Selected by the Flyers with the 52nd overall pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, right winger Wade Allison has come as advertised during his freshman season at Western Michigan University.
A big power forward with a heavy righthanded shot and a deft touch around the net, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound native of Roland, Manitoba has produced 10 goals (four on the power play) and 16 points overall in his first 20 games of collegiate hockey. He's kept up a pace that saw him score seven times in the first 14 games.
Playing right wing on a line with sophomore center Colt Conrad and freshman left winger Hugh McGing, Allison hit double-digit goals for the season in the Western Michigan Broncos' 7-2 loss to Denver on Saturday. Allison's even-strength tally temporarily reduced his team's deficit to 2-1 early in the second period. One night earlier, the 14th-ranked Broncos shut out the No. 1-ranked Pioneers, 3-0. Allison survived a scare on a brutal hit by Denver's Adam Plant, who received a major and misconduct.
Overall, Allison is second on his team in both goals and total points. Sophomore forward Matteson Iacopelli, a Chicago Blackhawks prospect, paces the squad with 15 goals and 21 points in 20 games to date. Former Flyers assistant coach Andy Murray is the Broncos' head coach.
"We were happy to be able to select Wade where we did, and we think has the ability to continue to grow in his overall game and also score goals," Flyers assistant general manager Chris Pryor said in July.
Allison has progressed in his all-around play at an encouraging rate during his freshman season to date. His first stride has shown signs of improvement and he's also developed since last year in his play without the puck.
The winger, who turned 19 years old on Oct. 14, spent the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the Tri-City Storm after playing midget hockey for the Omaha Lancers and, previously, the Pembina Valley Hawks in Manitoba.
In 2012, Allison was courted by the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings as well as being selected 15th overall in the Quebec Major Hockey League draft. He perceived a better opportunity for himself to play collegiate track hockey in the United States. Ultimately, the chance to play for Murray at Western Michigan secured his commitment to the Broncos' program.
Eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft, Allison battled various nagging injuries in the first half of last season and started a bit slowly. However, he came on very strong in the second half and rocketed up the pre-draft rankings of many NHL teams, including the Flyers.
"It's more about where you finish than where you start, and Wade was on upward track as the season went along. We like his game," Pryor said in July.
In particular, Allison has displayed two traits that cannot be taught: a willingness to venture into the high-punishment, high-reward areas and put his body in harm's way in order to make a play and the hands to finish plays around the net.
These abilities were evident during Allison's first development camp with the Flyers last July. His game has continued to grow in the months since embarking on his first collegiate season.