Philadelphia Flyers Top Ten Prospects

True prospects, picked by yours truly, decided upon potential, upside, NHL readiness, raw skill, leadership skills and players who have not seen a lick of the National Hockey League.

1. Kevin Marshall – drafted by Philadelphia in the second round (41st overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
2. Marc-Andre Bourdon – drafted by Philadelphia in the third round (67th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
3. Stefan Legein – drafted by Columbus in the second round (37th overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
4. Joacim Eriksson – drafted by Philadelphia in the seventh round (196th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
5. Patrick Maroon – drafted by Philadelphia in the sixth round (161st overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
6. Simon Bertilsson – drafted by Philadelphia in the third round (87th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
7. Nicola Riopel – drafted by Philadelphia in the fifth round (142nd overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft
8. Joonas Lehtivuori – drafted by Philadelphia in the fourth round (101st overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
9. Dave Lebrecque – drafted by Philadelphia in the sixth round (153rd overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
10. Eric Wellwood – drafted by Philadelphia in the sixth round (172nd overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
C – Jonathan Matsumoto, D – Denis Bodrov and G – Adam Morrison, RW – David Laliberte and G – Jacob De Serres would round-out the top-15.

#1 – K. MARSHALL – Defense, 6’0” 206, Hometown: Boucherville, Quebec, 3/10/89

Currently playing for the Phantoms, Kevin Marshall is one of the meanest, grittiest 20-year-olds you will meet. He can hit, he can skate, he can shoot, he will run you every chance he gets and he will be a bad, bad man for the Flyers. He is the closest NHL-ready prospect the Flyers have.

Last year for Quebec he recorded 38 points with 125 penalty minutes and was a plus-23. This year for the Phantoms, in his first year of professional hockey, Marshall has seen some growing pains and only has four points in 48 games along with 55 PIM.

Fellow Flyer Ian Laperriere has already shown Marshall a thing or two.

He took Marshall under his wing this summer in their hometown of Montreal and told him everything he needed to know, including many tips from Hall-of-Famer Joe Sakic about training (Laperriere’s former teammate).

“What I like about him (Marshall) is, you can see when a young kid gets it,” said Laperriere during a summer workout. “He knows he needs to make sacrifices to be in the NHL.”

“Kevin is one of those guys, he just gets it.”

COMPARISON: Darius Kasparaitis.

#2 – M. BOURDON – Defense, 6’0” 225, Hometown: St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, 9/17/89

Currently playing for the Phantoms, Bourdon has ten points in 49 games and 49 PIM.

Bourdon was one of the top offensive defensemen eligible for the 2008 draft. He makes a great first pass out of his defensive zone and distributes the puck well – will be a power-play quarterback. His downfall is his skating ability. He needs to get faster and quicker on his feet.

Over parts of three seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Bourdon had 32 goals, 115 assists for 147 points in 186 regular season games and recorded 306 penalty minutes. He also added 35 points in 46 post-season games with 71 penalty minutes.

In 2007-08 he was named to the QMJHL First All-Star Team and the Canadian Major Junior Second All-Star Team. In 2008-09 Bourdon was awarded the Emile “Butch” Bouchard Trophy as the QMJHL’s best defenseman.

Besides skating, Bourdon needs to work on his defensive game to be a successful top-four defenseman. Already playing in the AHL, will be playing for a spot with the Flyers next season, along with Marshall

COMPARISON: Bryan McCabe.

#3 – S. LEGEIN – Right wing, 5’10” 175, Hometown: Oakville, Ontario, 11/24/88

Currently playing for the Phantoms, Legein oozes offensive upside, has turbo boosters for skates and plays with an edge. Legein is perhaps the most talented, but yet raw, prospect in the Flyers cupboard. His style of game fits perfect for the new NHL.

He was acquired earlier in the season from Columbus in exchange for second round pick Michael Ratchuk. Legein has 21 goals in 51 games this season for Syracuse and Adirondack.

Legein’s first full season in the OHL (2006-07) he recorded 43 goals and 32 assists in 64 games along with 115 penalty minutes. In 2007-08, Legein potted 24 goals and added 13 assists in 30 games and was part of Team Canada’s Gold Medal winning World Junior team.

Following the 2008 campaign, Legein and Columbus management didn’t see eye-to-eye and Legein stepped away from the game for half of the season. Following his return, he played just 32 games for the Crunch and was sent to Philadelphia.

Scouts and coaches alike have questioned his work ethic but it looks to be back on track in the Flyers organization. Legein has the speed, feistiness and finish ability to contribute as a top-six forward in Philadelphia. When he gets the call, he’ll be ready.

