With a very disappointing season behind them, the Flyers front office can look forward to the upcoming draft, which takes place June 30th at the Prudential Center in Newark New Jersey. Many fans hope the Flyers take a defenseman with their first pick at number 11. While I agree they need to address their glaring hole on defense, they should take the best PLAYER available. Unlike the NFL draft where the majority of players are ready to contribute right off the bat, NHL prospects take a couple of seasons to develop, with obvious exceptions of course. Think Sean Couturier. Needs of a team now, often aren’t the need a few seasons down the line when that player is ready to push for a roster spot. Then, when they are challenging for a spot on the NHL team the need may have been filled and that player is relegated to the AHL affiliate. That being said, I do think the Flyers take a defenseman, because the top-notch forwards will go in the top ten.I have compiled a short list of players I think will be available when the Flyers pick at number 11, and why they should pick that player.
1. Nikita Zadorov, D, London Knights. The 6’5 200 pound defensive dman would provide some instant nastiness to the Flyers blue line. He’s not an offensive defenseman in any way, but he will clear the front of the net and add toughness to the Flyers back-end.
2. Ryan Pulock, D, Brandon Wheat Kings. Pulock is a pure offensive defenseman. He has a heavy shot that can find the back of the net. This is a crucial attribute for a defenseman to have in the NHL. With Kimmo Timonen retiring after the 2013-2014 season, it’s imperative the Flyers start thinking about developing their future power play quarterback.
3. Hunter Shinkaruk, LW, Medicine Hat Tigers. Scouts have praised Shinkaruk’s puck skills and his skating. His size is a concern, but his work ethic is outstanding and is a leave it all out on the ice type of player. Playing on a line with Giroux in the future, would benefit the crafty, diminutive Shinkaruk.
4. Ryan Hartman, RW, Plymouth Whalers. Hartman reminds me of a Mike Richards clone, with less offensive upside. He does everything good, but nothing really great. He plays in all situations and won’t back down physically despite his rather smaller stature (5’11). Philly could get used to Hartman and his familiar playing style. This might be a reach at this pick, but I think Hartman will be a solid NHL player in a couple of seasons.
5. Josh Morrissey, D, Prince Albert Raiders. Again, another strictly offensive minded defenseman, that could help ease the burden once Kimmo retires. Great shot, and moves the puck extremely well from the point. Has to get stronger. Has a surprisingly physical element to his game despite the fact he’s on the short side for a dman at 6’0. This would be a safe pick, but he would be at least 2 seasons away from competing for a roster spot.
When it’s all said and done, I think the Flyers do take a defenseman, and I think it will be Zadorov. He’s big, mean, and brings a bit of winning experience from playing for the powerhouse Knights of the OHL. Do you think they select Zadorov? If the Flyers go another route, who do you think they will select?