Lehigh Valley Phantoms November Grades - Monthly Prospect Report

Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Are the Phantoms turning the proverbial corner 24 games into the season? Photo: Nina Weiss
Editor's note: This is a monthly feature aimed to inform fans about the progress the prospects have made each month. For the first installment, click here for October Grades*In this second chapter, all stats are from November 6th through December 5th and for simplicity sake will be referred to as November Stats.

The injuries continue to pile on for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (11-12-1-0) through the first 24 games of the season, but the team certainly isn't using it as an excuse. In total, 17 different players have spent time on the Phantoms' injured list already this season. To put that number into perspective, a hockey team dresses 18 skaters and two goaltenders for every game. 

Under a new head coach in Scott Gordon, the personnel changes each and every game has affected the team's ability to efficiently play the new systems they have been learning this season. It's been especially noticeable on special teams in a bad way, but has also been noticeably different than last year's system in good ways too - the team's attention to fore-checking across all four lines, more pressure in the neutral zone and accountability are all much improved this season already.

The team recently finished a busy stretch of 15 games in 29 days and this second installment of the November* grades report reflects the team's and players' performance in that stretch of time.

Special Teams

Power Play

2015-16 Season: 24 games played, 15 for 94, 16.0% - 19th/30 in AHL (0 shorthanded goals against)

November's Stats: 15 games played - 8 for 62, 12.9%

Penalty Kill

2015-16 Season: 24 games played, 77 for 95, 81.1 % - 23rd/30 in AHL (4 shorthanded goals for)

November's Stats: 15 games played, 54 for 61, 88.5%

November's Three Stars

Third Star - Forward Petr Straka - Grade B+

2015-16 Season Stats: 24GP, 14G-3A, +5, 15 PIM
November Stats: 15GP, 9G-1A, -1, 6 PIM 

Straka was on a goal-scoring tear in November with 10 goals in the month and a six-game goal scoring streak. He's gone his last four games without a goal and is searching for consistency as he has been sort of a streaky scorer this season but his 14 goals this year matches his goal total from 68 games last year. He's one of the guys on the team who have benefited most from the coaching change.

Second Star - Forward Nick Cousins - Grade A-

2015-16 Season Stats: 16GP, 6G-13A, +10, 16 PIM
November Stats: 10GP, 3G-7A, +4, 12 PIM

Cousins earned his first call up of the season to Philadelphia on November 27th and, despite going pointless in four NHL games, returns to the Phantoms as the team's leading scorer. He scored the team's lone goal in a 3-1 loss Sunday in his first game back. Simply put, the addition of Cousins to the AHL roster gives Lehigh Valley another dimension to their offensive attack. He's a game changer at this level. 

First Star - Goaltender Anthony Stolarz - Grade A

2015-16 Season Stats: 16GP. 9-5-1, 1.84 GAA, .938 SV%. 0 SO
November Stats: 11GP, 6-3-1, 1.84 GAA, .944 SV%, 0 SO

Anthony Stolarz has been consistent all season long, something he really stressed over the summer as something he was looking to improve on in his second pro season. After a slow start and subsequent undisclosed injury to veteran Jason LaBarbera took him out of action, Stolarz has come in and carried the team on his back - especially this past week.

Grades for the rest of the Phantoms after the jump.
Would you like to see my coverage of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms while they're on the road continue? Please lend a helping hand to keep me providing live coverage of the team while they're on the road this season by making a secure donation to my GoFundMe page.


Defenseman Mark Alt - Grade A-
2015-16 Season Stats: 23GP, 1G-8A, +13, 12 PIM
November Stats: 14GP, 1G-5A,+9, 6 PIM

Alt has been paired with rookie Sam Morin has been a steadying force alongside the 6-foot-7 rookie. He's been a reliable two-way defender all season long and has a goal and four assists in his last 10 games.

Defenseman Sam Morin - Grade B
2015-16 Season Stats: 24GP, 1G-3A, +1, 36 PIM
November Stats: 14GP, 1G-2A, +1, 24 PIM

Morin had been working almost exclusively with the defensive side of the game, and while he's still a little hesitant with the puck at times moving it up ice and in the offensive zone he isn't doing anything but improving and gaining confidence with each passing game.

Defenseman Robert Hagg - Grade C+

2015-16 Season Stats: 16GP, 0G-2A, -1, 6 PIM
November Stats: 14GP, 0G-2A, +1, 6 PIM

Hagg missed most of October with an undisclosed injury and seems to be a little too passive in his play, playing a much more conservative style of play than last season. It's possible he was told by Flyers management to play a quieter more steady game, but he looks to be almost too passive and not joining the play offensively.

Defenseman Davis Drewiske - Grade B

2015-16 Season Stats: 21GP, 0G-2A, +3, 4 PIM
November Stats: 12GP, 0G-1A, +3, 2 PIM

Drewiske has played a reliable defensive game for the most part this season and has played primarily alongside Robert Hagg when everyone on the back end is healthy. He's not expected to be a big-time offensive contributor, so the offensive numbers aren't a problem.

Defenseman Jesper Pettersson - Grade C

2015-16 Season Stats: 14GP, 1G-1A, -3, 8 PIM
November Stats (AHL): 9GP, 1G-0A, -3, 6 PIM

Pettersson spent some time in Reading (ECHL) before joining the team in late November on the road trip through the northeast. He's been primarily the team's 7th defenseman in an 11 forward/ seven defenseman lineup when he's playing and hasn't held much of a role beyond that.

Defenseman Matt Lashoff - Grade C

2015-16 Season Stats: 12GP, 0G-2A, -3, 20 PIM
November Stats: 7GP, 0G-0A, -7, 16 PIM

Lashoff has had a hard time getting into the lineup because of the league's veteran rule, but he hasn't exactly set the world on fire when he's playing - primarily a third pairing 6th/7th defenseman this season.

Defenseman Andrew MacDonald - Grade B+

2015-16 Season Stats: 23GP, 1G-12A, +4, 18 PIM
November Stats: 15GP, 1G-8A, -1, 10 PIM

MacDonald has earned a chance to get back with the Flyers after an injury to Luke Schenn. While with the Phantoms, MacDonald was a top pairing defenseman playing in all situations. He didn't sulk or provide a distraction in the locker room. Instead, he worked on his game and his confidence level and will return to the Flyers lineup tonight against his former team - the New York Islanders.


Forward Evan Rankin - Grade B
2015-16 Season Stats: 18GP,1G-6A, +1, 6 PIM
November Stats: 14GP, 1G-6A, Even, 6 PIM

Rankin has played well in the Phantoms' bottom six, showing good chemistry when on a line with Tyrell Goulbourne and Kevin Goumas. He's on a PTO, so the Phantoms will have a decision to make soon on whether to bring him back on another PTO or offer him a standard player contract.

Forward Kevin Sundher - Grade B-
2015-16 Season Stats: 10GP,3G-2A, -2, 8 PIM
November Stats: 9GP, 3G-2A, -2, 8 PIM

Sundher provided an offensive spark when the team needed it most in the middle of the month, tallying four points (3G-1A) in a four-game period. Unfortunately, Sundher went down hard and caught his leg off the post in overtime of the November 27th game against Hershey. 

Forward Tyrell Goulbourne - Grade B+

2015-16 Season Stats: 24GP,6G-4A, -3, 15 PIM
November Stats: 15GP, 4G-4A,+1, 10 PIM

Goulbourne has been a pleasant surprise through two months of his rookie season, combining energy and physical play with the ability to create turnovers on the fore-check and finish offensive scoring chances. He's been pretty effective in a third line role playing on the wing. 

Forward Aaron Palushaj - Grade B

2015-16 Season Stats: 20GP,6G-4A, Even, 12 PIM
November Stats: 11GP, 3G-2A, -1, 8 PIM

Palushaj has been a top-six forward for the Phantoms this season, showing chemistry on the top line with Taylor Leier and Tim Brent early on. Now he's on the second line with Petr Straka and Nick Cousins and will still be relied upon heavily while Chris Conner is out long term with injury.

Forward Kevin Goumas - Grade B

2015-16 Season Stats: 21GP,3G-3A, -3, 2 PIM
November Stats: 15GP, 2G-3A, -3, 2 PIM

Goumas began the season in Reading, but with the injuries plaguing Lehigh Valley he was given a chance at the AHL level two weeks into the season. He's played primarily a 3rd/4th line center role and been effective on the penalty kill - using his speed and skating ability to create shorthanded chances.

Forward Danick Martel - Grade C+

2015-16 Season Stats: 19GP,8G-4A, Even, 23 PIM
November Stats: 15GP, 5G-2A, -2, 19 PIM

After five points in his first four games, Martel has slowed his offensive pace a bit with seven points in his last 15 games. He's fallen out of head coach Scott Gordon's top-six forward group and hasn't been quite as noticeable since. These are the rigors of adjusting to pro hockey, and it will be interesting to see if Martel can work his way back into the Phantoms' top-six rotation.

Forward Brandon Alderson - Grade C

2015-16 Season Stats: 14GP,0G-1A, -5, 6 PIM
November Stats: 9GP, 0G-1A, -2, 4 PIM

Alderson isn't putting up points, but he has found himself on the team's top line recently playing the right wing alongside Taylor Leier and Tim Brent. The 6-4, 202 pound forward put up 14 goals in the 2013-14 season but hasn't replicated that since.

Forward Chris Conner - Grade A-

2015-16 Season Stats: 20GP,5G-11A, +5, 8 PIM
November Stats: 12GP, 1G-7A, -1, 4 PIM

Conner has been one of the Phantoms' best forwards this season. Unfortunately, he will be out six weeks with an undisclosed injury after playing through an injury he suffered on the first shift of November 28th's 3-0 loss to Providence.

