End of the Year Progress Report - AHL Phantoms (Part 2)

Thursday, June 11, 2015
The Phantoms saw several younger players emerge at the AHL level in 2014-15.
Part Two of the Phantoms progress report takes a look at the forwards in the organization.

If you missed Part One on the Goaltenders & Defensemen, you can scroll down from the main page or click the link to jump straight to that here.

After the jump, an in-depth look at the forwards in the Philadelphia Flyers organization that competed in the AHL during the 2014-15 season.


Cole Bardreau (21 years old) - Grade C+
Contract Status: NHL RFA in 2018-19

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 15GP, 1G-1A, -3, 2 PIM

Bardreau scored a goal and added an assist in his AHL and pro debut with the Phantoms in Hartford against the WolfPack, but settled into a checking role in the bottom six as the team's third line center - learning the systems in both zones and play without the puck. Getting in those 15 games gives Bardreau a head start on what to expect in the fall as he prepares for his rookie season. He's made a good first impression.

Andrew Gordon (29 years old) - Grade B+
Contract Status: Signed with Linkoping (SHL) for 2015-16 

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 76GP, 18G-24A, -10, 22 PIM

Gordon has already found a new home, signing in Sweden on a one-year deal with Linkoping of the SHL. While with Lehigh Valley in 2014-15, his role was as a top-six veteran forward to ease rookies Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier in their first season of pro hockey. Those three began the season on the top line and the trio worked well together. Gordon was one of only two players on the team to appear in all 76 games.

Austin Fyten (24 years old) - Grade C+
Contract Status: AHL UFA

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 64GP, 2G-9A, -9, 85 PIM

Fyten enjoyed his first full season of AHL hockey in 2014-15 as a bottom-six checking line forward. He played primarily center for the first time in a few years and wasn't bad on the face-off dots. Fyten also killed penalties for the Phantoms, who led the AHL in PIM last season with a team total of 1,834 - meaning he saw a decent amount of ice time for a player of his role.

Fyten and his agent are hopeful a deal can be reached to bring him back for another season, and his services could be well-used in an AHL Phantoms bottom-six that looks like it will be re-tooled in the off-season.

Andrew Johnston (23 years old) - Grade Incomplete
Contract Status: NHL RFA

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 14GP, 0G-1A, -6, 2 PIM
2014-15 Regular Season ECHL Stats: 42GP, 6G-14A, +16, 42 PIM

Johnston floated between the AHL and ECHL for the third straight season with the organization, and while he didn't necessarily look out of place during his stay in the AHL his entry level contract expires this season and he's a restricted free agent. At 23 years old with just 50 AHL games of experience, how likely is it that he will be re-signed to a two-way NHL deal this summer? 
Brett Hextall (27 years old) - Grade B-
Contract Status: AHL UFA

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 63GP, 6G-8A, -16, 119 PIM

Hextall didn't quite put up the offensive numbers he had with Portland in 2013-14, but was a capable top-nine forward for the Phantoms last season - getting in on the forecheck and being tough to play against. The son of Flyers GM Ron Hextall, Brett was aggressive and wasn't afraid to be in the middle of the physical play and fights - dropping the gloves seven times.

In a recent feature for The Home News, Brett Hextall said he has a hard time seeing himself playing anywhere else other than Lehigh Valley in 2015-16 - a sign it could be more of a matter of when than if for the Phantoms re-signing him to another AHL contract for next season.

Kevin Goumas (24 years old) - Grade B-
Contract Status: AHL UFA

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 63GP, 6G-11A, -1, 23 PIM

Goumas found himself in and out of the lineup down the stretch, but you could tell in April with the team out of playoff contention, that Goumas was still working hard and hoping to leave a final impression before becoming an AHL free agent this summer.

An undersized forward, Goumas has the tools you would expect a player of his stature to have. He is an exceptional skater and extremely quick on the ice. He formed a nice duo with Petr Straka in the final games of the season and the two often created problems for opposing defenses by using their speed and hustle to be effective on the forecheck in a bottom six role.