COMPARISON: Matt Duchene

#4 – J. ERIKSSON – Goalie, 6’1” 190, Hometown: Gavle, Sweden, 4/9/90

Currently playing in the Allsvenskan League for Leksands IF, Allsvenskan is the second-highest level professional hockey league in Sweden, directly under the Swedish Elite League (SEL).

Eriksson is a butterfly goaltender that catches right-handed, has very quick reflexes, moves well side-to-side and also has good hockey sense. He has decent size and covers the net fairly well. He has the ability to virtually stand on his head and make those huge, game-winning saves. There is not a lot that Eriksson must work on –just needs some seasoning and needs to adjust to the North American game when he arrives.

Coming out of the draft at age 18, Eriksson posted a 1.99 goals against average with a .930 save percentage in 33 games for team Brynäs in the SuperElit under-20 league. Eriksson was the second-ranked Swedish goaltender behind Jacob Markström (Panthers first round pick in ‘08).

Just one year later, at just 19, Eriksson has established himself as a premier goaltender in the Allsvenskan. In 33 games played, Eriksson ranks in the top-three of the major goalie categories with a 2.27 goals-against average with a .927 save percentage.

I’ve had many talks with Joacim and his plans for next year are still up in the air. He just wants to focus on this season.

The Flyers will do anything they can to have Eriksson signed and playing North American hockey as a 20 year old, next season.

According to many scouts, Eriksson has seen his stock rise the most out of all the goalie prospects in the NHL, and currently sits at the 31st best prospect in the NHL.

COMPARISON: Henrik Lundqvist

#5 – P. MAROON – Left wing, 6’4” 225, Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri, 4/23/88

Currently playing for the Phantoms, Maroon is a big, strong, hulking body and a load to deal with playing the wing. Surprisingly for his size, Maroon possesses a ton of scoring and finish ability.

Maroon played two seasons in the NAHL where he recorded 155 points in 114 games. In 2007-08, Maroon played one season for the London Knights, recorded 35 goals and 55 assists in 64 games, was drafted by Philadelphia that summer, and signed by the Flyers at the beginning of the 2008 season. Three year stretch – three different leagues – Maroon impressed in all three. His first season of professional hockey, Maroon scored 23 goals and recorded 31 assists in 80 games for the Philadelphia Phantoms.

Through 41 games this season, Maroon has eight goals and 23 assists and missed almost two months of the season with concussion problems.

Due to his size, Maroon has had conditioning problems in the past and his work ethic has been questioned. No doubt what he can bring on the ice – Like Legein, Maroon could be a call-up any day now.

COMPARISON: Dustin Penner

#6 – S. BERTILSSON – Defense, 6’0” 185, Hometown: Gavle, Sweden, 4/19/91

At only 18 years old, Bertilsson is currently playing in the Swedish Elite League.

Bertilsson is one of my favorite Flyers prospects.

Bertilsson is a skilled and mobile defenseman with above average hockey sense who loves to play physical and step-up and connect on bone-crushing, open ice hits. A very all-round defenseman that contributes at both ends of the ice, plays with authority and is a leader on his team. Bertillson should become a solid player defensively with some offensive skills to go.

In 2008-09, Bertilsson appeared in 21 games for Brynas of the Swedish Elite League, recording one assist. He played most of the season for Brynas in the Swedish Junior Elite League recording 31 points (9g, 22a) in 30 games, helping Brynas win the league championship. He also played for Team Sweden at the 2009 Under-18 World Junior Championships and Team Sweden’s International team where he recorded four goals and seven assists in 25 games.

This season for Brynas, Bertilsson is the youngest player on the roster and has one goal and three assists with 43 PIM in 30 games.

Bertilsson will not be rushed through the Flyers system and is still atleast two years away – but could find himself playing North American professional hockey as soon as next season.

COMPARISON: Niklas Kronwall

#7 – N. RIOPEL – Goalie, 6’0” 170, Hometown: St. Pie De Bagot, Quebec, 2/20/89

Currently playing for Moncton of the QMJHL, Riopel could be a star or a bust. He’s got the numbers and potential to do big things with Philadelphia but did that come from playing on a great QMJHL team? I think so. Moncton is one of the best defensive teams in CHL. Also, there are reasons the 20-year-old has been undrafted before and fell to the fifth round in 2009.

In 2008-09, Riopel posted a 43-15-0 record along with a 2.01 GAA and.931 save percentage in 59 appearances, including five shutouts with the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL. He was awarded the Michel Briere Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the QMJHL and Jacque Plante Trophy for having the best goals-against average (2.01 – new QMJHL record), and was also named to the QMJHL’s First All-Star Team.

