Lauridsen still eager to learn at prospect camp
VOORHEES, N.J. – Oliver Lauridsen has seen it all before.
The towering, 6-foot-6 defenseman has arrived at Skate Zone every July since 2009 to attend Flyers prospect camp – longer than any other current participant. Now in his fourth year, he remembers playing alongside James van Riemsdyk and Sean Couturier, and what summers here were like well before Ian Laperriere took the reins as the program’s lead coach.
He may be a prospect camp pro at this point, but Lauridsen still hopes to gain something out of this week’s proceedings.
“There’s always something you can learn,” he said. “The coaching staff we’ve got around this camp is amazing. They’ve got – what, 5,000 NHL games combined, I think. And you just listen – they’ll teach you something. It doesn’t matter how old you are.”
At 23, Lauridsen is rather old by prospect camp standards. He’s the only remaining invitee from the 2009 draft (he was selected in the seventh round, 196th overall) and has been around so long, in fact, he’s become somewhat of a point person for new campers’ off-ice questions.
This year, he admits, it’s his turn to help take care of some of the younger attendees.
“There’s a couple guys [who’ve asked for advice],” he said. “I’ve been here so long now that I kind of know what’s going on. Obviously, they come and ask me for little details, but mostly if there’s any hockey stuff, they’re going to go ask the coaches.”
Lauridsen spent last season with the Adirondack Phantoms, the Flyers’ AHL affiliate. There, he scored three goals and four assists, completing his 65-game season with a minus-5 rating.
While trucking on through his year in Glens Falls, though, he watched as teammate after teammate was called up by the Flyers to spend time in the NHL. Four Phantoms defensemen – Erik Gustafsson, Marc-Andre Bourdon, Kevin Marshall and Brandon Manning – spent time with the Flyers last season. But Lauridsen’s name was never called.
“Obviously you want it to be yourself, but it’s nice to see that the organization is feeling comfortable calling up defensemen all the time,” he said. “So I’m happy for the other guys that got the chance last year, and hopefully I’m just going to go back and really do good work this year, and hopefully it’ll be me next time.”
At this week’s camp, and certainly through the upcoming season, Lauridsen knows which aspects of his game he needs to improve: his quickness, his physicality, his consistency. But he has already benefited greatly from the coaching of Kjell Samuelsson and Derian Hatcher, two former players he realizes can offer him a great deal of assistance.
"He really improved with the coaching staff [with the Phantoms] as a hockey player," said Laperriere, the new Flyers director of player development. "His work ethic has always been there. If you talk to [Phantoms assistant coach] Riley Cote, he’s going to say he’s the hardest worker on the team. He’s not the most skilled guy out there, but he’s not a bad skater for a big guy. But he works at it.
"Just say, 'I don’t have good hands,' and you don’t do anything about it, that’s your fault. But he’s got the other approach – 'Well, maybe I don’t have the smoothest hands, but I’ll work at it.' If he doesn’t make it, it won’t be a lack of effort. But I’m a big believer that he’s got a big shot of making it to the NHL."
With an already stacked defense – the Flyers may carry eight blueliners on their roster in 2012-13 – Lauridsen faces an uphill battle if he hopes to make his NHL debut at some point this season. But in the final year of his entry-level contract, he also knows he has a lot to play for.
"I don’t know if he’ll make the NHL, but he’s putting every effort to make it, on and off the ice," Laperriere said. "I’ve got a lot of respect for guys like that. I’m sure he’s going to have a chance at one point. Is he going to be an NHL player for 20 years? Who knows.
"But at the end of the day, he’s going to go through life and say, 'I’m giving my best shot to make it,' and I’ve got a lot of respect for guys like that."E-mail Sarah Baicker at firstname.lastname@example.org