It seems like it’s highly unlikely that the Philadelphia Flyers will be making their selection in the first round of the NHL entry draft. In the off-chance they do keep their pick, it would be good to know who’s out there and who could ultimately be picked at number 13 (originally 14th but Arizona’s pick is forfeited). With all the trade rumours surrounding the Flyers and who they want to acquire, that first round pick is all but gone. However, if none of those trades are completed, the Flyers stand a good chance at adding another talented prospect to their farm system.
Barring any sudden trades to select in the top 5, picking at 13 for the Flyers means you can automatically rule out the cream of the crop. Owen Power, Matthew Beniers, William Eklund, and Dylan Guenther are just a few names that won’t be there at 13. Due to the fact that covid either shut down some leagues or made it very hard to scout others, it’s up in the air in terms of where you can find gems. For the most part, it is supposed to be a deep draft, especially in the first round, and it wouldn’t hurt the Flyers to keep an eye on some names.
Before seeing who would be available in their pick range, we should dive into what the Flyers farm system currently looks like. In terms of their top end prospects, their top 8-10 can shape up in any order, but would contain the following players: Morgan Frost (F), Cam York (D), Wade Allison (F), Egor Zamula (D), Bobby Brink (F), Tyson Foerster (F), Tanner Laczynski (F), Noah Cates (F), Jay O’Brien (F), and Adam Ginning (D).
At first glance, the Flyers seemingly have a lot of forward options churning their way through the pipeline. Frost will have a spot on the opening night roster if he isn’t dealt before then. Wade Allison should be a front runner for a top 9 spot after his impressive debut at the end of the season. Even though Laczynski didn’t record a point in the 5 games he played with the Flyers last year, he still played well enough to battle for a bottom 6 spot on opening night. Meanwhile Brink, Foerster, Cates, and O’Brien are still a few years away from making the NHL.
In terms of their defense, over the last 4-5 years, a lot of their prospects have been promoted to the NHL roster. The Flyers drafted defensemen with their first round picks in 2013 (Sam Morin), 2014 (Travis Sanheim), and the first of their two selections in 2015 (Ivan Provorov). Shayne Gostisbehere was drafted in the third round of 2012 and Robert Hagg in the second round of 2013.
After 2015, their focus then became about adding more scoring punch as they drafted a forward in 2016 (German Rubstov), 2017 (Nolan Patrick and Morgan Frost), 2018 (Joel Farabee), and 2020 (Tyson Foerster). They have a few notable defensemen (other than York and Zamula) in the farm like Emil Andrae, Adam Ginning, Mason Millman, and Linus Hogberg, but they too are a few years away from cracking the lineup.
Two reputable names when it comes to draft rankings are Bob Mckenzie and Craig Button and between them, their prospect rankings are eerily similar with a few exceptions. Since the Flyers are picking at 13, we should zero in on the players ranked between 10 and 20, giving us some leeway if certain players drop or if the Flyers “reach” for a player.
Within that range you’ll find players of all positions, so if the Flyers are looking for forwards they have plenty of options. Cole Sillinger, Chaz Lucius, Fabian Lysell, Brennan Othmann, and Zachary Bolduc among others should be available. This draft is more top heavy for defensemen but a couple that could fall include: Daniil Chayka and Carson Lambos. Finally, if the Flyers want to add a top tier goalie, Jesper Wallstedt is the top goalie prospect but odds are he won’t be at 13. However, Sebastian Cossa could be an intriguing option if they so choose that route.
Cole Sillinger is a 6’0/185 lb centre who has the ability to put the puck in the back of the net but also has a very high hockey IQ. He is known to have a very wicked wrist/snap shot and for a centre that’s pretty eye opening. In 2019-20 he played in the WHL for the Medicine Hat Tigers and recorded 24 goals and 53 points in 48 games. He followed that up in 2020-21 by scoring 24 goals and 46 points in only 31 games for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL. He is still a few years away from possibly making the NHL but he has been compared to Mark Scheifele. If he can work on his defense and add a bit of size, that ceiling can become a reality.