Over parts of four seasons in Moncton, Riopel compiled a record of 75-56-0 with a 2.67 GAA, .915 save percentage and seven shutouts in 143 appearances. He has also posted a 6-8 career postseason record with a 2.76 GAA, .914 save percentage and two shutouts in 14 games.

This year Riopel played ten forgettable games for the Phantoms. He had a 3.35 goals against average and a save percentage of .893. He was returned to his QMJHL team for his fifth season – he is currently 14-1-2 with a 2.10 goals against and a .916 save percentage.

Look for Riopel to carry the load for the Phantoms next season.

COMPARISON: Jose Theodore

#8 – J.LEHTIVUORI – Defense, 5’10” 170, Hometown: Pirkkala, Finland, 7/19/88

Currently playing for the Phantoms Lehtivuori’s is one of the most offensive-minded and puck carrying defensemen I’ve seen. He carries the puck in all three zones on the ice, with confidence, but unlike a typical power-play quarterback, Lehtivuori does not compile a lot of points and find himself on the scoring sheet. Due to his lack of size, Lehtivuori may struggle a lot in the defensive end of the ice – but they said the exact same thing about fellow countryman, Kimmo Timonen.

Following his fourth year in Sweden playing for Ilves Tampere of the Finish National League, Lehtivuori made the switch to North American hockey.

In four years for Ilves, Lehtivuori played 133 games and compiled 12 goals and 21 assists.

This year for the Phantoms, he has three goals and nine assists in 40 games and finds himself behind two teammates in line for Flyers time.

COMPARISON: Trevor Daley

#9 – D. LABRECQUE – Center, 6’0” 174, Hometown: Vanier, Quebec, 1/27/90

One of the more unknown prospects, Labrecque is a jack of all trades prospect with tons of offensive talent.

In 2008-09 his first full season in the QMJHL, Labrecque recorded 61 points (13g, 48a) in 59 games, including a plus/minues rating of plus-23, with the Shawinigan Cataractes. He finished third on the team in assists and fifth in points. He also recorded 19 points (3g, 16a) with 34 penalty minutes in 20 postseason games.

Despite losing some linemates, Labrecque is up to his normal acts. In 53 games, he’s scored 22 goals and chipped in for 33 assists, good for 55 points along with 74 penalty minutes, to boot.

Labrecque matured late and despite being an ’09 draft pick, is already 20 years old. Labrecque and James van Riemsdyk had instant chemistry at Flyers rookie camp this summer.

Labrecque will most likely turn professional next season and play for Adirondack. He is a young center with tons of upside, something the Flyers lack.

COMPARISON: Mikko Koivu

#10 – E. WELLWOOD – Left wing, 5’11” 179, Hometown: Oldcastle, Ontario, 3/6/90

The younger (skinnier) brother of Canucks forward Kyle Wellwood could be considered a stretch to make the top-ten, but not for me.

This kid understands what it takes to be a complete hockey player. His two-way hockey skills are so highly regarded, that the Flyers actually worked him out as a defenseman this past summer during their rookie and team camps. He is an outstanding penalty-killer that works his tail off in the defensive end and owns tons of hockey sense. Look for Wellwood to fly up in the prospect rankings in the near future. He understands the true meaning of hard work and team concept and his defensive play and commitment to win will never be in question.

In 2008-09, Wellwood began the year with limited ice time for the Windsor Spitfires and finished the regular season with 16 goals and 18 assists in 61 games. As the season went on, Wellwood improved so much that he was one of the leading scorers in the OHL Playoffs, totaling ten goals and 11 assists in 20 games.

This season for Windsor, Wellwood continues to impress on both ends of the ice. He has 30 goals and 32 assists for 62 points, through just 56 games.

A player who was not ranked by Central Scouting during his draft year, is really starting to turn heads and will make a quality two-way center sooner than people think.

COMPARISON: Joe Pavelski

In all, with James van Riemsdyk (20) and Cluade Giroux (21) ‘graduating’ I would rank the Flyers’ prospects in the bottom half of the league. Outside of Kevin Marshall, they lack another true top-pairing defenseman. The well is dry at the center position outside of the professional leagues and despite Stefan Legein’s game-breaking ability, the Flyers also lack a ‘can’t miss’ top-six offensive weapon. In net, the Flyers have seven goaltending prospects but don’t have a goaltender drafted higher than the third round and tabbed as the goaltender of the future in net (many believe Eriksson is turning into this).

Also, if they’re questions as to why some players were left off this list, feel free to comment here or ask me via twitter @HockeyGuy_DLEED.