Who is this guy? That’s the question most people around Philly have been wondering since he walked on to the scene at 25 years of age last season and made the Flyers opening night roster. He beat out quite a few future NHL players to earn that spot including Eric Wellwood. Matt Read‘s age may have helped him. It becomes easier to put things into perspective the older you get. He had been around the block and felt the cold hard slap of rejection. Most of the kids that get drafted at 18 or 19 and come into camp looking for a spot on the big boys roster have never been told anything, but your a future superstar. These kids first hockey rejection comes just when they think they made it. Imagine Billy Beane in the movie Moneyball when he’s a kid and all the scouts are telling him how he’s a 5 tool player and is on the road to riches, fame and glory in the bigs. Problem was he didn’t have “it”. “It” is the difference between a minor league player and major league player. “It” is the difference between tearing up kids at the OHL level and not being able to skate straight at the NHL level. Sure looks like Matt Read might have that “it” factor.
It’s almost always a bad sign when a player goes undrafted. Quite a few people saw something that they didn’t like about that players’ game. A lot of players get drafted to the big leagues. Barely any of them will play on an NHL roster full time one day. Almost none of them crack a pro roster their first year playing professional puck. Even smaller of a percentage of players walk into professional hockey at 25 years old. Matt Read was one of those strange occurrences that defied all of that. In the old days players were heavily groomed before being brought up to play with the big boys. Only the true studs played the game professionally at a ripe age like 19 or 20 years old. Now a days a 25 year old player has probably been drafted when he was between the ages of 18 and 21 and is either in the minors honing his skills or playing for the big club already. Read fits in neither of those categories.
Coming into training camp last season it was not a given that Read would make the big club. He had to earn that spot in camp and as deep as the Flyers are at the forward position that was no walk in the park. Read earned everything he got last season. That’s just the way it is for a 25 year old rookie. Nobody gives it to you you have to take it. And take it he did. He was used in all situations last season. Laviolette showed real confidence in Read especially by playing him on special teams his rookie season. In fact 2 of the Flyers best penalty killers last season were rookies (Read and Couturier). He was also given pp duties for much of the season as well. Even playing on the point on the pp a few times. Overall from a statistical standpoint Read had a phenomenal rookie season. He finished with a stat line of 24/23/47 in 79 games played. He also finished 4th in the rookie scoring race just behind Jersey’s Henrique (51 points) and Edmonton’s Nugent-Hopkins and Colorado’s Landeskog (52 points each). It’s a farce that he was completely ignored for Calder trophy, which Landeskog ended up taking home. His age was probably a factor, it shouldn’t matter because the kid showed he could play at a high level in this league in his first year of competing in it.
As for next season I don’t believe he is untouchable when it comes to another possible trade this offseason so we will have to see how things shake out. If he is still in the orange and black come September I believe he will need to have a repeat year offensively and defensively to prove that his rookie year was no fluke. Unfortunately it usually ends up that the 2nd year is the toughest in the pros. Sophomore slump. It doesn’t effect everybody, but if it does I wouldn’t panic as many great players have experienced the sophomore slump.
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