What happens when a team graduates it’s two top prospects then trades their first-round draft picks three years in a row? You likely get a prospect camp roster similar to the one the Flyers will have the week of July 5, at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J.
The typically exciting prospect camp has been accompanied by limited fanfare the past two seasons due to the lack of high-end prospects. James van Riemsdyk highlighted the 2009 camp with Claude Giroux headlining 2008. But with both players now securely with the Flyers, and no 2009 or 2010 first-round picks to help carry the slack, the 2010 prospect camp is loaded with tryouts (12), college, junior and KHL signings (9) and low draft selections (15).
But that doesn’t mean it’s a total wash.
At forward, there are numerous players to keep an eye on for not only their skill but their truculence. Tye McGinn, Zac Rinaldo and Brendan Ranford are all physical, competitive and scrappy players that will not let up just because it’s a camp. But if physicality isn’t what you’re looking for, there are a couple of skill forwards that could make some noise — Eric Wellwood and Mike Testwuide.
After serving as an integral part of the Memorial Cup winning Windsor Spitfires, sixth round selection in 2009, 20-year old Wellwood is going pro this season. Younger brother to former Vancouver Canuck forward Kyle, Eric was projected as just a two-way depth forward and penalty kill specialist. However, loaded with scoring talent around him at Windsor, most notably the first overall selection in the 2010 NHL entry draft — Taylor Hall — Wellwood put up 31 goals and 37 assists in 65 games and opened eyes doing so. It will be interesting to follow Wellwood through prospect camp and Flyers training camp to see if his sudden upswing in production was simply a byproduct of his situation or a surprise step in his development.
Out of all the amateur free agent forwards the Flyers inked last season, five to be exact, right winger Testwuide may stand the best chance of cracking an NHL lineup. Well built at 6-foot-3, 210 lbs., Testwuide played a productive four years at Colorado College before being signed by the Flyers and placed with the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL, where he scored three goals in 13 games and impressed the Flyers brass. Philly is extremely very thin at right wing, especially with size, and have Testwuide on its short list of potential impact players.
C-Michael Chaput, 3rd, 2010
LW-Tye McGinn, 4th, 2010.
LW-Eric Wellwood, 6th, 2009
C-Dave Lebrecque, 6th, 2009
C-Zac Rinaldo, 6th, 2008
LW-Brendan Ranford, 7th, 2010
RW-Shane Harper, FA signed out of WHL
C/RW-Ben Holmstrom, FA signed out of NCAA
C-Luke Pither, FA signed out of OHL
RW-Mike Testwuide, FA signed out of NCAA
LW-Andrew Rowe, FA signed out of NCAA
C-Justin Dowling, tryout
LW-Brian Flynn, tryout
RW-Blake Gal, tryout
C-Phil Ginand, tryout
LW/RW-Gregor Hanson, tryout
C-Kyle Mountain, tryout
LW-Everett Sheen, tryout
Although excitement is lacking on the blue line for this particular camp, there are a few defensive names attending that will be interesting to simply see play. Towering 6-foot-5 St. Cloud State defenseman Oliver Lauridsen, Swedish Ricard Blindstrand and highly controversial draft selection Nick Luukko, stand out.
But it’s the prospect camp vets and one amateur signing that will garner the most attention.
Coming off their first full professional year in the AHL, rear guards Marc-Andre Bourdon and Kevin Marshall should appear as men amongst boys in prospect camp. Likely to be their last showing in the pre-training camp ritual, the two blue liners, coveted by the organization, are expected to take another step in development this offseason, which could have them nearly NHL ready.
One name not many have heard of but will have many sets of eyes on him is Swedish defenseman Erik Gustafsson. The reason this 5-foot-11, 200 lbs. undrafted free agent out of Northern Michigan will get so much attention, is the way he finished the season with the Phantoms. Expected to simply get his feet wet in professional hockey at the tail end of the AHL season, Gustafsson jumped right in head first by scoring two goals and five assists in just five games.
D-Kevin Marshall, 2nd, 2007
D-Marc-Andre Bourdon, 3rd, 2008
D-Nick Luukko, 6th, 2010
D-Oliver Lauridsen, 7th, 2009
D-Ricard Blidstrand, 7th, 2010
D-Erik Gustafsson, FA signed out of NCAA
D-Tyler Hostetter, FA signed out of OHL
D-Michael Banwell, tryout
D-Jason Beattie, tryout
D-Jordan Hill, tryout
D-Jesse Dudas, tryout
Although being without highly-touted Joacim Eriksson tones down the interest in the prospect camp goaltending situation, it still may be the most interesting part. Adam Morrison and Brad Phillips are on the organization’s radar, but it’s newly acquired undrafted free agent Sergei Bobrovsky and Nic Riopel who stand to prove something.
Bobrovsky, 21, is a complete wildcard and extremely interesting player to watch for the Flyers. Acquired at the end of the last KHL season, the Russian is considered one of the top young national talents not already in the NHL. The backstop could sink or swim in the North American game, which he will get his first taste of in this prospect camp. Standing at 6-foot-1, he is expected to get serious playing time with the Phantoms this season and could potentially see a small stint in the NHL, depending on his performance and development.
Although Bobrovsky will get all of the attention, Riopel shouldn’t be overlooked. At just 21-year old, the 5-foot-11 goaltender earned his first taste of professional hockey with the Phantoms last season, before being sent back to juniors to play for Moncton of the QMJHL. He struggled a bit with the Phantoms but was absolutely outstanding with the Wildcats, earning a GAA of 2.06 in the highly offensive league. Riopel seems to have the skill set to be a solid goaltender but he has yet to find that ability on a consistent basis. It will be interesting to see where his game is at come camp time.
G-Adam Morrison, 3rd, 2009
G-Nic Riopel, 5th, 2009
G-Brad Phillips, 7th, 2009
G-Sergei Bobrovsky, FA signed out of KHL
G-Brian Stewart, FA signed out of NCAA
G-Chris Rawlings, tryout
Full Camp Schedule
On-Ice Practice Scrimmage
July 5 – Players Arrive & Off-Ice Fitness Testing
July 6 – Off-Ice Fitness Testing
July 7 – 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. 10:45 a.m. to noon
July 8 – Trial on The Isle (Stone Harbor, NJ)
July 9 – 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. 10:45 a.m. to noon
July 10 – 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. 10:45 a.m. to noon
July 11 – 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. 10:45 a.m. to noon
July 12 – NO Practice 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.