With the 72nd overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers have selected right-handed defenseman Ronnie Attard. The 6’3”, 207-pound blue liner is from Michigan making him the third American player taken by Chuck Fletcher in this year’s draft. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman had Attard ranked 60th in his top 107 prospects in this year’s draft and Next Gen Hockey had him ranked 78th on their final 2019 Draft Rankings.
Ronnie Attard goes to Philly. Older player who broke out this season in the USHL.— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) June 22, 2019
Attard is a 20-year-old who has spent the last three seasons in the USHL. After he had five points in 46 games for the Tri-City Storm in 2016-17 and 15 points (along with 126 penalty minutes) in 50 games last season, Attard broke out with 30 goals on 150 shots and 35 assists for 65 points in 48 games in 2018-19 as the club’s captain. Out of the 202 defensemen that played in the USHL this season, Attard was first with 30 goals (only d-man to break 20 goals), 65 points (two players, including his defensive partner with Tri-City Zachary Jones, were second with 52), first with 45 primary points, and tied for second with 150 shots. Out of the 93 USHL d-men to play in 48 games or more, at 5-on-5 Attard was first with 38 points, first with 24 primary points, first with 0.79 points-per-game, and first with a ridiculous 75.29 goals for percentage.
If you’re wondering if that’s a strong season in the USHL, Attard was named not just the USHL Defenseman of the Year, but he was also named the USHL Player of the Year.
Attard has a game that features a lot of mobility and a willingness to join the play offensively, but he also thrives in disrupting passes and shots in the defensive zone. Peter Kapelanski of The Hockey Writers has a pretty good scouting report of Attard’s game:
“For the past two seasons, he hasn’t been relied on to carry Tri-City’s offence, although this year the rugged defenseman was given a green light to really take risks and jump out of his shell. In doing so, Attard and his defense partner Zac Jones both logged tons of minutes in each game and were trusted in all facets of the game.
This season, Attard played a very aggressive brand of hockey. He could always be seen jumping into the slot for one-timers and it wasn’t out of the norm to see him even be the first attacker on the forecheck.
Overall, his skating is decent at this age for his size, but what will need improvement are his pivots to the outside and his foot quickness. Fixing these characteristics in his skating will allow him to contain better in small spaces and furthermore help him defend better off the rush.”
This pick was nearly handed over to the Detroit Red Wings in February of 2018 in the trade for Petr Mrazek. Former general manager Ron Hextall gave the Red Wings a conditional fourth in 2018 and a conditional third in 2019 for Mrazek, but only the terms of the 2018 fourth-round pick were met (Philly makes the 2018 postseason and Mrazek wins five regular season games). If Mrazek had re-signed with the Orange and Black last summer this pick would have gone to Detroit.
Attard's D partner in Tri-City, Zachary Jones, was taken just four picks before him by NYR. They're best buds -- Jones (wearing his Rangers jersey) did a fake interview with him while Attard was at the podium. Attard seems like an outgoing kid.— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) June 22, 2019
Attard will be joining the Western Michigan University Broncos for the 2019-20 season. The Flyers have until August 15, 2023 to sign Attard before they lose his playing rights. Fletcher and company pick again at 103rd overall.
*Stats via USHL.com, Prospect Stats, and Elite Prospects.