On June 26-27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, the Flyers are set to select the 21st pick in the 2009 NHL draft. And because of the amount of talent in the pool, the Flyers are sure to have an exciting day.
“Our stance is always the best available player,” said Flyers’ General Manager Paul Holmgren, during a pre-draft press conference. “We have a group we’re looking at and there are guys at each position that we have in that group. It’s a good draft, we believe that with our first pick we’ll get good prospect.”
On the possibility of trading up or down in the draft, Holmgren continued.
“It is something we’ve talked to some teams about,” he said about trading up. “It comes down to price or something that is a fit. We’ve also talked about moving back into a different group of players or have access to more than one.”
Holmgren has made it clear he wants to improve the organzational depth at goaltender and defense. And since this year’s draft is very heavy at forward and light at goaltender, the Flyers could walk away with a forward that falls to them or one of the plenty capable puck-moving defenseman, depending on who they believe is the best fit or best available.
“There are a group of guys we think will be available at 21,” he said. “Some are a stretch to be there and some we know will be there. We have a group of guys we believe will be in our range. I don’t think there will be much of a different between say the 10th player taken and when we pick.”
Previous Flyers 20+ selections in the first round
2006 – No. 22 — Claude Giroux, F
2005 – No. 29 — Steve Downie, F
2003 – No. 23 — Mike Richards, F
2001 – No. 27 — Jeff Woywitka, D
2000 – No. 28 — Justin Williams, F
1999 – No. 22 — Maxime Ouellet, G
1998 – No. 22 — Simon Gagne, F
With such talent available in the first round, it is difficult to predict who will and won’t be still on the board when the Flyers pick. However, according to multiple rankings and Philabright’s own mock draft, the highest probable players can be widdled down to a small selection most likely there for the taking.
The Flyers are always on a quest for proven puck-moving defenseman, even though the organization has been quietly stacked the past few seasons with capable rear guards. Players like Dennis Bodrov, Kevin Marshall and Marc-Andre Bourdon, opened the eyes of the organization the past couple of years. Mix them with youngsters Luca Sbisa, Ryan Parent and a solid season from Danny Syvret, and the Flyers suddenly have serious depth in the defensive pipeline. However, if there is a “real deal” defenseman on the board when the Flyers are ready to pick, don’t expect them to shy away.
Defensemen predicted to go 10-20
David Rundblad, D — 6’2, 195 lbs., Skelleftea (Swe JE)
Projection: Flashy offensive defenseman
Rundblad is a flashy puck mover with exceptional passing ability, especially moving the puck out of the zone. He controls the puck well and has the wheels to go end-to-end at will, not unlike Mike Green of the Washington Capitals. But like Green, Rundblad may not be the best defensive player on the board, but because of his high ceiling of potential in his offensive game, many teams will look at his natural ability rather than his shortcomings. He is also a rare right-handed shot, something the Flyers don’t have, but desperately covet.
John Moore, D — 6’2, 180 lbs., Chicago (USHL)
Projection: Two-way defender.
Moore is set to go somewhere in the 10-20 range, but he may be the best, most well-rounded blue liner in that bracket. Moore is a great skater and has strong offensive skills, but not at the expense of play in his own end. He is rangy and very mobile, making him very effective in the defensive zone. The big rear guard is said to play a similar style to Jay Bouwmeester. The knock on Moore is his lack of physicality and the fact that he is headed to college.
Ryan Ellis, D — 5’10, 175 lbs., Windsor (OHL)
Projection: Power play quarterback
Ellis has been predicted to go within the 10-15 range, but due to his size, (5’10, 175 lbs) don’t be surprised to see some teams pass. Ellis may be small, but he makes up for it with smarts and offensive prowess. The prototypical power play quarterback, Ellis owns a nasty shot from the point and is a good passer. He needs to get stronger and learn to be smarter defensively, because he won’t be able to rely on size to shield the puck in the NHL. Some believe Ellis could be the next Kimmo Timonen or Brian Rafalski, while others think he’s strictly going to be a power play specialist.
Defenseman predicted to go 20-35
Nick Leddy, D — 5’11, 180 lbs., Eden Prarie H.S. (Minn.)
Projection: Well-rounded, quick defenseman
After talking to head of NHL Central Scouting, E.J. McGuire, he convinced me that Leddy is the real deal and that the Flyers will take a hard look. Selected “Mr. Hockey” as the top player in the state of Minnesota in 2009, Leddy isn’t big but is as quick and as fluid a skater as they come. He has excellent vision and passing ability, which makes him good under pressure. However, he does come from high school, which means he may be a untested. He is attending the University of Minnesota in the fall. Keep in mind that Holmgren has close ties to his home state of Minnesota and may know more than most about its players.
