I was able to squeeze out two days this week at the Flyers 2009 Rookie Camp at the SkateZone in Voorhees, NJ. Watching these players for just two mornings really does not allow for a complete review but I figured I would talk about some of the more important names in the Flyers system that we may very well see suiting up for the Orange and Black in the next few seasons.
James vanRiemsdyk - 2007 Round 1 (2nd Overall)
-In the two mornings, certain players would catch my eye, and others would just kind of blend in. JVR just seemed to blend in. That is not good considering he is thought of as the top prospect in the Flyers system. On Friday, he was barely noticable on the ice. I had to look to find him. During the scrimmage portion of the day, a penalty would result in a penalty shot. On Sunday, JVR took one penalty shot and also participated in the shootout at the end. For a kid with the abundance of skills he has, he did not show them in either attempt. He looked real bad taking both shots (missed the net on the first and mishandled the second). He did show flashes of speed Sunday once he got his legs moving, but his lack of explosiveness is cause for concern. He does look to have gained some muscle weight since the end of the Phantoms season, but he would have to really turn it up at training camp in September to make the Flyers roster.
Kevin Marshall - 2007 Round 2
-The Flyers traded up two years ago to take Marshall, a defenseman, in the second round. When I saw him at Rookie Camp 2 years ago he was small and thin and I really did not see what all the hype was about. Within the last year, he has grown a couple inches and put on some serious muscle. He looks like he could be a force this year in the organization. He will most likely play for the Phantoms this season. It was tough to watch him really play because I was on the opposite side he was playing defense on. He has all the makings of being a punishing physical force on the blueline for the Flyers one day. As for the upcoming season, he will have to take the next step in the AHL with his first season as a Phantom.
Marc-Andre Bourdon - 2008 Round 3
-Bourdon is a highly touted defenseman in the Flyers system. He can provide offense, be physical, and even drop the gloves. He really impressed the organization in the QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League). This was my first opportunity to watch him play, and in the little bit of time, I liked what I saw. He has descent size but plays big with his body. He threw a couple big hits in the scrimmage and moved the puck well. He made some mistakes but that is to be expected. I wish I had more of an opportunity to watch him.
Oliver Lauridsen - 2009 Round 7
-It's not too often a 7th rounder in his draft year catches your eye. This kid sure did. He is 6'6 and was easily the tallest and most physically dominating player in the two days I saw. I would consider him more of a "project" but he moved surprisingly well for a big kid. I was really impressed and if he continues to develop in the next few seasons at St. Cloud St., I believe he will be a solid defenseman in the AHL and, he will have to work hard, but with his size could crack an NHL lineup. In Sunday's scrimmage he drew some attention with a couple big body checks, one on Phantoms enforcer Matt Clackson. Clackson took offense to it and challenged him. Lauridsen did not seem willing. Clackson spent the rest of the scrimmage chasing him around challenging him to fight. There is one more day of camp for them to go. Unfortunately I will not be able to see it.
Rocco Carzo - Undrafted
-I mentioned Rocco in my last blog. Carzo practiced with my varsity hockey team at Cardinal O'Hara when I was a senior and he was in eighth grade. He played only his freshman year at O'Hara contributing in their only Flyers Cup Championship in 2006. He graduated O'Hara this past spring, while also playing in the USHL (United States Hockey League) for Des Moines. He did not play hockey for O'Hara sophomore through senior year. He really impressed me this week. He got much taller and gained some muscle since the last time I saw him. He was one of the youngest players at camp this week and did not look out of place at all. He was invited to camp this season even though he is undrafted and unsigned. I believe he is going to play in college this upcoming season. I did get to watch him work with the Flyers skating coach, and he was showing Carzo different ways to use his legs to be a more explosive skater. The best thing Rocco can do this week is learn as much as he can and apply is next season in college. He can only improve if he continues to work hard.
There were a couple things I noticed that could reflect what the organization is thinking for the upcoming AHL season. There were two line combinations that played together throughout the week that could very well be the top two lines for the Phantoms this upcoming season:
Andreas Nodl - Jonathon Matsumoto - James vanRiemsdyk
Patrick Maroon - Jon Kalinski - David Laliberte
All six played for the Phantoms last season, even though JVR did not join the team until late March. These are the next six prospects we will see this season at some point with the Flyers. Last season it was guys like Darrell Powe, Jared Ross, Nodl and Kalinski. Kalinski had the serious blood clot in his leg last season and from the looks of it at camp, he is ready to take the next step. Maroon, Laliberte and Matsumoto had break-out seasons for the Phantoms last year and will be expected to match the contributions. If they do, we could see them called up if injuries occur to any Flyers on the roster.
With rookie camp about over, we are about two months away from training camp. It cannot come fast enough. I really do not see the Flyers doing anything serious in terms of roster moves before camp. There will be rumors but aside from little tweaks, I do not foresee anyone like Briere or Gagne being moved. The new season is right around the corner. I really cannot wait for it.