Forward Taylor Leier - Grade B+

2015-16 Season Stats: 19GP,6G-6A, +2, 8 PIM
November Stats: 10GP, 3G-2A, +2, 6 PIM

Leier has returned from his first NHL-stint with confidence in his abilities. It's only a matter of time before the points start coming in bunches. He's highly praised by the coaching staff - billed as the team's best all around forward.

Forward Pavel Padakin - Grade C
2015-16 Season Stats: 23GP,0G-4A, -6, 8 PIM
November Stats: 14GP, 0G-1A, -3, 4 PIM

With limited ice time on the fourth line playing roughly six minutes a night, Padakin was having a hard time adjusting to the pro game. He was recently re-assigned to Reading and scored his first pro goal in his ECHL debut with the Royals the other night.

Forward Tim Brent - Grade A

2015-16 Season Stats: 24GP,5G-10A, +4, 17 PIM
November Stats: 15GP, 3G-7A, +4, 13 PIM

Brent has been the Phantoms' top line center all season long, playing a calm and focused game and making his line mates better players as a result. He's starting to put up more points offensively and is playing well right now. The veteran wears an A on his jersey and has been leading by example.

Honorable Mentions

The following players were limited to just a few games either due to injury or being called up from Reading. I didn't feel I saw enough of them in the first month to assess their play.

Goaltender Jason LaBarbera - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats: 6GP, 1-5-0, 4.15 GAA, .855 SV%, 0 SO
November Stats: 3GP, 1-2-0, 3.58 GAA, .874 SV%, 0 SO

LaBarbera picked up his first win of the season in the beginning of November but hasn't played since November 8th with an undisclosed injury. He's expected to be back soon though, as Scott Gordon said after last Friday's game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton that he's getting closer to returning to game action.

Goaltender Martin Ouellette - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats (ECHL): 6GP, 4-2-0, 2.10 GAA, .900 SV%, 1 SO
November AHL Stats: 2GP, 0-2-0, 5.40 GAA, .842 SV%, 0 SO

Ouellette's numbers with the Phantoms are anything but impressive, but he hasn't exactly had much offensive support from his teammates when in the AHL nets either.

Goaltender Connor Knapp - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats (ECHL): 11GP, 5-5-0, 3.08 GAA, .892 SV%, 1 SO
November AHL Stats: 1GP, 1-0-0, 4.62 GAA, .828 SV%, 0 SO

Knapp got the start against Hershey at home inside the PPL Center, and despite allowing five goals earned the win after stopping all five shootout attempts against him.

Defenseman Christian Marti - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats: 6GP, 0G-1A, -5, 0 PIM
November Stats: 6GP, 0G-1A, -5, 0 PIM

Marti missed the first month of the season finishing the rehab of his off-season shoulder surgery and was unfortunately injured again on the team's road trip to the Northeast - getting blasted by an open ice hit by Providence's Andrew Cherniwchan. It's another upper body injury for Marti, but not a re-injury of the shoulder he surgery on.

Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats (AHL): 14GP, 2G-8A, -2, 6 PIM
November Stats (AHL): 5GP, 1G-4A, Even, 2 PIM

Gostisbehere was called up to Philadelphia and shows no signs of returning as he's been on fire with the Flyers since his arrival.

Forward Cole Bardreau - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats: 4GP, 0G-1A, +3, 4 PIM
November Stats: 1GP, 0G-0A, Even, 2 PIM

After being cut by a skate on October 17th and missing three weeks, Bardreau was injured in his first game back on November 8th and hasn't played since. The good news is he is expected to return to game action this week, possibly as soon as tomorrow night against Hershey.

Forward Colin McDonald - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats (AHL): 5GP, 0G-3A, +1, 2 PIM
November Stats (AHL): 4GP, 0G-3A, +1, 2 PIM

McDonald was injured in the Phantoms' season opener and missed six weeks. After three games back from that injury, he was called up by the Flyers and appeared in six games - scoring his first NHL goal of the season in his 2nd game with the big club.

Forward Jay Rosehill - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats: 7GP, 1G-0A, -2, 6 PIM
November Stats: 2GP, 0G-0A, -1, 0 PIM

Rosehill has sat out a majority of the team's games because of the league's veteran rule.

Forward Joe Rehkamp - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats (ECHL): 18GP, 3G-7A, -1, 17 PIM
November Stats (AHL): 3GP, 0G-0A, Even, 0 PIM

Rehkamp joined the Phantoms and made his AHL debut on 12/2. The former St. Cloud State forward is in his first season of pro hockey and began the year with the Phantoms' ECHL affiliate Reading Royals.

Forward Cam Reid - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats (ECHL): 18GP, 3G-11A, Even, 8 PIM
November Stats (AHL): 1GP, 0G-0A, Even, 0 PIM

Reid joined the Phantoms for a game on November 28th against Providence as a fill-in after Nick Cousins was recalled by Philadelphia. 


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