Danick Martel (21 years old) - Grade Incomplete
Contract Status: NHL RFA in 2018-19 
2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 5GP, 1G-2A, +1, 4 PIM       

Martel joined the Phantoms in April after putting up 48 goals in the QMJHL with Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. His skating ability is top notch as his speed is lightning in a bottle. He's very small and will need to put on more muscle to be able to keep up with the increase in strength and physical play in the AHL, but Martel could be a darkhorse top-six forward possibility for the Phantoms in 2015-16.

Brandon Alderson (23 years old) - Grade D
Contract Status: NHL RFA in 2016-17

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 35GP, 3G-4A, -10, 57 PIM
2014-15 Regular Season ECHL Stats: 35GP, 7G-8A, -5, 40 PIM

Alderson fell out of favor with the Phantoms and was re-assigned to ECHL Reading after four points (2G-2A) in 17 AHL games. He came back to Lehigh Valley after a one-month stint with the Reading Royals, but the confidence in his game was lost as evidenced by just three points (1G-2A) and a minus six rating in an 18-game stretch. He was returned to the ECHL in February where he remained for the rest of the season.

2015-16 proves to be Alderson's chance for redemption as he finishes out his entry level deal next season.

Scott Laughton (21 years old) - Grade B+
Contract Status: NHL RFA in 2017-18

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 39GP, 14G-13A, -16, 31 PIM
2014-15 Regular Season NHL Stats: 31GP, 2G-4A, -1, 17 PIM

Laughton got off to a hot start in his first full season of professional hockey, with 11 points (6G-5A) in his first 13 AHL games with Lehigh Valley to begin the 2014-15 season. He was rewarded with a call up to Philadelphia where he stayed three months and appeared in 31 games before returning to the AHL.

At first, Laughton's return to the AHL slowed him down - just a goal and an assist in his first nine games back with the Phantoms. He went on to end the season on a tear - 11 points (7G-4A) in 12 games - giving the organization hope he can be a full-time NHL player as soon as in the fall, where he will certainly be given the opportunity to win a roster spot with Philadelphia in training camp.

Blair Jones (29 years old) - Grade B+
Contract Status: NHL UFA

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 33GP, 9G-12A, +3, 46 PIM
2014-15 Regular Season NHL Stats: 4GP, 0G-0A, -4, 2 PIM

Jones began the season with Philadelphia but didn't stick with the big club past October, finding himself out of the lineup and re-assigned to Lehigh Valley in mid-November. While in the AHL, Jones was a top-six forward who put up points - 16 (5G-11A) in 22 games - before a lower body injury that required surgery caused him to miss nine weeks.

At 28, Jones - a 9-year pro - has floated between the NHL and AHL since his rookie season in 2006-07. Is he a classic case of that 'tweener' player that has nothing left to learn in the AHL but can't stick in the NHL full-time?

Taylor Leier (21 years old) - Grade B
Contract Status: NHL RFA in 2017-18

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 73GP, 13G-18A, -9, 18 PIM

Taylor Leier has certainly had to adjust to professional hockey in his rookie season, coming off a successful three years in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks. The first thing I noticed about him is his NHL-caliber shot, which he used from the slot to score six goals in November.

Leier trailed off in the second half, finishing the season with just five points (all assists) in his final 26 games. It wasn't until after the season finale that head coach Terry Murray praised Leier for playing through a host of injuries, saying in his final post-game press conference of the season that he would enter gamedays unsure if Leier would be able to play. Leier wants to put on more muscle for 2015-16 and should be a top-six staple in the AHL next fall.

Petr Straka (23 years old) - Grade B-
Contract Status: NHL RFA in 2016-17

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats:68GP, 14G-10A, -20, 26 PIM

Straka is still searching for consistency entering the final season of his entry-level contract, having a slight drop in production in his 2nd season of pro hockey - with three less points and eight more games played in 2014-15.

