I stated in my last post that, “The arguments against [Flyers forward Andreas Nodl] are that ‘he sucks,’ ‘he’ll never be an NHL player,’ and ‘I wanted Guerin!’ ” They point to his longest stint with the Flyers in 2008-2009, when he played 38 games and only had 1 goal and 3 assists. The truth is, you have to look at Nodl’s whole career thus far and the context of these numbers before giving up on the Austrian prospect.
Nodl was drafted #39 overall by the Flyers in the 2006 NHL draft. At the time, he had played two seasons in the USHL, where he put up 29 goals and 30 assists in 58 games prior to the draft. The Flyers were hoping they acquired an offensive weapon in young Nodl, and he appeared to be a gem when he started playing for St. Cloud State University of the NCAA. In 2006-2007 and 2007-2008, he netted 18 goals and at least 26 assists (44 points) with the St. Cloud State Huskies.
Due to his progress, the Flyers pushed Nodl into the line-up before he was ready. As mentioned earlier, he had less than stellar results. His confidence was crushed and the team sent him back down to the Phantoms. As a comparison, James Van Riemsdyk had 34 points in his freshman year at the University of New Hampshire and 40 points in his sophomore year (less than Nodl). He earned his roster spot with the Flyers in last year’s training camp, but there was a noticeable drop-off in production midway through the 2009-2010 season that can easily be attributed to growing pains.
JVR is more talented than Nodl, but that’s where Nodl’s time in the AHL will prove to be invaluable. In his time with the Phantoms, he learned how to be a responsible two-way forward that can fill in on the penalty kill. Most prospects who aren’t selected in the first round are given time to develop in the AHL because they’re simply not ready to play at the elite level, and Nodl was no exception.
Anyone who followed the preseason closely saw that Nodl was generating scoring chances on many of his shifts. He played with Jeff Carter in Friday’s game against Buffalo and under coach Peter Laviolette’s system, the two had several tic-tac-toe plays that were exciting to watch. The real key for him at this point is to start focusing again on his offensive game and improving his finishing skills.
This isn’t meant to say that Nodl is guaranteed to be a high scorer in the NHL or that keeping him on the roster over Guerin was the obvious choice, but at 23 years old, there is still time for him to turn into the forward they hoped he would be. He has potential to flourish (or flounder) in the system that the Flyers are implementing and spending time with the team will give general manager Paul Holmgren time to evaluate him for next season. There’s no reason to count him out when this season hasn’t even started yet.
As a clarification, poster ‘lewdoggie20’ was correct in his comment on my last post. I had thought Jody Shelley would be utilized on an as-needed basis, but he was practicing earlier today with Blair Betts and Darroll Powe on the fourth line, ahead of Nodl.