The Flyers had a busy day at the 2016 NHL Entry draft. They made ten picks, among then names like German Rubtsov, Carter Hart, and Wade Allison. Thus far, of those ten picks, the Flyers have signed five to entry level contracts. Two remain in college, with the Flyers retaining their rights for a couple more years, and two are in Europe, and likewise still have their rights owned by Philadelphia. The one guy not accounted for among them is sixth round forward Anthony Salinitri. The Flyers relinquish his NHL rights June 1st, which is today, unless he signs an Entry Level Contract before 5pm ET. At that point Salinitri has a few options. He can decide to re-enter the draft, pursue free agency with another NHL organization or in Europe, or if he doesn’t land an offer, he can return to the OHL’s Sarnia Sting for an overage junior year. It does not seem like the Flyers will be signing him before the deadline passes.
The Flyers were aggressive in signing early rounders who weren’t in college. Second rounders, Pascal Laberge and Hart, were signed soon after the draft, and first rounder Rubtsov was signed soon after jumping to the QMJHL from Russia. In April 2017, they signed 4th round pick Connor Bunnaman which left Salinitri and forward Carsen Twarynski as the only CHLers they drafted who weren’t signed. However, after Twarynski potted 45 goals this past season for the Kelowna Rockets, the Flyers signed him to a deal and he saw action with the Phantoms in the AHL.
Salintri showed good speed and puck skills, as well as a solid two way game. He spent time playing at all three forward positions and is an aggressive player that can carry the puck into the zone and forecheck well. He was also used as a penalty killer. Trouble is, Salinitri is a smaller guy and needs to build up his strength. He also struggled to produce consistently at the major junior level, unlike his former teammate Travis Konecny.
That’s not to say he was unproductive, but teams generally won’t utilize a ELC slot on a forward who saw top six usage and didn’t manage to get to a PPG level in either his draft +1 or +2 years. Despite a jump from 30 points in 62 games during his draft year (17G-13A) to 58 points (66 games played) in his draft +1 (28G-30A), he only managed to match that 58 points in his draft +2 year (27G-31A). Salinitri is still a good junior player, but there’s an obvious concern from the Flyers end that he won’t produce enough to be worth one of their 50 contract slots.
In that regard, he’s similar to a 2015 Flyers draftee that went unsigned, Samuel Dove-McFalls. There was a mild social media push for the Flyers to sign Dove-McFalls, but again, despite solid all around play, it’s likely the raw production wasn’t good enough to justify a contract. Dove-McFalls returned to the QMJHL and scored 73 points last year with Rimouski(22G, 51A). He’s a free agent this summer as well.
I’d assume that Salinitri would gauge offers from other NHL teams prior to re-entering the draft. If he can’t secure a contract, he may get a feel that a team will spend a late round draft choice on him and maybe he’ll get another shot at an ELC with a strong overage season. As for European possibilities, with his skating ability and two way ability, one of the European pro leagues seem like a good fit for the youngster. The bigger ice surface requires guys who can skate well and play a 200 foot game-and most Euro Leagues tend to be lower scoring than their North American counterparts, so emphasis is generally on strong positional play and systems.
Salinitri was a good roll of the dice as a sixth rounder, had his scoring ever blossomed he could have ended up a late round steal. As it is, he may still have a future as a professional hockey player, it is just unlikely to start in the Flyers organization.