Lehigh Valley Phantoms March Grades - Monthly Prospect Report

Thursday, March 31, 2016
Davis Drewiske has been named the Phantoms' AHL Man of the Year award winner for his contributions to the community this season. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
Editor's note: The monthly feature aimed to inform fans about the progress the prospects have made each month is back. This is the sixth installment of the Flyers' AHL monthly prospect report and reflects the month of March, which spans an 11-game stretch from March 2nd to March 26th. For either of the previous month's reports, click below:
October Prospect Report
November Prospect Report 
December Prospect Report
January Prospect Report
February Prospect Report 
Entering March, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms were six points out of the final playoff spot and getting ready to make their final push toward the postseason. After a win in Syracuse to start the month, the Phantoms went on a season-high eight game winless streak (0-6-2) that pushed them out of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. Last Wednesday's 8-0 blowout loss at home - the worst home loss in franchise history - was the final straw.

It was the lowest of lows, and it left the Phantoms with two options. Either bow down and go through the motions the final 10 games of the season, or rise up and compete - play for each other. Back-to-back wins to conclude both the month and the team's four-game home stand snapped the winless skid and gives the impression that although the team is out of the postseason race, they will still go to battle for one another eight more times in April before calling it a season.

Special Teams

Power Play

Season Stats: 68 games played, 47 for 279 = 16.8% - 15th in AHL (3 shorthanded goal against)
March Stats: 11 games played, 4 for 34 = 11.8% (2 shorthanded goal against)

Penalty Kill

Season Stats: 68 games played, 215 for 261 = 82.4% - 18th in AHL (6 shorthanded goals for)
March Stats: 11 games played, 30 for 37 = 81.1%

March's Three Stars

First Star - Forward Chris Conner - Grade B+
2015-16 Season Stats: 51GP, 16G-32A, +1, 12 PIM
March Stats: 11GP, 4G-3A, -8, 4 PIM

While the team had a rough month in March, Conner continued to provide offensive scoring chances with regularity. The Phantoms should be glad that the Flyers signed him to a two-year contract this past summer, and that he'll be back with Lehigh Valley again next season.

Second Star - Defenseman Davis Drewiske - Grade B+
2015-16 Season Stats: 65GP, 5G-8A, -2, 14 PIM
March Stats: 11GP, 2G-1A, -2, 0 PIM

Drewiske is another veteran player who really stepped up his game when his team needed it most. Not known as an offensive guy, Drewiske tallied goals in back-to-back games at the end of the month to lift the Phantoms out of their win-less skid. His latest goal, his 5th of the season, set a new career high mark in goals in a season - tying the five goals he scored while in his senior season at the University of Wisconsin. Drewiske was named at the Phantoms' team winner for the AHL Man of the Year today.

Third Star - Forward Aaron Palushaj - Grade B
2015-16 Season Stats: 56GP, 11G-17A, -18, 42 PIM
March Stats: 10GP, 1G-5A, -6, 2 PIM

A restricted free agent at season's end, Palushaj still has plenty to play for despite the Phantoms being out of postseason contention. With six points in his last 10 games, he continues to provide offense for a team that has been lacking production of late. His speed and skill has seen him pair up well with former roommate Phil DeSimone and Chris Conner on the team's third line.

An update on every player on the AHL roster after the jump.

Would you like to see my coverage of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms while they're on the road continue? You can help keep me providing live coverage of the team while they're on the road this season by making a secure donation via GoFundMe or PayPal today!

Goaltenders

Anthony Stolarz - Grade C+
2015-16 Season Stats: 42GP, 19-15-7, 2.59 GAA, .916 SV%, 0 SO
March Stats: 6GP, 1-3-2, 3.25 GAA, .910 SV%, 0 SO

It's tough to be too hard on the goaltenders this month as the team playing in front of them largely struggled in March. After picking up a win in his first start in March - a franchise record 51 save performance - Stolarz went winless in his final five starts of the month before Michal Neuvirth's injury opened the door for him to join the Flyers. Stolarz had been carrying a bulk of the starts before his latest recall.

Martin Ouellette - Grade C+
2015-16 Season Stats (ECHL): 30GP, 17-9-3, 2.07 GAA, .923 SV%, 4 SO
March Stats (AHL): 3GP, 2-1-0, 3.18 GAA, .914 SV%, 0 SO

With Stolarz called up and Jason LaBarbera injured, it's a great opportunity for Ouellette to get in some AHL games as the Phantoms' season winds down. It started for Ouellette on last Wednesday when he was pulled 12 minutes into the 1st period against Hershey, but he rebounded well over the weekend posting back-to-back wins.

Defensemen

Mark Alt - Grade B-
2015-16 Season Stats: 64GP, 4G-12A, +4, 36 PIM
March Stats: 9GP, 0G-2A, -6, 6 PIM

Alt continues to play an important role for the Phantoms on the back end, playing in all situations and regularly being matched up against other teams' top scorers. While his plus/minus for the month wasn't impressive, that was more of an indication of the Phantoms' nearly month long struggles. Everybody's play took a dip lower than their standard in March.

