Rejean Beauchemin, G – Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Height: 6’2, Weight: 186 lbs., DOB: May 3, 1985
The Prince Albert Raiders backstop was one of three Flyers prospects to win a gold medal at the World Junior championship in North Dakota, serving as the team’s back-up goaltender. Beauchemin appeared in one game in the tournament, facing little action in Canada’s 9-0 shutout of Germany in the preliminary round. Things have been less rosy in the WHL, as the Raiders have had a mediocre season thus far, sitting in the lower half of the Western Hockey League’s standings this season. Beauchemin’s numbers have been impressive, as he and fellow netminder Alex Archibald have not had much offensive assistance. His capability to steal games (three shutouts) may be necessary if the team’s offense does not come around.
Frédérik Cabana, F – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Height: 6’0, Weight: 187 lbs., DOB: May 16, 1986
Cabana’s offensive game has not come around as well as was hoped in this his third season in the QMJHL – he is currently forced into playing a defensive role, playing for an offensively-deep Halifax squad – but as a result, Cabana has continued to be one of the better defensive forwards in the league. One of the league’s true antagonists, Cabana has a knack of getting under the skin of the opposition. His in-your-face play garnered him national headlines, after he was suspended for eight games after a questionable hit on league phenom Sidney Crosby back in October.
Jeff Carter, F – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Height: 6’3, Weight: 193 lbs., DOB: January 1, 1985
The promising young centerman for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds returns to his OHL squad after playing a key role for Canada’s gold medal-winning World Junior squad in Grand Forks, North Dakota. A first round pick of the Flyers in 2003, Carter led Canada with seven goals, ten points – and also tied Canada’s career goals record with 12. Despite missing several games thanks to the tournament, the two-way forward still leads the Greyhounds in scoring. His contributions to the line-up upon his return will be an integral factor as to whether or not the Greyhounds can grab the top spot in the Ontario Hockey League’s West Division.
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Triston Grant, F – Vancouver Giants (WHL)
Height: 6’2, Weight: 220 lbs., DOB: February 2, 1984
The physical power forward currently serves as one of the assistant captains on the Vancouver Giants squad, bringing physical play and leadership to the table. With his increased role with the Giants, Grant has been counted on – when he is not in the penalty box – to play in all situations. His offensive game has increased thus far this season as well, as he has already nearly doubled his career goal total from his past four seasons, at the midway point of the WHL season. The 2004 ninth round pick currently sits third in the WHL in penalty minutes.
Martin Houle, G – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
Height: 5’11, Weight: 175 lbs., DOB: February 12, 1985
Houle has embraced the starting role in Cape Breton this season, after playing second fiddle to Marc-André Fleury for the past two seasons. Despite not having a very talented team in front of him, Houle has helped lead the Screaming Eagles to the middle of the standings in the QMJHL, despite a bleak outlook at the start of the season. He has been a workhorse this season, starting all but six games, whilst putting up very respectable numbers. Cape Breton’s playoff success, to a large extent, will depend upon how much Houle has left in the tank at the end of the regular season.
David Laliberté, F – Prince Edward Island Rocket (QMJHL)
Height: 6’1, Weight: 198 lbs., DOB: March 17, 1986
It took the Flyers fourth round pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft half a season to top his career high in goals in a season (his previous career high had been 21). Laliberté had been on a tear before going down with a back injury shortly before the Christmas break, putting up six goals in the five games prior to his injury. It will be interesting to see if the PEI sniper will be able to regain his form when he returns to the line-up in the next week or two, given that the Rocket made several moves at the trade deadline, in preparation for next season.
Gino Pisellini, F – Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Height: 6’2, Weight: 205 lbs., DOB: August 5, 1986
The 18-year-old American served multiple uses for the Whalers last season. In his rookie season, he notched a very respectable 30 points. This performance was a key factor in the Flyers taking a chance on the native of Illinois in the fifth round of the 2004 Entry Draft. Also playing an important role in his selection was the very respectable fight card he compiled in his rookie season. Touted as one of the better up-and-coming enforcers in the OHL, and now a year older (though still only 18), Pisellini is well on his way to becoming one of the meaner, feared wingers in the OHL, and will look to conjure up images of the Broad Street Bullies era in Philadelphia once again.
Mike Richards, F – Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Height: 6’0, Weight: 192 lbs., DOB: February 11, 1985
Richards returns to Kitchener from Grand Forks after captaining the gold medal-winning Canadian squad at the World Junior Hockey Championships. Richards amassed one goal and four assists during the tournament, but his value to the team was greater than statistics indicate. Showcasing great vision in the offensive zone, and playing with a “leadership by example” mantra on the ice by regularly sacrificing his body, Richards has emerged as one of the better two-way players in the CHL. The 2003 first rounder’s return to the talent-laden Rangers will prove crucial to the team in its stretch run.
Alexandre Picard, D – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Height: 6’2, Weight: 222 lbs., DOB: July 5, 1985
Picard has blossomed into one of the better offensive defensemen in the league, whilst also boasting a greatly improved physical game. Picard has always had size, but in the last twelve months, he has begun to use that size more effectively, punishing those forwards who choose to try to get around him with the puck. Picard’s mean play was an integral role in leading to him getting an invite to the World Junior selection camp – he was the only non-returning player from the QMJHL to be invited to the camp.
Stefan Ruzicka, F – Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Height: 6’0, Weight: 205 lbs., DOB: February 17, 1985
The Slovakian import has been tearing up the score-sheet for the Attack in his second full season in the OHL. Ruzicka is on pace to top last year’s impressive offensive numbers (he notched 34 goals and 38 assists in 62 games in 2003-04). The offensive left-winger (chosen by the Flyers in the third round of the 2003 Entry Draft) is currently tied for the team lead in goals, in spite of missing several games representing his country at the World Junior championship. For Slovakia, Ruzicka picked up three goals – all scored in a single game – and three assists in six games.
Ladislav Scurko, F – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Height: 6’0, Weight: 198 lbs., DOB: April 4, 1986
Scurko was a teammate of Ruzicka’s for Slovakia at the World Junior championship, though his tournament was less impressive than his OHL counterpart. The hard working forward did not pick up any points in the six game tournament. However, in his first season in the CHL since coming across the Atlantic from his hometown team, Spisska Nova Ves, Scurko has not embarrassed himself, as he currently sits second in WHL rookie scoring with 29 points in 34 games. He is currently in the midst of a seven game point streak.
David Tremblay, G – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
Height: 6’2, Weight: 192 lbs., DOB: August 16, 1985
For the second straight season, Tremblay is the number one goaltender for the defending QMJHL champions. He led Gatineau to within one win of the Memorial Cup last season. At the start of the season, it appeared unlikely that the Olympiques would undertake a similar run for the third straight season. Despite playing behind a depleted line-up, the butterfly netminder has helped carry the Olympiques to the top of the West Division. He will have to keep himself focused through the remainder of the season, as unlike last season, there is not another solid netminder pushing Tremblay for ice time.
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