With the 27th overall pick in the 2008 NHL draft, the Philadelphia Flyers have a plethora of options. Not guaranteed a stud, a likely and ideal move for the Flyers could be to trade a roster player to move up in the draft, while also relieving enough cap space to add a defenseman in free agency.
Since top 10 draft choices are close to untouchable because of their high rate of success, the Flyers could potentially move somewhere between 10-20, with a special eye being placed on the Nashville Predators, who are special trading partners with Philadelphia and have the 9th and 15th overall picks.
If in fact the Flyers do move up to 15th with a trade, here is a truncated list of potential prospects who are projected to be around and who would look good in orange and black.
**Luca Sbisa, D – 6.01, 195lbs.
Swiss defender with good vision and makes very good break out passes. Sbisa is a smart working-man’s defenseman with untapped offensive potential and good shot blocking capability. Unlike many European defenders Sbisa is very tough and does not shy away from physicality. This is proven by his multiple fighting majors during his time with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL. He is projected to become a top 4 defenseman and power play qb.
**Colten Teubert, D – 6.04, 181lbs.
Teubert is a player made specifically for a team like the Flyers. He is big, hard hitting and mean. Teubert is a defensive defender with not a ton of offensive skill, but more than makes up for it with his defensive prowess, long reach and ruthless intangibles. Although the Flyers need an offensive dman, no one should be upset if they move up to grab Teubert to replace the likes of Darian Hatcher and Jason Smith on the blue line. Teubert does however need to fill out his big frame to be more effective at the NHL level.
Michael DelZotto, D – 5.11, 200lbs.
Right now in DelZotto’s career, he is an effective but one-sided offensive defenseman. He has great offensive ability but is mistake-prone in his own end. What keeps him from dipping out of the first round is his seemingly limitless potential. DelZotto is not overly physical but wont shy away from contact. In this past season with the Oshawa Generals, DelZotto had 63 pts in 64 games, but was a minus-5 in the playoffs despite having 12 pts in nine post-season games.
**Joshua Bailey, C – 5.11, 167lbs.
Bailey is a hard-nosed two-way center with good hands and excellent playmaking ability. Not afraid to crash the net, Bailey is not a finesse player like Danny Briere, but more of a Mike Richards type. He is an elusive skater who throws his body around and isn’t afraid to mix things up. Bailey tallied 96 pts in 67 games with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. And although the Flyers are one of the deepest teams at center, their organizational depth at that position is almost non existent.
**Colin Wilson, C – 6.01, 215lbs.
Wilson is not likely available to be around in the 15-20 pick range — but if he is — would be a very intriguing steal for the Flyers. Wilson is a strong, conditioned and powerful two-way player with excellent hockey sense and passing skills. Wilson, the youngest player in Hockey East, is the product of the U.S. National Team Development Program. He tore up the NCAA as a freshman with 35 pts in 37 games and did equally as well in national tournaments. Wilson played alongside Flyers’ top prospect James VanRiemsdyk in the US program and in the World Junior Championships for Team USA. It would be an interesting angle for the Flyers if Wilson were to fall to them, as the natural line pairing of JVR, who also just finished his freshman yearin the NCAA, and Wilson would be dynamic.
If the Flyers do in fact stay at 27 in the draft, here are some players that should catch the eye of Paul Holmgren late in the first round.
**John Carlson, D – 6.02, 210lbs.
Carlson is a decent sized, physical, well-rounded defenseman. He can quarterback the power as well as effectively work the penalty kill. He has excellent speed for his size and uses physicality as part of his game. Carlson has the talent to be a top 15 player, but playing in the USHL where the offensive talent does not match that of the Canadian juniors, puts into question his ability to succeed against top-flight talent day in and day out.
**Jyri Niemi, D – 6.03, 190lbs.
Big, tough, Finnish born defender with a left handed slap shot clocked consistently at 97 mph. He tallied 14 goals and 20 assists with a minus-1 in 49 games with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL. Niemi also won the WHL’s hardest shot competition. If Niemi can mature his decision making skills, and fill out his 6.03 frame, he can potentially become a decent power play qb and top-four defenseman. Considering the Flyers’ love for Finnish players, Niemi might be a name to keep an eye on when it’s Philly’s turn to pick.