Sam Morin - Grade C
2015-16 Season Stats: 68GP, 3G-13A, -13, 88 PIM
March Stats: 11GP, 0G-1A, -8, 4 PIM

Morin isn't putting up much in terms of offense lately, but the focus - like it has been all season - is playing strong defensive hockey and continuing to learn the subtle nuances of pro hockey. He's the only member of the Phantoms to appear in every game this season, which he admitted the amount of games and minutes he is playing is a lot more than his oft-injured/suspension filled junior hockey seasons. As I wrote in February, Morin is learning to keep it simple.

Robert Hagg - Grade C+
2015-16 Season Stats: 57GP, 2G-4A, -14, 30 PIM
March Stats: 11GP, 0G-0A, -5, 4 PIM

Hagg himself admitted he needs to be better in a 1-on-1 interview with The Home News back in late February and while it's hard to tell from his stat line and the team's overall play, the second year pro is showing signs of getting back to where his game needs to be. He's still very passive and super conservative with his decision making, but that could be a result of a general lack of confidence from enduring a rough sophomore campaign.

Christian Marti - Grade C
2015-16 Season Stats (AHL): 27GP, 0G-1A, -11, 10 PIM
March Stats (AHL): 8GP, 0G-0A, -4, 2 PIM

Marti is still rotating between the third pairing and the press box. He isn't playing with much confidence in his game, and it's evident that the multitude of injuries really derailed any chances of him getting into a rhythm and really learning the North American pro game.

Adam Comrie - Grade B-
2015-16 Season Stats (AHL): 26GP, 5G-4A, -3, 11 PIM
March Stats (AHL): 11GP, 2G-2A, -5, 9 PIM

Comrie joined the Phantoms in late January and has been the team's power play quarterback, using his big shot to produce offensively. His numbers took a dip in the month of March, which is directly related to the troubles the Phantoms had as a team on the power play last month.

Forwards 

Cole Bardreau - Grade B-
2015-16 Season Stats: 46GP, 11G-14A, -8, 43 PIM
March Stats: 11GP, 2G-3A, -6, 15 PIM

Bardreau has had a whirlwind of ups and downs this season and is getting back to the basics - playing physical, working hard and consistently bringing pressure on every shift. His offensive game has come a long way and he's relied upon in the face-off circle - something he's worked on improving.

Phil DeSimone - Grade C+
2015-16 Season Stats: 25GP, 5G-7A, -3, 16 PIM
March Stats: 11GP, 1G-1A, -6, 8 PIM

With Tim Brent returning to action, DeSimone has been bumped down to the third line. He brings speed and skill to the lineup, and is looking to continue to bring that on a more consistent basis in April to leave a lasting impression that he can play an effective role in the AHL.

Tyrell Goulbourne - Grade C+ 
2015-16 Season Stats: 67GP, 7G-9A, -9, 51 PIM
March Stats: 10GP, 1G-0A, Even, 8 PIM

Much like Bardreau, Goulbourne too is getting back to the kind of game he needs to play at the pro level to be successful. He's starting to play the grinding type role more consistently and as a result he's much more noticeable on the ice - getting in on the forecheck and playing on the team's penalty kill.

Colin McDonald - Grade B
2015-16 Season Stats: 44GP, 12G-13A, -7, 28 PIM
March Stats: 9GP, 1G-3A, -4, 7 PIM

The captain is playing through some lingering injuries, but continues to be a physical force - directly evidenced in the team's games this past weekend. He uses his physical presence early in games to set the tone and has been drawing power plays by not retaliating after delivering legal body checks. Signed in the organization for two more years, the Phantoms might have their captain for the future.

Danick Martel - Grade B-
2015-16 Season Stats: 60GP, 21G-13A, -13, 47 PIM
March Stats: 11GP, 2G-2A, -5, 4 PIM

It's getting to the point in the season where offensively minded rookies begin to see a drop in production and Martel fits that bill. There's no doubting he's lightning in a bottle on his skates at times, but he's still learning to play a 200-foot game.

Taylor Leier - Grade B
2015-16 Season Stats: 63GP, 18G-26A, -1, 35 PIM
March Stats: 11GP, 0G-5A, -6, 4 PIM

Leier is still destined to compete for a job with the Flyers in the fall. It also wouldn't be surprising if he joins Philadelphia after the Phantoms' season is finished on April 17th. His two-way game translates to the next level.

Petr Straka - Grade B+
2015-16 Season Stats: 58GP, 19G-18A, +5, 23 PIM
March Stats: 11GP, 2G-3A, +1, 2 PIM

Straka is still searching for consistent offensive production like he had earlier in the season, but he was one of the better forwards on the ice for Lehigh Valley night in and night out during March when the team struggled. Sadly, his plus one rating for the month of March led the entire team. It's an important final eight games for guys like Straka, who are pending free agents this summer.