Chaz Lucius is a 6’0/185 lb centre as well and just like Sillinger has a wicked wrist shot. He has the ability to make precision pinpoint passes, has great instincts, high offensive IQ, and can find the open man with ease. In 2020-21, he recorded 13 goals and 18 points in 12 games for the USNTDP Juniors and then another 13 goals and 20 points in 13 games for the US National U-18 team. He has worked hard on his 200 ft game and defense and if he can round it all out, some people have compared him to a better version of Elias Lindholm. He is an elusive forward, who can play on the wing as well, but he can score in bunches and should be an intriguing option at 13.
Brennan Othmann is a 6’0/185 lb left winger of Canadian and Swiss descent who has one of the best shots in the draft class. His shot has been described as a “hard shot and excellent release” as well as having a “precise quick-release wrister”. He isn’t the best when it comes to passing or playmaking but he makes up for it with his shot and puck protection. In 2020-21 he spent the year in Switzerland playing with EHC Olten, where he recorded 7 goals and 16 points in 33 games. The Swiss league, like many European leagues, are a little more difficult for draft eligible players because they’re playing alongside men in their late 20s and 30s. A comparison for Othmann is that of Brendan Morrow with a better shot and better goalscoring acumen.
If defense is the way the Flyers want to go then Carson Lambos would be a great pick. The 6’1/185 lb defender is an elusive offensive minded defenseman who has a shoot-first mentality. He has Shayne Gostisbehere-like qualities, where he likes to fake shots and passes, he likes to wait defenders out, and either utilizes his head-fakes, dekes, or speed to get past defenders. He spent the 2020-21 season in Finland’s junior circuit, where he recorded 14 points in 15 games, before playing 2 games in the Liiga. In 2019-20 he played in the WHL for the Winnipeg Ice, where he scored 8 goals and 32 points in 57 games. His ceiling comparison is Cale Makar, so if the Flyers can get their hands on Lambos, they’ll surely come out on top.
If the Flyers feel like they need to add a top tier goaltender in their mix then they can either trade up to grab Jesper Wallstedt or trade down and acquire Sebastien Cossa near the end of the first round. Wallstedt spent the 2020-21 season in the SHL playing for Lulea HF, where he went 12-10-0 with a .908 save percentage and a 2.23 G.A.A. Considering the European leagues provide stronger competition, those number are very eye catching for an 18 year old. He was chosen to represent the Swedish national team at the World Juniors but due to his age, only got into one game. He’s got all the traits to become a starting goalie in the NHL as he is fluid in his crease, agile in net, can handle the puck very well, and doesn’t get rattled or bothered by nerves.
As for Sebastian Cossa, the 6’6/197 lb goaltender, went 17-1-1 with a .941 save percentage and 1.57 G.A.A for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL in 2020-21. The year before that he played in 33 games and went 21-6-3 with a .921 save percentage and 2.23 G.A.A, which shows that none of his stats or seasons were outliers. He may not be as highly ranked as Wallstedt but he is still considered the second best goaltender in the draft. Odds are he will surely be taken in the first round, if not early second round. Like most goalies, he still needs a few years to polish his craft but with Carter Hart in net, the Flyers don’t need to worry or rush their goaltending prospects.
All signs are pointing to the likelihood that the Flyers are trading that first round pick in exchange for a game changer for their current roster. The Flyers realize they need to make changes quick and one way to do that is by trading a lottery pick. Should no trades materialize and they opt to keep the pick, the Flyers have an abundance of options to look further into.
If wanting a dynamic goal scoring forward is at the top of their list, they could possibly snag either Lucius, Othmann, or Sillinger. If they want a two-way defenseman, who can defend well but also score goals, then Carson Lambos should be their guy. Goaltending shouldn’t be a priority, especially in the first round but if Wallstedt becomes available, then that could be a very intriguing pick for the present and future, considering they already have a phenom-in-the-making in Carter Hart. All things considered, whether they trade it or keep it, the Flyers are in good shape of acquiring star talent.