Philadelphia Flyers 2007 NHL Draft class marred by injuries

By Chris Shafer
Photo: James vanRiemsdyk was selected second overall in the 2007 NHL draft. Despite an 2011-12 season that has been marred by injuries, vanRiemsdyk looks like a player who could be a dynamic NHL power forward. (Photo courtesy of the NHL)

The 2006-07 season is a sensitive subject in Philadelphia. It marked the eighth time that the franchise missed the postseason in 43 seasons of Flyers hockey, and they did so in spectacular fashion, by winning roughly a quarter of their games.

The Flyers ended up with the second pick overall in the draft and with it, selected power forward James vanRiemsdyk.

James vanRiemsdyk, RW, US National U-18 Team (NAHL) – 1st round, 2nd overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 190

Drafted out of the US National Development program, vanRiemsdyk was projected early on as a power forward, albeit one that would take several years to develop. After two solid seasons with the University of New Hampshire, where he would combine for 74 points through 67 games, vanRiemsdyk would join the Philadelphia Flyers organization.

The power forward would make his NHL debut 2009-10, posting solid numbers on a deep Flyers team. He would get his first taste of playoff action in the Flyers 2010 run to the Stanley Cup Finals, though would post only six points through 21 games. His following season in 2010-11 was practically the opposite. He managed seven goals through 11 games and was tied for third on the team in production. That did not tell the whole story however as his combination of blazing speed, large frame, and good stick skills made him extremely problematic for opposing defenders.

That is what the Flyers were hoping for more of 2011-12, and for a brief stint, that is exactly what they got. A nasty combination of injuries has put his developmental plan on hold. Before a concussion threw him out of the lineup indefinitely, he was pacing for his best statistical season while fighting through a nasty hip injury.

Kevin Marshall, D, Lewiston MAINEiacs (QMJHL) – 2nd round, 41st overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 10

Because of their contrasting play, their organizational affiliation, their age, and their league, Marc-Andre Bourdon and Kevin Marshall were often discussed together even though Marshall was taken in 2007 and Bourdon was taken a year later. Both were physical and mean, but Marshall was supposed to excel defensively while Bourdon excelled at the offensive game.

It was also alarming when both began to struggle at the AHL level. Despite being young, the Flyers had high hopes for the two. They had even moved up to acquire Marshall, and when injuries arose on the Flyers’ blue line this season, both stepped into NHL roles. This time though, one was noticeably different; noticeable better.

While out with a concussion during the 2010-11 season, Bourdon seemed to have recommitted himself to the game and when the dust settled on their first NHL stints, Marshall came out behind. Because of this and the numerous similar prospects in the pool, the organization felt they could move Marshall to give other players an opportunity to log heavy minutes with the Adirondack Phantoms.

Now Marshall is the property of the Washington Capitals, but he has 10 NHL games under his belt. While he still handles the puck like a grenade, there is something to be said for his physical game. He still has the potential to be a solid bottom-pairing shut-down defenseman as he is only 22 years old.

Garrett Klotz, LW, Saskatoon Blades (WHL) – 3rd round, 66th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Drafted for his pugilistic abilities, Garrett Klotz‘s potential NHL impact seemed rather insignificant to begin with and declined through his years with the Phantoms. It was evident that the league was moving away from the monstrous enforcers, particularly ones that had very little forechecking, defensive, or skating ability. Even so, the Flyers felt compelled to reach way off the board to get the 6’5 bruiser Garrett Klotz.

Though he continues to play for the Adirondack Phantoms under an AHL contract, he was not re-upped at the end of his entry-level contract with the Flyers.

Mario Kempe, RW, St. John’s Fog Devils (QMJHL) – 5th round, 122nd overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

For a number of years, every summer the name Mario Kempe would blip on the radar as someone who could sign an entry-level contract with the Flyers. Year after year those rumors were squashed despite positive remarks from both sides that Kempe was committed to doing whatever it took to make it to the NHL. The speed demon, who once was a point-per-game forward for the St. John’s Fog Devils before they moved to Montreal, only ever managed five games with the Philadelphia Phantoms in 2008-09.

Since his commitment to the SEL, he has done moderately well with Rogle and then with Djurgardens. He still has yet to hit the kind of offensive numbers in the Elitserien that his days with the Fog Devils suggest that he is capable of.

Jon Kalinski, C/W, Minnesota State University – Mankato (NCAA) – 6th round, 152nd overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 22

Jon Kalinski was once a very well-liked prospect in the Flyers’ system and, at one point, was even being groomed to be the fourth line, defensive center of the future after Blair Betts. An almost career-ending freak injury though sidetracked his progression and he was never quite the same.

When he returned, Kalinski’s seemingly heroic re-admittance to the world hockey was well-received. He even got some more NHL time, but things have not gone as hoped.

New prospect Harry Zolnierczyk seems to have replaced what Kalinski once brought to the wing of the Flyers’ energy line. Veteran Maxime Talbot and 19-year-old NHL rookie Sean Couturier have spent time as the energy line center while prospect Ben Holmstrom seems to be the guy that the organization is now grooming for the role in the future. While Kalinski has the potential to be a very good player at the NHL level, it will not likely happen in Philadelphia.

Patrick Maroon, LW, St. Louis Bandits (NAHL) – 6th round, 161st overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 2

Once upon a time Patrick Maroon was the feel-good story of the Flyers’ prospect pool. He had completely changed his habits and basically forced his way into OHL stardom with the London Knights. He worked hard to lose weight and become one of the Flyers’ key prospects. He had even positioned himself at the forefront of the Phantoms when he got involved in locker room issues that ended with the departures of many within the organization.

Despite the possibility that Maroon was close to being NHL ready, he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks where he got his first attempt at the NHL this season during a two-game stint. Meanwhile, the young power forward has become the heavy hitter offensively for a different AHL squad; the Syracuse Crunch.

Only time will tell if Maroon can beat the odds and become a regular NHLer as a 6’4 power forward with roller hockey beginnings. He has the hands and the net presence to accomplish his goals, and now the only thing holding him back is his skating ability.

Brad Phillips, G, US National U-18 Team (NAHL) – 7th round, 182nd overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Brad Phillips looked good during his rookie season in a back-up role at the University of Notre Dame. An injury cost him his sophomore season as a starter and, in a domino effect, got him caught in a tough position with his NCAA team. Going into the 2010-11 season he was penciled in to once again being the backup, this time as a senior. He decided to skip that and move to the Bloomington PrairieThunder of the Central Hockey League in an attempt to right the ship. His numbers were strong enough to earn him a stop with the Trenton Titans of the ECHL this season where he has not played well as a backup.