Though the potential restart of the 2019-20 NHL season has been at the forefront of hockey-related news, we can’t forget about draft!
Yes, the draft — the ultimate lottery ticket (unless you’re taking Alexis Lafreniere). The Flyers have taken some pretty good players in the first round in recent years, including Morgan Frost, Joel Farabee, and Nolan Patrick. However, for the 2020 draft, unfortunately (well, as a side effect to a good result) the Flyers won’t be in the best position to take the next superstar.
The Flyers will be picking at #25, and according to Corey Pronman’s draft board, that puts the Flyers in the running to take a very good-to-legit NHL prospect (this ranges from a top six forward or top four defenseman through to bottom tier players). Of course, players in the later rounds can turn out to be of a similar value, but the rankings in this case represent the perceived likelihood that it is a sure thing you’ll get that amount of value from the player.
It’s without a doubt that Alexis Lafreniere will go first overall, with Quinton Byfield a close second. There are then a couple of very highly touted prospects that will likely go to clubs based on organizational need. In various mocks I’ve seen, either Jamie Drysdale, Tim Stutzle, or Cole Perfetti have been ranked as highly as third. The Flyers aren’t going to have a shot at any of these players, but there will still be plenty of talent available around #25.
Here are three players who I think would be good options for the Flyers to take in that spot. Note that I’m not going to suggest any goaltenders since that would be asinine.
The 18-year-old center scored 17 points in 19 games for Chicoutimi of the QMJHL, and has even been projected as high as 13th in various draft boards. Personally, I think he’s more likely to go in the early to mid twenties, as he didn’t have the best showing in 2019-20 due to injury problems. However, the offensive upside is clearly there.
He looks to be an option to succeed Claude Giroux as the power-play quarterback. His hockey intelligence is second to none, and he has a past first mentality. He isn’t a burner, but can play a fast game that when combined with his silky skills can be lethal. I think he’s only slipped this low because of the injuries, and due to some less than optimal point totals.
Points aren’t everything, and I think Lapierre’s upside is undeniably worth taking him with this pick if the Flyers choose to do so. I understand if they wouldn’t due to having Morgan Frost who is a similar type of player.
Reichel is a big winger (6’0”, 172 lbs) who plays in the DEL of Germany, the top division of hockey there, for Eisbaren Berlin. I’ve actually seen him play (though not in person) a few times and was quite impressed.
He’s only eighteen years old, but impressed playing in a men’s league. He scored 24 points in 42 games (12 goals and 12 assists) in his first professional season, and got regular playing time. In addition to having a big frame, he is fast and creative with the puck, and can make plays in tight corners in addition to out in open space. For a big guy, he doesn’t quite play physically, but this isn’t too big of an issue for me.
He will almost certainly be available for the Flyers, though some mocks have him as a projected 2nd rounder. I think he’s far better than that, and though it would be a surprising pick, I think in the end it could be beneficial. I also like seeing the Flyers pick players who develop in leagues against men. You can more easily gauge them in my opinion. I’m also slightly impartial to European players and anyone that’s played in the CHL.
Despite having a surname that’s sure to trigger Sixers fans, Sam Colangelo is the archetype of player the Flyers are missing: a sniper. They had a chance to take a similar player in Cole Caufield, and ended up taking Bobby Brink, but Colangelo is an entirely different animal all together.
While Caufield and Brink are small goal scorers, Colangelo is a big body at 6’2”, 205. Playing in the USHL, he tallied 58 points in 44 games (28 goals). Despite not playing on the power play for a majority of the year, Colangelo still was one of the best point producers in the league, and showed his elite goalscoring potential. He’s a great passer of the puck, but he excels in his shooting ability. He can pick corners from both mid-range and from bad angles, and is deadly accurate from near anywhere.
He’s been criticized for his skating and compete level before, but I’ve always found the compete level argument to be flawed. If you’re producing at above a point-per-game level, I don’t care about that. We can only hope that his skating improves, but in the end we could be looking at a Luc Robitaille type player.