Then and Now: David Laliberte

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Ryan Callahan has played five seasons with the New York Rangers. Before the start of the 2011-2012 NHL campaign, Callahan was named the Rangers’ captain, an honor he holds at the moment as well.

His first season as captain of New York was also his first 50-point year in the NHL, as he was just one goal shy of the 30-goal plateau. Not bad for a right winger who was picked 127th overall in the fourth round of the 2004 NHL Draft. The last right winger selected before Callahan came just three picks earlier, as the Philadelphia Flyers chose David Laliberte 124th overall.

Laliberte endured three seasons with the Prince Edward Island Rocket of the QMJHL before he joined the Flyers’ organization. During the 2007-2008 season, Laliberte split time between the Philadelphia Phantoms and the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL, as he played in 27 contests for both squads. For the Phantoms, he finished with three goals and six assists with 13 penalty minutes and a minus-7 rating. For the Nailers, he finished with 10 goals and 14 assists with 16 PIMs.

The forward spent all of the 2008-2009 season with the Phantoms, as they finished sixth in the Eastern Conference with 93 points. He finished with 28 goals and 20 assists in 70 games. His 28 tallies let him finish third on the team in goals, as Jared Ross and Jonathan Matsumoto led the club with 29 goals. Laliberte’s 20 assists let him finish sixth on the team in helpers, as the right winger had three more assists than Claude Giroux (of course, Giroux did play in 37 less games than Laliberte did for the Phantoms).

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In the 2009 AHL playoffs, the Phantoms were swept by the eventual Calder-Cup winning Hershey Bears in the Division Semifinals. Laliberte had one assist and four PIMs during the series.

The 2009-2010 campaign was when Laliberte enjoyed his first taste of the NHL. In 11 games with the Orange and Black, Laliberte had a pair of goals and an assist. The forward registered a goal in each of his first two games with Philadelphia.

His first came on Halloween of 2009, as he produced the second goal in the Flyers’ three-goal first period on their way to a 6-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes (go to :52). The right winger also recorded his first assist in the NHL with the primary helper on James van Riemsdyk’s tally early in the middle stanza that made it a 4-1 contest. Laliberte was awarded the honor of being the  third star of the game.

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Laliberte’s second and final goal in the NHL came just three days later, as the Flyers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2. His tally came early in the second period to make it a 4-1 Flyers’ advantage.

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The forward also experienced an NHL playoff game in 2010, as he played in the Flyers’ Game 5 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, where they were the third team in NHL history to overcome an 0-3 series deficit. Laliberte had two PIMs in 5:32 of ice time.

After a successful 2009-2010 season, 2010-2011 looked to be more of the same for Laliberte, as he was named an alternate captain of the Adirondack Phantoms. He didn’t enjoy that title for too long, as he was involved in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks’ organization in late November of 2010. Along with forward Patrick Maroon, Laliberte was shipped out to California in exchange for Rob Bordson and Danny Syvret. Laliberte is the only player in the deal that isn’t currently with either franchise involved in the trade.

With three goals and six assists in 19 games for the Phantoms, Laliberte had five goals and four assists with the Syracuse Crunch (who are now the affiliate for the Lightning) before being traded for the second time during the 2010-2011 season. Along with Stefan Chaput, Laliberte was dealt to the Boston Bruins’ organization for Brian McGrattan and Sean Zimmerman. In his brief time with the Providence Bruins of the AHL, Laliberte had a goal and five helpers in 17 games, as well as minus-6 rating.

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For the 2011-2012 campaign, Laliberte left the NHL and AHL to join the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, as he became a member of EHC Wolfsburg Grizzly Adams. It was here that Laliberte became teammates with Nathan Paetsch, John Laliberte, and Colin Beardsmore.

Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg finished the 2011-2012 season third in the 14-team DEL with 91 points over 52 games. Laliberte finished seventh on the team with 30 points in 50 contests. His 20 goals landed him second on the team in the category behind Kai Hospelt, a seventh-round pick for the San Jose Sharks in the 2003 NHL Draft. Laliberte also had 14 PIMs and a minus-6 rating.

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Laliberte and his teammates were the only team in the 2012 DEL playoffs to be upset in the Quarterfinals. Entering the eight-team postseason as a three seed, Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg was swept by Bruno St. Jacques and the Straubing Tigers. Laliberte didn’t make a postseason appearance for the Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg.

At the moment, Laliberte is an unrestricted free agent.