Evaluating hockey talent is an incredibly difficult process, especially for the uninformed fan. With leagues all across the world, tons of different junior leagues across Canada and Europe, and the COVID-19 pandemic even further complicating things, with players having seasons cancelled and kicked around the globe, predicting who the Flyers may draft at 13th overall is difficult to say the least.
Well, I’m far from a professional scout, but I’ve been doing a lot of research on some of my personal favorite players that might be available for the Flyers at 13. And assuming they don’t trade back, or out entirely, I’d love to see them in the Orange and Black.
With a potential trade for help on the blue line that can make an immediate impact, Seth Jones comes to mind, likely costing the Flyers one of their more premiere defensive prospects, stocking those shelves could certainly be a good idea going forward. My personal favorite of the defensive prospects who would likely be available (sorry guys, Owen Power isn’t falling that far) is Carson Lambos from the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice.
The 6’1” blue-liner from Winnipeg was emerging as a potential top-10 pick coming into the 2020-21 junior season, before a mysterious lower body injury forced him out for the remainder of the year. This injury has had him mocked to fall out the top ten, and potentially right into the Flyers’ lap.
I have struggled to find what specifically the injury is, only being described by his junior team as a “medical procedure” with a few potentially more dubious sources suggesting it’s a leg injury. While it certainly could be a concern, most experts don’t anticipate him dropping all that far, being listed as the 11th best skater in North America, and 12th best talent overall according to NHL.com.
The two-way defenseman weighs in just above 200 pounds, and at 6’1”, size isn’t an issue with Lambos as it currently stands. With Cam York looking almost ready to join the NHL club, and he and Zamula being included in a number of trade rumors, getting a prospect with size in the pipeline can balance out the undersized Emil Andrae, and Mason Millman who weighs in at only about 175.
Lambos’ first year with the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice was great, racking up 32 points in 57 games, and posting a plus/minus of +20. Plus/Minus as a stat certainly has a lot of issues, but posting the best number on his team in front of some pedestrian at best goaltending is something that certainly needs to be considered.
His second year was interrupted initially by COVID, so he was loaned out to JYP of the Finnish Liiga, playing initially for the under 18 team, before being promoted to the under 20 team where he put up 11 points in 13 games. He would also play two games against the men of Liiga, though would not record a point before returning to North America before playing two games for the Ice, when his season would end to injury.
Analyzing the quality of opponents is important to consider when analyzing young players, and is something that certainly isn’t a knock on Lambos. The WHL is considered one of the premiere junior leagues in Canada, age ranged from 17-20, so most of Lambos’ body of work is against 18 and olders when he was 17. The Liiga is similarly an incredibly regarded league, often considered one of the top five professional hockey leagues in the world. While Lambos mostly only played in their juniors leagues, this pedigree does still carry.
Carson Lambos is a high quality left hand defensive prospect who excels at his two way play. He’s got a good mind defensively, and good IQ going the other way, not being afraid to join the rush if he sees an opportunity. These highlights also showcase a player with a heck of a saucer pass, and a shot that isn’t one to sneeze at. The injury and potentially small sample size of work has had him fall out of the Top 10 in many mocks, but picking him at 13 could give the Flyers a well rounded defenseman who can do it all and well.