Edmonton Oilers prospect Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, who went
2-4 with a 4.88 GAA and .872 save percentage.
AHL – American Hockey League
ECHL – (The former East Coast Hockey
HE – Hockey East (NCAA)
IIHF – International Ice Hockey Federation
NCAA – NCAA Frozen Four Tournament
OHL – Ontario Hockey League
QMJHL – Quebec Major Junior Hockey
WCHA – Western Collegiate Hockey Association
WJC – World Junior Championships