Lehigh Valley Phantoms Monthly Prospect Report - January Grades

Thursday, February 2, 2017
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 fourth installment of the monthly series keeping you updated on the progress of Philadelphia Flyers' prospects playing in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. January spans 12 games from January 6th to January 28th.

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (23-9-2) are fresh off the AHL All-Star break - which the organization hosted at the PPL Center over the weekend - but let's take a step back to delve deeper into the month January.

Januart was a 12-game month in which the Phantoms went 8-4-0 and continued to keep pace in a top-heavy Atlantic Division that features rivals Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as well as the surging Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Providence Bruins.

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

You can help keep me on the road covering the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this season by making a donation via GoFundMe or PayPal.

Special Teams

Power Play
  • No team in the American Hockey League (AHL) has drawn more power plays entering February's games than the Phantoms. Also, their 50 power play tallies on the season is 2nd most behind the Grand Rapids Griffins' 51 man advantage goals. In their last 10 games, the power play is 14 for 48 (29.2%)!
Season Stats: 43 games played, 50 for 210 = 23.8% - 3rd in AHL (Six shorthanded goals against)
January Stats: 12 games played, 16 for 60 = 26.7% (Zero shorthanded goals against)

Penalty Kill

  • The Phantoms' PK was victimized often in January, as they allowed at least one power play goal in eight of their 12 games this past month.
Season Stats: 43 games played, 136 for 166 = 81.9% - 16th in AHL (Five shorthanded goals for)
January Stats: 12 games played, 38 for 50 = 76.0% (One shorthanded goal for)


Alex Lyon - Grade B+
Season Stats: 28GP, 18-8-2, 2.66 GAA, .911 SV%, 2 SO
January Stats: 6GP, 4-2-0, 2.25 GAA, .927 SV%, 1 SO 

With Anthony Stolarz back on the AHL roster, "it's back to a competition again" and both Lyon and Stolarz each saw six starts in the month of January. Lyon got the shutout against Albany, but was also pulled from action in a 9-1 rout on home ice against Providence in a full-team letdown following a big win over rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton one night prior.

Anthony Stolarz - Grade B+
Season Stats (AHL): 14GP, 10-4-0, 2.45 GAA, .921 SV%, 1 SO
January Stats (AHL): 6GP, 4-2-0, 2.53 GAA, .911 SV%, 0 SO

Stolarz proved capable of playing at the NHL level after finally getting his chance, and has been doing and saying all the right things since his return to the Phantoms in January. He's also hoping to push the Phantoms into the postseason this spring. Stolarz has been consistent, allowing three or fewer goals in all six of his starts in January.

VIDEO: Stolarz talks following a 41-save performance on January 25th.


Mark Alt - Grade C+
Season Stats: 9GP, 0G-2A, Even, 2 PIM
January Stats:  9GP, 0G-2A, Even, 2 PIM

Alt returned to the lineup at the beginning of the month and is getting back into game action, having been eased in on a three-game weekend before playing in back-to-back games. Injuries have really prevented him from getting settled into the pro game to this point in his pro career.

Sam Morin - Grade B+
Season Stats: 43GP, 2G-6A, -2, 66 PIM
January Stats: 12GP, 0G-3A, +3, 13 PIM

Morin has continued to be a defensive defenseman logging big minutes on the penalty kill and playing a complimentary role alongside Travis Sanheim this season. The two could certainly be a pairing in Philadelphia in the future.

Robert Hagg - Grade A-
Season Stats: 37GP, 3G-5A, +5, 28 PIM
January Stats: 12GP, 1G-3A, +2, 8 PIM 

Hagg had half of his points on the season in January, and the increased offensive production is a result of some better all-around play and a reborn confidence in his game. He's added a whole new level this season,  playing with a more physical edge to his game.

