Monday, July 07, 2014

Flyers' first-round draft picks and AHL experience

Inspired by wondering just how much time to "develop" the Flyers organization gives its high-level draft picks, I've run the numbers to see if there's any significant correlation between a high draft number, time spent in the minor leagues and success with the organization at the NHL level.

The following is a year-by-year breakdown of the Orange and Black's first-round selections, the number of games spent in both juniors and the AHL, and number spent in the minors before gaining a foothold with the Flyers or any other opponent.

Give or take a few games and transactions, the research culled from HockeyDB.com and hockeyreference.com yielded the following:

1967 -- Serge Bernier (fifth overall): 173 games with the Quebec Aces from 1967-70. Made Philadelphia lineup for good at start of 1970-71 season, dealt to Los Angeles in January of 1972 after 75 points in 123 games.

1968 -- Lew Morrison (eighth overall): 156 games for Quebec, Richmond and Binghamton (1968-69, 1971-72, 1974-75, 1977-78). Joined Flyers for the 1969-70 season after 70 games with Quebec, claimed in expansion draft by Atlanta in 1972 after 41 points in 202 games.

1969 -- Bob Currier (sixth overall): 201 games for Quebec and Richmond from 1969-73. Never played an NHL game.

1971 -- Larry Wright (eighth overall): Made professional debut with Flyers on October 9, 1971, sent to minors on December 17. Played in 44 games with Richmond in 1971-72, then 113 over the next two seasons for Robins while appearing in only nine Flyers contests. Traded to California in May, 1974 after two points in 36 games from 1971-73.

1971 -- Pierre Plante (ninth overall): Made professional debut with Flyers on October 9, 1971, sent to minors on December 13. Played 77 games at Richmond over the next season-plus and recorded 47 points, then was dealt to Blues in December, 1972 in the Andre Dupont deal. Posted four points in 26 games for Flyers.

1972 -- Bill Barber (seventh overall): Spent 11 games at outset of 1972-73 season in Richmond, recalled to the Flyers on October 29 after notching 14 points (9G, 5A). Never appeared in the minors again. Compiled franchise record 420 goals along with 883 points in 903 games until 1984.

1975 -- Mel Bridgman (first overall): Made NHL debut October 9, 1975, did not play in the minors until 1987-88. Departed Philadelphia on November 11, 1981 to Calgary for Brad Marsh after 324 points and 917 penalty minutes in 462 games.

1976 -- Mark Suzor (17th overall): Spent 74 games with Springfield at outset of 1976-77 season, recalled twice to Flyers for four games at end of year. Traded to Colorado for Barry Dean on August 5, 1977.

1977 -- Kevin McCarthy (17th overall): Made NHL debut on October 13, 1977. Played 82 games with Flyers and scored 20 points, before being acquired by Canucks on December 29, 1978. Did not play in AHL until second stint with Philly in mid-80's. Ended career with 144 points in 199 games from 1985-88 for Hershey.

1978 -- Behn Wilson (sixth overall): Made NHK debut October 12, 1978. Played 339 games with Flyers and scored 214 points with 873 PIM before traded to Chicago for Doug Crossman in June of 1983.

1978 -- Ken Linseman (seventh overall): Made NHL debut October 12, 1978. Demoted to AHL in late November after right ankle injury. Spent 38 games at Maine before recall in late February. Did not play in minors for remainder of career.

1978 -- Danny Lucas (14th overall): Made NHL debut on October 12, 1978. Demoted to Maine after six games, spent 70 games with Mariners to complete 1978-79 season, then played in 82 games over next two years with Mariners, logging 92 points total in 152 appearances.

1979 -- Brian Propp (14th overall): Made NHL debut on October 11, 1979, remained with Flyers for 849 points in 790 games until March 1990 trade to Boston. Did not spend any time in minors.

1980 -- Mike Stothers (21st overall): Spent 146 games with Maine from 1981-84. Played nearly half a season with Hershey in 1984-85 before making NHL debut in December of 1984. Participated in 525 more AHL games with Hershey and Newmarket until end of career in 1992.

1981 -- Steve Smith (16th overall): Made NHL debut November 5, 1981 from Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League. Sent back to the Soo for 1982-83 season, then played 70 games for Springfield in AHL during 1983-84 campaign. Logged 381 more AHL games from 1984-92 with Hershey and Rochester. Participated in 18 NHL games for Flyers and Buffalo.

1982 -- Ron Sutter (fourth overall): Made NHL debut November 28, 1982 from Lethbridge of the Western Hockey League. Played 10 games for Flyers, then returned to juniors for remainder of 1982-83 season. Returned to Flyers at outset of 1983-84 season, never saw the minors through end of career in 2001.

1985 -- Glen Seabrooke (21st overall): Made NHL debut January 17, 1987 from Peterborough of the Ontario Hockey League. Returned to juniors after maximum 10-game stint with Flyers. Played in 124 games for Hershey over next two seasons, recording 116 points. Career ended due to chronic shoulder issues in 1989.

1986 -- Kerry Huffman (20th overall): Made NHL debut on October 9, 1986 from Guelph of the OHL. Spent 77 games with Hershey from 1986-91 while with Flyers. Never played in minors until finishing career in IHL from 1996-99.

