By Emily Palladinetti
The NHL Draft is coming up June 21-22 in Vancouver.
At one point during last season the Flyers thought they were going to be lucky enough to receive the first pick and draft Jack Hughes, who many have speculated will be the first overall pick, out of the US National Development Program.
Fortunately, or unfortunately the Flyers found their footing and managed to string enough wins together pulling them out of the race for Hughes.
Originally the Flyers were projected to have the 10th pick in the draft but due to the lottery system they slid down a spot to 11.
Eleven is normally an unfavorable spot but this year’s draft class this year is incredibly deep so that makes it almost impossible to draft wrong.
The first two picks in the draft seem to be set in stone, while the order of one and two has been up for debate for months Jack Hughes is more than likely going to be a Devil and Kaapo Kakko a Ranger.
Midseason draft rankings showed no movement among the first six picks in the draft. Starting at pick 7 things started to change.
Alex Turcotte moved up from the 11th slot to the seventh, out of reach of the Flyers. While these are all projected rankings based off of the opinions of scouts, teams do not always take the best player available, opting to draft what they need instead.
If a few teams draft based on need some players that are slotted above the 11th pick could be available once the Flyers are on the clock. Two of the players to watch out for are Cole Caufield (above) and Trevor Zegras. Both are coming out of the US National Development Program along with Hughes. Although Hughes has garnered much of the attention throughout the year these two young stars managed to generate significant buzz for themselves.
Zegras and Caufield would equally contribute to the offense the Flyers desperately need to strengthen in different ways. Trevor Zegras, a two-way forward, has been compared to Patrick Kane in terms of his puck-handling and playmaking ability. The team that drafts him will have the ability to develop him as either a center or a winger.
Zegras brings next-level speed with a knack for getting under the skin of his opponents. He does some of his best work along the boards, not afraid to lay the body. Zegras has been labeled one of the dynamos of his draft class, if available the Flyers could have a star on their hands.
The second player that could be in orange and black next season is Caufield, the best pure sniper in the draft. Caufield, a University of Wisconsin commit, scored 105 goals during his time at the USDP, breaking Phil Kessel’s record of 105 from 2003-05. Caufield is electrifying — his smooth skating combined with his stellar shot make him an exciting player to watch. However, there is a supposed downside to the goal-scoring machine and it’s his size.
Cole Caufield is listed as 5-7, something that could easily dissuade teams from selecting him. Any team that is deterred by his size clearly hasn’t been paying attention to the league recently. Players such as Johnny Gaudreau and Alex Debrincat have proven that size doesn’t matter when you have real talent. The teams that passed on both of these players have been banging their heads against the wall ever since. Let’s hope for the Flyers sake some teams still haven’t learned their lesson, because their loss could be our gain.
Other notable prospects the Flyers could be targeting with their pick:
Victor Soderstrom, D, Brynas (SWEDEN), 5-foot-11, 179 pounds: A hybrid of Adam Boqvist and Nils Lundqvist from last year’s first round.
Highest Rank = 10
Lowest Rank = 14
Bob McKenzie = 11
Arthur Kaliyev, RW, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL) 6-foot-1, 190 pounds: The company for 50 or more goals scored in an age 17 OHL season include John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Jeff Skinner and most recently Alex DeBrincat.
Highest Rank = 7
Lowest Rank = 28
Bob McKenzie = 13
Cam York, D, U.S. National Team U18 Team, USDP, 5-foot-11, 176 pounds: There’s some risk to his game, but an ability to defend well enough to project top four minutes with power play usage.
Highest Rank = 11
Lowest Rank = 20
Bob McKenzie = 15