Flyers NCAA prospect update

By Nick Lowman

The Philadelphia Flyers currently have 11 prospects playing in the NCAA this season, which includes six forwards, four defensemen and one goalie.

James vanRiemsdyk, LW

University of New Hampshire
Drafted 2007 1st round (2nd overall)

After being selected second overall in the 2007 NHL entry draft, vanRiemsdyk has been nothing short of expectations. In 25 contests this season, the freshman has 11 goals and 14 assists with an impressive +9 rating for the third-ranked Wildcats.  He is tied for sixth among rookies nationwide in points per game.  His company at that slot includes Kyle Turris (PHO), who was drafted just behind vanRiemsdyk last June.

vanRiemsdyk recently garnered Hockey East Rookie of the Month honors for the month of January after tallying four goals and three assists in five games.  New Hampshire has a 17- 4- 2 record, and its postseason prospects look good.

A power forward, vanRiemsdyk is considered to be a complete talent. He handles the puck well at both ends of the rink, giving him the ability to play in any situation.

A consistent threat offensively with a quick release, vanRiemsdyk still has a ways to go in development before making the jump to the pros. He’s more mature physically than most players his age though.

Jonathan Rheault, C

Providence University
Drafted 2006 5th round (145th overall)

Playing in his final year for the Friars, Rheault has had an extraordinary college career, receiving many accolades. In 30 games this year, Rheault has a team-high 28 points, netting a personal best 17 goals. Able to play in any situation, the co-captain has buried a couple of overtime winning goals as well as short-handed goals. His eye-opening 155 shots on goal leads all Friars and is 66 shots ahead of teammate Pierce Norton, who has 89.

Rheault is the complete package in terms of overall ability. He has electrifying speed and draws a lot of attention that opens the ice up for his teammates. His laser beam of a shot and willingness to drive to the net hard make him a serious threat inside the blueline. Defensively, Rheault can kill penalties as well as anyone.

After four seasons at the college level, Rheault has evolved into a complete player and could potentially turn out to be a diamond in the rough for the Flyers.

Jon Kalinski, LW

Minnesota State University
Drafted 2007 6th round (152nd overall)

Getting under the skin of his opponents is what Kalinski does best. Not only does he lead his team in penalties, the native from Lacorey, Alberta also leads his team in short-handed tallies with two and is tied for first with three game-winning goals. Known more for his penalty kill role, the junior forward has also contributed on the power play by chipping in three goals.  Overall, he has 13 points in 32 games, eight of them goals.

Noted for being a good two-way forward, Kalinski has shown flashes of being a clutch goal scorer. His relentless pursuit of the puck and good wheels make him a dangerous threat on the penalty kill. He has the ability to frustrate the opponents’ best players at one end of the rink while using his physical play and quickness on offense.

As far as weaknesses go, Kalinski does lack strength. He can be knocked off the puck rather easily and has shown at times stretches of inconsistent play. A true team player, the junior forward is certainly not a lock to make the NHL at this point.


Andreas Nodl, RW

St. Cloud State University
Drafted 2006 2nd round (39th overall)

After a standout rookie season at St. Cloud State, Nodl is proving to be a real threat in the WCHA. The sophomore from Vienna, Austria has recorded 39 points (17 goals and 22 assists) in 32 games this season. An offensive specialist, Nodl is currently second in points on his team.

Nodl is responsible at both ends of the ice and has the awareness to slow the game down when needed. Lethal in the attack zone, Nodl sees the ice as good as anyone in college hockey and will use his speed to generate scoring chances. His shooting skills are top-notch, as he owns a quick and accurate shot.

As Nodl continues his development in the college ranks, he could get an opportunity to earn himself a contract after his senior year. His progression is key, as he has become better defensively, being more physical and winning the battles for puck possession.

Rob Bellamy, RW

University of Maine
Drafted 2004 3rd round (92nd overall)

In an unusual rebuilding year for the Maine Black Bears, co-captain Rob Bellamy has been the heart and soul of the team. He ranks third on the team with 16 points, scoring four goals and 12 assists. A bruiser, he leads the squad with 44 penalty minutes, including the team’s only two majors. With a new-look team, it’s been a tough adjustment this year as his -10 rating is among the worst on the roster.

Bellamy is a hard-nosed player who brings intensity to every shift. He has good speed and can deliver momentum-changing body checks that fire up the crowd. The senior forward plays with discipline and tends to find himself in the right position to generate scoring opportunities. Strong on his feet, Bellamy is very good at doing all the little things such as winning one-on-one battles in the corner and blocking shots.

Bellamy fits the mold of the Flyers organization with his rugged play and toughness. Although a fierce competitor, he still needs to work on honing his stickhandling skills and improving the velocity and accuracy of his shot.

