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First Impressions

by Kevin Kurz / Philadelphia Flyers
Luca Sbisa was the Flyers' first round choice (19th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. (Getty Images)
(Voorhees, NJ) – Growing up in Switzerland, Philadelphia Flyers 2008 first round draft pick Luca Sbisa had a dream that isn’t a very common one among children in that country.

“Not a lot of Swiss players are in [the] NHL, but for sure that [was] my goal since I was little,” said the 6’2’’, 190-pound defenseman, in town to take part in the Flyers’ annual summer prospect camp. “I have always dreamed to play in the NHL, and now I am here in camp, I have to do my best so I can play here.”

Sbisa decided early on that his best chance to get noticed by NHL scouts would be to play in North America. He will return to the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League for his second season there after putting up six goals and 27 assists in 62 games last season, but in the meantime, is enjoying his first real experience with the Flyers since being drafted in late June.

”It’s great. You meet new guys, it’s a new organization, and the first impression I got is just great,” he said. “It’s great to be here and do all this stuff with the other guys.”

Sbisa was taken with the 19th overall choice by Philadelphia in the first round, after the Flyers moved up by trading R.J. Umberger to Columbus. He was described at the time by NHL Central Scouting as smart defenseman that plays with poise and handles the puck well. He is, however, still learning the North American game.
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2008 NHL Entry Draft coverage

Chris Pryor, the Flyers' director of hockey operations, was excited that Sbisa was still on the board with the 19th choice.

“[He] is a well rounded two-way player. He moves well, is competitive, smart, and has a good stick,” said Pryor at the draft. “There’s not a lot of weaknesses in his game. He’s going to be a good player, and he’s getting better as time goes on.”

Sbisa took part in a couple of other camps this summer, so arrived in good shape to prospect camp. Flyers trainer and strength and conditioning coach Jim McCrossin has been known to run a tough, physically demanding camp, but Sbisa thinks he is holding up well so far.
"There’s not a lot of weaknesses in his game. He’s going to be a good player, and he’s getting better as time goes on.” - Flyers Director of Hockey Operations Chris Pryor, on Luca Sbisa

”I already had two camps before this one, and it’s a hard camp here, but I think I had some advantage to the workouts the first time on the ice,” he said. “I think I am in pretty good shape, but like I said, it is a very hard camp. You always have to give 100% if you are going to be as good as the [other] guys.”

Sbisa can also claim that he is one of the first players to be guided by the club’s newest member of the coaching staff – longtime defenseman Eric Desjardins, who was named as the Flyers’ player development coach last week.

Desjardins was in town for the first part of the week to work with the young defensemen.

“At the end of practice we worked alongside the boards and we did a lot of stuff. He gave us little tips. After every time we did a drill, he comes to talk to you and gives you little things that you have to adjust. It’s just great to work with him.”

Sbisa is hoping that his experience here will help him in his second season with Lethbridge.

”I just try to watch the other guys and pick up some stuff of what they are doing,” said Sbisa. “Just the whole impression here, being in camp for the first time, you gain a lot of experience that I can bring back to juniors. You have more responsibility and are more of a leader, which is experience that I am gaining here.”

He is also hoping to return in September, when the Flyers begin training camp.

“I have not talked about that yet, but I think I will go there and we will go from there,” he said. “I will do my best there to be as long as I can with the team, then we will see what will happen.”
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