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Flyers able to bolster their defense

by Adam Kimelman

OTTAWA -- The Philadelphia Flyers went into the 2008 NHL Entry Draft with the goal of finding a puck-moving defenseman they can develop into a quality NHL blueliner.
Unsure of what could be available with their No. 27 pick, Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren decided to part with a talented piece of the present for the hope of the future, sending forward R.J. Umberger to the Columbus Blue Jackets for the No. 19 selection, which the Flyers used to take Lethbridge Hurricanes defenseman Luca Sbisa.
They made a second trade later in the first round, dealing that No. 27 pick to Washington for defenseman Steve Eminger.
The Flyers added another defenseman in the third round as the club had a short, but fruitful, two days in Ottawa.
Here’s a look at Philadelphia’s 2008 NHL Entry Draft class:
No. 19 Luca Sbisa, D, Lethbridge (WHL) – The Italian-born, Swiss-trained defenseman is a swift-skating puck-mover who took his game to the Western Hockey League this season and flourished. Sbisa had 27 assists and 33 points in 62 games for the Hurricanes, and was better in the playoffs, leading WHL blueliners with three goals and 15 points in 19 playoff games.
“We think Luca will be a good two-way, passionate defenseman,” Holmgren said. “He can skate, defend, move the puck, do all the things we like.”
It wasn’t just the Flyers’ brass praising Sbisa.
"(Sbisa) is a smart player who moves the puck at the right time and carries the puck correctly, supports the rush and is adjusting very well to the North American game," said E.J. McGuire, director of Central Scouting.
The move from Switzerland to the WHL certainly was a boon to Sbisa, as scouts were able to get a full understanding of his game. It also gave him a year to adjust to the North American style of play.

"I'm really looking forward to being a part of the organization,” Sbisa said. “I know they have a long tradition and had a very good season this year."
No. 67 Marc-Andre Bourdon, D, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
– When the Flyers traded Umberger, they received this pick from the Blue Jackets, which they used on Bourdon, the 2007-08 QMJHL Defenseman of the Year.
The 6-foot, 206-pounder finished third among QMJHL defenseman with 59 points, including 12 goals. He also was second among league blueliners with a plus-39 rating.
“I’m very happy,” Bourdon said of landing in Philadelphia. “I think I will really fit the (Flyers’) pattern. I can be physical and I know the Flyers always want physical d-men.”
No. 84 Jacob DeSerres, G, Seattle (WHL) – The Flyers’ second trade of the first round netted them this pick from Washington, which they used on DeSerres, who finished tied for first in the WHL with a .922 save percentage, which went with a 2.28 goals-against average and three shutouts.
The 6-2, 195-pounder was the No. 6-ranked goalie by NHL Central Scouting.
"Jake's game has steadily improved and that says a lot because it was pretty good to start with,” said Seattle coach Rob Sumner. “As he has matured, his work ethic and attention to detail have taken huge steps and he is seeing consistent results because of it.”
No. 178 Zac Rinaldo, C, Mississauga St. Michael’s (OHL) – The 5-foot-11, 169-pound forward had 14 points and 191 penalty minutes in 63 games.
No. 196 Joacim Eriksson, G, Brynas (Sweden) – Eriksson backed up Jacob Markstrom on Brynas’ junior team. He also served as the backup to Markstrom on Sweden’s entry at the Under-18 World Championships.
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