There use to be a time in recent years that the Philadelphia Flyers had some of the best crop of right wing prospects they have ever had in their system. You could have made an argument that they had the best overall group of right wing prospects in the entire NHL.
Well, not anymore I’m afraid. How quickly things have changed in the organization. Fortunately for them they still have one of the leagues better young prospects in the game today.
In our five part series, today we take a look at the Flyers top five right wing prospects (All stats are as of February 23, 2010).
1) Claude Giroux – (NHL)
When former Flyers General Manger Bob Clarke walked up to the podium at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver, Clarke–who had his sites set earlier in the day on drafting former OHL defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti–had a momentary brain lock when announcing the Flyers’ first round draft pick. Sanguinetti was taken by the hated New York Rangers just one spot prior.
When it became time to announce the Flyers pick, Clarke stumbled to remember Giroux’s name, turned to Paul Holmgren and asked who they were drafting. The moment was a comical one. The hosts at TSN in Canada who were covering the draft broke out in laughter which I’m sure anyone watching on TV was doing as well.
Needless to say, Clarke and Giroux will never forget it, or at least not anytime soon.
You can bet one thing however. If projections turn out to be true, very few people will be forgetting Claude Giroux’s name. Giroux just might be the most offensively gifted player in the entire Flyers system.
The Flyers have very few untouchables and Giroux is one of them. He is one of just a handful or promising young prospects in their system and with the team having salary cap issues don’t expect to Flyers to give up on Giroux anytime soon.
Despite his 5’9” frame, Giroux is tailor made for today’s NHL. Giroux is quick on his skates and shoots the puck well, but he is more known for his passing skills. You could make an argument that he is the best passer on the Flyers current roster. Time and patience is the way to go with Giroux
Outlook – Great things could be in store for Giroux as potentially a perennial 20-40 goal scorer and a 60-70 assist mane.
2) Stefan Legein – (AHL)
Given up for dead in his hockey career, Legein is having a renewed hockey life in Adirondack with the Phantoms. There was a time when Legein had given up on hockey all together, Legein is proving to be worth the risk when the Flyers traded for him from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The former second round pick is first one the Phantoms in goals with 21 and is fifth on the team in points.
If there is a downside to him it is that he is the same build as Giroux and Daniel Briere but if the Flyers continue to take risks on smaller players Legein might get a long look come training camp, especially if the Flyers can somehow move Briere in the off-season.
Outlook – Legein was a proven goal scorer in major juniors. If someone gives him a chance he could become something special. Key your eye out on this one.
3) Andreas Nodl – (NCAA)
Down a spot from last season’s rankings, Nodl has regressed some in his progress. A former legend at St. Cloud State University, Nodl was at one time considered to be one of the Flyers up and coming prospects. The native of Austria was taken 17 spots after Giroux in the 2006 draft, is not playing as well as in previous seasons. So far he has only 7 goals and 13 assists in 42 games.
Outlook – One edge for Nodl is that he is a left handed shot. The Flyers could move him to left wing if they decide to move Scott Hartnell one day. Flyers scouts really like his speed so don’t be surprised if he wears and orange and black jersey again one day.
4) Andrei Popov – (Russia)
Also taken in 2006, Popov is having his best season ever playing for Chelyabinsk in the KHL. So far he has 15 goals and 11 assists in 47 games. He has never scored more than five goals in a season in Russia. If the Flyers can convince him to come over it be might be someone worth scouting in the AHL next season.
Outlook – Very little is known of him. Outlook to be determined.
5) Rob Bellamy – ( AHL)
Bellemy is a solid forechecker and could be used in a fourth liners role some day. At one time was highly touted but has fallen in status with the team.