Monday, March 18, 2013

Junior tracker 3/18

The Phantoms are on the road for much of this week -- visiting Norfolk Tuesday and Wednesday and then Connecticut Saturday -- so blog updates are probably going to be a little scarce until they return.

However, I thought this might be a good time to take a look at how some of Philadelphia's amateur prospects are doing and when we might see some of those players join the Adirondack Phantoms.

Remember, the rule is that AHL teams can sign junior or college players to try-out contracts once their respective teams have been eliminated from the playoffs. And it seems like we might already be seeing one of those in the works. Philadelphia's 2011 seventh-rounder Derek Mathers, whose Peterborough Petes were eliminated from playoff contention Sunday, Tweeted a fan who asked him if he would be recalled by Adirondack that he would "be there tomorrow" -- so keep an eye out for that.

Mathers, billed as Philadelphia's enforcer of the future, produced 10-19-29 in 64 OHL games this season, adding 125 penalty minutes and 11 fighting majors. He had 26 penalty minutes in nine games with Adirondack last year, including this pummeling he unleashed on Worcester's Mike Moore.

First of all, something to keep an eye on is the ECHL. Trenton is 13 points out of a playoff spot with seven games remaining. The Titans' last scheduled game is March 30, so it wouldn't surprise me to see guys like Shane Harper, Andrew Johnston and Cal Heeter get called up once their season ends.

Now, as far as juniors go, the big players to keep an eye on are guys like Scott Laughton, a two-way center who nearly made the Flyers as an 18-year-old, and Nick Cousins, who had 103 points in 64 OHL games. They are both on playoff teams (Oshawa and Sault Ste. Marie), respectively, so they have to play out their first playoff series before they could possibly be assigned to Adirondack.

You're looking around the beginning of April if they lose the first round series, and if they win it then it'd be anywhere between another week and two weeks before you might see them come to Adirondack. The Phantoms' last scheduled game is April 21, so if either of those players make it to a third playoff round, you can probably forget about seeing them in Glens Falls this season.

Laughton and fellow prospect Colin Suellentrop, a defenseman picked in the fourth round in 2011, are on a pretty good Oshawa team that locked up the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and they're playing a sub-.500 team in Niagara in the first round. Cousins and fellow Flyers prospect Brandon Alderson are on the No. 6 team in the Western Conference, which goes against No. 3 seed Owen Sound, which only lost 18 games in regulation. That will be a pretty tough match-up for them.

A guy you may be a little less likely to see is goalie Anthony Stolarz, Philadelphia's second-round pick in 2012. He is on a talented London Knights team that picked up 105 points in the regular season, which was tops in the OHL. They've got a pretty good offense, and could go a long way.

In the WHL, two guys to keep an eye on are Taylor Leier, Philadelphia's fourth pick in 2012. He had 62 points in 64 games, but he was on a Portland team that won the regular-season title by nine points. The Flyers have an overager, Brendan Ranford, playing for Kamloops -- and he put up his third straight season of 86 or more points, finishing with 87. Again, though, his team is a No. 3 seed.

If they were to lose in the first round, you'd be looking at the end of March or the start of April.

One more to look for is defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere is having a breakout season down the road at Union College, but he's only a sophomore. He couldn't sign an try-out unless he wanted to forego his junior and senior seasons. Same situation with Nick Luukko, a defenseman at Vermont.

This is all fluid, obviously, and the Flyers could always bring someone in that they haven't drafted. Remember Matt Mangene and Campbell Elynuik last year? They signed Mangene as a free agent out of Maine, and Elynuik was a kid they had in their development camp that past summer. So you might want to also keep an eye on some of the players who were in Philadelphia's camp this past summer.

If I hear anything definite about any of these guys, I will be sure to pass that information along.

More after the Norfolk game tomorrow. Check out the print story about Garrett Roe, a Virginia native. His brother is actually stationed at Naval Station Norfolk, so he's really excited about the trip.

-- MC


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March 23, 2013 at 2:19 AM 

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