Trying to predict the NHL draft is a pointless endeavor. Other than the top-10, one trade or off-the-board pick and your mock draft is completely ruined.
So instead of try unsuccessfully to guess what the Flyers will do with the No. 17 pick on Friday, in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center, here’s a cheat sheet of players potentially on the board when Ron Hextall makes his first selection as Flyers General Manager.
When it comes to strategy, the Flyers will select the best player available. They could use a top-tier scoring forward in the system or a power forwards with size, but overall, they have no glaring need. And with no specific needs, the goal is to add as much talent as possible, whether that’s center, winger or defense, regardless of style.
Alex Tuch, RW -- 6-foot-3, 218 lbs. US NTDP
Summary: Tuch is a right-handed power forward with a rocket shot and top-notch possession skills. Really, everyone loves his possession skills. Kyle Woodlief of USAToday.com said Tuch, “is now a major load who goes just about anywhere he damn well pleases on the ice.” He isn’t as nasty as someone like Milan Lucic but he can skate and has surprising agility for a player his size. Once slotted as a checking-line forward, Tuch has improved his ceiling projection.
Why Flyers Will Take Him:US-born power winger? He was made to be a Flyer. Not to mention, as high-end possession player known for his complimentary skill set, he would look great flanking Scott Laughton for the next 5-8 years.
Why Flyers Won’t Take Him: Another team falls in love with his size and picks him just outside the top-10.
Good Quote:“Success has come from his competitive nature and ability to compliment his line mates by playing true to his brand of hockey – winning puck battles and dominating possession,” wrote Dobber Prospects’ Brendan Ross.
Kasperi Kapanen, F -- 5-11, 172 lbs. Kalpa (SM-liiga)
Summary:Some scouts believe Kapanen is a star in the making. Son of former Flyer Sami Kapanen, Kasperi has great offensive skills, a sniper’s release and his father’s compete level, which is a great combination. He’s creative and agile with good puck-handling skills and vision. At 5-foot-11, his biggest issue is size and strength.
Why Flyers Will Take Him: Flyers have too many connections to Kasperi Kapanen to pass him up should he fall to them. It’s a no-hesitation pick and they make it if he’s on the board.
Why Flyers Won’t Take Him: Kapanen goes off the board well before No. 17.
Good Quote:“Few possess his top-end puck handling ability,” said Brandon Ross of Dobber Prospects. “His game lacks physicality but his hockey sense, on-ice vision and playmaking skills are unparalleled and in a draft class with few game-breakers, Kapanen will be coveted.”
Anthony DeAngelo, D -- 5’11, 170 lbs. Sarnia (OHL)
Summary: Offense, offense, offense, that’s what you get from right-handed DeAngelo. Described as a “game-changing defender” DeAngelo has incredible speed and knows how to create in the offensive end with high-end creativity and puck-moving ability. However, defensive-zone lapses and small stature will see DeAngelo fall despite his skill. Off-ice issues also plagued the young defender, who was suspended twice for breaking the OHL’s harassment, abuse and diversity policy.
Why Flyers Will Take Him: Native of Sewell, NJ, the Flyers have admitted to meeting with DeAngelo during the combine in May, which shows he’s at least on their radar. As a local talent, the club’s scouts may have an inside track on the player’s ability and see his upside as too high to pass up.
Why Flyers Won’t Take Him: At this point, it would be a reach to pick DeAngelo at No. 17. He’s a flash-and-dash defender that needs to add strength, defensive refinement and is laden with discipline issues.
Good Quote:“Known for his free-wheeling style of hockey, Tony DeAngelo appears to be maturing as a defender showing an improvement in his ability to jump into the rush,” said Dobber Prospects’ Brendan Ross. “This more responsible style of hockey will sit much better with NHL scouts as he performs throughout his draft year.”
Kevin Fiala, LW/RW -- 5’11, 195 lbs. HV 71 (SHL)
Summary: Fiala is a competitive and slippery forward with great hands, puck skills and elusive speed. He has a high hockey IQ and is an adept playmaker because of that. The Swiss-born player has game-breaking potential and has the attacking tools and finishing ability to be an extremely productive player. However, Fiala needs to play more within a team and develop a defensive game, which could scare teams away.
Why Flyers Will Take Him:At No. 17, Fiala’s skill with the puck and potential production are too great to pass up, and the Flyers aren’t scared of a project.
Why Flyers Won’t Take Him: Fiala doesn’t it make it past the 15th pick or is too much of a boom-or-bust for the Flyers to swallow with more complete players on the board.
Good Quotes: "Fiala's skills are very good but when you combine them with excellent determination, you get a player who can make a difference. He plays where it matters,” said TSN’s Craig Button.
