Flyers prospect tackling weighty issues

Posted: July 13, 2011

If you were to pass Brendan Ranford on the street in Stone Harbor, N.J., last Friday when the Flyers' prospects were in town for their annual Trial on the Isle, you likely would have mistaken him for a fan in Flyers swag.

He does not look like a hockey player.

With shaggy, brown hair hiding his face, his generously listed 5-10 structure is unremarkable. Ranford does not have washboard abs, like many of his prospect camp counterparts, and he does not walk around with Imaginary Lat Syndrome - or a deliberate, imposing gait to impress or attract.

In fact, throughout his first three full seasons of major junior hockey in Kamloops, British Columbia, Ranford has largely struggled with his weight.

"Hey, I'm not going to make any excuses, but I live with an Italian family in Kamloops, and they feed me a lot of pasta," Ranford said with a grin.

Perhaps that's one of the reasons why the Flyers waited until the 209th overall pick to nab him last year, just one spot before 2010's dreaded "Mr. Irrelevant."

Ranford, though, turned more than a few heads at the start of last season when he posted 24 goals and 20 assists in his first 26 games of the season to jump out to the Western Hockey League scoring lead.

"I don't think the Flyers drafted me as a fighter," Ranford said, laughing. "But I think that they've been pretty surprised with how I've put out. They were really happy with how I could score."

Ranford, still only 19, fizzled in the second half of the year - which by his own admission was because he fell out of shape. After netting 44 points in his first 26 games, he posted only 42 in his final 44 games.

Nonetheless, he still set a career high in points, with 86, which led Kamloops and was 14th in the league in scoring.

"The biggest thing I learned is that I've got to stay in good condition through the whole year," Ranford said. "I got a really fast start. Everything was going in [the net] for me. I started the season in really good shape. Then, probably, halfway through the year, I just got out of condition, and it caught up to me."

Ranford said he received a few pointers on how to handle his weight from new mentor Ian Laperriere last week, as the Flyers wrapped up their annual development camp on Monday with a scrimmage. He said he is hovering around 195 pounds, but would like to get down to 180 or 185 by the end of the summer.

"I've had troubles with my weight, for sure, throughout my junior career. Even when I got drafted, I gained a little bit," Ranford said. "I've just got to watch what I eat and my portion sizes."

Ranford is heading back to Kamloops this fall, where he has another two seasons of junior eligibility remaining. Before that, though, he will spend time in Vancouver with his uncle, former NHL goaltender Bill Ranford. Ranford said he spends a week or two each summer with his uncle, who backstopped Edmonton to a Stanley Cup in 1990, when he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He currently is the Los Angeles Kings' goaltending consultant.

Ranford said his uncle has definitely given him "a hard time" about his weight. He takes it to heart, knowing his "second father" enjoyed a 15-year NHL career.

For now, Ranford knows he has a lot of work to do. But he quickly accomplished last season's top goal - and he already is looking like the next great steal from the NHL's seventh round.

"My biggest goal this year was just to make a name for myself," Ranford said. "For me, it's not about what round you're picked in. It's how hard you work after you're drafted." *

For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at

www.philly.com/FrequentFlyers. Follow him on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.

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