Despite the Flyers not having the best end to their season by losing to the New Jersey Devils, the team did have some good talent come out of training camp via some hard working rookies. As the NHL prepares for the draft and the talks of trades begin, the Flyers are already on the lookout for the next big name in hockey.
This past season we saw rookies like Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and Matt Read excel on the ice, so it is safe to say that these guys will be staying with the team. Or will they? My money’s on Couturier staying at least. The 19-year old as really showed his prowess on the ice and has been a key contributor to the team especially in the goal scoring department. Since the team got lucky with some prime youth talent in the past season, scouts already have their eyes on some new talent to bring to the Flyers.
Among the players that are being looked at are Oliver Lauridsen, Tyler Brown, Brandon Manning, Blake Kessel, Nick Cousins and Jason Akeson. All of whom have been playing for the AHL as they suited up as Phantom players hoping to get a shot at the chance in the big leagues.
Lauridsen, Manning and Kessel will probably be specifically looked at carefully as all three players are defensemen, which is a position that the Flyers really need to look at closely. Defense seems to be the discipline that Philadelphia lacks, so landing a solid defenseman will be important in preparation for next season.
Lauridsen has yet to play as a Flyer despite being drafted by the team last season but both his size and his work ethic will play a huge role in whether or not this season he will get that chance. Kessel and Manning have the one up on Lauridsen as they both have had the opportunity to play alongside current Flyers in the pre-season.
It is Manning that seems to be the most likely of the d-men to come back as a Flyer if he excels in training camp and the pre-season better than he did last season. Manning played in four games for the Flyers in March after getting called up when Meszaros and Timonen were both on the IRL. In his first game he was on ice for 15 minutes, got 3 shots on goal and left the game with a plus-2. Manning even played in one of the playoff games this season, so he is definitely a d-man to be looking out for in this post-season. We will definitely be seeing more on him in the seasons to come.
So what about those forwards? While Akeson has yet to play as a Flyer he has been among the top scoring rookies on the Phantoms and has also scored at least a point in 43 out of 76 games. Brown has also been playing well for the Phantoms but he was also a part of the group of rookies who were called up by the Flyers to help out during the playoffs, which puts him at a slightly better position to be further called up over Akeson. Cousins, like Akeson has yet to put on a Flyers sweater, but he has been excelling with the Phantoms like his team mates. He has been putting points up on the board, which the Flyers management likes to see which is keeping him in the running.
Right now, the Flyers are keeping watch on these particular players to see what they can show during training camp and pre-season. We still have to worry about the draft and how that is going to effect the Flyers prospects, but right now these six are among the top prospects for the Philadelphia organization.
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