The Flyers have had good-to-great success in the second round of the draft over the years. They have selected players such as Bobby Clarke, Bill Clement, Tom Bladon, Pelle Lindbergh, Peter Zezel, Scott Mellanby, Mikael Renberg, Janne Niinimaa, Robert Hagg, and Carter Hart in Round 2.
They hope Emil Andrae, a small but quick defenseman from Sweden, is just as effective as some of those players.
Andrae, a sturdy 5-foot-9, 181-pounder, was chosen in the second round (54th overall) Wednesday by the Flyers. He has lots of offensive talent and could be used on the power play down the road. Playing for HV71, the puck-moving defender had 11 goals, 38 points, and a plus-12 rating in 40 games last season.
“I like his offensive dynamic," said Flyers scout Mark Greig, who compared Andrae to a younger version of Boston’s Torey Krug or the Rangers' Adam Fox. “He’s a good skater and a heads-up player that’s a real crafty puck-handler. He has vision. At times you can see him slow down the game in transition and then going forward.”
Greig said Andrae "can also be dynamic off the offensive blue line and find offense. I think that’s the strength of his game. He’s a little undersized but he’s pretty aware, so he doesn’t get himself into trouble.”
“There’s not much you can do about the height,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said, “but there have other players with his type of build who have succeeded, and typically those players have high-end hockey sense and high-end compete and a lot of skill -- and he fits the bill.”
On defense, some scouts say Andrae makes up for his lack of size with his highly competitive nature and a strong lower body.
Andrae, who called it an “amazing feeling” and said it was an “honor” to be selected by the Flyers, said he has “absolutely” heard some people say he’s too small for the NHL: “From Day 1, I hear that, but I know it’s not an issue for me as long as you can move the puck very quickly,” he said in a conference call from Sweden.
McKeen’s Hockey rated him at 51, and TSN draft expert Crain Button had him as the draft’s 64th best prospect. The NHL’s Central Scouting ranked Andrae, a left-handed shooter who can play either side, as the 15th-best European skater. He has one assist over five games in his current season.
“My strength is to play the puck to my teammates and get them in good situations,” said Andrae, who led his league in points for a defenseman last season.
The Flyers didn’t have a third-round pick, and they selected Zayde Wisdom, a prototypical power forward, with the first pick in the fourth round. They traded their 116th and 147th overall picks to Tampa Bay to move up in the draft and select Wisdom at 94.
General manager Chuck Fletcher said he was surprised Andrae and Wisdom were available. He “scrambled” to make the deal with Tampa when Wisdom remained on the board.
Wisdom, a 5-10 1/2, 195-pound right winger who was on a Kingston line with talented center Shane Wright (remember the name), plays with an edge and had a strong OHL season, collecting 29 goals and 59 points in 62 games. McKeen’s Hockey had him ranked 66th, and Button placed him 71st.
“He’s a guy who can make plays,” Flyers scout Rick Pracey said. “He thinks on the ice well, his puck game is a positive. We like that he provides a physical element.”
Wisdom overcame lots of obstacles, including poverty, and developed into a standout prospect.
“His story,” Fletcher said, “is remarkable with what he’s overcome to get to this point."
The Flyers traded their two seventh-round picks (Nos. 202 and 209) to Nashville to select left winger ElliotDesnoyers at No. 135 overall in the fifth round. Known for his relentless style, Desnoyers had 11 goals and 35 points in 61 QMJHL games with Moncton last st season. Desnoyers will have a more prominent role with Halifax this season.
With their final pick, the Flyers made an intriguing sixth-round selection. They drafted 5-8, 165-pound Connor McClennon, a right winger with a high motor and hard shot. He said he models his game after Chicago’s high-scoring, 5-7, 165-pound Alex DeBrincat.
And, yes, the Flyers would be thrilled if McClennon one day turned into a DeBrincat-type player.