With all the talk of the Ivan Provorov's and the Shayne Gostisbehere's of the defense, it's easy to forget that the Flyers have more young defensemen than just those standout names.
Of course, it's nice to tout about our top defensive prospects, but Philadelphia has more than a few under the radar defensemen that could look to make an impact on the team in the coming years. Mark Friedman is one such young blueliner, and one that has quietly shown some promise over the past year.
19. Mark Friedman
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The Flyers drafted the now 19-year-old right-handed Friedman with the 86th overall pick in the 2014 draft. The former third rounder is entering his sophomore year at Bowling Green, which -- fun fact -- was where he has been committed since the age of 15.
Before the Falcons of Bowling Green, Friedman played two seasons in the USHL with the Waterloo Black Hawks, posting 18 goals and 57 assists in 115 games played with the Iowa-based team. However, the defenseman hit a stroke of bad luck that hampered his development heading into his final year with the Black Hawks. Document mix-ups delayed his enrollment at Bowling Green and a bout of mononucleosis caused him to miss nine games during his draft year were hurdles Friedman had to face even before his time in the Flyers organization.
Now, with a year of WCHA hockey under his belt as one of Bowling Green's top defensemen, Friedman has taken steps forward in his own development and in the process, jumped up two spaces since last year's 25 Under 25 rankings. In 39 games with the Falcons, Friedman tallied two goals and 17 assists to tie for the team lead in helpers last season. The defenseman was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team and shared Bowling Green's Rookie of the Year with teammate and right wing Brandon Hawkins. Friedman also blocked a team high 64 shots and was tied for seventh in the WCHA for points among defensemen.
Many scouts pride Friedman on his offensive talents, setting him up to be a more offensive defenseman due to his stick skills. In the highlight below, Friedman makes a terrific slap pass to teammate Kyle Schmidt during the 2012 USHL Junior World Cup that ends in a textbook deflection goal with an assist for the defenseman.
However, as with many young offensive minded defensemen, Friedman's defensive skills are a bit lacking and in need of more work. Friedman admitted to Tim Riday of CSNPhilly.com just the same during this year's development camp:
"I'm not a perfect hockey player to say the least," Friedman said. "I've got a lot to work on in my all-around game. Specifically my defensive side of the game. Knowing when to recognize to step up in your own end or on an odd-man rush. I just gotta get better all-around on the defensive side of the game."
Friedman is certainly a few years out from joining the Flyers organization in any capacity -- if he makes it there at all thanks to the unpredictability of young prospects. However, three more years of development in the college system should give the defenseman more room to polish his skills as one of Philadelphia's second-tier defensive hopefuls.
How we voted for Mark Friedman:
Who we voted for at No. 19:
|Jesper Pettersson||Felix Sandstrom||Danick Martel||Radel Fazleev||Oskar Lindblom||Danick Martel||Felix Sandstrom||David Kase||Matej Tomek||Petr Straka||Danick Martel||Radel Fazleev|