Sonny Milano, C/LW -- 5’11, 185 lbs. US NTDP
Summary:Said to have magic hands and sky-high offensive ability, Milano is a bit undersized but considered a top-end attacking prospect for any team that drafts him. He’s known to have a good mix of skill and feisty character, and also isn’t afraid of contact despite being just 5-foot-11. Milano is not a good defensive player, though he could learn to be. Very coachable.
Why Flyers Will Take Him: Instead of go with the defensive-ready forward they always seem to pick, Flyers see huge offensive potential in Milano, who is the best player available at No. 17.
Why Flyers Won’t Take Him:Milano’s skill set attracts a team from 10-15 or Flyers stick with their two-way taste and pass on the scorer.
Good Quote:He's so dynamic, very good with the puck in traffic and in open ice and can make defensemen look silly,” said David Gregory, NHL Central Scouting. “He'll allow the play to come to him, take a hit and chirp it up before heading on a 2-on-1 in the opposite direction, resulting in a goal.”
Josh Ho-Sang, C/RW -- 5’11, 165 lbs. Windsor (OHL)
Summary: Said to have hands that scouts dream of, Ho-Sang, known for his elite puck skills, has the tools to be a really intriguing pick. Though he has top-end talent, Ho-Sang is an infamous pest. It was his irritable playing style that caused Flyers goaltending prospect Anthony Stolarz to slash him in the head last season, earning him a six-game suspension. There will be some development with Ho-Sang as he’s said to struggle playing within a team and making guys around him better. He’s a boom or bust pick.
Why Flyers Will Take Him:Flyers don’t shy away from the unlikable underdog and take Ho-Sang as the most gifted player still on the board. If anyone can manage a possible lunatic, it’s the Flyers.
Why Flyers Won’t Take Him: His reputation and undisciplined game turn the Flyers off. In his process to rebuild the Flyers’ farm system, Hextall wants to add character, not potential poison to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Good Quote:"Ho-Sang may be the most divisive player in this year's draft class,” said The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy. “His offensive skill set is unquestioned, but some have worried about his judgement on the ice.”
Robby Fabbri, C/LW -- 5’9, 164 lbs. Guelph (OHL)
Summary: If you’re going to be small, you better be quick, and Fabbri is just that. He is a tremendous skater and hard worker. He also has a knack for finding scoring areas and going head-to-head with bigger defenders without hesitation. To accompany his great offensive potential and despite his small size, Fabbri is known for his compete level, which is as high as anyone in the draft.
Why Flyers Will Take Him:Flyers like his refined two-way game and work ethic. He’s a competitor with offensive potential, and that’s just what the Flyers scouts love.
Why Flyers Won’t Take Him: He’s off the board well before 17 or the Flyers covet a different style player or position.
Good Quote:“We just love his up-tempo game, lightning quickness, smarts and aggressive play down low among the big redwoods,” said Kyle Woodlief of USA Today. “Nothing deters him.”
Roland McKeown, D -- 6’1, 194 lbs. Kingston (OHL)
Summary: Labeled as a “do-it all” minute-munching defenseman, McKeown is a well-rounded player known for his high hockey IQ and ability to keep his game simple. Flying under the radar a bit, he’s a speedy, elite skater with good acceleration and an accurate right-handed shot -- a combination that sets him apart from other defenders. Aside from not being a very physical player, McKeown doesn’t have many glaring issues in his game.
Why Flyers Will Take Him: In a draft light on defense, the Flyers take one of the few safe first-round talents available.
Why Flyers Won’t Take Him: Run on defense starts early and McKeown is off the board or the Flyers have their eye on more skillful defensive talent, like Julius Honka.
Good Quote: "He can play offensively and move the puck and has a bomb of a shot," Central Scouting's David Gregory told NHL.com. "When defending you he presents himself as a big, strong and mobile guy. He'll push guys to the side; he's a legitimate top prospect."
Julius Honka, D -- 5-11, 178 lbs. Swift Current (WHL)
Summary:Right-handed Honka is a near perfect puck-moving defensive package. He’s an incredible skater with ability to pinch and recover. His agility is top-end, giving him a knack for reading plays and reacting potently. And because of this skating and sense, he’s a dangerous counter-puncher. If Honka can develop an effective defensive game and not be a liability on the ice, he could be a top-4 defender and power play quarterback. But that’s easier said than done.
Why Flyers will Take Him: Flyers can’t balk at Honka’s upside, they opt for more defensive depth and take a gamble on one of the highest ceiling guys available.
Why Flyers Won’t Take Him:Honka is off the board by No. 17 or Flyers see too much of a struggle with his size and defensive game.
Good Quote:"Julius Honka is smallish but an excellent skater with great balance," NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb told NHL.com. "He's an offensive-minded defenseman with good vision and a high skill level. Quick moves, reads the game very well and loves to join the offensive rush. Used in all game situations."
David Pastrnak, 6’0, 176 lbs. Södertälje (Allsveskan)
Summary: Known as one of the most shifty and dynamic players in the draft, Pastrnak is a flashy player with good one-on-one skills, persistent attitude and works well with little space. He has potential to be a legit finisher but has yet to unlock his full potential. While skating is his top asset, he’s got a quick release and good attacking instincts. On the downside, he’s a bit small and is still developing an all-around game.
Why Flyers Will Take Him: Flyers see the potential and take a shot on a highly-skilled kid that need some developing. Knowing Pastrnak has the personality and work ethic to be molded, Flyers don’t hesitate.
Why Flyers Won’t Take Him: Teams fall in love with his skating and attacking ability, seeing a young Pavel Datsyuk-like player. They grab Pastrnak before the Flyers can.
Good Quote: "David is an offensive-minded player with smooth hands, great instincts and a very quick shot,” Goran Stubb told Mike Morreale, NHL.com. “He's an excellent skater with speed and acceleration. He's very smart on ice, but will need more weight and strength to excel at the next level."
Dylan Larkin, LW -- 6’1, 195 lbs. US NTDP
Summary:Skilled power forward with a developing offensive game and leadership ability, Larkin has the body of a professional and is a strong player. He’s a good skater with a great first-step and loaded with defensive ability as high as anyone in the draft.
Why Flyers Will Take Him:For one, he’s American, so that helps. Two, he’s a safe pick and of the two-way mold the Flyers love. Larkin won’t need much physical development or defensive work.
Why Flyers Won’t Take Him:Larkin is too safe. Other guys on the board with a higher offensive ceiling.
Good Quote:“He skates well and has great closing speed; uses his body well,” said NHL Central Scouting’s David Gregory. “He has skill but is not afraid of using physical play for puck possession.”
Jared McCann, C/W -- 6’0, 180 lbs. Soo Greyhounds (OHL)
Summary:McCann is a versatile possession player with top-end speed and skating ability. He plays a strong two-way game and can penalty kill thanks to his great instincts. McCann is not a flashy player but lives off his ability to read the game and see plays one step ahead. Because of this, he is an excellent playmaker and finisher, but can fall into slumps. He needs some seasoning but has a high ceiling and is considered a very safe pick.
Why Flyers Will Take Him:He’s the prototypical Flyers pick -- good in all three areas, coachable with a no-nonsense offensive game. From his skill set, he sounds built from the mold of Mike Richards.
Why Flyers Won’t Take Him:McCann goes off the board just outside of the top-10.
Good Quote: "He is not a guy who will always bring you out of your seat but is dangerous every shift and at the end of the game he will quietly have a goal and three assists,” said Central Scouting's Chris Edwards. “Jared is an excellent penalty killer, smart and reads the play very well."
Jake Virtanen, LW/RW -- 6’1, 208 lbs. Calgary (WHL)
Summary: When you look at Virtanen’s skill set, it’s a really nice mix of power-forward features. He’s got good size (already at 208 lbs. at 17 years old), and dominated the combine’s physical testing. Virtanen is a sniper with an intense power forward style and plus skating ability. The knock on Jake can be his defensive awareness and discipline, he needs a better understanding of the game and how to use teammates better. Low hockey IQ seems to be his biggest issue.
Why Flyers Will Take Him: He somehow drops to No. 17 and the Flyers simply can’t pass it up.
Why Flyers Won’t Take Him:He doesn’t make it out of the Top-10
Good Quote:"Jake has undeniable skill,” said Craig Button, TSN Director of Scouting. “Excellent skater who has speed, quickness and power. Has the potential to be a dynamic scoring winger."
Adrian Kempe, C/LW -- 6-2, 187 lbs. Modo (SHL)
Summary: Kempe is known for his bullish play and tenacious work ethic. If he were to develop a consistent offensive game and improve his scoring skills, he could be a star. He’s a power forward project that could pay off as a late first-round pick.
Why Flyers Will Take Him:They liked his brother, Mario Kempe, so why not Adrian? Power forward with upside, Flyers feel they can develop his scoring game.
Why Flyers Won’t Take Him: There are more sure-shot forwards on the board at No. 17.
Good Quote: “His north-south style of game combines well with his strong skating stride as this power forward puts defenders on their heels with his unrelenting attack,” said Brendan Ross of Dobber Prospects. Kempe drives the net hard and shows good puck handling ability, especially in the dirty areas of the rink.”