Who Will the Flyers Draft at 11th Overall?
Draft lottery day 2019 wasn’t all that nice to Philadelphia, but there’s a lot to like in this class.
Not only did New Jersey win the rights to American center Jack Hughes, the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks will be picking second and third, respectively. Chicago’s catapult from the 12th spot in the draft booted the Flyers out of the top ten, reminiscent of Philly’s leap from 14th to land Nolan Patrick in 2017.
Fortunately for Philadelphia, it shouldn’t hurt their draft success. Thanks to the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP), the 2019 NHL Entry Draft should give the Flyers a high-end prospect– regardless of draft position.
Speaking of the USNTDP, there are nine players in the program this year with projected first-round status. Five of them could go in the top half of the round, starting at first overall with Hughes. Any of Matthew Boldy, Alex Turcotte, Trevor Zegras, or Cole Caufield would make a fine addition to any prospect pool. Spencer Knight is widely considered to be one of the top goaltending prospects in years, and he’ll be off the board first round.
— USA Hockey’s NTDP (@USAHockeyNTDP) October 12, 2018
Some are more probable to be selected by the time Philadelphia is on the clock– we can all but eliminate Alex Turcotte, as despite his early season injury, he’s almost certainly a top five talent. The Flyers should feel very pleased if one of the other three are still available come eleventh overall.
There’s a distinct play style that comes with each: Caufield is the sniper, Zegras the two-way center, Boldy the playmaker. Philadelphia might have the luxury of selecting based on organizational need, something that doesn’t typically happen in the first round of drafts. Should the Americans be selected early, the Flyers will have their fair share of talented options like Peyton Krebs (C), Victor Soderstrom (D), Cam York (D), and others.
Choosing USNTDP players early has paid off recently for Philadelphia– Joel Farabee is arguably the team’s best prospect, and was just named rookie of the year after a great freshman season at Boston University. He’s signed his entry level deal, and will play professionally for the first time this coming fall.
Given the state of the team and the expectations heading into the season to contend for a playoff run, there isn’t really a bad way to go in this draft. Cole Caufield is the most interesting, home run type player in the draft, and the Flyers should absolutely jump at the opportunity to add him.
Caufield, a 5’7″ goal scorer, broke the NTDP single season goal record with 72 and the NTDP career goals record with 126. He signed a letter of intent to play at Wisconsin University next season, joining US teammate Alex Turcotte. Caufield says he models his game after Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat, who scored 41 goals this season, yet stands just 5’7″ tall. He’d be picked much, much higher if he wasn’t considered “undersized”, but in today’s NHL, he can flourish.
Should the Flyers not have Caufield available, Victor Soderstrom (RHD) would be a good way to begin restocking the defensive pipeline. With the graduation of Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers, Robert Hagg, and Ivan Provorov from prospect status, Soderstrom would be the best young defense prospect in the organization. He’s expected to go at or around the tenth overall pick.
The number three ranked European skater by Central Scouting, Soderstrom is a great skater, and has 44 games in the Swedish Hockey League under his belt. Philadelphia has selected a handful of players from Soderstrom’s SHL team, Brynas IF, in recent years. Oskar Lindblom, Felix Sandstrom, Marcus Westfalt, and Samuel Ersson have all played for the club since 2017. As a right-handed shot, Soderstrom becomes slightly more valuable in a sport of lefties.
The 2019 NHL Entry Level Draft is Friday, June 21st, in Vancouver.
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