1987 -- Darren Rumble (20th overall): Played 130 games with Hershey from 1989-92, and 18 games for Flyers in 1990-91 and 1995-97. Spent 533 games in the AHL for Hershey, PEI, Philadelphia, Worcester, and Springfield through 2005.

1988 -- Claude Boivin (14th overall): Recorded 54 points and 255 PIM in 88 games for Hershey from 1990-92. Made NHL debut on November 30, 1991. Played four games with Bears in 1993-94 before being dealt to Ottawa in March of 1994.

1990 -- Mike Ricci (fourth overall): Made NHL debut October 4, 1990 after three years with Peterborough of the OHL. Posted 97 points in 146 games from 1990-92 then traded in package to acquire Eric Lindros from Nordiques in June, 1992.

1991 -- Peter Forsberg (sixth overall): Dealt to Quebec in package to acquire Eric Lindros in June of 1992.  Made Flyers debut October 5, 2005.

1992 -- Ryan Sittler (seventh overall): Spent 121 games in the AHL with Hershey, Baltimore and St. John's. Never played in NHL.

1992 -- Jason Bowen (15th overall): Made NHL debut on April 7, 1993 from Tri-City of the WHL. Spent 1993-94 with Flyers, then most of 1994-95 season (66 games) with Hershey in AHL. Played 73 games for Flyers in parts of five seasons, and 365 total AHL games for Hershey, Philadelphia, Hamilton and Saint John.

1995 -- Brian Boucher (22nd overall): Spent 70 games with Phantoms from 1997-99. Made NHL debut October 14, 1999. Did not play in AHL again until 2005-06 with San Antonio. Participated in 103 games, going 46-38-12 with seven shutouts from 1999-2002 until dealt to Phoenix.

1996 -- Dainius Zubrus (15th overall): Made NHL debut October 5, 1996 without participating in North American high-level juniors or minor leagues. Has not been demoted to minors for entire 17-year career.

1998 -- Simon Gagne (22nd overall): Made NHL debut October 2, 1999 from Quebec of the QMJHL. Did not spend time in minors for entire 13-year career.

1999 -- Maxime Ouellet (22nd overall): Made NHL debut October 7, 2000 from Quebec of the QMJHL. Played two games for Flyers, two for the Phantoms, then returned to juniors at Rouyn-Noranda. Appeared in 41 games for Phantoms in 2001-02 before being dealt to Washington for Adam Oates in March of 2002.

2000 -- Justin Williams (28th overall): Made NHL debut October 5, 2000 from Plymouth of the OHL. Has not played in minors during 13-year career.

2001 -- Jeff Woywitka (27th overall): Spent 29 games with Phantoms in 2003-04 season before trade to Edmonton to acquire Mike Comrie in December of 2003. Played 355 games in AHL for Philadelphia, Toronto, Edmonton, Peoria and Connecticut.

2002 -- Joni Pitkanen (fourth overall): Made NHL debut October 9, 2003 from Karpat of the Finnish Elite League. Played 76 games for Phantoms in 2004-05, did not play in minors for remainder of career.

2003 -- Jeff Carter (11th overall): Played in 33 playoff games and three regular-season games with the Phantoms from 2003-05. Made NHL debut October 5, 2005. Has not played in minors since.

2003 -- Mike Richards (24th overall): Played in 14 playoff games with Phantoms in 2005, then made NHL debut on October 5, 2005. Has not played in minors since.

2005 -- Steve Downie (29th overall): Played one game with Phantoms in 2006-07, after participating in 80 games for Windsor/Peterborough/Kitchener of the OHL. Made NHL debut December 5, 2007, after serving 20-game suspension for illegal hit on Dean McAmmond in September of 2007.

2006 -- Claude Giroux (22nd overall): Appeared in five regular-season games with the Phantoms in 2006-07 following 63 contests with Gatineau of the QMJHL. Returned to Gatineau for 55 games in 2007-08, then made NHL debut February 19, 2008. Saw 33 more games with Phantoms in 2008-09 and 21 with Flyers, then recalled to NHL for good on March 3, 2009.

2007 -- James van Riemsdyk (2nd overall): Played in 67 games for New Hampshire from 2007-09, then seven regular-season and four playoff games for the Phantoms in 2009. Made NHL debut October 2, 2009, stayed in Philadelphia for 99 points in 196 contests until trade to Toronto on June 23, 2012.

2008 -- Luca Sbisa (19th overall): Made NHL debut October 11, 2008. Spent two games in-season with Phantoms. Sent to Anaheim in Chris Pronger transaction on June 26, 2009. 12 games of AHL experience with Syracuse/Norfolk along with 227 for Ducks.

2011 -- Sean Couturier (eighth overall): Made NHL debut on October 6, 2011. Played 31 games and totaled 28 points for Adirondack during 2012-13 lockout.

2012 -- Scott Laughton (20th overall): Made NHL debut January 19, 2013, following 49 games with Oshawa of the OHL. Played CBA-mandated five-game limit for Flyers in 2013 season and six games with Phantoms. Returned to Oshawa for 87 points in 54 games last season.


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