Nolan Patrick, Morgan Frost, Isaac Ratcliffe, Kirill Ustimenko, Matthew Strome, Maxim Sushko, Noah Cates, Olle Lycksell, Wyatt Kalynuk.
The Philadelphia Flyers kept busy on draft day, making nine selections even after a trade with Arizona in which they gave up three picks to move up in the second round.
Their prospect cupboard was once bordering on empty, particularly in goal. However, that lack of prospects has been addressed this off-season, particularly at forward, where the majority of selections were made.
C Nolan Patrick 1st round, 2nd overall:
The first round yielded two new Flyers. Patrick may very well turn out to be someone that should not have been available to them when they were on the clock. So as long as he puts his injury issues behind him the way he is expected to, Patrick can be an integral part of their future. He is expected to get every chance to become just that when he can put his health concerns behind him. Patrick is an all-around force on offence and what’s more, he is a deceptively sound player on the PK as well. Suits the team culture fine, I am sure.
C Morgan Frost, 1st round, 27th overall:
The Flyers may look like smooth criminals in a few years after getting Frost where they did. He really came on strong last season in the OHL and he has the numbers to show it. If his sniping can catch up with his deft playmaking he can be a truly valuable asset for the Flyers in the future. Until then, his pass-heavy take to the game can make him exploitable at times. Building on his 170-pound frame would also be advised. It would be a shock to see him not be returned to Sault Ste. Marie, however he may be a top-six option for the Flyers someday if he plays his cards right. At the recent development camp, he initially looked like a fish out of water. By the end of it, he gave the same cause for optimism that Konecny did in his development camp appearances.
LW Isaac Ratcliffe 2nd round, 35th overall:
As previously mentioned, the Flyers made a deal with the Coyotes to move up in the second round, which involved parting with three picks. The result: Isaac Ratcliffe. Like Frost, he could use some time to fill out before turning pro. There is more room for growth, as Ratcliffe has a bigger frame to bulk up with. Better puck-handling when on the move would be recommended. His size and stage of development he is in have drawn comparisons to Sam Morin. He has potential, although potential is a dirty word unless you do something with it. The Flyers may prove themselves to be smooth operators if Ratcliffe can provide quality second-round value, something which is well within his grasp.
G Kirill Ustimenko, 3rd round, 80th overall:
Ustimenko fits the bill for your typical goaltender prospect these days, agile with a big frame. He has starred in Russia, however it has been at the major junior level. Not only is that not on par with the KHL, it is a level of play he knows well having been there since he was 14. He won’t make the jump to the North American game soon, although spending a third-round pick on a fellow you are keeping in East Europe and waiting for isn’t a bad way to go given Ustimenko’s upside if he can harness his physical tools.
LW Matthew Strome, 4th round, 106th overall:
Matthew is the third Strome progeny to be drafted to the NHL and the last one for the foreseeable future. Unlike his older brothers, he took something of a tumble while doing so by not being selected until the fourth round. His hockey sense needs to catch up to his physical tools. He doesn’t have an NHL-ready body although he is closer than most others on draft day. He also possesses a weapon of a shot that makes him a threat whenever he is in an opponent’s zone. If his acumen for the game can catch up to the rest of his toolset in his remaining time in the OHL (or perhaps after some time after that in the AHL) he could have a place in the Flyers’ lineup in a few years. If he takes the slight of falling on draft day the right way, he can really finish his tenure with the Bulldogs the right way.
RW Maxim Sushko, 4th round, 107th overall:
After an encouraging first season in the OHL, Sushko managed to be selected in the fourth round and sixth by the Flyers. Having made his development camp debut, it has been made clear that he is more of a project than a draft day steal as it stands. He has breathtaking speed, however his ability to operate in that high gear leaves him something to work on when he returns to the Owen Sound Attack this coming season. Not only is his decision-making at that pace questionable, his puckhandling is not able to keep up with his remarkable foot speed.
LW Noah Cates, 5th round, 137th overall:
When going down the list of acquired players throughout the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, it is easy to see that there is a trend of forwards developing amongst the Flyers’ selections. Be that as it may, it is apparent to see why they doubled down on this trend when taking Cates. He is still rough around the edges for the professional level, however he proved to be a real sparkplug at the Flyers’ development camp, as he was regularly mixing it up and keeping things interesting and lively whenever he had the puck on his stick. What’s more is that he could make the puck really take flight with a flick of the wrists, much better than what one would expect for a recently drafted prospect.
RW Olle Lycksell, 6th round, 167th overall:
This one would be seen as more of a swing for the fences, although Lycksell’s late-round selection mitigated the risk tremendously. As a wait-and-see prospect, that alone makes him fit the bill for the Flyers rather nicely as they have been known to be aggressive with long-term investments. Not unlike others on this list, he has his speed and hands going for him, although his play without the puck requires work. He also is not even 165 pounds soaking wet so that will likely need to change as well. He barely made this year’s draft cutoff, making him one of the younger players eligible in this year’s draft, so he has time to get better to make an impact in the North American game.
D Wyatt Kalnyuk, 7th round, 196th overall:
After nearly running the table with no selections made to bolster the blueline, Philadelphia put an end to the trend and went for a rearguard. It would seem that the third time is the charm for Kalnyuk as it took as many drafts for a team to select him. As an junior overager, it leads us to believe that his upside is limited. He started to show some offensive pep in his step this past year, however he still has room for improvement in this department. In the meantime, his skating ability is his best asset be it by way of his speed or his agility. His mobility will serve him well staving off attackers from opposing teams in the NCAA, as he will report to the University of Wisconsin in the fall.
Thanks for checking in with us for today’s 31-in-31 instalment. Be sure to check us out tomorrow for our take on the Pittsburgh Penguins!