Top prospects to close out season this weekend with the Phantoms
by Kevin Kurz
(Voorhees, NJ, April 11) – Two of the unpolished gems of the Philadelphia Flyers' future, forward Claude Giroux
and defenseman Ryan Parent, are getting to know the area in which both hope to have long and distinguished NHL careers.
Having said that, they haven't seen all that much of Philadelphia just yet.
"I've seen around New Jersey a little bit because I live at the [hotel]," said Giroux. "New Jersey seems pretty nice. I've gone to the mall."
"I've seen the route from Skate Zone to the [Wachovia Spectrum], and that's about it. Oh, and also the mall," said Parent.
When not in their hotel rooms or at the Echelon Mall in Voorhees, Giroux and Parent have made a good impression on the ice in their short stints here thus far since their seasons in junior hockey came to a close. Giroux has played in two games with the Phantoms, registering his first professional point, while Parent played in one game for the Flyers and three for the Phantoms. Parent got his first professional goal on April 6 for the Flyers' AHL affiliate.
This weekend, they will play in the Phantoms' final three games of the regular season.
"Each game, I felt I've been playing a little bit better. I've been getting more comfortable," said Parent. "I just keep progressing with that. I want to leave the season on a positive note for [training] camp next summer."
"In my first game, I had some trouble adjusting, but in the second game I was able to play more of my game," said Giroux. "The experience is great. I just want to play hard and make sure to get some points this weekend."
Kjell Samuelsson, the former Flyers defenseman and head coach of the Phantoms, has been impressed with what he's seen thus far.
"I haven't seen anything that I haven't liked," said Samuelsson. "Ryan Parent is a mobile defenseman who caught up to the speed of the AHL pretty quickly, which is a tremendous upside. His assets are his skating and puck movement. Claude Giroux
is a very skilled forward who can open up any defense in this league. He seems likes he's really enjoying playing hockey, too. He's always working hard and has a smile on his face."
Giroux and Parent have both been with the organization for less than a year, as Giroux was the club's first round draft choice in 2006 and Parent was acquired as part of the Peter Forsberg trade with Nashville on February 15. Both are coming off of impressive seasons in junior.
It's no secret that they are being counted on by the Flyers' brass to one day become impact players in the NHL.
"Actually, it feels pretty good just to hear that," said Giroux. "Ryan is a very good defenseman. He is going to be a good defenseman in the NHL later on. Hopefully I can improve and be able to help the Flyers."
"There's lots of pressure," added Parent. "I guess they have been watching us. I was told they were going to give us the opportunity. We just have to prove ourselves and do what we've done to get this far."
Right now, the general consensus is that Giroux will play another season in junior in 2007-08, while Parent (a year older than Giroux) could challenge for a spot on the Flyers' blue line in 2007 training camp. Parent would be eligible to play for the Phantoms next season, however, while Giroux would either have to make the Flyers out of camp or go back to his junior club. Both think they have to continue to get bigger and stronger in order to make that next step, among other things.
"Giroux's strengths are his skating and his puck movement. His weakness is that he needs to get better without the puck," said Samuelsson. "That is a case of any skilled player who is coming out of the junior leagues. He has to get better and play harder without the puck."
"I definitely need more improvements," said Parent. "I want to get a little bit bigger and stronger. I want to work out and get a little more speed."
Fortunately for the Flyers, there is plenty of time for those improvements to be made in what looks like a promising future.