Recapping the Flyer’s Draft Weekend

Posted: June 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Luke Schenn (left) and James van Riemsdyk will trade jerseys next season.

It was an exciting weekend for all 30 NHL teams. The Flyers were no different, as they made seven selections in Pittsburgh at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Readers may have also heard of a big trade that was completed between Paul Holmgren and Toronto General Manager Brian Burke on Saturday afternoon.

James van Riemsdyk, the 2nd overall selection in 2007, will take his immense potential but painstaking injury risk to the Maple Leafs. In exchange, the Flyers acquired the 5th overall pick in 2008, Defenseman Luke Schenn. The 6’2, 220 freight train of a blue-liner is expected to contribute immediately to a Philadelphia corps that needed an influx of youth. With Matt Carle an unrestricted free agent, Chris Pronger likely sidelined with post-concussion syndrome, and Kimmo Timonen approaching retirement, Holmgren desperately needed to land a young Defenseman with upside. He most certainly did that.

The Flyers and Schenn have long been linked together. After all, one of Philadelphia’s rising young stars is Luke’s brother, Brayden. Upon learning of the trade, Luke could not have been more excited to join Brayden in Philadelphia. “It’s obviously a bit of a shock to get traded but Philadelphia is obviously a great organization and they’ve got a lot of great young talent there,” Schenn said on a conference call. “With my brother being there, we’re pretty close. It’s surreal. I can’t even believe it.”

Schenn won gold medals with Team Canada in the 2008 World Junior Championships and a silver medal at the 2009 World Championships. He’s a proven winner at every level but the NHL. The 22 year old, however, did not develop the way Toronto would have hoped. In four seasons with the Leafs, Schenn scored just 14 goals and 61 assists in 310 games. His offensive capabilities are endless, but he was not able to reach those heights in Toronto. A lot of onlookers blamed their system, which limited him in minutes the past few seasons. This will not be the case in Philadelphia, where Schenn should be expected to log significant time on the first or second defensive lines.

Meanwhile, the Flyers said goodbye to van Riemsdyk. JVR’s phenomenal 2011 postseason, in which it appeared as though he was the only one to show up against the Boston Bruins in their four game sweep of the Flyers was enough to earn him a long term extension. But, the Flyers have shown once again that they are willing to deal players on long-term deals. James’ potential was never reached hear in Philadelphia. Burke and the Leafs hope that he will be a catalyst in Toronto winning their first Stanley Cup since 1967.

Scott Laughton was the Flyers’ first pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Prior to this blockbuster deal going through, the Flyers chose seven youngsters in the NHL Entry Draft from Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

Their first selection, Scott Laughton from the Oshawa Generals of the OHL, is an 18-year-old Mike Richards clone. This two-way Center should be considered a top prospect from the moment he first steps on the ice at the Flyers’ practice facility this summer. Laughton was fifth on Oshawa in points (53), third in penalty minutes (101), and scored five points in three playoff games this past season. From December 1st on, Laughton performed at a point-per-game pace (18 G, 23 A in 39 games). Scott’s two-way performance is further exemplified by his +13 rating over his entire junior hockey career.

After Laughton, the Flyers shifted their strategy to the other positions of need. In the second round, Holmgren and the front office decided to help fill the organization hole in net created by the trade of Sergei Bobrovsky earlier this week. With the 45th pick acquired in that trade, they selected Corpus Christi Goaltender Anthony Stolarz. This 6’5, 200 pound monster went 23-22-4-3 with the IceRays of the North American Hockey League this season. He is scheduled to attend the University of Nebraska-Omaha in the WCHA next season.

From that point on, it was all about defense. The Flyers selected blue-liners with four of their final five picks. Union College D Shayne Gostisbehere had perhaps the best name in the entire draft. The future promos for ticket sales write themselves (You have Gostisbehere!). But, Shayne is a phenomenal prospect. He recorded 22 points in 41 games as he helped lead Union to the Frozen Four in his first season of collegiate hockey.

The Flyers also took Swedish D Fredric Larsson, 18-year-old LW Taylor Leier from the Western Hockey League, 6’3″ D Reese Willcox of the British Columbia Hockey League, and rounded out their draft with Russian D Valeri Vasiliev.

It is not often that you will see late round picks amount to NHL players. There are just too few roster spots and too many selections. However, the Flyers knew that they needed to improve their defense if they wanted to remain competitive in the Eastern Conference. With Laughton’s two-way forte, and a handful of talented young Defensemen now in tow, Holmgren and the Flyers believe that they are ready to take on the free agent frenzy that will begin on July 1st.

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