Despite the Flyers beating the Wild Thursday night, I don’t hold out much hope that the team will push into the playoffs. They’re wildly inconsistent and truthfully don’t have the scoring depth to make it. So, since I can’t get my Stanley Cup hopes up, I decided to take a look at some prospects the Flyers may have a chance to draft.
From what I read, there’s no real “can’t-miss” Connor McDavid style players in this draft. There’s some solid players, but no one is jumping out. That makes it a little tough to know who might be available for the Flyers, but I’ve done my best to look at guys that could be around when the Flyers draft.
With their current record, the Flyers should be picking right around 12. With nine games left, that could change. But I’m just going to work under that assumption. Here are four guys that I’ve seen that I think the Flyers should look at more closely.
Eeli Tolvanen, Finland
LW/RW, 5’11”, 177 lbs
Sioux City, USHL
If I had my way, this is who the Flyers would be drafting. For years, I have said the team needs a scoring winger. Tolvanen plays both wings and has a hell of a shot. The soon to be 18-year-old plays in the USHL with the Sioux City Musketeers. His first year he potted 17 goals, 21 assists for 38 points in 49 games. This year, in 46 games, 28 goals, 20 assists for 48 points. One scout says he has an NHL shot and the gif below shows that off. It’s not a goal but just watch.
Balls. First off, that’s a freakin’ rocket. Second, look at the goalie trying to stretch out his shoulder after the save. That had some heat on it. Tolvanen will go to Boston College for at least a year, but he’s only going to grow there. Lots of mock drafts I’ve seen him in have him going top-ten which means the Flyers could miss out. But if the Flyers have a chance to nab him, they need to take it.
Martin Necas, Czech Republic
C, 6’0″, 169 lbs
Kometa Brno, Czech
Ron Hextall commented about the importance of centers when he acquired Valtteri Filppula. The Flyers love to draft centers, which admittedly made me weary of Necas. Yeah, I know centers are important, but a scoring winger or another stud defeseman are my hopes for the Flyers. Still, reading more about Necas and watching some video, the kid has a lot of upside.
Described as a playmaker with great stickhandling and vision, he’s a top-six forward in the making, given that he adds a little strength. The thing that jumped out at me–he uses his speed. Lord Stanley knows the Flyers need more speed up front. If the Flyers take a center with their pick, I’m hoping they land Necas.
Juuso Valikami, Finland
D, 6’2″, 200 lbs
The Flyers have used a lot of early picks in the last several years on defenseman. Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg and Travis Sanheim are all waiting to jump into the NHL to play alongside Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov. That’s almost a full blueline. But defensive depth is great to have–ask the Blackhawks and the Blues.
Valimaki captained the Finnish U-18 team and is described as a defense first player. His highlight reel shows exceptional vision in the passing game and an ability to pass accurately in all areas of the ice. His point production has jumped from 32 (7g, 25a) last year to 61 (19g, 42a) this year. That improvement is great to see when it goes along with solid defensive work.
Nikitia Popugaev, Russia
LW, 6’5″, 200 lbs
Prince George, WHL
This last guy isn’t someone I’d push for the Flyers to have, but I was impressed by his tape. He appears to be more of a late round pick, but his size and skill made him worth a mention in my mind. Just watch this goal he scores.
I literally said “holy shit” when I saw that highlight. He not only stick handles a quick deke, but that finish right where mama keeps the thin mints (looking at you, Bucci).
Popugaev got traded to Prince George from Moose Jaw and his production dropped. With Moose Jaw, he wracked up 51 points (22g, 29a) in just 40 games. In 31 games with Prince George, those numbers are down to 18 points (7g, 11a) in 31 games. Still his big frame and natural talent at least have him on my radar. Unless the Flyers trade back or nearly squeak into the playoffs, this won’t be a guy they will take.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t think he would do well in orange and black.