In other words, if he can use the pick as part of a deal to get a young player (Patrik Laine?), or someone with lots of tread left on their tires (Johnny Gaudreau?), he’d be willing to pull the trigger.
But if the offers aren’t overwhelming, Fletcher will be content to make the selection when the first round is held Friday night starting at 8 on ESPN2. Rounds 2 through 7 will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday and will be shown on the NHL Network.
If the Flyers keep the pick, they should get a quality player, according to Ryan Wagman, director of prospect scouting at the authoritative McKeen’s Hockey.
Wagman says that it’s an “average” draft, and that there are more quality forwards available than defensemen, especially after the top four blueliners are selected. Overall, he said there are no players who appear to be NHL-ready right away.
“It’s a very up-in-the-air draft” because the pandemic limited the amount of games the prospects played and it was more difficult to get a “read” on them, Wagman said. Scouts are relying more on video of the players than usual, and the fact there weren’t as many high-level tournaments — where a lot of decisions on the players are formed — has made the draft an even bigger crapshoot.
Based on a consensus of scouting services and draft experts, here are the players who could be available when the Flyers are scheduled to make their first selection, along with comments from Wagman.
Center, 6-foot-1, 180 pounds
The Minnesota native has a great shot and has a high hockey IQ. Headed to the University of Minnesota, he had 13 goals in 12 games for the U.S. National Development Team last season.
Wagman’s comment: “He’s got very good puck skills and he puts the puck in the net. What I really like is how he processes the game so quickly. He’s an OK skater, but not fast. He’s got decent size, but he’s not huge. But he processes the game, so he’s in the right spot at the right time, and he does the right things to create goals.”
Center/left winger, 6-1, 207
In a combined 20 games in Switzerland and with Canada’s under-18 team, he had 14 goals last season.
Wagman’s comment: “I don’t think he’ll be available for Philadelphia unless they trade up. His stock has been going up a lot. He plays with a bit of an edge. His skating is his one weakness, but it’s gotten better, and he’s got such a great shot and puck skills. He’s smart, knows the game well, and he’s built pretty thick. He makes himself hard to play against.”
Center, 6-0, 200
The son of former NHL player Mike, who played on an NHL-record 12 teams in a 17-year career, Sillinger has a terrific wrist shot and is coming off a season in which he had 24 goals in 31 games with Sioux in the USHL.
Wagman’s comment: “He has a rifle of a shot, and that’s how he gets most of his goals. He’s played a full season in the WHL, as opposed to a shorter season in the USHL, and that might help him get to the NHL sooner.”
Center, 6-1, 181
Raty managed just six goals in 43 games in Finland last year, but his potential is intriguing. His brother, Aku, was drafted in the fifth round by Arizona in 2019.
Wagman’s comment: “He’s an interesting case. If we were having this discussion about a year-and-a-half ago about who was going to be the top pick in ’21, we might have been looking at Raty. He played at the under-20 World Juniors [for Finland] when he was 16, and he played at the under-18s two years ago. But this year he was playing against men and he got off to a horrible start. By midseason he started turning it around. His puck skills are among the best in this draft, if not the best. It’s a matter of: Is he going to play with intensity? That’s why he kind of dropped off a lot.”
Defenseman, 6-1, 201
The lefthander reads the game well, but a leg injury shut down his WHL season in March and raised some concerns that could push him down to the second half of the first round.
Wagman’s comment: “He played most of the year in Finland, and based on the grades we got on him, he’s a fantastic skater and has very good puck-moving skills, especially for a defenseman. He doesn’t play a heavy, physical game that much, but that’s not that big of a deal.”
Left winger, 5-10, 183
He erupted for 48 goals and 85 points in 51 games for the USHL’s Chicago Steel this season and is headed to Harvard.
Wagman’s comment: “I saw him a ton. He’s a great skater with a great shot, but not the most physical guy. His style of game is designed to rip up the junior leagues. He changed [his style] a bit as the year went on, but for a good part of the year, he would just take the puck and skate with it for the entire shift until he got a shot off. His style won’t give him as many opportunities to score [in the NHL], but if he’s available in the middle-third of the first round, he’s a guy I would definitely want on my team.”
Center, 6-1, 167
Johnson opened eyes in his first year at the powerful University of Michigan, collecting nine goals and 27 points in 26 games.
Wagman’s comment: “He’s a very good skater and has amazing puck skills. The things he can do with the puck are pretty wild. My main concern with Johnson is that he always tries to do something fancy. It’s going to work for him more in the NCAA than it will as a pro. And he commits a lot of turnovers. He needs to simplify his game.”
Defenseman, 6-2, 201
The right-handed defenseman played in just a total of 14 games last season on two teams. He is headed to the University of Wisconsin, which has done a good job developing players who have reached the NHL.
Wagman’s comment: “He’s solid defensively and does everything at an above-average level; he’s a guy who doesn’t have any real weak spots in his game. He plays a tough game, skates well, and can shoot. If there’s a downside, it’s that he didn’t play much this year. The Alberta Junior Leagues didn’t really get going. He played only eight games there before he went to play for Canada in the under-18s. But wherever he played, he excelled.”
Center/right winger 5-8, 170
A fearless puck carrier, he had 11 goals in 13 combined games in the WHL and with Canada’s under-18 team. In the previous season, Stankoven had 29 goals for Kamloops in the WHL.
Wagman’s comment: “He’s a small dude, but he’s strong for his size and plays heavier than one might expect. He’s got an amazing shot, an elite shot, and he’s a really good skater. Even though he’s small, he gets a lot of power in his skating, and he’s just one of those guys who has a knack for scoring. He’s been that way wherever he’s gone. If you want to look for the next Cole Caufield type, there’s your man. I’m not saying he’s going to be Caufield, but that’s the mold you’re hoping he can fit.”
Right winger, 5-10, 172
The smooth-skating winger had eight goals in 44 games with three teams last season in Sweden. Scouts are all over the board on him, ranking him as high as No. 3 and as low as No. 30.
Wagman’s comment: ”Fantastic skater. Really agile and has great edges and really good puck skills. He makes plays over and over again. He has special talent.”
Defenseman, 6-4, 200
Edvinsson starred in Sweden last season, and he has climbed the draft boards. It’s doubtful he will be available for the Flyers at No. 13, but you never know.
Wagman’s comment: “Some people love him and some are not as high on him. He’s a physical specimen, and he skates like the wind and has great puck skills. If there are concerns, he can be prone to making unforced errors. When he played against men, he didn’t quite put it all together. But he’s got a rare package of skills in terms of his size, skating, and puck skills for a defenseman.”