Flyers Sign SJHL Stand-Out Andrew JohnstonBREAKING NEWS, Flyers, News, NHL Monday, May 21st, 2012
The Flyers announced today that they have signed prospect Derek Mathers and undrafted free agent Andrew Johnston to entry level contracts. Mathers’ contract was just a matter of time after the forward announced the news last Thursday.
The Johnston announcement, though, came completely out of the blue. Per the Flyers, “Johnston, 20, comes to the Flyers as an undrafted free agent out of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, where he appeared in 58 games for the Humboldt Broncos last season. The 6-1, 178-pound native of Saskatoon recorded 29 goals and 52 assists for 81 points and led the Broncos to the league’s Anavet Cup championship.”
The blog Broad Street Hockey has additional information on the forward that can be found here. According to BSH, Johnston is expected to attend Union College next fall unless he makes the Flyers line-up out of training camp.
Johnston, should he someday make the roster, would join Ron Hextall as a former Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) alumni to join the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Flyers’ scouting department has a good enough record in recent years to give them the benefit of the doubt, but for a team that perennially finds themselves up against the 50-contract limit, the timing of this is suspect.
It’s possible that the Flyers jumped the gun on the contract in order to beat out another organization from signing him, but they’re taking a leap of faith on an undrafted player from a league that has a very thin record of producing NHL-caliber players.
In fact, since 2007, only one player from the SJHL has been included among the top 210 players from Central Scouting’s North American skater rankings. That honor goes to Rylan Schwartz, who went undrafted in 2009 and currently plays for Colorado College of the WCHA.
As another example, Rylan’s younger brother Jaden was drafted #14 overall by the St. Louis Blues in 2010 after one season in the SJHL and a breakout season in the USHL. It wasn’t the competition in the SJHL that brought him attention as much as his success in the USHL, though.
With Mathers and Johnston on the books, the Flyers now have 42 players under contract and 40 that would count towards the limit (as Mathers’ and prospect Nick Cousins’ contracts would slide next season).
If Jake Voracek, Tom Sestito, Harry Zolnierczyk, Ben Holmstrom, Marc-Andre Bourdon, and Matt Carle (or a replacement defenseman) are re-signed, that leaves four spaces open for free agents, prospects, and potential trade acquisitions. It’s “doable,” but not recommended.
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