Lehigh Valley Phantoms Monthly Prospect Report - October Grades

Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Editor's note: The monthly feature aimed to inform fans about the progress the prospects have made each month is back! This is the first installment of the Flyers' AHL monthly prospect report for he 2016-17 season and reflects the month of October, which spans a 6-game stretch from October 15th to October 30th.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (2-3-1) didn't set the world on fire in the opening month of the 2016-17 season like many might have expected, but this group has shown flashes of what needs to be done on the ice in order to be successful.

The talent is there. So is the depth, and the experience. What Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon said entering the season still rings true after the month of October. The roster might look pretty on paper, but all the skill in the world won't make much a difference if the work isn't being put in. It's simply a matter of putting it all together.

Let's take a look at the Phantoms' month of October from all angles, both individually and as a team.

Special Teams

Power Play

October Stats: 6 games played, 7 for 34 = 20.6% - 11th in AHL (Two shorthanded goals against)

Penalty Kill

October Stats: 6 games played, 23 for 29 = 79.3% - T-21st in AHL (Two shorthanded goals for)

October's Three Stars

First Star - Forward Jordan Weal - Grade A+
October Stats: 6GP, 3G-6A, +6, 4 PIM

Weal is still a force to be reckoned with at the AHL level, with seven of his nine points on the season coming on the road this past weekend. Now that he's playing regularly, he's starting to get back into form like he was in the AHL two years ago when he was the 2015 Calder Cup Playoff MVP.

Second Star - Forward Andy Miele - Grade A
October Stats: 6GP, 1G-5A, -3, 2 PIM

Miele's vision on the ice is second to none in the AHL. His ability to see the ice, read the play and thread the needle with expert passing is a luxury to have on the Phantoms' roster. Don't be surprised if he continues his point-per-game pace throughout the season - he's an elite offensive player at this level.

Third Star - Colin McDonald - Grade A
October Stats: 6GP, 4G-1A, -3, 4 PIM

The captain is leading by example in the first month of the season, buying in and playing his role quite well. McDonald scored three of his four goals on the season in the team's last two games - getting two deflection goals in Bridgeport in Saturday and finishing off a great pass from Greg Carey in the slot Sunday in Hershey.

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

Goaltenders

Anthony Stolarz - Grade B
October Stats: 4GP, 2-2-0, 2.78 GAA, .915 SV%, 0 SO

Through the first month of the season, Stolarz has solidified his standing as the team's number one goaltender. While his stats aren't especially pretty, he's giving the Phantoms a chance to win every night he's in net. He'll look to dominate the AHL level this year like he did at the beginning of last season.

Alex Lyon - Grade C-
October Stats: 2GP, 0-1-1, 4.97 GAA, .855 SV%, 0 SO

It's been a bit of a rocky start to Lyon's pro career, as he has surrendered five goals in both of his starts. He's been athletic enough to make some big saves, but looked uneasy in Saturday's 5-4 loss to Bridgeport. It's way too early to bury the rookie goaltender, but he needs to bounce back in November to regain some confidence.

Defensemen

Sam Morin - Grade B
October Stats: 6GP, 0G-2A, Even, 10 PIM

Morin is playing physical in his own end, making simple plays coming out of the zone and occasionally joins the rush up ice as well. He had a dangerous hit in the final game of the month against Hershey, but towing the line between being tough to play against and taking too many penalties will be something to keep an eye on with the big defender this year.

Robert Hagg - Grade C+
October Stats: 6GP, 0G-0A, +1, 4 PIM

Hagg has sort of quietly made it through the first month of the season without making any notable plays - either good or bad - while playing alongside Travis Sanheim in a more defensive-minded role.

Travis Sanheim - Grade B
October Stats: 6GP, 0G-4A, +2, 8 PIM

Sanheim has had his fair share of ups and downs already in just six games, but to this point the ups are outweighing the typical rookie mistakes that first year defenders make.

Will O'Neill - Grade B+
October Stats: 6GP, 0G-5A, Even, 0 PIM

O'Neill hasn't been overly sharp defensively, but his ability to break the puck up ice and create scoring chances in the offensive zone with both his shot and vision to make passes is part of the reason why the power play is clicking over 20% right now.

