Three years ago, the Flyers took a shot on drafting a high-scoring, excellent in transition defenseman out of the NTDP in Cam York, and while it wasn’t a universally popular move, it’s one that’s looking like it’s paid off for them. And, interestingly, it’s one that there’s a chance to see repeated this year.
Seamus Casey, though he had a bit of an up and down draft season in the NTDP, profiles as another slightly undersized, but great puck-moving defenseman with some very good offensive instincts, to boot. He’s a bit of a work in progress, but he’s got a very interesting skillset, and it’s made him one of the more intriguing prospects in the back third or so of this first round pack.
BSH 2022 Community Draft Board, No. 21: Seamus Casey
Team: US National Team Development Program (USDP/USHL)
Statistics: 10 G, 23 A in 48 GP (USDP) and 3 G, 10 A, in 17 GP (USHL)
No. 29 (NA skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
No. NR by McKenzie/TSN (midseason)
No. 27 by Dobber Prospects (April)
No. 18 by Wheeler/The Athletic (midseason)
What’s there to like?
Right off the bat, Casey is a highly skilled, confident, and creative player. His stats on the season weren't positively world beating, but he did show that he can chip in a nice bit of offense. He can generate offense well on his own, and isn’t afraid to activate in the offensive zone to go hunting for more dangerous scoring chances, but also thrives in setting up chances for his teammates. He’s able to draw opponents to himself well, then hits his open teammate with a quick pass. He lacks a bit in size but more than makes up for it with his body positioning and edge work, and this really helps him to create space and extend possession times.
We see this working well for him in the defensive zone as well, as he’s able to spin away from opponents well to evade pressure and find a bit more space to work with. He’s excellent in transition, not afraid to lead a rush up-ice on his own, but his bread and butter really comes from his ability to get transition started with his passing acumen. He has a very strong first pass, accurate both in short distances and for longer stretches, and that’s something he uses with real frequency. He’s also a very good problem solver in transition as well— he doesn't get panicked and can find second options well when things don't immediately go to plan.
His defensive game needs some polishing out, but there are still some promising bits of his foundation at work, still. That problem solving we mentioned helps him here, and he’s got a good stick and with a good explosiveness in his first few strides, he’s able to gap up well over short distances.
And the extra bonus here is that we’ve seen this all holding up well in his games against college teams this season. It’s a limited sample, but it still shows some promise, and the added fact that he has some experience playing against college teams will lessen his learning curve a bit when he makes the full time jump to college next season.
What’s not to like?
We talked about it already, that Casey’s done some good work to make up for what he lacks in size, but he hasn’t completely overcome that. He brings a lot of skill and his positioning has helped him hold his own well against opponents at the junior level, but it’s going to be a completely different animal when he goes up against college opponents consistently and eventually pros. It’s an open question how well and how consistently he’ll be able to execute at the next level, which makes projecting him a bit tricky. He’s a very good player, but he’s not a sure thing.
He’ll need to get a bit stronger, and could stand to add another step in terms of quickness, and overall his play in the defensive zone and at his defensive blue line needs some polishing. Nothing is of critical concern there, and there’s a bit of good news as far as where he’s headed as well. We shared some of these same concerns with York after he graduated from the NTDP, but the staff at the University of Michigan was able to put in some really good work to develop that area with him, and round out his game really nicely. Casey will be following that same path, and while it’s not a certainty that he’ll be able to develop in the same way, he’s heading into a great situation to take a real run at it.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
The Flyers certainly could use a bit of help in bolstering their defense prospect pool, particularly on the right side, and Casey would address that, to be sure, so there’s a very basic good fit there. But let’s dig a little deeper into the stylistic fit.
We made reference to him already, but if you came away from our first few sections here seeing some similarities between Casey’s game and Cam York, that would be a good read. And while that might have some worrying about redundancy in skillsets, this might be an instance where that would be a good thing. We saw what happened last season when the Flyers were short in the reliable puck movers department in the back end, so stocking up on them feels like a good idea. Even if Casey might be a bit of a project, or at the very least might need some time to develop, his is a skillset that the Flyers could use.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
As it stands, most likely no. There’s been some volatility in where Casey’s been ranked, and he’s lost a bit of ground between some of the midseason and final rankings, but it’s certainly not so much that he would fall to the Flyers when they pick next after fifth overall in the third round. If they somehow grab another pick in the late first round or early second? Then things get interesting. But for now, we’re not holding out a lot of hope for Casey to be a Flyer.
We’ll make one addition to the poll: Jack Hughes (no, not that one).
Jack Hughes — C, Northeastern University — 7 G, 16 A, 39 GP
Hughes is a prospect I’ve liked whenever I’ve watched him play over the last three seasons. He makes his linemates better and does a great job manufacturing shots and chances for himself (which I’d insist he has always done even when his production skewed toward the assist column at the program). I see a diligent two-way centre who skates well enough (this quality is underrated by some, I’d argue), possesses excellent hands, has a great deal of poise and vision under pressure, and thrives as a distributor (especially finding backdoor options). He doesn’t have star power, but I won’t be surprised if he becomes a heady, playmaking pivot who knows where to be and how to use the ice in order to reach his middle-six upside in the NHL. I expect him to take a step and produce more as a sophomore. The skill is there. —Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
Who should be no. 22 on the 2022 Community Draft Board?
This poll is closed
1. Shane Wright — C, Kingston (OHL)
2. Juraj Slafkovský — LW, TPS (Liiga)
3. Logan Cooley — C, NTDP (USDP/USHL)
4. Simon Nemec — D, HK Nitra (Slovakia)
5. Matthew Savoie — C, Winnipeg (OHL)
6. David Jiricek — D, HC Plzeň (Czechia)
7. Joakim Kemell — W, JYP (Liiga)
8. Conor Geekie — C, Winnipeg (OHL)
9. Frank Nazar — C, NTDP (USDP/USHL)
T-10. Brad Lambert — C, JYP/Pelicans (Liiga)
T-10. Cutter Gauthier — C, NTDP (USDP/USHL)
12. Ivan Miroshnichenko — LW, Omskie Krylia (VHL)
13. Jonathan Lekkerimaki — RW, Djurgårdens IF (Ligga)
14. Danila Yurov — RW, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)
15. Isaac Howard — LW, NTDP (USDP/USHL)
16. Pavel Mintyukov — D, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
17. Jimmy Snuggerud — RW, US NTDP (USDP/USHL)
18. Rutger McGroarty — LW, US NTDP (USDP/USHL)
19. Marco Kasper — C, Rogle BK (SHL)
20. Owen Pickering — D, Swift Current (WHL)
21. Seamus Casey — D, NTDP (USDP/USHL)