The Flyers have the 23rd overall selection in the first round of the draft Tuesday, and, unless they make a deal to move up, won’t have a chance to choose forwards Alexis Lafreniere, Tim Stutzle, or Quinton Byfield — or any of the other marquee prospects.
But according to draft experts, they will get a quality player if they stay at No. 23.
Scouts believe there are about a dozen top-notch players in the draft before there is a drop-off, with the rest of the first round filled with very good (but not outstanding) prospects.
Forwards should dominate the first round, especially centers. Conversely, it is not a strong draft year for defensemen and goalies.
General manager Chuck Fletcher says the Flyers are more likely to trade down than up, but if they remain at No. 23, here are the players who might be available, along with comments from Ryan Wagman, director of prospect scouting at McKeen’s Hockey.
Jacob Perreault, 5-foot-11, 192 pounds
Team: Sarnia (Ontario Hockey League).
Skinny: 39 goals, 70 points in 57 games last season. The son of former NHL player Yanic Perreault (247 career goals), Perreault is a terrific offensive player who needs to improve his defense.
Wagman’s comment: “He’s got one of the best shots in the draft. He’s a good skater and has good puck skills, but it’s his shot that is his signature. The people who have concerns about him are concerned about his attention to detail away from the puck.”
Noel Gunler, 6-2, 175
Team: Lulea (Sweden).
Skinny: 4 goals, 13 points in 45 games last season while playing against men at a young age. He has some outstanding skills, but there are questions about his coachability.
Wagman: “He’s a really good skater with a great shot. He shows a bit more attention to the defensive end than Perreault. But some people aren’t as high on him, and that brings up the question, 'Why was he not playing on the Swedish national team? Why was he not at the World Juniors?”
Jake Neighbours, 5-11, 195
Team: Edmonton (Western Hockey League).
Skinny: 23 goals, 70 points in 64 games last season. Neighbours is regarded as a future second-line player and plays solid defense.
Wagman: “He’s a good player who is committed to the two-way game. He’s not a flashy player, but he’s quietly effective.”
Lukas Reichel, 6-0, 172
Team: Berlin (Germany).
Skinny: 12 goals, 24 points in 42 games last season while playing against men. A relentless forechecker, the left winger is the nephew of Robert Reichel, a former NHL center who had a pair of 40-goal seasons with Calgary.
Wagman: “I think what people like the most about him is that his hockey IQ is really high-end. He’s got the puck skills. He can skate and shoot. He’s not really a physical guy, but he’s really smart and understands the game.”
Hendrix Lapierre, 5-11, 180
Team: Chicoutimi (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League).
Skinny: 2 goals, 17 points in 19 games last season. He might be regarded as a top 10 pick if he wasn’t slowed by injuries last season.
Wagman: “If people are convinced he’s healthy and his neck injury will not come back, he could be a great pick. I don’t think he’ll be available when the Flyers pick, but if he is, it could be a very high-ceiling [selection]. It’s the type of pick you want to take. He’s a good skater, but really his game is his puck skills. He could potentially be a top-line playmaker.”
Dylan Holloway, 6-0, 205
Team: Wisconsin (NCAA).
Skinny: 8 goals, 17 points in 35 games last season. A quality skater with a good shot, he sometimes has a tendency to play out of control.
Wagman: “I’ve watched him a lot at Wisconsin, and on his best days, he’s a first-line player. He’s big, he drives the play and he’s tough to play against. He’s a straight-line, north-south player. And on his worst day, he’s a really good third-liner because even when he’s playing a bit too fast and kind of not in control, he’s still effective in making life difficult for the opponent.”
Connor Zary, 6-0, 178
Team: Kamloops (WHL).
Skinny: 38 goals, 86 points in 57 games last season. Zary is a prolific scorer but needs to improve his skating, scouts say.
Wagman: “I think he’ll be off the board when the Flyers pick. If he is available, he would be a steal of a pick. His skating can be a little bit clunky, but he plays a very mature game. He’s cerebral and does a lot of little things that help a player maximize his abilities.”
Brendan Brisson, 6-0, 185
Team: Chicago (United States Hockey League).
Skinny: 24 goals, 59 points in 45 games, and was the USHL’s rookie of the year. The son of sports agent Pat Brisson, the Michigan-bound center is a highly skilled, smart player and a very good skater.
Wagman: “The more I watched him — and I watched him a ton — he is a play driver. There may be another first-round player on that line in Sam Colangelo, but Brisson was the guy who made things happen on that line. I love his game.”
Ridly Greig, 5-11, 165
Team: Brandon (WHL).
Skinny: 26 goals, 60 points in 56 games last season. Greig’s father, Mark, is a longtime Flyers scout, and Wagman says the younger Greig, stylistically, reminds him of Travis Konecny at a similar age.
Wagman: “He’s got skill, he’s fast, and he’s tough to play against. He’s the type of guy who could fit in anywhere in a middle-six role, and is one of the few draft-eligible North American players who have gone on to play in Europe during the COVID delay, which means teams will have had more of a chance to scout him in the last month.”
Mavrik Bourque, 5-10, 180
Team: Shawinigan (QMJHL).
Skinny: 29 goals, 71 points in 49 games last season. The righty has great vision and playmaking skills and has been compared to the Islanders’ Anthony Beauvillier.
Wagman: “He may be more talented than Ridly Greig. Greig is a better skater, but I think Bourque is more dynamic offensively. He gives you more lightning in the offensive zone. He could be a real special player.”
Justin Barron, 6-2, 195
Team: Halifax (QMJHL).
Skinny: 4 goals, 19 points, minus-19 in 34 games last season. The righthanded-shooting Barron is a borderline first-round pick, Wagman said.
Wagman: “If we were ranking prospects a year ago, he would be in the top 20, but he came down with a blood clot and missed about half the season. He came back and was rusty and then the season was shut down, and he had a [minor] surgical procedure on his shoulder last week. If his medicals check out, he could be a real upside pick.”