2013 Flyers Preview: Six Prospects to Watch
In the previous four previews, The TCL Flyers team delved into the players who will absolutely make an impact on the Flyers this season.
In the final chapter of this series, I will go into six players who I think will have an impact on this season, whether it be in the juniors or if they get called up to the Flyers some time this season.
I present to you the starting line up of the TCL Flyers Future Team:
Starting in net is goaltender Cal Heeter.
It was a tough choice between Heeter and top goalie prospect Anthony Stolarz, but the one thing that separates the two is age. Heeter is going to be the starting goalie for the Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League (AHL), an honor Stolarz isn’t old enough to contend for yet.
Heeter played 32 games last season for the Phantoms as well as eight for the defunct Trenton Titans of the ECHL. With Adirondack, Heeter posted 12-16 record with a 2.92 GAA and .908 save percentage.
Heeter, who will be 25 in November, will look to be impressive this season in the AHL. With the two goalies on the Flyers – Steve Mason and Ray Emery – battling amongst each other on one-year tryouts, Heeter could see some time as well if one gets injured.
For Heeter, if he impresses, it may give him a distinct advantage over the 19-year-old Stolarz for the future.
At the blue line blocking shots and clearing rebounds in front of Heeter will be Mark Alt and Shayne Gostisbehere. (With first round pick Samuel Morin playing in the juniors, I felt that Gostisbehere has a better shot at making a debut with the Flyers this season than Morin.)
Alt took the jump from college, playing at the University of Minnesota. He was looking to be a big part of the Phantoms defense this season before suffering a concussion in the Flyers rookie game between the Washington Capitals.
Alt is filling into his 6’4”, 201 pound frame. He’s a very imposing player on the ice, and though the concussion will be a setback for him this season, could very well earn the chance to play in Philadelphia barring injuries.
Gostisbehere is the same way, but his chances of making the big club are less than Alt’s.
Gostisbehere impressed at Flyers rookie camp and is starting to get some attention from the front office as well as among the fan base.
He’s a lot smaller, only 5’11”, but he’s a fast skater, good with the puck and has an offensive mindset. Basically he’s another Erik Gustafsson, who is currently the Flyers’ 7th defenseman most likely.
Your starting forwards will be centered by Nick Cousins.
Cousins, 20, is probably the most NHL-ready of the players on this list. Drafted in the third round in 2011, Cousins has finally put his immature streak behind him and it’s translated well for him on the ice.
He absolutely lit up the Ontario Hockey League last season, scoring 27 goals and 76 assists in just 64 games. He has also played eight games in the last two seasons with Adirondack, scoring just one goal.
A lot of people felt he was the dark horse to make the Flyers team as a possible third-line winger. But if any of the Flyers’ top three centers goes down this season and Cousins is playing well in Adirondack, expect him to be the first player called up.
On the wings will be Marcel Noebels and Jason Akeson. (Michael Raffl was originally on this list but Jordan included him in his Wingers Preview.)
Noebels is an interesting player, and has recently garnered some attention as well.
Noebels, 21, was a fourth round pick for the Flyers back in 2011. He played most of his season with Adirondack, scoring 13 goals and 10 assists in 46 games. He also spent time with the Trenton Titans, finding the net 11 times and adding 19 assists in 31 games.
Akeson, like Cousins, will also be on the short list of forwards to get a call-up if a player is injured. Akeson is also the only player on this list who has played for the Flyers already.
Akeson scored his first NHL goal last season on a play where he drove the net. That turned out to be the only game he played in for Philadelphia.
With the Phantoms, Akeson had 20 goals and 33 assists, proof that he has the scoring touch as well as the ability to set up plays. He’s a versatile winger, and if he gets called up to Philadelphia, it’ll be to get top 6 minutes.
2013 Flyers Preview: Centers by Dan MacNeal
2013 Flyers Preview: Wingers by Jordan Kuhns
2013 Flyers Preview: Defensemen by Alicia Sprenkle
2013 Flyers Preview: Goalies by Chris Bengel