Lehigh Valley Phantoms April Grades - Monthly Prospect Report

Sunday, April 24, 2016
The Phantoms have brighter days ahead. 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 seventh and final installment of the Flyers' AHL monthly prospect report for he 2015-16 season and reflects the month of April, which spans an 8-game stretch from April 1st to April 17th. For any of the previous month's reports, click below:
October Prospect Report
November Prospect Report 
December Prospect Report
January Prospect Report
February Prospect Report
March Prospect Report 
Entering April - the final month of the season - the Lehigh Valley Phantoms were out of the postseason race, but still had a buzz surrounding the locker room thanks to the arrival of several of Philadelphia Flyers prospects including defensemen Reece Wilcox and Travis Sanheim and forwards Oskar Lindblom and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

April saw the Phantoms match their season-high winning streak (five games) while finishing with wins in seven of their final 10 games - including a 5-2 win over the Syracuse Crunch in last Sunday's season finale.

The plan is to have a more detailed analysis of each player on a player-by-player basis as the spring extends into the summer, so be sure to stay tuned in here during the off-season.

Special Teams

Power Play
Season Stats: 76 games played, 52 for 311 = 16.7% - 16th in AHL (5 shorthanded goal against)
April Stats: 8 games played, 5 for 32 = 15.6% (2 shorthanded goals against)

Penalty Kill
Season Stats: 76 games played, 259 for 308 = 84.1% - 10th in AHL (8 shorthanded goals for)
April Stats: 8 games played, 44 for 47 = 93.6% (2 shorthanded goals for)

April's Three Stars

First Star - Forward Oskar Lindblom - Grade A+
2015-16 Season Stats (SHL): 48GP, 8G-17A, +3, 14 PIM
April Stats (AHL): 8GP, 2G-5A, +1, 0 PIM

Lindblom joined the Phantoms and made an immediate impact, almost seamlessly transitioning to North American pro hockey in the AHL. Head coach Scott Gordon said Lindblom is way ahead of the curve for a 19-year-old forward and that the Flyers are very excited about his potential.

Second Star - Goaltender Martin Ouellette - Grade A
2015-16 Season Stats (ECHL): 30GP, 17-10-3, 2.10 GAA, .922 SV%, 4 SO
April Stats (AHL): 3GP, 3-0-0, 0.33 GAA, .990 SV%, 2 SO

It was a great opportunity for Ouellette to get in some AHL games as the Phantoms' season came to an end. He was pulled 12 minutes into his first start at the end of March, but then he rebounded well winning five straight games and recording back-to-back shutouts - his first two in the AHL - before being reassigned to Reading to be their playoff goaltender.

Third Star - Forward Colin McDonald - Grade A
2015-16 Season Stats: 51GP, 14G-18A, -6, 30 PIM
April Stats: 7GP, 2G-5A, +1, 2 PIM

McDonald led by example in April by not only playing his physical, tone-setting style but also producing offensive at a point-per-game rate. He was called up by the Flyers prior to the season finale, and has appeared in two Stanley Cup Playoff games in their first round series against the Capitals. Signed in the organization for two more years, the Phantoms might have their captain for the future.

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!


Anthony Stolarz - Grade B
2015-16 Season Stats: 42GP, 21-18-7, 2.60 GAA, .916 SV%, 0 SO
April Stats: 5GP, 2-3-0, 2.63 GAA, .914 SV%, 0 SO

After sitting as the backup with the Flyers for several weeks, Stolarz returned to the Phantoms and finished the season strong in the AHL. With both Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth under contract next season, Stolarz will likely remain the organization's #3 goaltender and the starter in Lehigh Valley. He says he isn't frustrated with his lack of NHL game action despite being called up seven times over the last two seasons.


Mark Alt - Grade B+
2015-16 Season Stats: 72GP, 4G-15A, +11, 46 PIM
April Stats: 8GP, 0G-3A, +7, 10 PIM

Alt, like much of his teammates, put up much better numbers on the stat line in April. Admittedly, I have only interviewed Alt on the record a handful of times this season but that's not in slight to his role on the team's defense core or what he provides. He's just solid in most aspects of the game, not overly flashy but at the AHL level a two-way defenseman that can play in any situation. 

Sam Morin - Grade A-
2015-16 Season Stats: 76GP, 4G-15A, -5, 118 PIM
April Stats: 8GP, 1G-2A, +8, 30 PIM

Morin was back to the confident young defenseman he was before the team's plight in March. He took a complete 180 from March to April, going from a minus eight to a plus eight. While plus/minus isn't always an indicator of strong play, Morin was superb in the team's final games - making good first passes out of the defensive zone and even joining the rush from time to time when the situation presented itself. 

