It is very rare that an 18-year old defenseman starts in the NHL right after being drafted. Typically, it takes the player until they are 20-21 years old before they are physically and mentally able to do the right things on a consistent basis. But after a stellar training camp and eye-opening preseason, the Flyers’ 2008 first-round draft pick, Luca Sbisa, may just be the exception.
Italian born but Swiss-raised Sbisa has impressed with his ability to use his 6-foot-2 frame to his advantage, as well as have a flair for the offensive. Still prone to rookie mistakes, players and coaches alike praise Sbisa’s maturity at such a young age.
“I remember when I just got drafted and was in my first camp,” Braydon Coburn said. “It’s no easy thing at all. “I’m sure lots of guys struggle a little, but he’s been going right at it with a full head of steam.”
Being in the lineup for the season opener against the New York Rangers on Oct. 11, is still not official. But the fact that Sbisa is with the Flyers just days before the regular season begins is a good sign. Also, with nagging injuries to Ryan Parent and Randy Jones, Sbisa may see his window of opportunity sooner than he would have thought.
“To be honest, I never thought I’d be here at the end,” Sbisa said. “I’ve worked hard, and I’m happy to be here but I know they can still send me back to juniors.”
“We just have to make sure we’re doing the right thing for him and the right thing for us,” Coach John Stevens said. “Our health is a factor.”
If Sbisa has trouble wrapping his head around the fact that he could be an NHLer so soon, he would be inclined to talk to fellow defenseman Steve Eminger, who is one of less than 15 blue liners in the league today to play his first game in the NHL at 18.