VOORHEES, N.J. – Brandon Alderson has a somewhat strange perception of reality.
“I don’t like to say this, but I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Nick (Cousins),” he said. “[Flyers Director of Player Development Ian Laperriere] was checking in on him in [Sault Ste. Marie] and that’s how he saw me play.”
Maybe Alderson was just saying that to stroke the ego of his housemate from their time together with the Greyhounds in the OHL, or maybe he really believes it.
Either way, it should be duly noted that Alderson earned his contract with the Flyers on his own – and not just because Laperriere happened to see him while visiting Cousins.
“When you have undrafted free agents who played [Canadian] juniors, there’s definitely a history and a profile already in place,” said Flyers Director of Scouting Chris Pryor. “So we knew about Alderson from his draft year (2010).”
At the time, Alderson was with the Sarnia Sting while Cousins was with the Greyhounds.
So there’s that.
That’s not to say Alderson is entirely mistaken either. After all, since arriving in Sault Ste. Marie, Alderson’s game flourished, and once he was put on the same line as Cousins, his numbers more than doubled those he posted in Sarnia.
|Brandon Alderson's decision to sign with the Flyers was made easier by having his housemate Nick Cousins already in the organization. |
In his final OHL season (2012-13) Alderson scored 28 goals and added 36 assists for 64 points in 67 games for the Greyhounds.
It was enough for the Flyers to sign him to see if he develops into something more at the next level.
“He slid through the draft a few times, but then all of the sudden, last season he seemed to start figuring it out,” Pryor said. “He’s got great size and moves really well. He looks like a player to us. Sometimes it takes guys a little longer to put it together. We’d seen a lot of him between our amateur guys and Laperriere – and yes it was because we were checking in on Cousins, but we had a good handle on him and a good feel for him.
“I think it helped us to get him to sign here because of Nick because it made Brandon feel a bit more comfortable having him here too. So, it was a nice fit for both sides.”
Pryor went further to say that Alderson’s got a similar potential to Petr Straka – although as a different kind of player.
While Straka will be looked at as more of an offensive guy, Alderson, at 6-4, 205 seems more destined for a third line role if he’s to make it to the NHL level where he can use his size to his advantage.
So while he’s practicing these few days with the rest of the prospects, and however long he lasts in actual camp, Alderson hopes to make an impression on the Flyers coaching staff who he is working with, and the brass watching from their perch above the ice at the Virtua Skate Zone.
“I’m just thinking that I want to show them my game,” Alderson said. “I’m a big, strong forward who can skate – that is my game. I like to force turnovers and finish checks. That said, I like to think I can put the puck in the net too. I like to think I bring a little bit of everything to the table and I’m willing to play anywhere in a lineup to help the team win.”
Alderson, 21, did get his first taste of pro hockey last spring, playing nine games for the Adirondack Phantoms. In that time he picked up two assists.
“It was a very interesting experience and definitely was good for my development,” Alderson said of those three-plus weeks with the Phantoms. “Just being able to come to the rink every day as a pro was very different compared to junior. The game itself is a lot faster. Every guy is big and can skate, which was a lot different for me. There was a lot more to get used to there, so to have those nine games to help smooth the transition to this year was great for me.”
And it’s likely that’s where the Oakville, Ontario native will be heading once the season starts and he hopes that he will continue a couple trends while there.
First, and foremost, remaining consistently healthy. Alderson missed just five games in his four-year junior career, so he has the reputation of being durable.
Secondly, he’d like to continue to better his career totals each season. While 64 points is a substantial number to improve on once you turn pro, having a dozen more games to do it also helps the possibility.
But, even if Alderson doesn’t quite reach the 65-point plateau to keep his streak alive, he will certainly draw the attention of the Flyers management if he stays anywhere in the neighborhood.
Having Cousins there with him, which is probable, but maybe a little less so since he is one of the Flyers top prospects, ought to help too.
And this time, the Flyers pro scouts won’t be taking the trip to Glens Falls, N.Y. just to look at Nick.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37