Dalton Smith - Grade C+
2015-16 Season Stats: 24GP, 1G-0A, -2, 42 PIM
March Stats: 7GP, 0G-0A, -2, 18 PIM

Smith made his Phantoms debut in the team's first game in March after signing a PTO with Lehigh Valley in late Febraury. His father, Derrick Smith, and uncle, Keith Primeau, both played for the Philadelphia Flyers during their respective NHL careers - making this opportunity for Dalton Smith that much more meaningful. He's been a physical winger that hasn't been afraid of throwing his weight around since joining the Phantoms.

Tim Brent - Grade B+
2015-16 Season Stats: 44GP, 7G-16A, +3, 28 PIM
March Stats: 7GP, 2G-2A, -1, 2 PIM

Brent returned from an almost two-month injury absence and while the team had a rough month, Brent was actually one of the team's better players despite just returning to game action.

Steven Swavely - Grade B-
2015-16 Season Stats (AHL): 7GP, 0G-0A, -1, 0 PIM
March Stats (AHL): 7GP, 0G-0A, -1, 0 PIM

The Phantoms signed the Reading, Pa native to an amateur tryout (ATO) following his senior season at the University of Maine. The undrafted centerman has impressed the coaching staff with his ability in the face-off circle and has been placed on the fourth line to play a defensive-minded, responsible game while also playing solid minutes on the penalty kill.

Honorable Mentions

This section features players who either did not appear in enough games in March to receive a grade, or are no longer on the team/with the organization.

Goaltender Jason LaBarbera - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats: 23GP, 7-14-0, 3.02 GAA, . 899 SV%, 1 SO
March Stats: 2GP, 0-2-0, 3.55 GAA, .900 SV%, 0 SO

LaBarbera has been battling injuries for much of the season. After his last start on March 20th, he was back off the ice with an injury that Flyers' GM Ron Hextall said will see LaBarbera shut it down and miss the rest of the season.

Goaltender Connor Knapp - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats (ECHL): 22GP, 10-10-0, 2.96 GAA, .899 SV%, 2 SO
March Stats (AHL): 1GP, 0-0-0, 6.25 GAA, .815 SV%, 0 SO

Knapp was called up at the end of the month and replaced Ouellette last Wednesday in the first period. Unfortunately he didn't fare any better against the Bears that night and has been Ouellette's backup since.

Defenseman Maxim Lamarche - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats (AHL): 29GP, 1G-5A, -4, 21 PIM 
March Stats (AHL): 5GP, 0G-2A, +2, 4 PIM

Lamarche took a check to the head early in the month and missed two weeks, but wasn't playing particularly well or terrible before the injury. He was reassigned to Reading on Tuesday, likely to make room in Lehigh Valley for newly added ATO defenseman Reece Willcox to get his feet wet at the AHL level.

Forward Kevin Goumas - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats: 58GP, 6G-7A, -13, 14 PIM
March Stats: 4GP, 1G-0A, -1, 2 PIM

Goumas was reassigned to Reading on March 10th and immediately began tearing it up in the ECHL, named the league's player of the week following his demotion. Goumas' March stats in the ECHL are off the charts, with 14points (six goals, eight assists) in eight games.

Forward Pavel Padakin - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats (AHL): 33GP, 2G-5A, -4, 22 PIM
March Stats (AHL): 2GP, 1G-0A, +1, 12 PIM

Padakin was called back up to the Phantoms at the tail end of the month and scored his 2nd AHL goal of the season in the team's most recent game on Saturday as Tyrell Goulbourne's rebound attempt deflected in off Padakin's skate. He's still learning the pro game, and head coach Scott Gordon has been working with him often at practice to get his game where it needs to be in the final games of the regular season.

Forward Jay Rosehill - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats: 21GP, 1G-2A, -1, 21 PIM
March Stats: 5GP, 0G-0A, Even, 9 PIM

Rosehill got in nearly half of the Phantoms' games in March. He still adds value to Lehigh Valley both on and off the ice. The rugged veteran forward is a calming presence on the bench and in the locker room, but knows he needs to be a big part of the team's physical presence on the ice.

Forward Joe Rehkamp - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats: 41GP, 1G-2A, -7, 16 PIM
March Stats: 5GP, 0G-0A, Even, 0 PIM

Rehkamp was a healthy scratch during the middle of March and appeared in one game after his stint of sitting in the press box before being released from his professional tryout and reassigned to Reading. The fourth liner was a hard-working energy guy during his time in Lehigh Valley.


1 comments:

Unknown said...

love these updates. have been watching highlights of ahl games and thought that hagg has looked better skating out there. didnt think morin looked too good, but there are very few highlights of him anyway because of how he plays. can't wait to see sanheim

Post a Comment