Robert Hagg - Grade A-
2015-16 Season Stats: 65GP, 5G-6A, -11, 42 PIM
April Stats: 8GP, 3G-2A, +3, 12 PIM

Hagg's play in the final month of the season is what head coach Scott Gordon and assistant coach Riley Cote want from the Swedish-born defender. Gordon mentioned Hagg's decision making and a "still playing in Europe" mentality that was the cause for his troubles this season, hopefully something that has been worked out and will have Hagg back on track entering next season where he looks to be a big part of the Phantoms' blue line in 2016-17.

Davis Drewiske - Grade B+
2015-16 Season Stats: 73GP, 5G-9A, +1, 16 PIM
April Stats: 8GP, 0G-1A, +3, 2 PIM

Drewiske was often paired with newly added rookies Reece Willcox and Travis Sanheim in April, becoming even more of a veteran presence to mentor the prospects than he already was throughout the season. Drewiske was named as the Phantoms' team winner for the AHL Man of the Year.

Travis Sanheim - Grade B+
2015-16 Season Stats (WHL): 52GP, 15G-53A, +15, 66 PIM
April Stats (AHL): 4GP, 1G-2A, Even, 0 PIM

Sanheim played two out of the Phantoms' three-game weekends twice after arriving to Lehigh Valley just prior to the Phantoms' final two weeks of the season. In his debut against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton he was a little shaky in the first period as expected, but his confidence and overall play continued to pick up with every passing shift. This taste of pro hockey before turning pro full-time in the fall is a huge advantage for his development heading into next season.

Adam Comrie - Grade A
2015-16 Season Stats (AHL): 32GP, 9G-6A, -3, 11 PIM
April Stats (AHL): 6GP, 4G-2A, Even, 0 PIM

Comrie posted his first career pro hat trick in April, and did most of his damage this season on the power play. He joined Reading following the Phantoms' season to help aid the Royals in the ECHL Playoffs. Comrie joined the Phantoms in late January and was the team's power play quarterback, using his big shot to produce offense.

Reece Willcox - Grade B
2015-16 Season Stats (ECAC): 33GP, 2G-11A, -1, 2 PIM
April Stats (AHL): 6GP, 1G-2A, +2, 8 PIM

Willcox joined the Phantoms in late March and made his debut in April, tallying his first career pro goal in his second AHL game April 2nd in St. John's. It's quite an adjustment for Willcox coming to the pro game from Cornell, but as is the case with all guys coming in - getting that first look at the pro game really helps give players a heads up for next season.


Cole Bardreau - Grade B+
2015-16 Season Stats: 54GP, 13G-17A, -1, 54 PIM
April Stats: 8GP, 2G-3A, +7, 11 PIM

Bardreau was getting back on track toward the end of the regular season, playing the way he has to to be successful - playing a simple game, being physical and tenacious on the fore-check and bringing energy. He might just have a future in the Flyers' bottom six someday.

Tyrell Goulbourne - Grade B
2015-16 Season Stats: 73GP, 7G-10A, -7, 75 PIM
April Stats: 6GP, 0G-1A, +2, 24 PIM

Goulbourne was trying to do too much down the stretch while the team was in a losing skid and desperate for offense, but head coach Scott Gordon said he loved Goulbourne's game in the final weekend of the season - mentioning he hopes Goulbourne plays that way more regularly next season.
Goulbourne understands his role now and appears to be sticking to it. It will be interesting to see how Goulbourne looks in camp in the fall.

Danick Martel - Grade B-
2015-16 Season Stats: 67GP, 22G-15A, -11, 68 PIM
April Stats: 7GP, 1G-2A, +2, 21 PIM

Marte's offensive production slowed at the tail end of the season like most first year players do (Taylor Leier had a rough final 30 games last year) but he's still learning to play a 200-foot game. Scott Gordon is pleased with his overall season, and he has to continue working hard to overcome the doubts placed on him because of his small stature.

Nicholas Aube-Kubel - Grade B-
2015-16 Season Stats (QMJHL): 61GP, 38G-46A, +38, 26 PIM
April Stats (AHL): 6GP, 2G-1A, +3, 6 PIM

Aube-Kubel joined the Phantoms in time for their final two weeks of the season and while there's no doubting his offensive capabilities, he has plenty to learn at the pro level. This six-game stint will help shorten the learning curve, but this is a completely different style than he's played the last few years in the QMJHL.

Chris Conner - Grade A-
2015-16 Season Stats: 58GP, 16G-39A, +2, 14 PIM
April Stats: 7GP, 0G-7A, +1, 2 PIM

You know exactly what you're going to get from this veteran. Conner is signed through next season and will be one of the forwards bringing experience to a young Phantoms' team next fall.

