The Flyers made six draft selections Saturday, and if you’re a diehard fan, you certainly now know a few things about their picks.
If you’re just a casual fan, you are forgiven if your draft interest dipped because your focus turned toward two more blockbuster Flyers trades made on each draft day.
You see, the Flyers dealt their first-round pick as part of Friday’s trade to get Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, so they didn’t have a No. 1 selection Friday night.
On Saturday, they made another huge deal as they sent Jake Voracek to Columbus for Cam Atkinson. That was made just before Rounds 2-7 started, overshadowing the Flyers’ six selections that day.
No worries. We are here for you, so will spend more time on the draft today than we did Saturday, when this story was posted.
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Disappointed but understanding
As you can imagine, Brent Flahr, Flyers assistant general manger and the man who heads the organization’s draft choices, wasn’t doing cartwheels when the team traded its top pick (13th overall).
But he understood the situation.
“It’s always tough on the scouts when you give up a first,” Flahr said. “You sit that whole first day with not being able to do much. They’re all for the trade, and they understood. It was an interesting day, and where we were sitting it was interesting to see who we would have picked at the time and whatnot. Typically, I selfishly don’t like to give up firsts ever. But it is what it is. We made up for that [in the other rounds], hopefully.”
The Flyers took a right winger, a goalie, three defensemen, and a center in the draft.
The right winger, Samu Tuomaala, is a speedy 5-foot-10, 174-pound Finnish native with a hard shot. He was selected in the second round (46th overall), and Flahr said he and his scouts had projected he would go “in the 20s.” In other words, in the latter part of Round 1.
“Obviously very excited getting him,” Flyers scout Joakim Grundberg said. “He was rated as a first-round talent. We were able to get him in the middle of the second round, so we’re really excited about that. To us, he has elite speed and high skill. Very good shot. High-offensive upside. There’s things he’s got to work on like his overall game and obviously getting stronger. We see a lot of upside there.”
One of the Flyers’ most intriguing selections was goalie Alexei Kolosov, chosen in the third round at 78th overall.
The 6-1, 185-pounder spent the majority of 2020-21 suiting up for Molodechno in Belarus’ men’s league, posting a 2.23 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in 12 games. He also appeared in nine KHL games for Minsk with a 3-5-1 record (2.69 GAA, .911 SV%, 1 SO).
“He had an opportunity to play a lot in the KHL as a young goalie, which is a rarity,” Flahr said. “Not only play but play well while seeing a lot of shots in tough situations. He’s a talented guy, very athletic, and our goalie guys are confident they can mold him into an NHL goalie.”
The three defensemen the Flyers took were Switzerland native Brian Zanetti (6-2, 176) in the fourth round, Californian Ty Murchison (6-2, 192) in the fifth round), and Ethan Samson (6-1, 180) of British Columbia in the sixth round.
Zanetti was projected to go later in the draft, but the Flyers liked his potential.
“He’s a raw kid. We see him down the road as a D-man with size and mobility,” Grundberg said. “Can be a good defender and help you with the puck.”
Murchinson played two seasons with the USNTDP and has good size and range.
“He moves real well and plays with some aggression,” Flyers scout Nick Pryor said. “That’s something that we really like.”
Samson, who has committed at Arizona State, has spent two seasons in the WHL.
“He’s close to 6-2, and his frame is going to still fill out as he’s an August birthday,” Flyers scout Mark Greig said. “He’s got some room to develop. Right-hand shot and for a D-man it’s always an asset as we find them harder to find. I think he’s got a lot of development left.”
The Flyers;’ other draftee was center Owen McLaughlin (6-0, 160), who has local roots, in the seventh round.
McLaughlin, a Phoenixville native, started the year playing for Mount St. Charles (R.I.) and collected 54 points (16 goals, 38 assists) in 33 games before spending seven games with the U.S. National Development under-18 team. He will play for Sioux City (USHL) next season and then at Penn State.
“He’s a talented kid at the high school level,” Flahr said. “Obviously he’s going to have a little bit longer path. But a highly skilled kid at that level. He’s going to have to put on some weight and get stronger. He’s going to a good place obviously close by here, and we’re excited to see where he can get to.”
Things to know
The Flyers, in need of a quality No. 2 goalie, may go after one of these players.
15 things to know about defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and right winger Cam Atkinson. The innovative Ed “Piano Bar” Barkowitz, who is a walking encyclopedia on Philly sports, has the lists. (BTW, stick taps to Eddie, who is leaving The Inquirer and Daily News this week after a long, distinguished career. I could not have had a better hockey partner. )
Bold summer makeover should revive Flyers. My column.
In an exchange of right wingers who established wonderful legacies, the Flyers’ Jake Voracek was dealt to Columbus for Cam Atkinson.
The Flyers’ defense appears set after they acquired Rasmus Ristolainen from Buffalo.
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren was hot on Ristolainen’s trail before the 2013 draft. Eight years later, he’s finally a Flyer. My 2013 story on Ristolainen.
Quote of the year?
This gem of a quote came from Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher after he made his third major trade in six days:
“We just can’t keep bringing the same players back year after year and expect different results. We had to make changes this year, and the players we’ve added are all what I call high-energy, competitive people.
“We need some juice. We need to change the energy in the room.”
Wednesday: Free agency starts at noon.
Late August: Flyers development camp in Voorhees; dates to be determined.
From the mailbag
Question: “With the defense now set, what are your early predictions for what the Flyers’ forward lines might look like?”
— Paul Foster (@PaulieB08).
Answer: Thanks for the question, Paul. As you said, it’s early, so this is a fluid situation, especially with Fletcher hoping to add a veteran forward (Derek Stepan?) who can kill penalties. But for the moment, here are my four lines:
Line 1: Sean Couturier centering Claude Giroux and Cam Atkinson.
Line 2: Kevin Hayes centering Joel Farabee and Travis Konecny.
Line 3: Scott Laughton centering James van Riemsdyk and Wade Allison.
Line 4: Morgan Frost centering Oskar Lindblom and Nic Aube-Kubel.
Send questions by email or on Twitter (@broadstbull), and they could be answered in a future edition.