T.J. Brennan - Grade B
October Stats: 6GP, 2G-4A, -2, 8 PIM

Brennan leads Phantoms blue liners in scoring, but I'm starting to see why he isn't in the NHL. His decision making in the defensive zone leaves much to be desired. Over this past weekend, Brennan had several turnovers end up in the back of his net - namely his 3rd period no-look pass up the middle that was intercepted in the slot and buried into the net.

Reece Willcox - Grade C+
October Stats: 6GP, 0G-0A, -2, 0 PIM

Willcox, like Hagg, hasn't done anything too spectacular or devastatingly terrible through the first month. Getting in six games last season might shorten the learning curve a bit for Willcox, and he'll be a defense-first kind of guy on the third pairing this season.

Forwards

Mark Zengerle - Grade B
October Stats: 6GP, 2G-1A, -1, 2 PIM

Zengerle has been a nice addition to the Phantoms forward group so far this season, centering Taylor Leier and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Zengerle's vision on the ice in the offensive zone might be his greatest attribute, but he's capable of scoring goals and battling along the boards more than you'd think for a forward of his stature.

Greg Carey - Grade B+
October Stats: 6GP, 3G-2A, -4, 2 PIM

Carey is a shooter, plain and simple. His 17 shots through six games are tied for the team lead. He knows how to get into the right areas of the ice to get in shooting position and has Andy Miele feeding him the puck. Carey tallied 26 goals last year on a lowly Springfield team, so it's reasonable to expect another 25+ goal season in Lehigh Valley if paired with Miele.

Tyrell Goulbourne - Grade B-
October Stats: 5GP, 0G-0A, -1, 9 PIM

Goulbourne has been the Phantoms' 4th line left wing this season as expected, and brings a skill-set unlike most of his teammates in the fact that he plays a hard-nosed, physical game and is tough to play against.

Corban Knight - Grade B
October Stats: 6GP, 1G-0A, Even, 2 PIM

Surprisingly at least to these eyes, Knight has been delegated to 4th line duties despite being a reliable two-way forward. Perhaps the fact that he's on an AHL contract and the Flyers have prospects on NHL contracts they want seeing more ice has something to do with it, but Knight might take the underrated honors on this forward core right now.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel - Grade C+
October Stats: 6GP, 1G-0A, -1, 2 PIM

Transitioning from the QMJHL, there's definitely going to be growing pains with Aube-Kubel's game - especially away from the puck. Hopefully for him, getting his first goal of the season in the team's last game will jump start his offensive game in November.

Danick Martel - Grade B+
October Stats: 5GP, 3G-1A, +1, 11 PIM

Martel got off to a hot start, with two goals on opening night using his speed and tenacity to be very noticeable on the ice. He took a knee-on-knee hit Saturday in Bridgeport and sat out Sunday's gmae in Hershey, but is practicing with the team and could return as soon as this week.

Radel Fazleev - Grade C+
October Stats: 6GP, 0G-1A, +2, 6PIM

Fazleev has been a 4th line player for Lehigh Valley in the first month of the season, and it looks like he projects to be a penalty killer and two-way forward in his rookie year. 

Chris Conner - Grade B
October Stats: 6GP, 1G-3A, +1, 2 PIM

Conner has been his usual self in the first month of the season with the Phantoms, creating turnovers on the forecheck with his speed and making alot of his plays around the net. His known passing plays from behind the net are in mid-season form, and playing on a line with Jordan Weal currently should have a positive impact on his offensive production heading into November.

Taylor Leier - Grade B+
October Stats: 6GP, 0G-4A, -2, 2 PIM

Honorable Mentions

Forward Cole Bardreau - Grade Incomplete
October Stats: 2GP, 0G-0A, +1, 5 PIM

Bardreau made his regular season debut this past weekend following an off-season abdominal surgery that caused him to miss training camp and the preseason.

Defenseman Max Lamarche - Grade Incomplete
October Stats: No Stats

Lamarche has traveled between Reading and Lehigh Valley this season, having yet to appear in an AHL game this season as the Phantoms' 7th defenseman.

Forward Petr Straka - Grade Incomplete
October Stats: No stats

Straka finds himself as the team's 14th forward currently, unable to get into the lineup.


1 comments:

perttu junnonaho said...

In my mind Tyler Coulbourne is ready to replace VandeVelde from Flyers forth-line left wing position as we speak, cause we must have more character in our teams effort!

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