Philadelphia Flyers have little to show from 2009 NHL Draft

By Jason Lewis

Oliver Lauridsen - Philadelphia Flyers

Photo: Selected in the seventh round of the 2009 NHL Draft, defenseman Oliver Lauridsen has gradually developed into a steady presence along the blue line. Lauridsen is currently playing with the Flyers AHL affiliate. (courtesy of Bill Streicher/Icon SMI)

The Philadelphia Flyers 2009 NHL Draft class was relatively light, with only six picks on the board and none coming in the first two rounds. Their first-round pick was packaged in a trade to Anaheim for Chris Pronger, while their second-round pick was dealt to Tampa Bay in 2008.

Overall, general manager Paul Holmgren and crew overall selected two defenders, two goaltenders, and two forwards. Only two of the picks, Eric Wellwood and Oliver Lauridsen, have appeared in NHL games.  

Adam Morrison, G, Saskatoon Blades (WHL) – 3rd round, 81st overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Despite being ranked 24th on Central Scouting's final rankings of North American goaltenders in 2009, the Flyers went way off the board and selected him not only as the sixth goalie of the draft but the second overall North American goaltender. The puzzling selection did not become any clearer either as the years progressed. Morrison had average if not underwhelming numbers in the WHL with Saskatoon and Vancouver from 2009-2012.

He was not tendered a contract by the Flyers in 2012 and signed as a free agent on with the Boston Bruins organization. Since then he has been an ECHL backup goaltender at the best, suiting up for one AHL game in his career. He has posted a career save percentage of around .885 and a goals against of nearly 4.00 in his 26 career ECHL games.

Simon Bertilsson, D, Brynäs J20 (SuperElit) – 3rd round, 87th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games: 0

Bertilsson played a snarling, Flyers brand of hockey in his junior days with the Brynäs junior program and was among many pundits' top-20 European defenders in draft rankings. However, the big Swede never made his way over to North America as he never showed he was truly NHL-ready.

The Flyers were unable to reach an agreement with him before the June 1st signing deadline of 2011 and lost his rights. Bertilsson was therefore eligible to re-enter the draft in 2011 but instead chose to continue his career in Sweden. He has since gone on to play in the better part of three seasons with Brynäs, winning a championship with the team in 2012. He has been primarily a bottom-pairing defenseman since joining the senior squad in 2009-10.

Nicola Riopel, G, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL) – 5th round, 142nd overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games: 0

Riopel was an impressive young goaltender from the QMJHL whose 2008-09 season with Moncton propelled him into the minds of many scouts. After being selected in the fifth round of 2009, Riopel jumped into the AHL for 10 games before being reassigned to Moncton for his final year of junior. Despite posting relatively strong numbers in the unfriendly goalie league that is the QMJHL, the success never carried over to the AHL. In his second stint in the pro's Riopel played primarily in the ECHL with the Greeneville Road Warriors.

Much like the two aforementioned selections, the goaltender was not signed to an entry-level deal and was released to free agency in June of 2011. After agreeing to a loan contract for a brief time with the Islanders organization in 2011-12, Riopel jumped across the pond to Denmark where he currently plays with Frederikshavn of the Metal Ligaen.

Dave Labrecque, C, Shawnigan Cataractes (QMJHL) – 6th round, 153rd overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games: 0

Selected in the sixth round of 2009, Labrecque had a strong junior career with Shawnigan in the QMJHL. From his draft year in 2008-09 to 2010-11, he averaged over 60 points and 40 assists a season. He also acted as an alternate captain for the Cataractes in both 2009-10 and 2010-11. After a 75 point season in 2010-11, Labreqcque was not tendered a contract by the Flyers and he joined the Thetford Mines Isothermic of the LNAH for the 2011-12 season. He crossed the Atlantic in 2012 to play in France with the Briançon Red Devils of the Ligue Magnus and has been there ever since.

Eric Wellwood, LW/C, Windsor Spitfires (OHL) – 6th round, 172nd overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games: 31

The brother of former NHL forward Kyle Wellwood, Eric looked like a high-value pick coming out of the sixth round. He had an excellent final year of juniors following his selection of the draft, managing a point-per-game pace while helping the Windsor Spitfires to a second-straight Memorial Cup championship.

He made significant impressions at the Flyers 2010 training camp and had a limited three-game stay in the NHL. However, a strong year with Adirondack set the tone for Wellwood as a first call-up to the big club. After a split 2011-12 which saw him play 24 games with the Flyers and 33 games with the Phantoms, 2012-13 brought more AHL time for the 23-year old. Late in the 2012-13 season though Wellwood suffered a fluke injury where he nearly had his Achilles tendon severed during a game. Not only did he slice through four tendons in his right ankle, he nearly bled to death afterwards.

Wellwood has become the jewel in a rather disappointing 2009 draft, and many considered 2013-14 to be a critical year for the young forward in terms of his future. However, this accident has held him out of the lineup for the entirety of the season. With the original prognosis being a 9-12 month recovery, he is targeting a return for the start of the 2014-15 season.

Oliver Lauridsen, D, St. Cloud State Huskies (WCHA) – 7th round, 196th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games played: 15

The towering, stay-at-home defenseman was the last selection for the Flyers in the 2009 NHL Draft. He is also just one of two selections from the year actually retained by the Flyers. After being selected in 2009, Lauridsen had a solid junior and senior year with St. Cloud State. His steady play carried over to the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL in 2011-12 where he was one of the team primary defenseman for the majority of the season.

He earned a brief 15-game cup of coffee with an injury beleaguered Flyers defensive corps in 2012-13. He also participated in the World Championships in 2012-13 with Denmark. While not relied upon for any form of production, he has been a quietly consistent and solid defenseman with the Adirondack Phantoms. Whether or not he has NHL staying power remains to be seen, but he has been steady throughout his professional career to this point.