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Flyers Prospect Update

by Al Alven / Philadelphia Flyers
The following is an update on the status of various Flyers prospects at the Canadian major junior and U.S. collegiate levels, as well as those competing in Europe. Included are comments on each player by Flyers director of hockey operations, Chris Pryor.


Jacob DeSerres, G
Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

DeSerres was the beneficiary of an early season trade, moving from the Seattle Thunderbirds (where he was stuck behind Nashville Predators prospect Chet Pickard) to the Brandon Wheat Kings. In Brandon, the 19-year-old netminder will compete for time with incumbent Andrew Hayes, but should see much more action than he would backing up Pickard. In three games thus far for his new team, DeSerres has gone 1-1-0-1, with a 2.28 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

Pryor says: “The trade to Brandon was a good thing for Jacob, and gives him a fresh start. He doesn't have to compete with Pickard now. Obviously, the most important thing for any young player - especially goaltenders - is to play. He's off to good start with Brandon, and we expect good things out of him. We feel we have solid goaltending depth in the system.”

Dave Labrecque, C
Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)

Labrecque continues to play at a high level as the third line center for Shawinigan. A steady two-way threat in the offensive-minded Q, the 19-year-old pivot currently ranks fourth on the Cataractes in scoring with 13 points (five goals, eight assists) and 29 penalty minutes in 16 games, and is one of his team's most effective penalty killers.

Labrecque, a sixth round selection of the Flyers last summer (153rd overall), posted 61 points (13 goals, 48 assists) in 59 games for Shawinigan last season. He stepped up his game in the playoffs, producing 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) in 23 games.

Pryor says: “Dave is a very intelligent player. We really like the way he thinks the game. He's a very diligent defensive forward. Obviously, and this is the case with just about any teenage prospect, he needs to work on getting stronger, but we feel he's on the right path. He has a great attitude and is one of the leaders on his team.”

Adam Morrison, G
Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

The Saskatoon Blades currently boast the best record in the WHL (13-3-0-2), and Morrison is perhaps the biggest reason why. The sophomore netminder has been terrific this season, boasting an 8-3-0-2 record, 2.50 goals-against average, and .913 save percentage thus far. The 6-3, 185-pounder was the Flyers' first choice at last summer's entry draft (third round, 81st overall). He was very impressive in limited action as a WHL rookie last season, going 9-1-1-0 with a 2.49 GAA, .907 SP, and one shutout in 13 games with the Blades.

Pryor says: “Adam came into our summer rookie camp with a lot of confidence after being drafted. We thought he carried himself very well. He has taken over as the number one goalie for [Saskatoon] and has already played in about the same amount of games that he did last year. We have no reason to believe he can't develop into one of the better goalies in the WHL, if he isn't already there. He'll need to gradually bulk up, but he's only 18 and has plenty of time.”

Zac Rinaldo, LW
London Knights (OHL)

To those who have followed Rinaldo's junior career, even in passing, it should come as no surprise that he leads not just London but the entire OHL with 62 penalty minutes. The 5-11, 185-pound sparkplug has been at his agitating best thus far, playing in all game situations in his fourth season at the major junior level. Rinaldo, like the rest of his Knights teammates, has struggled to score, with only seven points (four goals, three assists) in 15 games. He signed a three-year entry level deal with the Flyers on August 11. Barring something unforeseen, he will turn pro in 2010-11.

Pryor says: “Zac is as energetic and feisty as they come. You have to love the energy he brings, and he's learning how to control his emotions. He has a better understanding of when to be more aggressive and when to tone it down. It all comes with experience, and he's really progressed as an all-around player during his time in the OHL. We're very happy to have him under contract, and look forward to seeing what he can do in the future for us.”

Eric Wellwood, LW
Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

The fact that Wellwood ranks fifth on Windsor with 20 points (11 goals, nine assists) in 17 games is an indication of the team's early season dominance. Wellwood is one of nine Spitfire regulars to be averaging at least one point-per-game thus far. The team boasts an OHL-best 13-3-0-3 record and has already reached 100 total goals (the next closest, the Barrie Colts, have only 76). Wellwood, now in his fourth season with Windsor, produced only 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 61 games last year; but he exploded in the playoffs with 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 20 games, helping the Spitfires capture the OHL and Memorial Cup championships.

Pryor says: “We expect Eric to produce offensively this year, especially playing on such a strong Windsor team and considering his performance in the playoffs last year. He's one of the team's veterans, and is a natural fit in a leadership role. We also had Eric in for our rookie camp and he looked good. He's a guy that isn't far off from turning pro. We'd like to have him move up next year.”


Oliver Lauridsen, D
St. Cloud State (WCHA

No player at this summer's Flyers rookie camp stood out more than Lauridsen, at least from a physical standpoint. At 6-6, 220-pounds, he towered over just about everyone. The Danish import is off to a good start in his second season at St. Cloud, with three points (one goal, two assists) and six penalty minutes in eight games. Lauridsen had only one assist and 38 penalty minutes over 28 games as a freshman. The increase in offensive production is a byproduct of the icetime he has earned, as he continues to look more comfortable with experience and added responsibility.