Travis Sanheim - Grade A
Season Stats: 43GP, 7G-14A, +11, 34 PIM
January Stats: 12GP, 3G-3A, +5, 6 PIM

After scoring no goals in the first 23 games of his rookie season, Sanheim all of a sudden has seven goals in his last 20 games. He's adapting to the pro game and figuring out what he needs to do away from the puck in order to be more effective. There's no question his improved defensive play has sparked his recent offensive surge.

Sanheim is also being more physical/aggressive in puck battles, and doing a better job of clearing out the net-front for his goaltender after being challenged by head coach Scott Gordon to be more assertive.

At the end of the day, Sanheim appears to be ready to challenge for a spot on the NHL roster in training camp next fall. He's shown glimpses of reaching his potential in the AHL, like this beautiful goal in Hershey:
Will O'Neill - Grade B
Season Stats: 40GP, 3G-20A, +3, 30 PIM
January Stats: 10GP, 2G-2A, Even, 16 PIM

O'Neill has been taking a physical beating in the games against the Hershey Bears since his punch he threw at Darren Dietz broke his nose on December 26th. His offensive production is down from the 10 points he had last month, but it hasn't been too much of a problem for the Phantoms' defense.

T.J. Brennan - Grade B+
Season Stats: 43GP, 13G-23A, +9, 54 PIM
January Stats: 12GP, 3G-5A, -1, 22 PIM

Brennan was an AHL All-Star for the fourth straight season, and has been a staple of the Phantoms' offense from defense approach that has them with the second best record in the AHL heading down the stretch. He's approaching AHL history with Lehigh Valley this season, now just four goals from becoming 2nd all-time in goal scoring by a defenseman in the AHL.

VIDEO: Brennan talks prior to last weekend's AHL All-Star Skills Competition.


Mark Zengerle - Grade C+
Season Stats: 40GP, 8G-14A, -6, 12 PIM
January Stats: 9GP, 0G-2A, -7, 6 PIM

2017 hasn't been kind to Zengerle, who hasn't scored a goal yet in the new calendar year. The stats don't pass the eye test, but that's because of a minus four outing in the team's 9-1 blowout loss in Providence.

Cole Bardreau - Grade B-
Season Stats: 39GP, 6G-6A, +1, 38 PIM
January Stats: 12GP, 1G-3A, -1, 6PIM

Bardreau's time on the top line left wing position came to an end when Taylor Leier returned to Lehigh Valley, but Cole is still a valuable asset on the penalty kill and physically with his gritty, hard-working effort on the ice.

Greg Carey - Grade A-
Season Stats: 43GP, 22G-10A, -6, 6 PIM
January Stats: 12GP, 6G-2A, -3, 0 PIM

With Jake Guentzel in the NHL, Carey has taken over the AHL's scoring lead with his 22 goals. When the team needs a goal, you can be sure Carey is a threat to make it happen. He's also been disciplined, not having taken a minor penalty in his last 30 games while only serving three minor penalties all season long.

Colin McDonald - Grade A-
Season Stats: 43GP, 16G-11A, -1, 16 PIM
January Stats: 12GP, 3G-5A, Even, 2 PIM

McDonald has been the team's top line right wing alongside the duo of Taylor Leier and Scott Laughton all season long. Creating space and winning puck battles for his teammates, the captain is also doing some damage around the net and on the power play.

Corban Knight - Grade B-
Season Stats: 39GP, 5G-12A, +7, 16 PIM
December Stats: 10GP, 1G-1A, +1, 2 PIM

Knight has been a largely reliable player for the Phantoms this season, but depth is starting to become a concern for Knight's playing time moving foward as the Phantoms currently have 14 healthy forwards on the roster. On an AHL contract, Knight along with Mark Zengerle, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Radel Fazleev and now Boyd Gordon have been rotating in and out of the lineup as healthy scratches.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel - Grade B-
Season Stats: 39GP, 6G-5A, +12, 33 PIM
January Stats: 9 GP, 2G-1A, +6, 21 PIM

Aube-Kubel is still learning to play a more responsible game in all three zones and a more structured style of play than he was used to in juniors, but he finished the month with a set of back-to-back games with a goal reunited on a line with Danick Martel and Jordan Weal - doing particularly well in two games against Binghamton.

