Saturday, June 28, 2014

7 Rounds in 2 Days

Wow. That went fast. The draft is over and now we can catch our breath a bit.
There's a lot to go through. I have a ton of audio from Flyers brass including Chris Pryor, Ron Hextall and Paul Holmgren which I already uploaded and linked on my twitter @bobrotuck . But I want to dig into it a bit more and listen again to what they have to say about these guys. If you want some great background and thoughts on each of the players taken in the draft then listen to Chris Pryor interview. He's the Flyers Director of Scouting and is always good for that kind of in-depth background stuff.

As I mentioned before, these potential "future Phantoms" won't be joining the Lehigh Valley team for a couple of years. It's not like football or basketball where the player gets drafted and then immediately is a professional. In hockey, the drafted player will go back to juniors or college hockey. The kids who were drafted this weekend will not be turning professional for a couple of least.

We might see some of them at the end of THIS season though...for just a couple weeks. When juniors team is eliminated from the playoffs in March or April then the drafted players can join the AHL on an amateur contract. And then the next year they go right back to juniors.
2012 first-rounder Scott Laughton did that a couple seasons ago. Came over to the Phantoms at the end of the year and played six games and scored his first pro goal...and the following season was right back in Oshawa lighting up the Ontario Hockey League.
There was a good chance that 2013 first-rounder Sam Morin would have done the same thing. But his juniors team went a little further into the playoffs. They were eliminated in a seven-game series just a couple days before the Phantoms' last games of the year...and he was injured in their last game as well. If Morin's team had lost in 5 games instead of 7 and he was healthy, then almost certainly the big defenseman would have come over to the Phantoms just to play 3 or 4 games at the end of the year.
It's a terrific opportunity for these kids to get their feet wet and to get a direct feel for the difference between juniors against a bunch of 16-19 year-olds mostly...vs the AHL with some 5-10 year veteran guys, many with NHL experience.

Going back through previous drafts, we can expect some of these players drafted this weekend join the Phantoms within the next 2-3 seasons. But not all of them. Inevitably, a couple of them won't make it that far, or will get traded, or something else will happen.
In the longer-run, if you turn just two of your seven draft selections into legitimate NHL players who stick for longer than a half-season then you can probably say you had a decent draft that year. If you end with one legit superstar and one capable NHL'er then you had a tremendous draft. 2006 featured Claude Giroux as the Flyers first-round pick (at #22 overall) and also second-rounder Andreas Nodl who played one full season for the Flyers (scoring 11 goals) and parts of three others.

We won't really know if the 2014 Flyers Draft Class can be considered a success until 2018 or 2019 or so. That's just how it works. You take a bunch of 18-year-olds and see where they stand when they are 22 or 23. And for a couple of key seasons in-between, we can look forward to seeing some of these players in Phantoms jerseys as they try to realize their potential and eventually put on the Flyers jersey again...just like they did here in Philadelphia right after their name was called by Ron Hextall.

More later. This place is clearing out. My first ever NHL Draft experience is officially complete.
As always, happy to receive your questions and thoughts on twitter @bobrotruck and email

Friday, June 27, 2014

NHL Draft

Live downstairs in the media room at the NHL Draft. My first appearance at such an event and also the first time the Philadelphia Flyers have hosted.
Flyers will select 17th tonight in the first round. But there has been talk that the Flyers could be serious about trying to trade up. So no "coasting" in the rounds leading up to Philly's pick. I could all happen very quickly that Gary Bettman thrills the crowd with the announcement that "We have a trade...the Flyers have made a deal with Toronto and will now select 8th!!"

Rounds 2-7 are Saturday at 10am. Undoubtedly there will be some future Phantoms in that group. But not ALL of them. Some players drafted this weekend will be a part of the Phantoms in a couple of years. But others might fall through or may eventually be traded or something else can happen. Going back through past drafts, there are a lot of "hey, I remember that name" situations with a guy who had high potential at one time but never even played a single game in the Flyers' organization.

Some fans kind of assume that the teams should be able to project with borderline 100% accuracy and that just isn't realistic. They are drafted 18-year-olds who will continue to play in juniors or college...and are attempting to GUESS how good these players will be 3-5 years down the road (or more). It's a difficult task.

Tweet of the day comes from Steve Mears of NHL Network who reminded everyone that Henrik Lundqvist was drafted after 13 other goalies who would never play a single game in the NHL. 30 teams had their opportunities over and over to select Lundqvist, and continually passed because he simply didn't really grab them as having the potential to become an NHL starter (much less superstar). Conversely, those 13 goalies who were selected who never went anywhere really: Not uncommon.
A few more thoughts later.

David Andrews, President of the American Hockey League, just walked through and said a few hellos. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have a table set up across the parking lot at the Flyers/NHL FanFest over there. A lot of fans in this area are extremely excited for the Phantoms return to Pennsylvania and many have questions about the team, tickets, arena, etc. Hockey fans are a hard-core bunch for the most part. Obviously the vast majority of the Phantoms fan-base will emanate from the Allentown area and surrounding Lehigh Valley communities. But there ill certainly be many fans coming up to Allentown from Philadelphia to attend some games as well.
I think back to all of the games the Adirondack Phantoms would play in Hershey and Wilkes-Barre. And it was impossible to miss all of the Flyers and even Phantoms jerseys in the stands. The fans would mark the games on the schedule for the Adirondack Phantoms to play an away game in Pennsylvania and were ready to travel. Keep in mind that it is a bit longer from Philadelphia to Hershey and Wilkes-Barre...about 2 hours. It's only about 1:10 or so from Philly to Allentown. And certainly there are those living a bit more in-between the two cities who are even closer. The Phantoms will be the Lehigh Valley's team for sure. But unquestionably there will be MANY fans coming up from Philadelphia to enjoy a couple games at a MUCH lower price-point than the Flyers.

Blog Reopened!

Refreshing this old blog page that I had not used for awhile. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms website is not fully functional yet so I will use this area to post some thoughts. Getting used to everything again. My laptop fried out on me and isn't worth attempting to save so I am working on a brand new computer with a different feel keyboard and no audio software (yet). Kind of starting from scratch. But glad this space is still available for some articles, etc. Happy as always to take your questions. Will see them fastest on my twitter @bobrotruck but also can email me at