Flyers 2005 draft evaluation

By Chris Shafer

Steve Downie, RW
1st round, 29th overall – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
NHL games played: 146
Status: NHL player

The now 23-year-old Downie is coming off a breakout season where he notched 22 goals and added another 24 assists over the course of 79 games. He did this of course with the Tampa Bay Lightning after the Flyers, who were in desperate need of a top-four defenseman, traded him for Matt Carle.

At the time the Flyers organization made the decision to part ways with Downie, he seemed to be one problem after another. He was known for his on-ice antics that had earned him multiple serious suspensions. He was a loose cannon who seemed almost completely uncontrollable despite his offensive talent and incredible board work.

It is clear that he is beginning to flourish in Tampa Bay surrounded by a cast of great forwards. His 208 penalty minutes, which were second on the team and third in the NHL, show that he has still not completely lost his fiery attitude, but within all of his chaos, there are signs of improvement. He is slowly becoming the player that the Flyers organization hoped he would become for them.

Oskars Bartulis, D
3rd round, 91st overall – Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
NHL games played: 55
Status: NHL player

Bartulis, the 23-year-old Latvian Olympian, was probably the Flyers biggest surprise of the 2009-10 season. Thanks to injury issues on the blueline, he was given a shot and ran with it for a large chunk of the year.

In 53 games during the regular season, he scored a goal and added eight assists. He also got a chance to play two playoff games.

Though his calm, stable puck-moving earned him a contract extension in Philadelphia, the highlight of his year might be the 2010 Winter Olympics where he held his own against the best players in the world.

Bartulis is no stranger to the world stage. He has competed in a national tournament for Team Latvia every year since he was 16 with the exception of 2008. That experience is something that the Flyers hope he will bring to their blueline in the future.

Jeremy Duchesne, G
4th round, 119th overall – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
NHL games played: 1
Status: NHL prospect

With only two AHL games under his belt coming into this final year of his ELC, it was very important that Duchesne make a good impression. It did not go as well the now 23-year-old would have hoped.

Due to a long line of injuries between the pipes, the Flyers did call up Duchesne for his first rookie experience, but he only played 17 minutes while letting in a goal. He got five more games with the Phantoms in 2009-10 but was beaten 13 times in those games, accounting for four losses. His 2.97 GAA and .898 save percentage were not all that eye-popping either.

Having played with four different ECHL teams since turning pro, Duchesne never managed to get settled. His poor numbers during these past three years, including a 3.20 GAA, a .904 save percentage, and nine wins off of 24 games played this season, certainly do not help his case for an extension this summer.

Josh Beaulieu, RW
5th round, 152nd overall – London Knights (OHL)
NHL games played: 0
Status: NHL prospect

Brought in as an edgy, energy player willing to get into a few scraps, the Flyers gave the now 23-year-old Beaulieu a chance at the AHL level. Though he has not necessarily been a disappointment since there was not very much expected from him, he has failed to really gain any kind of foothold.

His third straight season with the Phantoms in 2009-10 was just about the same as his first two. He did not play a full season and saw very little ice time. In the 46 games he did play, he scored two goals and added two assists. His 11 penalty minutes this season tell another story of almost no opportunity on the ice.

With his contract up after this season, it is not likely that Beaulieu will be offered an extension.

John Flatters, D
6th round, 174th overall – Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
NHL games played: 0
Status: NHL bust

Flatters’ physical play and shut-down mentality on the blueline were not enough to earn him a contract with the Flyers. He was drafted while playing for the Red Deer Rebels but eventually played for the Vancouver Giants, Prince Albert Raiders, and even the Saskatoon Blades before his WHL career was over.

His final season in the WHL, in which he spent most of his time with Saskatoon, ended up being the most productive season of his career. In 66 games, he tied his career high in goals with three and had a career high in assists with four.

In 2008-09 after the Flyers let him walk without a contract, Flatters attended college. At the University of British Columbia, he began to play in the CIS where he has spent the last two seasons. In 37 games played over the two years, he has scored a goal and notched three assists to go along with his 117 PIMs.

Matt Clackson, LW
7th round, 215th overall – Chicago Steel (USHL)
NHL games played: 0
Status: NHL prospect

Like Beaulieu, Clackson was drafted to bring a physical edge to the prospect pool. In three years with the Western Michigan Broncos of the NCAA, the now 25-year-old hardly put up any offensive numbers. He finished his collegiate career with four goals, 12 assists, and 219 PIMs in 105 games.

His first full AHL season with the Phantoms in 2008-09 was practically a coming out party for Clackson, who notched 263 PIMs, good enough for third among all AHL players. This year, though he still led the Phantoms in PIMs, he only accounted for 174.

His position as protector for his teammates goes a long way at times, but his offensive display has not been particularly strong. In 142 AHL games, he has only scored five goals while assisting on another 10. His contract is up at the end of this season as well, and though the Phantoms signed his brother Chris Clackson to an ATO near the end of the season, it is likely that neither will be on the Phantoms next year.