For two years in a row, Jason Akeson has been the scoring leader for the Adirondack Phantoms. His highly skilled brand of hockey has made the severely undersized player into a legitimate NHL prospect. Even though he has been given a look at the NHL in the final game of the last two regular seasons, and in the playoffs this past season, many people are still reluctant to see him as a consistent NHL contributor.
This hesitancy is wise. Yes, Akeson has three goals and two assists through nine NHL games (reg season and playoffs), but many skilled AHL players can put on a show for a handful of NHL games and never be more than NHL/AHL tweeners.
So why should the Flyers give Akeson a shot?
First, because he cannot prove himself unless he is given the chance. His strong play in both the regular season and playoffs has earned him an extended look next season. He has proven to be a very good player at the AHL level and the only way that we can find out about his potential is by letting him play a long (20ish?) stretch of games without the fear of being benched. If it turns out that he cannot handle it, send him down.
Second, he is still a young guy. Having just turned 24, his best years are ahead of him. Matt Read, a player of similar build and skill set, though much better defensively, did not reach the NHL until he was 25 years old. Akeson still has a lot of productive hockey in front of him.
Finally, he is a versatile forward. In the final game of the lockout shortened 2013 season Akeson lined up on the left side of Giroux and Voracek. Many times during the preseason and while on the Phantoms Akeson showed an ability to play the left wing. In his latest recall to the Flyers, he played the right side. Either way, he is an effective offensive player.
Akeson is a speedy player who seems to have improved his all-around game over the past few years. His advanced stats were good in an admittedly small sample size. Akeson has great potential, hopefully he will have the chance to reach it.