Michael Ratchuk, D

Michigan State University
Drafted 2006 2nd round (42nd overall)

Ratchuk is currently playing in his second year at Michigan State and is once again delivering for the Spartans. He ranks first on the team in scoring among defensemen with 22 points (6 goals and 16 assists) and is third on the roster with 12 power-play points (3 goals and 9 assists). His +2 isn’t all that bad considering the inconsistent season Michigan State is having.

An offensive defenseman, Ratchuk has great skating ability and blazing speed. The sophomore from Buffalo, New York is known for leading the rush and is highly competent while skating with the puck through the neutral zone and into the opposing zone to set up the offense and creating scoring opportunities. He likes to play a fast-paced game and moves the puck out of his zone very quickly.

Although not a physical defenseman, he plays strongly in front of the net and will not back down if challenged. At 5’11 and 180 pounds, Ratchuk will have to work on his strength conditioning before making the transition to the pro level.

Chris Zarb, D

Ferris State University
Drafted 2004 5th round (144th overall)

Playing in his third year at Ferris State, Zarb is having a somewhat lackluster year. In only 18 games played this season, he’s posted one goal and three assists. A year in which Zarb was expected to be one of top defensemen on the power-play unit, the blueliner has struggled to take advantage of the opportunity.

At 6’4, 204 pounds, Zarb has excellent size, sees the ice well and can make the long accurate outlet pass. Known for being more of an offensive-minded defenseman, he is a good puck handler and will periodically jump up into the rush. He possesses a heavy, accurate shot that makes him a threat at the blueline.

Zarb will have to continue to work on improving his strength and conditioning as his physical play lacks what is needed to compete at the next level.  With his frame, he doesn’t throw his weight around as much as he should.

R.J. Anderson, D

University of Minnesota
Drafted 2004 4th round (101st overall)

In his third season as a Golden Gopher, Anderson has been very consistent on the Minnesota blueline. The junior from Lino Lakes, Minnesota, is currently tied for sixth on the team in points (5 goals, 7 assists) and is second on the roster with a +5.

Anderson continues to be one of Minnesota’s top defensemen, capable of logging a ton of minutes. The reliable blueliner moves the puck extremely well and is solid transitionally, making the accurate breakout pass look easy. His ability to see the ice well along with his quick puckhandling skills make him a threat on the power play.

With a hard accurate shot and good hockey sense, Anderson does a lot of things well. But like most young players in college, he’ll need to work on improving his strength and conditioning before moving on to the professional level.

Travis Gawryletz, D

University of Minnesota Duluth
Drafted 2004 8th round (253rd overall)

Playing in his final year for the Bulldogs, Gawryletz has been rock steady on the defensive end. Although the co-captain has only a goal and four assists this season, his play the last few weeks has been widely acclaimed. Gawryletz scored his first goal of the season in the Wisconsin series on Feb. 1 and helped set up the game winner the next night. The senior has been dealing with a nagging groin injury all season and continues to play and provide leadership as the Bulldogs look to close out the regular season on a positive note.

The native of Trail, British Columbia is very cautious with the puck and always looks to make the safe play. He is excellent in pressure situations, always showing patience. Gawryletz puts himself in position to make the game easier to defend. He is excellent on the penalty kill and will sacrifice his body to block shots.

Gawryletz is a proven warrior on the blueline and although he has great hockey sense, he is not considered a physical force. He doesn’t use 6’2 frame to his advantage and will often play too safe defensively, not showing much aggressiveness. With hard work and consistent improvement, he has the potential to be a solid defenseman at the next level.

Brad Phillips, G

University of Notre Dame
Drafted 2007 7th round (182nd overall)

Phillips has seen limited playing time during his rookie season, but has posted very impressive numbers for a freshman goaltender. In his five games for the Fighting Irish, Phillips has a 4-1-0 record with a 1.53 GAA, a .923 save percentage and one shutout.

At 6’2, 171 pounds, Phillips is a butterfly goalie who uses his size to his advantage. As he continues to develop and mature at the collegiate level, he has to work on being more patient. Phillips has the tendency to drop to his knees early to protect the lower part of the goal. With more experience, Phillips has the potential to be a very good prospect for the Flyers.

Matthew Clackson, RW

Western Michigan University
Drafted 2005 7th round (215th overall)

Clackson is playing in his third year for Western Michigan, but having a rough time of it. In 30 games this season, the right winger has registered three goals and three assists for the last-place Broncos. Clackson joins all but two teammates in negative territory with a -10 rating.

The junior forward is known more for his hard work and physical play. Leading all Broncos in penalties, Clackson does a nice job of finishing his checks and is not shy about dropping the gloves. Although a tough guy, the Pittsburgh native lacks the many qualities required to compete at an elite level and more than likely will not be offered a contract after his college career.