Pryor says: “He's a real presence, huge guy. It's a matter of adjustment and development with him, given his background. But, he's really making strides. He's learning to use his body and is playing lots of minutes at St. Cloud. [Scout and former Flyers defenseman] Derian Hatcher saw him recently and had good things to say. We have the luxury of allowing him to develop for four years in college, and we'll see how he does.”

Brad Phillips, G
Notre Dame (CCHA)

After appearing in only five games as a freshman then missing the entire 2008-09 season with a knee injury, Phillips has returned to grab the reigns as the Fighting Irish's starting goaltender. The 6-2, 185-pound junior officially staked his claim on October 21, blanking defending national champion Boston University on the road, 3-0, with a 34-save performance. While the team has struggled in Phillips' other starts (he's 1-3-1 overall), he has been rock solid, posting a 2.18 goals-against average and .923 save percentage thus far.

Pryor says: “We drafted Brad three years ago, but he's just now getting his chance [to play] because of the injury last year. Obviously, the shutout against BU must have been great for his confidence. That was the first time BU had been shutout in a long time (99 games). He's another guy we can let develop and make a decision on later. It gives us some options. So far, so good this season. We're interested to see how he does as the starter at Notre Dame.”

European Leagues

Simon Bertilsson, D
Brynas IF Gavle (Sweden)

Only 18, Bertilsson has already made a successful jump to the Elitserien, the top league in Sweden. In 12 games for Brynas this season, the 6'0, 185-pound rearguard has yet to register a point, but has been a solid presence in his own end. His 27 penalty minutes, indicative of his assertive style, lead the team by a healthy margin. A mobile defender who has shown flashes of offensive ability, Bertilsson is a likely candidate to suit up for his homeland at the upcoming World Junior Championships in Canada.

Pryor says: “All of our reports on Simon are very good. We're high on him, and believe he's closer to coming over and playing here than some might think. He's a very smart and competitive defenseman. It's been a big step for him, making the jump to the Brynas men's team, but he has looked good. For him to get the opportunity to play at the world juniors, that would be great. Hopefully, he makes the team, which would be a great accomplishment for him.”

Denis Bodrov, D
Atlant Mytischy (Russia)

A veteran of the Russian pro ranks at age 23, Bodrov is now competing in his fifth season in the RSL/KHL, and first full campaign with Atlant. He has one goal and six penalty minutes in 12 games thus far, having battled injury and inconsistency early on. Bodrov will be counted upon as the season progresses. His aggression makes him an asset when he is at the top of his game.

Pryor says: “The question on Bodrov has never been whether we want him to play for us. We've been trying to get him to come over for the past few years, but it hasn't worked out. Things might be changing, though, with regard to the Russian league and the attitudes of young players wanting to come over and play in the NHL. We'll continue to talk to his agent and see if we can bring him over at some point.”

Joacim Eriksson, G
Brynas IF Gavle (Sweden)

After spending the previous two seasons in the Brynas system, where he was essentially blocked by top-rated goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom (Florida Panthers), Eriksson has found new opportunity with Leksand. He has been one of the top performers in the Allsvenskan (top minor league equivalent) this season, registering a 2.41 goals-against average, .925 save percentage, and one shutout in nine games.

Pryor says: “Joacim is working his way up to the top league in Sweden. We liked what we saw out of him at our rookie camp this summer. He's a smart goaltender, very good positionally. We'll continue to monitor him, and have our scouts offer guidance where we can.”

Jakub Kovar, G
HC Mountfield (Czech Republic)

Kovar (pronounced Ko-VASH) presently serves as the backup to former NHLer Roman Turek for Mountfield of the Czech Extraliga. He has posted decent numbers despite a 4-7 record, with a 2.66 goals-against average, .903 save percentage, and one shutout. The 21-year-old netminder has also appeared in two games for the minor league club ,Tabor, going 1-1. Kovar is now in his second season back in the Czech Republic, after splitting time with Oshawa and Windsor in the OHL in 2007-08.

Pryor says: “[European scout] Illka Sinisalo saw him just last week and had a very positive report. Jakub seems to be settling in back home and is developing at his own pace. He's a very acrobatic goaltender. He did well in his one year in the OHL, and that was a good experience for him. We'd like to see him over here again, but we'll just have to wait and see for now.”

Andrei Popov, RW
Chelyabinsk Traktor (Russia)

Popov is off to an outstanding start in his fourth season with Chelyabinsk, leading the team with 15 points (10 goals, 5 assists) in 18 games. The 21-year-old forward looks primed for a breakout season, also exhibiting an increased awareness in the defensive end and effectiveness in a penalty-killing role. Over the previous three seasons, Popov tallied 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) in 131 total games.  

Pryor says: “We need to see more of him, but he's a hard worker. He has some skill. He would probably be more of a role player if he came over. That's how we envision him. We'd like to see both [Bodrov] and Popov over here to evaluate them. It's hard to say exactly what you have until you get the chance to see what they can do in person.”
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