The Czech-born forward has all the tools necessary to be a pretty good hockey player - good speed, skating ability, stick handling and shooting - but to date hasn't put it all together on a consistent enough basis at the AHL level. Straka could be on the verge of a breakout season in the fall and it is certainly a critical time in his career to make that impression early and often in 2015-16.

Nick Cousins (21 years old) - Grade A
Contract Status: NHL RFA in 2016-17

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 64GP, 22G-34A, +2, 73 PIM
2014-15 Regular Season NHL Stats: 11GP, 0G-0A, +1, 2 PIM

Cousins had a breakout year with Lehigh Valley while in the AHL and was arguably the most dangerous weapon for the Phantoms night in and night out. He was rewarded with his strong play this season with his NHL debut on March 17th - playing 11 games with the Flyers to end their season before returning to end the year with the Phantoms.

Cousins went pointless in those 11 NHL games but it was as a fourth line player. As an offensively-minded player, his role is better suited for a top-nine role which might not be available in Philadelphia currently. He made strides last season in his development and if he starts 2015-16 in the AHL, he will be feared.

Derek Mathers (21 years old) - Grade C
Contract Status: NHL RFA in 2016-17

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 40GP, 0G-2A, -3, 147 PIM

Mathers was in and out of the lineup as the team's fourth line enforcer, but proved to be more than just a brawler towards the tail end of the season. He has one more year on his contract and will look to continue to play the role of a physical bottom six forward in 2015-16.

Darroll Powe (30 years old) - Grade C+
Contract Status: AHL UFA

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 43GP, 5G-9A, -5, 49 PIM

Powe was a third line center and penalty killer for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this season when healthy. He was a good veteran presence with pro experience on a somewhat younger roster. Concussion problems in the second half of the season limited him to just 43 games. In late December his missed what turned out to be a 17-game stretch, returning for another 15 games before missing the final 13 games of the season with more symptoms.
A pending AHL free agent this summer, Powe's question marks surrounding his concussion history last season could make AHL teams weary of signing him.   

Jay Rosehill (29 years old) - Grade C
Contract Status: NHL UFA

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 65GP, 5G-7A, -15, 219 PIM

Rosehill was primarily a third/fourth line winger for the Phantoms this past season, imposing his will and defending his teammates as well as any enforcer in the league. The game as we know it may be reducing the emphasis on physical play and increasing suspensions for hits, but Rosehill continues to battle the fine line of being physical and aggressive versus being completely reckless on the ice - a line which he has crossed at times throughout the season.

It will be interesting to see the direction the organization goes with its bottom six forward core at the AHL level, as guys like Rosehill, Hextall, Fyten, Stortini and Powe are all up for new contracts.

Jason Akeson (25 years old) - Grade A-
Contract Status: NHL UFA

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 57GP, 23G-30A, -11, 25 PIM 

Akeson joined the Phantoms in Atlantic City late in November for one of their games against the Albany Devils at Boardwalk Hall after going pointless in 13 NHL games with Philadelphia to begin the year. While with Lehigh Valley, he was the same scorer he was in the previous two seasons he played primarily in the AHL - at a point-per-game place.

It appears Akeson is a classic case of a player with offensive ability that is dominant at the AHL-level but not quite enough for the next level. As a pending free agent, it's likely he'll test the open market to see what else is out there.

Zack Stortini (30 years old) - Grade A
Contract Status: NHL UFA

2014-15 Regular Season AHL Stats: 76GP, 13G-12A, -5, 184 PIM

Stortini had a career year with the Phantoms last season with highs in goals (13), assists (12) and points (25) while also playing a prominent veteran role and providing experience and an example to the younger players of how to be a pro.

His size restricts him from being the fastest skater, but he's always moving and working on the ice to excel in the corners and in front of the net. Stortini saw power play time as the net front presence and also killed some penalties as well - playing a full 200 foot game as an AHL veteran. It wouldn't be completely surprising for the Flyers to bring him back to continue to mentor, as well as protect, the prospects.


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