Philadelphia Flyers: NHL-Ready Players from 2012 Prospect Camp
For one week in July every year, a group of talented hockey players take part in the Philadelphia Flyers' Prospect Camp. Although it is supposed to be a development camp, not a tryout, players still do their best to impress the Flyers' coaching staff throughout the week.
Some players were taking part in their first camp, while others have been coming out for years.
Scott Laughton, the Flyers' first-round pick a few weeks ago, was very impressive, but it is highly unlikely that he plays in the NHL this season. Other 2012 draft picks, like Anthony Stolarz, Reece Willcox and Steve Gostisbehere, were very impressive during camp, but won't see any NHL ice this season.
There are a number of camp players who could make the jump to the NHL this season, however, and I'll take a look at their backgrounds and make some predictions for the upcoming year.
Jason Akeson, RW
Akeson is a talented winger who could be a third-line playmaker in the NHL. In 2010-2011, he tied for the most points in the entire OHL with 108 and led league with 84 assists. He played three seasons for the OHL's Kitchener Rangers and signed with the Flyers as a free agent in 2011.
Akeson totaled an impressive 55 points in 76 games for the AHL's Adirondack Phantoms in 2011-2012 and has a good chance of getting called up to the Flyers at some point this upcoming season.
At the camp, Akeson showed off his great hands and playmaking ability. He has great vision and moves well around the ice, but his defensive game leaves a lot to be desired. Don't be surprised if he comes up midseason and scores some points for the orange and black.
Brandon Manning, D
Brandon Manning is a name some Flyers fans may recognize from Manning's brief stint in the NHL last season. He played for the Chilliwack Bruins of the WHL from 2008-2010 and was team captain in his second full season.
In that second season, Manning was third on the team in points with 54, amassing 13 goals and 41 assists. During the few games he played for the Flyers, his offensive ability was very noticeable.
That offensive talent was on display at camp, as he was extremely comfortable with the puck and showed off his exceptional skating ability. Manning will most likely be the first defenseman called up in the case of an injury.
Nick Cousins, C
Nick Cousins is a feisty center who played for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL. Although he's only 5'11", 170 lbs., Cousins plays hard and does not back down from anyone.
He has pretty good hands, but his best attributes are his work ethic and willingness to put his body out there to make a play. For his style of play, Hockey's Future compares him to Flyers winger Scott Hartnell.
Cousins was one of the best players at camp and could see some time on the fourth line for the Flyers in 2013. While I don't think he has the ceiling to be a productive long-term NHL player, he could very well be a solid checking-line contributor for the next few years.
Oliver Lauridsen, D
Oliver Lauridsen is a bit more of an unknown than the first three players on the list, but the Danish defenseman could get some minutes in the NHL this upcoming season.
At 6'6", 229 lbs., Lauridsen is an intimidating presence on the ice who isn't afraid to throw his weight around. He played college hockey at St. Cloud University and, in 2010, was named to the WCHA All Academic Team.
This was Lauridsen's fourth Flyers Prospect Camp since getting drafted in 2009. He will be right behind Manning in terms of getting called up, and considering that injuries tend to pile up throughout the winter, he could definitely get his shot in the NHL.