The SB Nation mock draft rolls on, and just like that, we’ve made it through the first four picks and the Flyers are on the clock. Jump to the end for spoilers on those first few picks, but we’re just about right where we expected to be at this point in the first round. So what are the Flyers doing? We’re glad you asked.
With the fifth overall pick, the Flyers select *pause for dramatic effect* David Jiricek.
Elite Prospects: #2
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #7
Craig Button (TSN): #6
NHL Central Scouting: #4 (EU Skaters)
Corey Pronman (The Athletic): #4
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #6
This is not a terribly wild pick, but it is noteworthy for the fact that it means we’ve gone slightly away from the order of our own Community Draft Board, wherein the pool of players to choose from was the same, and Matthew Savoie went fifth overall.
Now, this wasn’t an easy pick, there was much deliberation over it in our very official draft war room (read: the BSH slack chat), but between Savoie falling in some of the more recent rankings and some concerns—that do pass the sniff test and don’t just feel like eleventh hour galaxy braining—about his offense fully translating to the NHL level, that was enough to steer us in Jiricek’s direction. So here we are!
Vitals: 6’3”, 190 lbs
Team: HC Plzeň (Czechia)
Statistics: 5 G, 6 A in 29 GP
The front half of the first round here is pretty heavy with forwards, but there are a couple of exciting defensemen, and with Simon Nemec coming off the board one pick before the Flyers’, Jiricek becomes the best available, and ripe for the Flyers’ picking.
Jiricek had his season shortened by a knee injury he sustained at the World Juniors, but he still put up decent numbers playing in the top Czech league against grown men. He’s a quick, smooth skating right shooting defenseman, already holding his own at the professional level. His defensive game is already quite solid, he’s aggressive and forechecks well, he’s excellent at getting the puck moving up-ice in transition (using both his strong skating and an accurate first pass), and with a hard and accurate shot, he’s able to chip in a nice bit on the offensive side as well. He still has to fill out his frame a bit more, but that will come with time. But all of the physical tools are there, and that makes for an exciting package.
Jiricek is a very good and exciting player in isolation, but perhaps even more exciting is how good of a fit he would be with the Flyers. We know they’re thinner on the defensive side of their prospect pipeline, and even thinner still with very skilled, potentially high-impact defensemen, and Jiricek would give them a real boost in that department. This season was a pretty clear look at what happens, how quickly things can go sideways, when a team doesn’t have enough defensemen who are able to move the puck, so that’s a pretty clear and present stylistic need, and Jiricek would address that as well.
Just last night, Gabriel Landeskog joked that the key to winning a cup was finding yourself a Cale Makar, and while Jiricek is unfortunately not that, he shores up a position of need for the team and helps them take a step towards becoming faster and more skilled. Not a bad addition, if we do say so ourselves.
Was this the right pick at No. 5?
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