We’re back! We’re here to talk more recent drafts with some familiar names. After a brief hiatus, we continue the look-back at Flyers draft picks of the past. This time, we focus in on the 2012 NHL Draft, and a few names many Flyers fans are more than familiar with. Some current roster players, some that broke through but didn’t stick.
After the 2011/12 season, the Flyers found themselves in a familiar position. A decent campaign followed by a second round exit in the playoffs led them to discovering the holes in their game. Adding some punch in their offense, while shoring up a hole or two on defense, and they did just that with the 2012 draft.
First Round – Scott Laughton
At 20 overall, the Flyers selected Oshawa General Scott Laughton from the OHL. Laughton had posted solid numbers and was labeled a Swiss-Army knife-type player coming out of juniors. This was exemplified by the fact that he started out the very next year in the NHL with the Flyers. His NHL stint lasted all-but five games while adding six at the AHL level, and he was promptly sent back to Oshawa.
Laughton would spend all of the 13/14 season in the OHL as well, dominating the inferior competition. He posted 87 points in 54 games, while adding 11 points in nine playoff games. Laughton then made the jump, permanently, to the pros. He would spend his first season splitting almost an equal amount of games between the Flyers and the Phantoms.
Laughton found himself a permanent member of the Flyers roster in 2015/16, putting up 21 points in 71 games. The very next season, he played two games with the Flyers but the rest in the AHL with the Phantoms. Chalk that up to another genius decision by Dave Hakstol.
Laughton rejoined the Flyers in 2017, and has been a fixture in the lineup ever since, proving his worth as a key bottom-six forward for the Flyers.
Second Round – Anthony Stolarz
Before Carter Hart, there was Anthony Stolarz. The big framed netminder (6’6” 209 lbs) was taken at 45 overall out of the NAHL, where he played for the Corpus Christi Ice Rays. Stolie the goalie departed the NAHL and played split-duty in 2012/13. He suited up for the University of Nebraska-Omaha for 8 games, then played 20 games with the OHL’s London Knights. He spent the whoe 2013/14 season with London before making the jump to professional hockey the next year.
Stolarz made his professional debut with the Phantoms in 2014/15, playing 31 games in the AHL. The next season, Stolarz saw 47 games with the Phantoms. In 2016/17, Stolarz made his debut with the Flyers, seeing seven games of action. The rest of the season was spent with the Phantoms, playing 29 games in the AHL.
In 2017/18, Stolarz suffered a setback. He injured his knee with the Phantoms and was out until late in the season, playing 3 games in the ECHL with the Reading Royals. The next season was a clean start, as Stolarz got a call-up during a tumultuous year for the Flyers in net. After appearing in 12 games for the Flyers, Stolarz injured his knee again, thanks Hakstol.
To add insult to injury, literally, he was traded to Edmonton for Cam Talbot. Talbot played four games for the Flyers. Despite his reported stellar relationship with Carter Hart, Talbot was not re-signed, and is now playing for the Calgary Flames. Stolarz has now moved on from Edmonton, and is playing for the Anaheim Duck’s AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls on a two-year deal.
Third Round – Shayne Gostisbehere
Two years ago, this was the steal of the century for the Flyers. Ghost was drafted 78 overall from Union College of the NCAA. He would spend two more seasons playing collegiate hockey before making the jump to the professionals. In his first season, 2014/15, Ghost played two NHL games and five AHL games.
The 2015/16 season saw Gostisbehere come into his own. He played 14 games in the AHL with Lehigh Valley, and got the call for a stint in the NHL. That stint turned into 46 points in 64 games for the Flyers, earning him second place in Calder Trophy voting and a full-time gig in the big league.
2016/17 was a bit of a down year compared to the prior season (39 points in 76 games,) but he rebounded in a big way come 2017/18. Ghost tallied 65 points in 78 games with the Flyers, turning heads around the league. While it wouldn’t show in the Norris Trophy voting (10th place,) Ghost had put the league on notice, making them aware of his offensive prowess.
The sad part to this story is that Gostisbehere hasn’t regained his 2017/18 form to this day. 2018/19 saw him post 37 points in 78 games, and he only has 12 points in 42 games with the Flyers this season. He battled an injury early on, and was benched in favor of Robert Hagg when healthy. If Ghost can get back close to what he was two seasons ago, the Flyers may have one of the better bluelines in the league.
Fourth Round – Fredric Larsson & Taylor Leier
With the 111 overall pick, the Flyers took defenseman Fredric Larsson from Brynas of Sweden. Larsson was a tall, lanky prospect with a heap of potential. Larsson would play the 2012/13 season in Brynas before making the jump to North America.
Larsson’s North American career was riddled with injuries and issues surrounding gaining weight and keeping it on. His 179lb frame was tough to bolster considering the food allergies he had, so Larsson never quite fit into the Flyers organization.
Larsson would start end up in the USHL with the Youngstown Phantoms and Tri-City Storm during the 2013/14 season. After one year in North America, Larsson returned to Sweden for three seasons, from 2014 to 2017. After the 2016/17 season, Larsson didn’t return to hockey, and hasn’t played since.
Taylor Leier was selected six picks after Fredric Larsson out of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. Leier would spend two more years with Portland, and made the jump to the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Leier would quickly become a fan favorite in Lehigh Valley, playing 73 games in 2014/15 and posting 31 points. The next season, Leier made his NHL debut, playing six games with the Flyers to his 71 games with the Phantoms.
The next season, Leier got 10 games up at the NHL level, while still logging 48 games as the alternate captain with the Phantoms. In 2017/18, Leier joined the Flyers on a permanent basis, playing only 39 games however. In 2018/19, Leier would play 34 games with the Phantoms before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres organization for Justin Bailey. Leier would be assigned to the Rochester Americans, Buffalo’s AHL affiliate, and is still playing with them. He’s set to be a free agent at the end of the season.
Sixth Round – Reece Willcox
Reece Willcox was taken at 141 overall out of the BCHL, where he played for the Merritt Centennials. Willcox would immediately join Cornell University in 2012. His senior year, he was named captain of Cornell’s hockey team. After his senior year, he went pro in 2016/17.
His first professional season in North America, he played in five ECHL games with the Reading Royals and 48 with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the AHL. Willcox is now a staple on the Phantoms blueline, having played there since the 2016/17 season.
Seventh Round – Valeri Vasilyev
With the last pick the Flyers had in the 2012 draft, they took Vasilyev at 201 overall. Vasilyev was playing in the MHL, the Russian juniors at the time he was drafted. He made a permanent jump to the KHL one year later, in 2013/14.
At 6’2” and 229lbs, Vasilyev was supposed to be a force on the Flyers blueline, much like the Flyers envisioned Fredric Larsson could be had he filled out. Unfortunately, Vasilyev never made the jump to North America. He’s still playing in the KHL, most recently with Amur Khabarovsk.
Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports