Are the Flyers and Carter Yakemchuk a good fit?

The Hitman defenseman has the offensive tools, but some worry about the rest of his game. With a reported interest in the player, could the Flyers overlook his flaws and bank on his potential?
Calgary Hitmen v Winnipeg Ice
Calgary Hitmen v Winnipeg Ice / Jonathan Kozub/GettyImages

With the NHL Draft Combine complete, rumors of which teams are interested in which players become more frequent. Who did this team interview? Who didn't that team talk to? And what questions did they ask them?

First off, a team speaking or not speaking to a specific player doesn't mean they will or won't be drafted by said team. It is simply the best and easiest opportunity for organizations to get a close-up view of some of the potential players available. It gives them a chance to see the personalities and get to know these players off the ice.

With that, the Flyers have been linked to Carter Yakemchuk after speaking to him at the combine. According to Russ Cohen, Philadelphia could be interested in the Calgary Hitman defenseman. Cohen mentioned that Yakemchuk did smile when the Flyers were brought up to him during a media availability. And yes, body language is brought up with all of the rumors about draft picks. But we won't read too much into that right now.

Philadelphia can't go wrong drafting Carter Yakemchuk

If the Flyers decide to go the defenseman route, they can't go wrong with a player like Yakemchuk. He has put up solid offensive numbers for a blueliner and has the aggressiveness to make other players miss. Not only does he have the threat of a booming point shot. He can score in a variety of other ways as well. His 30 goals led all defensemen in the WHL, the highest total at his position since 2002. His 71 points were the most among all draft-eligible defensemen and was fifth in the league. It was a massive jump in production from the 19 goals and 47 points he posted the prior year.

He has the hands to fool anyone against him on the ice, whether the play ends up on his stick or not. Yakemchuk can easily beat a goaltender with his quick release and has the playmaking skills to create top-notch opportunities for his teammates. He improved on the latter as the year went on.

Sounds like the perfect offensive defenseman for the Flyers, right? That's just it. The offense is his biggest strength. It's the rest of his game that has some questioning his fit in the NHL. It is why his ranking is all over the place. He is ranked as high as fifth but is toward the end of the first round by others. When a prospect has that wild of a ranking, there is a clear fear of what he may or may not become.

While his aggressiveness to jump up in the zone can help his team, it can also leave him out of position to defend a rush the other way. That style of play will also hurt a team if the player ends up in the penalty box too often. His 120 penalty minutes were by far the most he has ever had in a single season. In 67 games for the Hitman last season, Yakemchuk had 31 penalty minutes. That's three times the amount of minutes in one fewer game. As he matures, one would hope that part of his game gets under control.

It's not unfair to say Yakemchuk was on a rather disappointing Hitman team and may have felt the need to take matters into his own hands. They finished one point shy of making the playoffs. Sound familiar? He finished second on the team in all offensive categories.

At his highest ceiling, Yakemchuk could develop into a top-pair defenseman. If his weaknesses overpower his strengths, you could be looking at a decent bottom-pair player who might be able to add some offense from time to time. The Flyers haven't shied away from players with high-risk/high-bust potential. It's whether or not they believe his highest potential outweighs the risk.

Danny Briere said the Flyers are likely to go with the best player available when it is their turn to draft. It doesn't appear out of the realm of possibility that Yakemchuk would be there at 12. And going with a defenseman with their first pick could happen.

""Especially for the first two picks, we’re most likely going to go with the best player available. Definitely, for the first one at No. 12 there’s no doubt about it, that it has nothing to do with the position, we are going to pick the best player available.""

If he is the best player available when the Flyers are up, drafting Yakemchuk would be a solid decision.