For the past 15 days TPS has taken a look at one team from the Eastern conference and one club from the West, spotlighting a rookie or two to watch for this season. This afternoon we wrap up the series as we explore the freshmen candidates of the Philadelphia Flyers.
With the massive changes executed by GM Paul Holmgren over the summer the Flyers will look vastly different in 2011-12 than they did a season ago. Out are Jeff Carter and Mike Richards and in their place are several young NHLers including Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds. Former NHL superstar Jaromir Jagr and Maxim Talbot, both former arch-villains from Pittsburgh, are on the team too.
Certainly the rookie with the best opportunity to stick with the team this year is Brayden Schenn. L.A.'s 1st pick, 5th overall in 2009, is penciled onto the 3rd line according to many pundits and the job is likely his too lose at camp. After a year playing in the NHL, AHL, two teams in the WHL as well as Canada at the WJC, a little stability in his employment will do wonders for Schenn.
Schenn was the big trading chip in the WHL last year eventually picked up by Saskatoon who instantly became favourites to take the WHL title. That didn't work out in the end but this year's hot commodity at the CHL trade deadline could be Sean Courturier, if he doesn't stick in Philly. Drummondville holds his QMJHL rights but the team isn't a contender this year so it's all but a certainty that the stud forward will be on the move. But what if he impresses at NHL camp? Can the 6'4, 200 lb center force his way onto the team? Maybe for the 9-game limit but I think the Flyers are too deep and can be patient with a guy many think was a steal at 8th overall.
A real dark horse to see some time with the Flyers could be Matt Read who turned pro after four NCAA season at Bemidji State. He's listed at 5'10 and 185 lbs but has been a point per game player in college and through 11 AHL games last year as well. Not out of camp but if he can keep up that pace with the Phantoms then a recall could certainly be in the picture for Read.