Philadelphia Flyers – Top 5 Call-UP Prospects for the 2001 Season
The Philadelphia Flyers head into the 2001 – 2002 season with one of their deepest teams ever since the trade of their former franchise player to the Rangers. The landscape of their rookies has change drastically. In June there were thoughts that one or two young defenseman would make the roster on opening night, oh how one trade can change things. The Flyers are in a position to let their farm system grow and mature. All the prospects will not be rushed along to fill any holes on the Flyers. A big part of a team’s success is their call – ups during the season. Currently at training camp the youth is clearly shinning.All teams have injuries to deal with in a course of a season. The teams that have players that can step in and serve a role are the teams that are most often in first place. The players listed below are prospects fans might see at some point this season. Flyer fans will see plenty of the players listed in this preseason.
Francis Lessard – Francis was thought to be the front runner for either the 6th or 7th defenseman on the opening night roster. The trade that netted Kim Johnsson has changed that now. He still has a chance to be their 7th blue liner. The Flyers seem to be in the mood to carry an extra tough guy this season. Francis could serve that role well on the nights that the big club plays the tougher teams. Bill Barber loves the toughness he brings to the table. I expect Lessard this season to once again be on the farm, however he may be a call up. He is still very raw and would have to be paired with a defenseman that has experience and puck moving skills. The Flyers will pick Lessard as their first defenseman they would call up in a case of injury or poor play. He is one of Barber’s favorite players.Lessard has really stood out in the first days of camp. The practices were suppose to be none contact but Francis has hit everything that moved. Rick Tocchet has taken notice to the young defenseman also. Rick stated that he has a great love for the game and plays it at a high level on every shift .He must work on his temper to get any ice time with the Flyers though.Lessard can offer more mobility and fighting skills than current 7th defenseman Chris McAllister.
Jesse Boulerice – Jesse was rumored a couple of weeks ago to be a front runner for a roster spot on the big club. It seems like the Flyers are concerned about their toughness. Once again, the Lindros trade effects his possible roster spot this season. The parent club is very deep at left wing. I do not buy Boulerice making this team at all. I think it is just training camp talk. Bill Barber when coaching the Phantoms gave Jesse a very small amount of ice time. The Flyers did however give him number 21. That is usually a sign that the big club sees a true enforcer in the works. The number has a long history dating back to Dave Brown, Dan Kordic, and recently Sandy McCarthy. Flyer fans can expect him to be called up if Fedoruk is hurt or if they are going against a heated rival. Jesse at this point in his career can only offer knuckles and emotion to the Flyers this season. He is a feared fighter at the AHL and should be able to carry that role to the NHL. Last season he knocked out Darren Van Oden and sent him into convulsions. A lot depends on Barber rolling 4 lines like he did last season. There is talk that he may go with a 3-line system. Boulerice can play a defensive style of game that would fit with Manderville and Ranheim perfectly. Flyer fans may get to see their #21 jersey back in the fold.
Tomas Divisek – I believe the Flyers have plans to move Divisek back to center this season. He has played both on the Phantoms and Flyers last season. He had some injury problems last season that effected his point totals. Since the Flyers are very deep now at left wing, this will move Tomas up the ladder of prospects to be called up. He had a cup of tea last season with the Flyers. He has nice size and skill to be called upon if injuries occur. The Flyers go into the season with a huge question mark. Will Jiri Dopita have success at the NHL level? The Flyers really have no clue until they stick him out there. If Dopita fails, Tomas could earn a regular roster spot. Divisek is another Czech player that could be plugged in perfectly with Hlavac. The Flyers will keep a close eye on him this training camp. He must work on his hockey sense and defense to be a regular this season. Divisek can score and is willing to go into the corners, which is perfect for the 3rd line center positions.
Pavel Brendl – Pavel was the wild card in the Lindros deal. He has a wicked shot, but he lacks skating ability. He has been over weight 2 years in a row at training camp with the Rangers. I think a change in scenery will help him grow as a player. Pavel will be allowed more time to develop with the Flyers. The Flyers have said that he will be given every chance for a roster spot this season. Brendl will be watched closely in camp. He could make the big club, but most likely he will start with the Phantoms. I have no doubt he will be one of the first choices if a player goes down to injury. His defense and attitude will need improving to get in the good graces of Barber and Clarke.The Flyers do not have a great history of getting players that are struggling to become sucessful.
They tried this with Pat Falloon and Alexander Daigle most recently. Unlike the two others, Brendl has not skated yet in the NHL and his work habits can be changed. He comes to Philly with a clean slate. If he works hard and gets himself into playing shape, you may be seeing a lot of him. In the first days of camp,Brendl has looked good. Bob Clarke is very impressed with his skill level and knowledge of the game. However, he is still slightly over weight. Pavel will be given a chance in preseason to skate with the top two lines. If Pavel does not make the big club, he will be worth a ticket to the Phantoms this season. He can electrify crowds with is knack for netting the puck in the twine. He is the first real prospect to play for the Phantoms.
Bruno St. Jacques – Bruno was also rumored to be a front runner for a roster spot before the Lindros trade. He is not great at anything, but he plays a sound defensive game. He will fight and take a hit to make a play. His skating needs work but he gets by. The Flyers are very high on him. I think he needs more experience at the AHL level. Bruno only played 45 games for the Phantoms last season. Regardless, the Flyer’s brass is very high on this young man. In the case of all the players listed, he would be a great call up in case of injury. It will only help his career to play more at the AHL level. Bruno was one of the leaders in the playoffs with the Phantoms. Flyer fans will see him at some point this season.