Flyers System Inventory: Forwards

Last week we took an in depth look at the defensemen on the farm.  This week we’ll be taking a look at the forwards.

AHL/ECHL
Jason Akeson, Right Wing,  22, signed as free agent in 2011.
2011-2012:  76gp  14g  41a  55pts
Akeson proved he could handle the jump to the American Hockey League after an outstanding performance as an overaged talent in juniors. He had a solid debut in the AHL for a rookie, but his NHL Equivalency  for his performance last season is 26 points over a full season which is an average third line talent in the National Hockey League. His skating and play away from the puck are concerns so he will have trouble sticking in a bottom-six role. He really needs raise his offensive game even higher or work on his defensive play to have a shot in the NHL. Right now he is more of a tweener.

Tyler Brown, Center, 22, signed as free agent in 2011.
2011-2012:  71gp  8g  9a  17pts
Brown lacks the offense to ever be considered a scorer at the professional level, but the speedy center could contribute enough on the defensive side of the puck to compete for a fourth-line role for the Flyers.

Shane Harper,  Right Wing, 23, signed as a free agent in 2010.
2011-2012:  70gp  13g  14a  27pts
A hard-working energy player that could eventually compete for role on the fourth line.

Ben Holmstrom, Center, 25, signed as a free agent in 2010.
2011-2012:  67gp  15g  26a  41pts
The Phantoms captain could challenge for a spot on the Flyers as a fourth-line center, but at the age of 25 he needs to make the jump sooner than later before he gets completely overlooked.

Andrew Johnston, Left Wing, 21, signed as free agent in 2012.
2011-2012:  58gp  29g  52a  81pts (SJHL)
Johnston is the toughest player to project in the system. He had the best points per game average of all Flyers prospects, but he was also playing against the weakest competition. It’s pretty rare to see a player playing in a Tier II Junior Hockey League go straight to the pros so next season will be a tremendous challenge for Johnston.

Matt Mangene, 23, forward, signed as free agent in 2012.
2011-2012: 40gp  16g  18a  34 pts (NCAA)
Mangene is a versatile player that can play forward or defense, but the Flyers prefer him at forward. The NHL equivalency for his performance in college  last year is 29 points so he may top out as a speedy, third line energy forward. The jump to the pro ranks is a big one so next season will give us a clearer picture on him.

Tye McGinn, Left Wing,  22, drafted 4th round of 2010 entry draft.
2011-2012:  63gp  12g  6a  18pts  
He really struggled making the jump from juniors to the professional ranks. McGinn doesn’t have the game to contribute much offensively in the NHL, but he plays a hard working, physical game that could be suited for a fourth line role someday. He will need to improve his skating to have a shot.

Marcel Noebels, 20, forward, drafted 4th round of 2011 entry draft.
2011-2012: 62gp  20g  38a  58pts
Can play either center or wing. Noebels was never more than an average point producer in juniors so it’s hard to envision producing offensively as the competition gets tougher. He likely tops out as a defensively responsible bottom six forward.

Luke Pither, Center, 23, signed as free agent in 2010.
2011-2012: 39gp  2g  8a  10pts
Unfortunately there’s not a lot to say about Pither. His offensive potential is below average and he is a defensive liability who struggles to stay in the AHL lineup.

Tom Sestito, Left Wing, 24, acquired via trade in 2011.
2011-2012:  34gp  9g  8a  17pts
Sestito is a dime a dozen 4th line tough guy that has bounced between the AHL and NHL the past few seasons. He is redundant with both Rinaldo and Shelley on the NHL roster.

Mike Testwuide, Right Wing, 25, signed as free agent in 2010.
2011-2012:  66gp  12g  17a  29pts
Testwuide is a decent contributor at the AHL, but is too far down the depth chart to ever really have a shot at the NHL.

Harry Zolnierczyk, Left Wing, 24, signed as free agent in 2011.
2011-2012:  39gp  8g  13a  21pts
He was a competent fourth liner during his time with the Flyers, but he was sent down in favor of more toughness in the lineup.

NCAA
Michael Parks,  Forward, 20, drafted 5th round of 2010 draft.
2011-2012:  42gp  12g  10a  22pts
Parks is a versatile, speedy forward, that isn’t a big time points producer, but could have a place in the bottom six. He will likely remain in college for another two or three more years.

Petr Placek,  Right Wing, 19, drafted 6th round of 2011 draft.
2011-2012:  16gp  0g  1a  1pt
Once considered a potential pick in the top three rounds of the 2011 draft, Placek fell to the sixtth round after an injury sidelined him for most of the season. Unfortunately, last season wasn’t any more kind to him. He battled injuries and struggled on the ice. He is a true project pick at this point.

Major Junior Hockey

Nick Cousins, Center, 19, drafted  3rd round of 2011 entry draft.
2011-2012:  65gp  35g  53a  88pts
Cousins has shown the offensive talent to be an above average 3rd line forward or possibly an  average second-line forward if he continues to show improvement. His size, skating, and defensive plays are concerns so he may be moved to wing at the NHL level.

Scott Laughton, Center, 18,  drafted  1st round of 2012 entry draft.
2011-2012:  64gp  21g  32a  53pts
Right now he currently projects to be more of a 3rd or 4th line center that has the ability to play the tough defensive minutes, win faceoffs, and kill penalties. At his age, there is still plenty of time for his offensive game to catch up with him which could bump up his projection in the future.

Taylor Leier, Left Wing, 18, drafted 4th round of 2012 entry draft.
2011-2012:  72gp  13g  24a  37pts
Leier is a gritty undersized forward that was playing in a bottom six forward role during his rookie season in juniors.  He hasn’t shown much potential to date, but it will be interesting to see how he handles increased minutes next season.

Derek Mathers, Right Wing, 19, drafted 7th round of 2011 entry draft.
2011-2012: 65gp  9g  8a  17pts
A pure enforcer. Mathers lacks the hockey skill to play on a professional level, but he has the toughness the Flyers tend to prefer to see from their 12th and 13th forwards.

Strengths: The Flyers center depth remains a consistent strength of the organization. They have Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Brayden Schenn as young centers at the NHL level. At the prospect level their top two prospects, Scott Laughton and Nick Cousins, are also centers. The Flyers ability to develop centers is under-appreciated because it has long been a strength of the Flyers, but acquiring a number one center is almost as difficult as acquiring a number one defender. There are multiple teams around the league that have been in the hunt for one for years. If one of Laughton or Cousins pan out it could enable the Flyers to trade one of their big three centers for a premium to fill other needs.
The Flyers system is also loaded down with bottom six/depth/role playing types. Which isn’t a bad thing because developing your depth cheaply is better than overpaying for it in free agency.

Weaknesses: Like with the defenders, the Flyers are lacking top end “blue chip” talent. They have no scoring skill outside of Cousins and he might be more of a third liner. The good news is that it is not a pressing need due to youth of their forwards at the NHL level, but considering every top six forward needs a new contract in the upcoming years it would be beneficial to get some scoring talent into the system, especially on the wings.