Flyers System Inventory: Defensemen

I would like to spend the next several weeks examining the Flyers farm system to take stock of what type of prospects they actually have so we can look for areas of strength and need. This will help give us an idea of what they need to focus on in future drafts.

We kick it off this week by taking a look at the defensemen on the farm.

Pros (AHL/ECHL):

Marc-Andre Bourdon , 22, drafted 3rd round of 2008 entry draft.
2011-2012:  45gp  4g  3a  7pts  +4  (NHL)
Bourdon was an offensive defenseman in juniors, but settled into a defensive defender that plays with a physical edge in the pros. He show that he could belong in a NHL top six last season and will have every chance to earn a spot this upcoming season.

Cullen Eddy, 23, signed as free agent in 2012.
2011-2012:  54gp  2g  13a  15pts  -13
Eddy was on a minor league deal and had split time between the ECHL and AHL prior to earning his first NHL contract with the Flyers. He is a solid minor league depth guy that is way down on the Flyers depth chart.

Erik Gustafsson, 23, signed as free agent in 2010.
2011-2012:  30 gp  1g   4a  5pts  +12  (NHL)
Gustafsson is an offensive defenseman that has produced at every level prior to the NHL. He didn’t show much offense in his short time in the NHL, but he also didn’t get an opportunity to play on the powerplay. His size and defensive ability remain concerns that could hold him back from being anything more than a 3rd pairing type. He turns 24 in December so he needs to make the jump sooner than later.

Tyler Hostetter, 21, signed as free agent in 2009.
2011-2012:  34gp  7g  7a  14pts  -6 (ECHL)
Hostetter was an offensive defenseman in juniors, but he never really racked up many points. He is on the small side, his skating is average, and his defense is suspect. He likely tops out as minor league depth.

Blake Kessel, 23, signed as free agent in 2011.
2011-2012:  56gp  1g  17a  18pts   -1
Kessel’s strength is his game as an offensive defenseman, but his game did not translate in his first year of professional hockey. His defense will prevent him from being more than a 3rd pairing guy, but will need to beat out a number of guys to have a shot.

Matthew Konan, 20, signed as free agent in 2012.
2011-2012:  72gp  9g  45a  54 pts  +21 (WHL)
Despite coming off the most productive season of his WHL career, Konan projects to be more of a defensive defenseman at the professional level. Through his first four seasons, Konan tallied 53 points total in 223 games played. His sudden increase in points was likely an effect of being one of the oldest players in the league. His NHL ceiling is a 3rd pairing type, but realistically he probably tops out as a minor leaguer as overage juniors are a long shot to make it.

Oliver Lauridsen, 23, drafted 7th round of 2009 entry draft.
2011-2012:  65gp  3g  4a  7pts  -5
Laursiden is a big bodied stay at home defender, but he doesn’t really do anything well enough defensively to stick in a NHL top four. He has a 3rd pairing ceiling, but is probably more of a tweener that may see the occasional call up.

Brandon Manning, 22, signed as free agent in 2010.
2011-2012:  46gp 6g  13a  19pts   -6
Manning is a puckmoving defender that can take care of business in both ends of the ice. He impressed in his four game call up with the Flyers. He has the upside to be a 3rd pairing guy and if everything goes well maybe a #4, but he is going to have to beat out Bourdon and Gustafsson for a shot on the Flyers.

 

Europe:
Fredric Larsson, 18, drafted 4th round of 2012 entry draft.
2011-2012:  19gp  2g  7a  9pts  +25
Larsson is a  really raw project. He spent most of the season playing against at a lower level of competition compared to other Swedish defenders from his draft class. Larsson projects to be more of a large, physical, stay at home defender.

Valeri Vasiliev, 18, drafted 7th round of 2012 entry draft.
2011-2012:  18gp  1g  1a  2pts  +4
Vasiliev is a big bodied defender known for his nasty, physical play. He can skate well and has shown the ability to rush the puck up the ice, but he isn’t someone who is going to contribute much on the offensive side of the puck. He is another long term project, but there’s also the risk that he decides to remain in Russia.

NCAA:
Shayne Gostisbehere, 19, drafted 3rd round of 2012 entry draft.
2011-2012:  41gp  5g  17a  22pts  +18
Gostibehere is an above average puck moving defenseman that has the ability to quarterback a powerplay and contribute offensively. He has top four potential, but he is a bit of a project because he really needs to add size to his frame before he can be an effective defenseman in the NHL.

Nick Luukko, 20, drafted 6th round of 2010 entry draft.
2011-2012: 17gp  0g  3a  3pts
Luukko is a long term project. He is a 3rd pairing defender for the University of Vermont with little offensive upside.

Reece Willcox, 18, drafted 5th round of 2012 entry draft.
2011-2012:  52 gp  5g  18a  23pts  (BCHL)
Willcox was known as a smart two-way defender in the BCHL, but his low offensive totals suggest he may struggle to put up points as he graduates to tougher competition. There are few defenseman playing in the NHL that were drafted out of the BCHL so he is a bit of a long shot.

 

Major Junior Hockey:
Colin Suellentrop, 19, drafted 4th round of 2011 entry draft.
2011-2012:  67gp  2g  15a  17pts  +10
Suellentrop is a big, physical, stay-at-home defender. He’s not a guy that will help your transition game so he needs to be very good defensively to make it. He is very much a project, but the Flyers will need to decide whether to sign him to an entry level deal or let him go next June.

 

Strengths: The Flyers have a number of big bodied physical stay-at-home defenders in Oliver Lauridsen, Fredric Larsson, Valeri Vasiliev, Colin Suellentrop, and to a lesser extent Marc-Andre Bourdon. They also have a number of potential third pairing types and long term projects.

Weaknesses: The Flyers are lacking in high end talent. They don’t have any “blue chip” prospects that are sure bet to make it. They really don’t have anyone with top 4 potential outside of Shayne Gostibehere, although one or two may surprise. They could also use more puck-moving defenseman that can help with their puck possession/transition game and also quarterback a powerplay. Again, Gostibehere is the only above average option in the system.

Unfortunately, their needs on the farm is the same need they have at the NHL level.  The Flyers have a number of physical and big bodied types in Luke Schenn, Nicklas Grossmann, and Braydon Coburn, but an aging  Timonen is their only above average powerplay option.  This is really an area of need they need to start looking for in future drafts.