Last season, the Philadelphia Flyers benefited from players like Claude Giroux, Andreas Nodl, and Darroll Powe making huge impacts in their rookie seasons.
Giroux and Powe established themselves as more than fitting everyday NHL players while Nodl proved that he could be a decent injury fill-in or a fourth line player.
This year, the Flyers are already putting a lot of eggs into Giroux's and Powe's baskets, depending on them to play crucial roles in 2009-10.
For one, Giroux will be asked to log first or second line minutes this coming season in his first full year with the team. In 42 games with the Flyers last year, Giroux recorded 27 points, and was tied for the team lead in points during the playoffs.
Powe, on the other hand, played a big role last year in his first year in the NHL. The Princeton product only tallied 11 points in 60 games, but his presence was more of an energy guy, and penalty killer.
This year he'll be playing mostly on the third line while killing penalties, and providing some energy. However, I think that Powe could score 10 to 15 goals.
Nodl played 38 games for the Flyers last season, and scored only one goal. With that being said, he was a player that was always on the doorstep but just couldn't finish.
The Austrian-native had a minus-15 in his rookie season, but if you watched him play, he was impressive at times.
Now that has got me thinking about which rookies will make an impact on this year's squad.
James van Riemsdyk
Van Riemsdyk was drafted by the Flyers with the second overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, and spent two years playing college hockey with New Hampshire.
The 21-year-old winger out of Middletown, New Jersey, signed an entry-level contract midseason last year with the Flyers, and played in seven games with the Philadelphia Phantoms.
In his seven professional regular season games, van Riemsdyk posted two points and two penalty minutes. In four playoff games, he posted a big fat zero on the score sheet other than two penalty minutes.
With the loss of Mike Knuble to free agency, that opens up a roster spot that JVR could compete for. The Flyers are lacking a net presence on the power play, and van Riemsdyk could be that kind of guy.
Oh, and he could be a top-six forward this year.
There are potential roadblocks he will have to overcome to make the team. He has to be ready for the NHL and his cap hit of $1.6 million would leave the Orange and Black, who are $2.1 million under the cap, just $500,000 in wiggle room.
His cap hit might hamper his chance of making the team out of training camp, but yet again, the Flyers are looking for another scoring forward and he could fit well in their system.
The Flyers drafted Maroon in the sixth round in the same draft as van Riemsdyk, and he possesses good size and skills that could have him vying for a roster spot this season.
Maroon appeared in 80 games with the Phantoms last season, potting 23 goals and scooping up 31 assists for 54 points. He finished with a team-best 11 power play goals in his first AHL season.
At 6'4", 225 pounds the St. Louis native has better size than JVR and can deke like nobody's business. Like van Riemsdyk, Maroon isn't a big hitter despite his size.
Neither player has to hand out bone-crushing hits, but both have to use their bodies to their advantages. These players will be goal-scorers, not bangers.
Whether Maroon or van Riemsdyk crack the lineup out of camp, one if not both will get some playing time with the Flyers.
Marshall is a second-round pick in the 2007 NHL Draft who plays strong in his own end, and plays a gritty game. The 6'1", 207-pound defenseman developed somewhat of an offensive game in his final two season in Juniors posting 35 and 38 points.
Signed to an entry-level contract this summer, Marshall could make the team as a sixth or seventh defenseman. I have heard reports that he is closer to playing in the NHL than most people realize.
The most probable case with Marshall is that he'll play in the AHL to start the season, however if injuries start to hit the blue line, Marshall could step up and play some big minutes for the team.
The Flyers selected Bourdon in the third round of the 2008 NHL Draft, and he is an offensive-minded defenseman.
Last year, he split time with Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL last season. He combined for 18 goals and 42 assists for 60 points while racking up 112 penalty minutes.
The 6'0", 215-pound defenseman will have to improve his skating ability, and learn to play better in his own end, before he gets his chance to prove himself at the NHL-level.
He'll likely start the season with the Phantoms.
The Flyers will be depending on some of these players to make an impact this coming season because they have lost some scoring depth, and are expected to give Maroon and JVR a chance to crack the lineup.
On the other hand, the chances of them getting some meaningful playing time this year are slim-to-none unless injuries start to occur in which one, if not both, will be forced to step in.
But yet again, that's unlikely since they have another promising defenseman, Danny Syvret, playing for the Phantoms.
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