**Jordan Eberle, C – 5.10, 174lbs.
Not a physical forward, Eberle uses speed and finesse to produce. He is an absolute inventor with the puck with strong stick handling and passing ability, along with head scratching vision. Eberle is strong in his own end and possesses excellent speed. He could be a potential sleeper in the draft, as he drifted in the rankings due to his size and fear that he could be easily out muscled at the NHL level.
Tyler Cuma, D – 6.00, 175lbs.
A well-rounded but improving defenseman, Cuma has all the ingredients to make a successful power play qb and be reliable in his own end. He is quick, can find space in traffic but also plays an in-your-face style that involves a lot of hitting. He is not big nor particularly strong offensively or defensively, but what he is however is respectable in both ends has improved statistically from 2006-07, when he scored only 19 pts, to 2007-08 when he tallied 32 pts. With his potential to grow, Cuma could turn out to be a nice player.
Jake Gardiner, D – 6.02, 170lbs.
Gardiner is an offensive juggernaut from the blueline. He is quick as any forward and does not shy away from joining or carrying the rush up ice as his puck handling skills are exceptional. Gardiner however, is a project. One of only a small number of American high school players expected to go in the draft altogether, Gardiner played forward his entire life but switched to defense in his senior season. Because of his late position change, it leaves him a lot to learn about and develop on the back end. Gardiner is slated to further improve his game at the University of Wisconsin and likely won’t be ready for the pros for years to come. If Gardiner can fulfill his potential and become reliable on the blue line, he could be the biggest steals in the draft.
Aaron Ness, D – 5.09, 157lbs.
Much like Gardiner, Ness is a phenomenal American high schooler. He was named the Minnesota high school player of the year and has a more evolved, two-way game than Gardiner. Ness is capable in his own end but also possesses excellent vision, good speed and above average stick handling and passing ability. He is known to have excellent patience with the puck which is a must-have attribute of power play quarterbacks and quick hands that result in a very clean, fast shot. Signed on to attend the University of Minnesota, he also has a good deal of development to achieve before turning pro. Ness’s biggest issue is his size. To be an effective NHL defenseman he will need to get stronger and build up bulk to out muscle the opposition.
Chet Pickard, G – 6.02, 195lbs.
Pickard is the epitome of making the most when given the chance. Backing up Montreal Canadians’ goalie Carey Price two out of his three years with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL, Chet finally got his opportunity to start and completely blew away any competition. He tallied 46 wins and 12 losses with a save percentage of .918 — stats that garnered him the title of top goalie in the CHL. Pickard is a butterfly style goalie that relies on his size and positioning to stop pucks. He is cool under pressure — has a good head on his shoulders — and doesn’t get rattled after giving up a bad goal. The problem with Pickard however is the fact that he has had only one excellent season and that doesn’t always tell the tale of a goaltender. Teams tend to fall in love with goaltender and since there are so few good ones in the draft, all bets are off as to where they are drafted. With Pickard, he could be drafted as early at 10-15 or possibly go in the second round.
**Jacob Markstrom, G – 6.03, 178lbs.
Lanky, calm and positionally sound is how one could decribe Swedish goaltender Markstrom. Ranked as the number one European goalie in the draft, Markstrom has been rumored to be on the Flyers wish list come the 27th pick — something that may have to do with the comparisons between Markstrom and late Flyers’ goalie Pelle Lindbergh. Markstrom believes the comparisons between him and Pelle are unwarranted, but sees himself in Lindbergh in his aggressive nature and willingness to challenge the shooter with his butterfly style. Seen as occasionally dropping to his butterfly too quickly, Markstrom has a quick glove to make up for it. Markstrom opened the eyes of scouts when in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament held in the Czech Republic, Markstrom stonewalled Team Canada with 38 saves on 40 shots, and then proceeded to make shoot out saves on Canada’s Kyle Beach (who is expected to be a top 10 pick) and Steven Stamkos (the likely 1st overall pick) to give Sweden the 3-2 victory. Sweden ended up with the gold medal.
** Philabright favorites
And with the 27th pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers choose…
Jacob Markstrom, G.
Jyri Niemi, D.