by Kaitlin Santanna || AHL On The Beat Archive
When looking at the Philadelphia Phantoms scoring list, a curious name is found near the top of the inventory.
The player who’s tied for the team lead in points – and who has been near the top of the scoring page all season – is not a forward, but instead a fourth-year defenseman who had never before had more than 20 points in an AHL season.
Although Syvret has had his best offensive start to a season so far, this Ontario native doesn’t believe that he has changed anything specific in his game. Instead, Syvret attributes his offensive presence to the new responsibility he has undertaken playing on a Phantoms team with a wealth of young talent.
“I don’t really think I’ve changed my game at all,” Syvret says. “I just think that with more responsibility things have been working out for me. I’m playing with a bit more confidence and so far things have been going well.”
This confidence comes in part from playing with several different AHL teams during his stay in the league. Syvret is a well-traveled defenseman for his 23 years of age and his four professional seasons. Drafted 81st overall by Edmonton in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Syvret spent most of the 2005-06 season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, posting 20 assists in 62 games.
During the 2006-07 season, Edmonton split its prospects among five different AHL teams, and Syvret landed with Grand Rapids, totaling four goals and 16 assists in 57 AHL games.
Over his first two seasons, Syvret also played 26 games with the Oilers, recording his first career NHL point with an assist vs. Calgary on Apr. 7, 2007.
In 2007-08, Syvret was forced to relocate again as Edmonton began a full affiliation with the Springfield Falcons. He played in 36 games with Springfield before he was loaned to the Hershey Bears, which was the start of a bizarre coincidence: Syvret was loaned to the Bears in exchange for Grant Potulny, but Edmonton retained Syvret’s rights. Over the summer, the Oilers then traded Syvret to Philadelphia – for none other than Grant’s kid brother, Ryan Potulny — another 2009 AHL All-Star.
After having been traded for an entire hockey family over the course of less than six months, the fifth team of Syvret’s AHL career was finally the charm. With the Phantoms, Syvret has found a team that relies on his defensive experience while his offensive skills have a chance to flourish.
“Yeah, I’ve traveled around a lot in my short time in the league,” Syvret laughs. “But I really like it here in Philadelphia. I like how the parent club is right here with you. Usually the farm team is halfway across the country, and here you can go out to lunch with them. It’s good to get to know everyone in the organization.”
Syvret’s compatibility with the organization is evident on the scoresheet. He also contributes greatly to the team’s power play, which has enjoyed a great season to this point. Syvret is on pace to break an 11-year-old Phantoms record for points by a defenseman in a single season, set in 1997-98 when Jamie Heward collected 65.
While these offensive numbers have Syvret on pace for his personal-best professional season, his play in the junior leagues forecasted this strong two-way game. From 2002-05, Syvret played three seasons with the London Knights of the OHL and amassed 122 points, including 69 (23 goals, 46 assists) in the 2004-05 season when he captained London to the 2005 Memorial Cup championship. A few months prior, the defenseman was also a part of gold medal Canadian team at the 2005 IIHF World Junior Championships. Syvret provided the game-winning goal in Canada’s 6-1 victory over international rival Russia in the gold medal match.
While not as evident on the statistical sheets, Syvret is a strong defensive presence for the team as well. Both of his defensive partners, Nate Guenin during even-strength play and the penalty kill and Jason DeSantis on the power play, speak of Syvret’s ability play well in both zones and the ease of playing with him.
“It’s been great for me [playing with Syvret]”, Guenin says. “He’s good at moving the puck and we communicate well together. Plus, he gives you that offensive presence on the blue line too.”
Syvret also contributes to the team’s penalty kill, which has also enjoyed a strong season.
“I think it just comes down to hard work and being willing to do anything from keeping the put from going into the back of the net,” Syvret says of the penalty kill. “As of late, we’ve been doing a pretty good job of blocking shots and letting the goalie see the puck.”