As summer rolls around, the Flyers host their annual prospect camp, to see their new draft picks, system prospects and a few unsigned invitees go through some drills led by former NHLers such as Ian Laperriere, Derian Hatcher and Riley Cote. This year’s edition began today in Voorhees, New Jersey at the SkateZone.
However, this year, camp lacked the big names as Schenn, Couturier, Rinaldo, Gustafsson, among others, graduated as prospects. In fact, twelve players from 2011′s camp went on to see time with the big club. But there were some familiar faces to Flyers fans as Nick Cousins, Derek Mathers and Brandon Manning were some of the returnees.
In addition, there were newer players, such as 2012 draft picks C Scott Laughton, G Anthony Stolarz and D Shane Gostisbehere. The day was split up into two sessions, with forwards and defensemen mixed. This brought on a drill where forwards and defensemen battled in front of the goalie. There were other puckhandling, passing and shooting drills as well throughout both sessions.
Cousins impressed in the puck drills early on, as did 2012 draft pick Taylor Leier. Cousins overall was the most impressive in the first group and while he won’t make the roster this year, with continued improvement may be an option a year or two down the road. Leier, a fourth round pick from Portland (WHL), could end up being a steal in a few years.
In the second group, first round pick Laughton seemed to go through the drills with ease. He wasn’t flashy, but did his job. He also had a couple nice goals in some of the later drills. He wasn’t pushed around by the defensemen in the crease battle drills. However, because many of the drills for forwards were offensive, Laughton wasn’t able to show off his defensive skills, one of the reasons why the Flyers drafted him. Also, unlike the Flyers’ 2011 first round pick, Sean Couturier, who was at development camp last year and made the Flyers big club, it’s likely Laughton will be headed back to Oshawa. (Although many said the same about Couturier last year). But for a look into a few years down the road, Laughton should be a guy who will be counted on.
Camp invitee Chris Clapperton, a 5’9″ winger from Blaineville-Boisbriand (QMJHL), had a good day besides during one drill, when he wiped out one of the instructors after losing his balance. He scored a few nifty goals, eliciting a response from the fans in attendance.
Defenseman Oliver Lauridsen, a hulking defenseman, returned this year, and while he showed some skating skills, he still needs work puckhandling. However, he dominated forwards in the crease drills, showing his strength. Another defenseman, Blake Kessel is going through his first development camp as a Flyer, as he was signed in September as a free agent. He displayed some of his offensive prowess that fans first saw at last season’s rookie game. Both players should anchor the Phantoms defense, while their path to the Flyers roster is blocked.
With the low chance many of these players make the big club, some of these guys will be returning back to Adirondack of the AHL with an extra year under their belt. For the junior players, they’ll return to their clubs with a bit more knowledge after the conclusion of this camp.