This past weekend, Philadelphia welcomed 10 new faces to their organization with a common theme amongst all of them; the combination of size and skill clearly were traits the Flyers organizationally lacked prior to this draft, but now, with every player they selected standing at least 6’1, it is probably safe to say that Philadelphia filled those needs. With the risk of maybe reaching for a bigger player that was less talented as opposed to a smaller, more skilled player could have played a factor in the Flyers’ decision making but in reality, only time can tell with that as the NHL draft is an inexact science and there is always an element of guesswork even for the most prudent teams. That said the Flyers ended up with some pretty good value picks. Ron Hextall’s maneuvering to move back 4 spots in the first round, only to move up 30 something spots in the second round, turned out to be a strong move and may pay the Flyers forward in the not so distant future. Here’s a look at the team’s best pick, value pick and potentially, their sleeper pick:
Best Pick: German Rubstov
Despite the Flyers having their choice of snipers Kieffer Bellows (selected by Islanders), Julian Gauthier (selected by Hurricanes) and power wing Max Jones (selected by Ducks) Philadelphia decided to swap picks with the Winnipeg Jets to move back from the 18th pick to the 22nd to select the Russian star. I have never seen Rubstov play but from those who have, they describe the 18 year-old as an all-around talent that is mature beyond his years. Rubstov seems to own some excellent, two-way skills that, as he grows into his 6’2 frame, will potentially give the Flyers 2 skilled, two-way centerman with Rubstov and Sean Couturier already in the fold. Some of the concern surrounding the young player is in regards to the melondium doping scandal involving the under-18 Russian hockey program and Rubstov’s willingness to come to North America. None of that has matter to the Flyers, however, as they saw Rubstov as the best player available with the highest upside. The club deserves the benefit of the doubt as their success in the late 1st round has been well documented in the past.
Value pick(s): Pascal Laberge and Carter Hart
In Laberge’s case, the 18 year-old center/winger was one of those players that quickly moved up the draft board as the year progressed. Philadelphia selected him with the 2nd round pick that was acquired in the Winnipeg Jets’ trade and is considered a player with natural skills. Laberge is also a player with good speed and the hope is that he can add some muscle to his nimble frame (he’s currently 6’1, 175) as he matures. Carter Hart was considered by many the best goaltending prospect in the class so the Flyers decided to scope him in the 3rd round. The fundamentally sound Hart will join a Flyers prospect pool that owns several goaltending prospects across all levels. He’s an intriguing add as the club continues to pad their goaltending depth.
Potential sleeper: Wade Allison
To continue with the theme of adding size and skill to the prospect pool, the Flyers added rugged left winger Wade Allison to the mix with their 2nd 3rd rounder. Allison already stands 6’2 and weighs over 200 pounds, but it isn’t his toughness that has the Flyers intrigued; Allison is also heady player that has more scoring prowess then initially thought. He seems to have a good top gear for a power wing too (still room for improvement with power skating), and with that can blow by defenders through the neutral zone. This kid is definitely a size, skating, skill pick and could end up being better than originally thought.
We’ll take a look at free agency, which begins on July 1st, in the coming days.