Dylan Olsen, D — 6’2, 195 lbs., Camrose (AJHL)
Projection: Physical depth defender
Despite being somewhat unrefined in making the safe play in his own zone, Olsen’s calling card is being big, mean, physical and all-consuming in his own end. He loves making the big hit and taking players out one-on-one. He isn’t afraid to rush the puck or try and contribute in the offensive end, although his strong suit is his ability to work down low and along the boards. Olsen is likely heading to college.
Brayden McNabb, D — 6’3, 200 lbs., Kootenay (WHL)
Projection: Physical shut-down defender
Set to go in the second round, McNabb could become a Flyer if Holmgren decides to trade down and target this monster. McNabb is purely a defensive-defenseman, but is a beast in his own end. Not a good skater, McNabb makes up for it with range and positioning. He is as physical and mean as he is big. He is rumored to be a decent fighter on top of it. McNabb excels down low and would be a perfect replacement to Darien Hatcher in front of the Flyers’ cage. Also, McNabb’s conditioning tested off the charts at the combine.
Talking to most Flyers’ fans, the last thing they would express a need for would be another forward. However, with the graduation of Claude Giroux and top-prospect James van Riemsdyk already on track to be an NHLer in the next three years, the cupboard is bare with solid forward prospects. The Flyers could use a decent sized winger, who can play a physical game and be a presence around the net. They could also use a third-line, shut down center. Both types of players should be on the board when the Flyers pick.
Forwards predicted to go 10-20
Carter Ashton, RW — 6’3, 200 lbs., Lethbridge (WHL)
Projection: Physical power forward
Ashton is one of the more unpredictable forwards that could be taken anywhere from 11-25. Playing alongside Flyers’ defenseman Luca Sbisa at Lethbridge, Ashton is a scrappy power forward that has a nose for scooping up garbage around the net and putting it in. He doesn’t have great speed, but he is a very powerful player that plays a tough, physical game and uses his big frame to his advantage. He is tough to knock off the puck or beat in corners. Son of former NHLer Brent Ashton, Carter will drop the gloves to defend teammates or to rile up his squad. On the downside, Ashton does not have the softest hands. One scouting source is quoted as saying he “Needs help from his line mates to score.”
Zack Kassian, RW — 6’3, 209 lbs., Peterborough (OHL)
Projection: Physical power forward
Big, mean and armed with a respectable amount of offensive potential. Whoever selects Kassian is looking for Milan Lucic reincarnate. Kassian is a power forward with enforcer tendencies and his game is pure brute force. He is the type of player that one General Manager may fall in love with, however, there is some risk to the selection, since some scouts believe the inconsistency he showed in his junior playoffs may be the early warning signs of a first-round bust.
Chris Kreider, C — 6’2, 200 lbs., Andover (Ma. H.S.)
Projection: Big, well-rounded speedster
Chris Kreider is what many scouts describe as the complete package. He has size, hands and unreal skating ability. However, being from a prep school in the states, Kreider is a bit raw. He hasn’t played against the top-end talent that other prospects have and that leaves scouts with something to question. He plays an explosive game, but still needs a good deal of development. Kreider has committed to Boston College.
Kyle Palmieri, C/RW — 5’10, 191 lbs., USA U-18
Projection: Speedy future captain
Born a New York Rangers’ fan in North Jersey, Palmieri plays a power game despite just being 5’10. He has been most compared to Rangers’ forward Chris Drury and is said by scouts to be a future captain in the making. Palmieri has excellent speed and a good shot. He has excellent vision and is an able distributer of the puck. Palmieri came up through the North-East USA hockey program, which is headed by a Flyers’ scout, who sources say is very very high on Palmieri.
Forwards predicted to go 20-35
Zach Budish, C/W — 6’3, 230 lbs., Edina (Minne. H.S.)
Projection: Playmaking power forward
Budish stands out simply because he’s physically more mature than most people in the draft and knows how to use it. He’s a big body that likes the physical game but also has good vision and is able to pass the puck well. Scouts see him as raw, but with a high ceiling of potential. The big forward missed his senior season after tearing his ACL playing linebacker for the football team. His knee is fine, but that, plus the fact that he hasn’t played against top-tier talent, sinks Budish to late first round. He is headed to the University of Minnesota.
Landon Ferraro, RW — 5’11, 165 lbs., Red Deer (WHL)
Projection: Speedy two-way forward
Son of long-time NHLer Ray Ferraro, Landon is a heady player that plays a very solid defensive game. He’s got wheels and offensive upside, but his best feature is his mature, mistake-free two-way game.
Carl Klingberg, LW — 6’3, 205 lbs., Frolunda (Swe.)
Projection: Aggressive but quick power forward
Set to be taken in the late first round, early second, Klingberg is a big, aggressive and fast power forward. He isn’t the flashiest player, but he is a hard worker with a good attitude. Klingberg is the kind of guy that other teams dread to face. He is intense and will skate through a brick wall to win. Some have compared him to a speedier Tomas Holmstrom or a more physical Loui Eriksson.
Flyers move up into the 10-20 range and select forward Carter Ashton — Lethbridge (WHL).