For all intents and purposes it’s hockey season. Yes, training camp is still a little more than a week away but starting tomorrow, the Flyers prospects arrive for the start of rookie camp.
Rookie camp is just that – rookie camp – and very few participants ever really get a shot with the big club in the following weeks.
This year, we all know Scott Laughton is one of those unique cases, and he will, in fact, be one of those rare breeds who takes part in rookie camp and then makes a push for the big club in the September weeks that follow.
But what of the rest of these prospects? Who are the ones fans venturing over to Skate Zone in the next few days should keep a close eye on?
Here’s a list of five – all of whom should start the season with the Phantoms and all of whom could be called into service during the next season or two.
1. Petr Straka, forward – Straka could be the most intriguing player in the rookie camp. An offensive dynamo out of the Quebec League, the 21-year-old Czech forward can light up the scoreboard – but he’s lacking on the other end of the ice, and he admits that’s how he was taught to play the game as a kid. Nevertheless, his offensive skill set was too much to pass up on, and the Flyers were quick to pounce after his NHL rights that were owned by the Columbus Blue Jackets expired. Columbus had drafted him in the second round (No. 55 overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, but never signed him. He was worth the gamble for the Flyers and now they hope that gamble pays off.
2. Marcel Noebels, forward – No matter what level he’s played at, Noebels has been productive offensively. Over the past three seasons in the WHL, ECHL and AHL, Noebels has played in 202 games and has posted 165 points. A fourth round pick by the Flyers in the 2011 draft (No. 118 overall) Noebels has steadily made his climb and may not be far from getting his first taste of NHL action as an injury call-up this season).
3. Nick Cousins, forward – His junior career now over, it’s time to see what Cousins can do during an extended period of time in pro hockey. Almost a surefire bet to start the season with the Adirondack Phantoms, Cousins has been considered an NHL-caliber prospect for a couple years now. Coming off an incredible season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds where he posted 103 points, Cousins, who projects as a top nine forward in the NHL, will finally get to develop his pesky style in a professional environment.
4. Maxim Lamarche, defenseman – Lamarche came into his own in his final junior season at Baie-Comeau (where he was Straka’s teammate) and now has some Flyers front office folks excited for the season to come. Lamarche is big and solid physically and has a nice, two-way game that makes him both responsible in his own end while being a regular contributor on offense. The Flyers have had a lot of success with undrafted free agents, and Lamarche may just end up being another one.
5. Mark Alt, defenseman – If there’s anyone in rookie camp who you look at and say, yeah, he’s got an NHL body, it’s Alt. Big, strong, a good skater, and good puck skills have Alt venturing into the “next generation” conversation with the Flyers future defensive corps that also includes names like Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg and Shayne Gostisbehere. It shouldn’t be taken lightly that Alt gave up his senior season at the University of Minnesota to join the Flyers organization for this season. The defensive cupboard is pretty stocked down on the farm right about now.
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