It’s never a good sign when a head coach mentions not having anything positive to say about a player. It’s early in the season, but that’s where Wade Allison is at right now. The 26-year-old winger did not make the Philadelphia Flyers out of training camp and was subsequently put on waivers to be sent to the AHL. Most thought there was a chance that he would be claimed as teams do value his hard-nosed style of play. Turns out the Flyers had explored the trade market for him as well.
Nonetheless, Allison went unclaimed and made his way to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. No doubt disappointed with where things had gone, there was two ways that Allison could take it. He could sulk and be disappointed with the situation. Or he could work through things and prove why he deserved to be back at the NHL level. Through five games at the AHL level, it’s looking like the former option for Allison. He has no goals and no points, being demoted to the fourth line in the Phantoms most recent game against the Springfield Thunderbirds.
Head coach Ian Laperriere didn’t mince words when he talked about what he has seen from Allison before Sunday’s game.
Not exactly what you want to hear if you’re Allison. And even more notable is that Laperriere mentioned Tanner Laczynski, another player who could be on his last legs in the Flyers organization. Laczynski struggled to get out of John Tortorella’s doghouse last season. He has taken the demotion in stride and is the Phantoms leading point-getter. His seven points in five games has him on a 100-point pace. While unsustainable, it is a positive to see how Laczynski is handling the situation he is in. He has been centering the Phantoms top line for most of his time there.
Another player who is likely now ahead of Allison on the depth chart is Olle Lycksell. The Swedish forward already has five goals with the Phantoms, earning his first career hat trick and the team’s 18th in franchise history this past weekend. His hot weekend earned him AHL Player of the Week honors. Lycksell is tied for the AHL lead in goals with three other players. Now in his second season in North America, the 24-year-old has put himself on the map. He appeared in eight games for the Flyers last season, earning his first NHL point via an assist.
For Allison, time is quickly running out on him. The soon to be restricted free agent has plenty of time to kick things into gear if he wants the Flyers to tender him an offer at the end of the season. And even with arbitration rights, Allison doesn’t have much leverage if he wants more than what the team could qualify him at. And with the Flyers relying more on the youth in their organization, Allison doesn’t have that on his side either.
Allison played in the most games of his career (60) last season and had a career high nine goals and 15 points. But his play often wasn’t up to the standards of Tortorella. Teams are very aware of when a player isn’t giving it his all. Laperriere added such when he talked about Allison’s effort. So even if the Flyers aren’t where Allison will end up, he’ll have to step things up from here on out to even impress anyone who might be interested in him down the line.
Again, there’s still plenty of time. But Allison needs to make that decision now before it’s too late.