Danick Martel - Grade B
Season Stats: 39GP, 11G-16A, +11, 48 PIM
January Stats: 12GP, 3G-4A, +5, 9 PIM 

Martel has been a bit of a streaky scorer with the Phantoms, but his line is clicking as of late.

VIDEO: Danick Martel talks after tallying a hat trick on January 25th.

Andy Miele - Grade A-
Season Stats: 32GP, 4G-25A, -2, 19 PIM
January Stats: 12GP, 1G-10A, Even, 4 PIM

Now fully into game shape after an injury earlier this season, Miele has been a workhorse for the Phantoms on a power play unit that returns from All-Star break third in the AHL in efficiency.

Chris Conner - Grade A-
Season Stats: 43GP, 11G-23A, +6, 8 PIM
January Stats: 12GP, 3G-8A, Even, 2 PIM

Only Jordan Weal and T.J. Brennan have more points with the Phantoms this season than Chris Conner does. His speed and patented 'backhand pass on a fake wrap around play' have led to Conner's scoring success in 2016-17.

Taylor Leier - Grade B+
Season Stats (AHL): 34GP, 9G-19A, +8, 12 PIM
January Stats (AHL): 12GP, 3G-5A, +1, 4 PIM

Back from Philadelphia after his first extended look in the NHL, Leier is a confident hockey player at this level. He was able to experience his first-ever AHL All-Star Classic over the weekend and certainly made the most of it - taking home All-Star MVP in front of the home fans.

VIDEO: Leier talks following being named the 2017 AHL All-Star MVP.

Jordan Weal - Grade A
Season Stats: 40GP, 15G-35A, +11, 26 PIM
January Stats: 11GP, 5G-9A, +7, 8 PIM

The CCM/AHL Player of the Month for January, Weal finished the month with an eight-game points scoring streak (four goals, eight assists) and his second AHL All-Star appearance over the weekend. A dominant player at this level, Weal continues to "grind away in the minors" hoping that next chance at the NHL level comes soon.

Scott Laughton - Grade A-
Season Stats (AHL): 29GP, 9G-10A, +7, 12 PIM
January Stats: 12GP, 6G-3A, +6, 10 PIM

Laughton is starting to finish on some of his chances, tallying 9 of his 19 AHL points on the season in January. The defensive-minded center has been tough to play against in all three zones on the Phantoms' top line this season.

DETAILS: You can own a Scott Laughton autographed hockey stick while also helping out a great cause. Here's how.

Honorable Mentions

Defenseman Reece Willcox - Grade Incomplete
Season Stats: 30GP, 2G-4A, +11, 12 PIM
January Stats: 5GP, 0G-1A,+1, 8 PIM

With Mark Alt healthy and back into game action in January, Willcox has found himself as the odd man out when the team has seven healthy defensemen more times than not.

Forward Radel Fazleev - Grade Incomplete
Season Stats: 36GP, 3G-7A, +3, 16 PIM
December Stats: 6GP, 0G-0A, Even, 2 PIM

Fazleev has been in and out of the lineup as the team's fourth line, penalty-killing center. Before All-Star weekend, Fazleev left last Friday's game in Binghamton and did not return after blocking a shot off his leg. He sat out Saturday's game and was an extra in the team's first practice back from break on Thursday.

Forward Boyd Gordon- Grade Incomplete
Season Stats (NHL): 13GP, 1G-0A, -5, 2 PIM
January Stats (AHL): 4GP, 0G-0A, -3, 21 PIM

I wouldn't read too much into Gordon's stat line for the month as his minus three came all in one game in the team's all around flat performance in a 9-1 blowout loss and 17 of his 21 penalty minutes in the four games came when dropping the gloves to stick up for a teammate. He actually looked good in his Phantoms' debut.


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