In the second round of THW’s Mock Draft, I took over the Philadelphia Flyers from fellow writer, Johnny Berman. When all was said and done, I looked back at the picks that had been made and had to confess that this was my favorite group of players among the teams that I had picked for. I specifically tried to find players who were the blend of size and skill that I have come to associate with Flyers’ hockey over the last several decades.
2nd Round, 57th Overall: Sam Colangelo
I express my thoughts pretty concisely in the second round mock draft article. He’s a sure-handed power forward with a good shot and good skating ability. He checks in at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds as an 18-year-old.
It’s hard to drive home how much of a steal this pick would be. I have Colangelo in my top 25. Steve Kournianos (The Draft Analyst) has Colangelo in his top 35. He barely misses the first round. He might be the most balanced combination of size, skill and talent available in the first or second round.
He’s right up there with Tyson Foerster for being a top tier physical hockey specimen that does the things you want a top pick forward to do. I cannot imagine Colangelo being available at this spot but if the Flyers got their hands on him they’d be over the moon.
4th Round, 119th Overall: Carson Bantle
I had to wait until the fourth round to pick again for Philadelphia. Sitting there at 119 is my personal favorite prospect in this draft. Carson Bantle is a moose. He’s 6-foot-4 and 201 pounds and he was a point per game player on the Madison Capitols of the USHL.
The Capitols were TERRIBLE. Bantle did not get a lot of help scoring goals for this team. In 50 games they scored 122 goals for and had 219 against for a minus-97 goal differential. Bantle’s 20 goals and 29 assists means that he had a direct hand in 49/122 goals. That’s 40.16% of an entire team’s scoring that went through this kid’s stick. He’s Michigan Tech bound in the NCAA so it’ll be interesting to see how he develops.
Early on in this season, I referred to him as a “poor man’s Quinton Byfield” mostly because of the size and ability to take over a shift and find the back of the net. It remains to be seen if he can do it against better competition with better teammates around him, but if he pans out like I think he can, this kid is someone Flyers fans would love for years to come.
5th Round, 150th Overall: Alex Gaffney
I went big and beefy for my first two picks for the Flyers so I switched gears a little bit in the 5th round. Alex Gaffney is a speedy, small center from West Orange, New Jersey who played his junior hockey with Muskegon of the USHL. He’s small. He’s, honestly, almost too small. The diminutive center checks in at 5-foot-7 163 pounds.
However, Gaffney has that thing that I look for in smaller players. “His heart is 10-feet tall,” is something I have said about other successful small players in the NHL like Nathan Gerbe and Alex Debrincat. If you watch the video above, you’ll see some of that in the play Gaffney makes along the wall. He gets to the puck, and sends it back to Laferriere knowing he’s going to have to absorb a hit to make the play.
You can’t tell Gaffney that he’s too small to go into a corner battle. You can’t tell him that he’s too small to effectively screen a goalie. He fearlessly goes into every battle, shows the wheels to get to loose pucks, and finishes with silky smooth mitts. He’s Harvard bound and they’ve been a good program for NHL talent lately so he’s worth keeping an eye on. I’m outspoken on how I feel about drafting smaller players, but when I see they’ve got heart and determination as this kid does, I’ll go for it.
6th Round, 181st Overall: Owen Pederson
I could not believe Owen Pederson was still here. I can’t believe how low he’s ranked. When I ask people about him, the consensus seems to be that he didn’t “wow” them. He wow’s me though.
Owen Pederson is 6-foot-3 and 187 pounds and spent this season with the Winnipeg Ice of the WHL. He did not play a full draft-1 season with the Kootenay Ice last season, limited to 37 games. He had 50 points in 61 games this season but point production is not the whole story.
Pederson’s production took off once he was put on a line with 2019 top 20 draft pick: Peyton Krebs. During this time Pederson showed that he was capable of finding open ice for himself and putting himself in a position to finish plays. What Pederson is then, is a late-blooming power forward with good hands and the ability to adapt his game to fit well with players that are better than him.
This comparison tool is produced by Byron Bader. The player I have chosen to compare Pederson to here is Ozzy Wiesblatt, who was taken 52nd overall in the second round of our mock draft. Interpretation of the data this tool uses, has Wiesblatt and Pederson having similar chances of being successful in the NHL. It is also very interesting to note the closest comparable player data sets to Owen Pederson’s.
Like everything else, this tool isn’t perfect, but it’s surprisingly accurate sometimes. Players in that 10% Star Probability/46% NHLer Probability data set, tend to be players taken in the second and third rounds. To get one with Pederson’s size, skillset and hands, in the sixth round could be the steal of the draft.
7th Round, 194th Overall: Michael Krutil
Michael Krutil is a 6-foot-3, 203-pound, right-handed defender from the Czech Republic. The stats are meaningless, with some of these European defenders because they get bounced around through various leagues and overseas tournaments. What is relevant is Krutil’s 27th place ranking by NHL Central Scouting among European skaters. It’s really surprising to see a European defender ranked that highly still sitting there this late into the draft.
One of the reasons Krutil might still be here is his lack of clear offensive upside. However, his positional play, ability to contest zone entries and above-average skating mean that he could have real potential as an NHL defender. His size will make him coveted and he’s certainly a project worth looking into well before the seventh round. Getting him here is pure value.
7th Round, 212th Overall: Davis Pennington
Davis Pennington is an overaged puck-moving defender who spent this season with the Powell River Kings of the BCHL. He’s heading to the University of Nebraska-Omaha and is a bit of a long-term project. He was picked by the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL in Phase II of their draft in May. He was also taken by the Peterborough Petes in the OHL draft. There have been several junior scouting departments that have taken a look at this kid and said, “We want him.”
Related: Peter ‘Foppa’ Forsberg – A Biography
Pennington has a similar body type and playing style to former Denver University standout, Will Butcher, so it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on what track his development takes. Teams cannot have enough puck-moving defenders in their prospect pool, and by this point in the draft, the only way to find gems is to dig deep.
Following Johnny’s selection of Ridly Greig selection in the first round, I made six selections for the Flyers. In the Flyers’ tradition of big, powerful forwards I selected Colangelo, Bantle and Pederson. Gaffney is a smaller forward with the heart of a lion. The defenders I took in the seventh round look to be projects, but both have tantalizing skill sets, that if developed well, could contribute in the NHL down the road.
Colangelo, Bantle, Pederson, Gaffney and Krutil are all prospects I have had my eye on this season. Several of them look to be great later-round value. If I were a Flyers fan and they came away with this kind of value from their draft, I would be very happy with my team’s management and scouting departments.
Jack Dawkins is a freelance scout, analyst and avid watcher of “way too much hockey.” He has joined The Hockey Writers team to cover all things Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils, Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings, Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers. He’s an absolute data hound and loves using stats and analytics to calculate and extrapolate data for analysis.