As the Flyers prepare to open training camp on September 13, Seidenberg is in contention for the roster spot left vacant by the departure of blueliner Luke Richardson, who joined the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"There have been a lot of impressive players,” Hitchcock said, “but for me, two have stood out: Dennis Seidenberg and Patrick Sharp."
Sharp is a 21-year-old center who signed his first pro contract in May and is not ready for the NHL just yet.
Seidenberg, who was drafted in the sixth round last year, just completed his second full DEL campaign with the Mannheim Adler. At 6-foot and 180 pounds, the 21-year-old probably would have gone higher if he were bigger. But his convincing international appearances with Team Germany pushed him into the NHL spotlight.
Despite his youth, Seidenberg played a key role on the team that stunned many experts with its surprising run to the final round in the Olympic Winter Games in February. Working as assistant head coach for Team Canada, Flyers coach Hitchcock also had the chance to scout Seidenberg’s talents at the IIHF World Championships in Sweden this spring.
"His ability to move and pass the puck is at a very high level," Hitchcock said. "We could see that at the Olympics. He could get out of trouble against us, and the same thing at the World Championships.”
Seidenberg was initially slotted to play for the Flyers’ AHL affiliate Philadelphia Phantoms this fall. But now Hitchcock is wondering if the youngster is capable of pushing some veteran player out of the picture and making the NHL roster right away.
"When you look at a defenseman who gets in and out of trouble as well as he does, you can't judge him until you get some heavy competition in NHL exhibition games”, Hitchcock explained. “But I have to tell you, he does some things and has the dynamics that help your team."
Hitchcock said he was very impressed with Seidenberg's transitional play and believes his European background has given him an edge to someday play with the Flyers. Hitchcock plans to teach the Flyers a five-man transitional system he used when he head-coached the Dallas Stars. Seidenberg's style in moving the puck might give him some advantages because he's been playing in a similar system in Europe for four years.
"The first couple of weeks over here have been pretty exhausting”, Seidenberg said. “We practiced only three or four times a week, but at a high intensity. But I guess I’ve been able to learn a couple of things already. Moreover I've played with NHL players in Germany, like Rene Corbet and Stephane Richer, and it's been good to play with those kind of players. Yet, I have never had to play against these players over here, only at the Olympics. It will be interesting to see how I do."
And Seidenberg won’t have to wait much longer to get this experience. Hitchcock plans to pit him against Flyers veterans in camp and also use him in a couple of exhibition games to test his readiness for NHL play.