Flyers 2021 NHL Draft Class Headlined by Samu Tuomaala

The Philadelphia Flyers did not pick until the second round of the draft as their first-round selection (13th overall) was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in the deal for defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. The team is in the process of an offseason in which improvements need to be made after many struggles contributed to a disappointing 2020-21 season. The organization used three of their draft selections on defensemen who may struggle to make or have a productive career in the NHL.

Here are the Philadelphia Flyers Entry Draft picks.

Samu Tuomaala – RW, Karpat, 2nd Round

The Flyers selected forward Tuomaala 46th overall with their first pick of the draft. The right-wing played for Karpat in the Finnish Liiga and finished with 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points through 30 games in the U20 junior league last season. The young forward is described as a fast skater who attempts a lot of shots on net and has good scoring ability due to his shot attempts which will benefit the Flyers if he makes the roster.

Tuomaala is a bit small at 5-foot-10 and 176 pounds but his good skating ability and shooting skills will allow him to make an impact once he is ready to compete in the NHL. He needs to work on his game before making the Flyers roster but has the talent to be an effective winger on the second line.

According to The Hockey Writers 2021 NHL Draft Prospect Profile, “Tuomaala spent most of the 2020-21 season with the under 20 squad from Karpat tallying 15 goals and 16 assists in 30 games. In his five games with the main professional squad, he had no points. He will certainly benefit from another season or two of development playing for Karpat before crossing the pond to North America.”

Aleksei Kolosov – G, Dinamo Minsk, 3rd Round

The Flyers selected Kolosov, a goaltender who played with Dinamo Minsk in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), 78th overall in the third round. He is described as a “very quick goalie, showing the quick twitch in his lower body to maneuver around the crease easily. Kolosov projects to play games as a backup goaltender but does not have enough elements in his game to be a full-time NHL player.” (from ‘Flyers’ 2021 NHL Draft picks: Grades, fit and full scouting reports,’ The Athletic, 7/24/21)

Kolosov’s strengths include his athleticism, flexibility, competitiveness and exceptional work ethic. The 19-year-old goaltender appears to improve during a game with the more shots he faces and The Hockey Writers player profile compares the prospect to New Jersey Devils legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur in his positioning as both players do not use the butterfly style. He struggled against good competition with Team Belarus during the 2020-21 season but has the necessary intangibles to learn from his mistakes to be an effective goaltender. He could compete for the starting goaltender position with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League (AHL) and potentially compete for the backup goaltender spot on the Flyers in a few years, perhaps behind starter Carter Hart.

Brian Zanetti – D, Lugano, 4th Round

Zanetti, a defenseman who played for Lugano of the Swiss U20 league last season, was the Flyers’ fourth-round selection in the draft. He is “a smooth skater and clean passer. He did confirm to the media this afternoon that he plans to come over to play in Peterborough COVID-19 halted his plans to play in the OHL last season, which is why he played in Switzerland in 2020-21. The defenseman contributed nine goals and 20 assists during 41 games for Lugano.

Ty Murchison – D, USNTDP, 5th Round

Murchinson is a defenseman who played for the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP). His strengthens include his vision and defensive play, as well as his puck control under pressure. He may be a solid bottom-four defenseman in the NHL after he improves his game. The defenseman is a good passer, which serves him well on the power play and he has good fundamentals. He needs to work on his speed to improve defensively. He will play at Arizona State University next fall and will work on getting stronger to make him a better defenseman.

Ethan Samson – D, Prince George Cougars, 6th Round

The selection of Samson marked the third defenseman drafted by the Flyers in the Entry Draft. He was projected to be picked in the sixth or seventh round and it remains unknown as to what kind of future he has in the NHL.

Corey Pronman of The Athletic evaluated the pick in his article about the Flyers’ draft selections.

“Ethan Samson has intriguing puck skills and offensive sense even if I do not see either as big assets versus men. Samson defends well enough at the junior level, but his skating will be a question for higher levels.”

Owen McLaughlin – C, Mount St. Charles Academy, 7th Round

Like many of the Flyers’ selections in the draft, McLaughlin needs to gain more muscle to be effective at the NHL level. He is 6’0” and 165 pounds and will not measure up against many players in other hockey leagues based on his lack of strength. He will be headed to play for Sioux City of the United States Hockey League (USHL) before playing at Penn State during the 2022-23 season. Pronman wrote the following about the center.

“Owen McLaughlin is a very skilled forward who can beat defenders with his stickhandling regularly. He can see the ice, but I don’t think he creates a ton of chances, he isn’t the quickest and is mediocre away from the puck.”

It is difficult to predict what will become of many of the draft picks regarding their future in the NHL. Tuomaala appears to be the most likely selection to make the NHL at some point, followed by Kolosov. Zanetti, Murchinson, Samson and McLaughlin need to improve their abilities, such as their skating or adding muscle, to be effective hockey players as they face tougher competition in various hockey leagues. Ristolainen needs to be worth the trade that the Flyers took part in because they traded away their first-round selection in the draft.

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