Taylor Leier - Grade A-
2015-16 Season Stats: 71GP, 20G-29A, +2, 37 PIM
April Stats: 8GP, 2G-3A, +3, 2 PIM

Leier's AHL days are numbered. Head coach Scott Gordon has said numerous times he's the best two-way player on the team, and that his work ethic both on and off the ice is a good example for the prospects to follow. There might not be room on the NHL roster for Leier to make the Flyers out of camp, but I'd be shocked if he doesn't get more games in Philaelphia next season.

Petr Straka - Grade C+
2015-16 Season Stats: 64GP, 19G-18A, +5, 25 PIM
April Stats: 6GP, 0G-0A, Even, 2 PIM

Straka's time with the organization could be coming to an end, as the impending restricted free agent never got back on track after a lower body injury caused him to miss significant time down the stretch.

Dalton Smith - Grade C+
2015-16 Season Stats: 28GP, 2G-0A, -3, 49 PIM
April Stats: 4GP, 1G-0A, -1, 7 PIM

Smith was a physical bottom six forward for the Phantoms down the stretch, joining the team on a PTO at a time when the depth of the Phantoms was paper thin due to injuries and call ups.

Forward Pavel Padakin - Grade C+
2015-16 Season Stats (AHL): 41GP, 2G-7A, -3, 35 PIM
April Stats (AHL): 8GP, 0G-2A, +1, 13 PIM

Padakin returned from another stint in Reading and played in the bottom six in April, playing a more responsible two-way game. His simple game was starting to yield moderate success, as he tallied two assists in the season finale.

Tim Brent - Grade B+
2015-16 Season Stats: 52GP, 10G-18A, +3, 39 PIM
April Stats: 8GP, 3G-2A, Even, 11 PIM

After missing some time with a hand injury, Brent was back to being one of the team's most important players both offensively and in the face-off circle. Brent was paired on a line with newcomers Oskar Lindblom and Nicolas Aube-Kubel regularly down the stretch, mentoring the younger forwards entering the pro game.

Steven Swavely - Grade B
2015-16 Season Stats (AHL): 15GP, 3G-0A, +1, 4 PIM
April (AHL): 8GP, 3G-0A, +2, 4 PIM

Swavely got more comfortable with every passing game in his stint with Lehigh Valley in the final month and a half of the season. The Phantoms signed the Reading, Pa native to an amateur tryout (ATO) following his senior season at the University of Maine. It wouldn't be too surprising to see Swavely added to an AHL deal for depth for next season and float between the AHL and ECHL in his hometown of Reading.

Honorable Mentions

This section features players who either did not appear in enough games in April 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
April Stats: No Stats

LaBarbera's last start came on March 20th before he was back off the ice with an injury that Flyers' GM Ron Hextall told media will LaBarbera shut it down and miss the rest of the season. LaBarbera had surgery on his hip and was seen walking with crutches in the team's final games of the season.

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

Knapp served first as Martin Ouellette's backup during his hot streak before backing up Anthony Stolarz in the final two weeks of the season. He's a pending AHL unrestricted free agent that was relegated mostly to ECHL duty this season.

Defenseman Maxim Lamarche - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats (AHL): 29GP, 1G-5A, -4, 21 PIM 
April Stats (ECHL): 5GP, 1G-1A, +5, 28 PIM

Lamarche was reassigned to Reading at the end of March to both help the Royals in the ECHL postseason as well as to make room in Lehigh Valley for newly added ATO defensemen Travis Sanheim and Reece Willcox to get their feet wet at the AHL level. At the end of his NHL entry level contract, it's not expected he'll be resigned to another NHL deal this summer.

Defenseman Christian Marti - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats (AHL): 27GP, 0G-1A, -11, 10 PIM
April Stats (AHL): No Stats

Same notes from March. 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.

Forward Phil DeSimone - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats: 28GP, 5G-8A, -4, 26 PIM
April Stats: 2GP, 0G-1A, -1, 10 PIM

DeSimone's ice time was limited in April due to the incoming forward prospects the organization wanted to get a look at, but the forward proved to be a capable player in his return to the AHL mid-season from hockey overseas in Europe.

Forward Aaron Palushaj - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats: 57GP, 11G-17A, -18, 44 PIM
April Stats: 1GP, 0G-0A, Even, 2 PIM

Palushaj was another forward who was bumped out of the lineup with the arrival of the forward prospects. His only game on April 1st resulted in a one-game suspension following an awkward hit on St. John's IceCaps forward Charles Hudon that knocked him out of the game. Palushaj was given a minor for boarding on the play before later receiving the suspension.

Forward Jay Rosehill - Grade Incomplete
2015-16 Season Stats: 23GP, 1G-2A, +1, 33 PIM
April Stats: 5GP, 0G-0A, Even, 9 PIM

Rosehill was suspended three games for his hit on St. John's IceCaps defenseman Josiah Didier in the beginning of the month and only suited up for game action in the season finale Sunday for his other game in April. Rosehill is an AHL UFA this summer.


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