Hextall’s Dream Draft for the Flyers

With his moves at the deadline and the hiring of Dave Hakstol as “his” first coach for the Flyers, Ron Hextall has begun to shape the Flyers to fit his vision. The next huge step in crafting that vision will be this week’s draft, in which the Flyers have seven picks in the top 99.

With a number of strong defensive prospects in the pipeline, the organization has hinted that, if a defenseman and forward are equal at #7, they’ll lean towards forward. They’ve also mentioned that they would like to add a goalie or two to provide some needed organizational depth.

The below selections represent a possible scenario that I believe would be ideal for the team’s future. However, the team’s internal draft board is guaranteed to be different, and players that I didn’t expect to be available at these spots will inevitably fall.

With that in mind, here are some players who would represent great additions to the organization:

1st Round (7th Overall): D Ivan Provorov (THW Profile)

Ivan Provorov
Ivan Provorov amongst the top defenseman available for the 2015 NHL entry draft. (Photo: Dan and Margaret Hickling)

I know I said the team would lean towards taking a forward here, but that’s only if the available forwards and defensemen are of equal quality.

I don’t believe that will be the case at #7. I believe there is a drop off after the top five of McDavid, Eichel, Strome, Hanifin, and Marner. In the next tier, any one of six or seven prospects could be the arguable BPA.

The Devils own the #6 pick, but are loaded on young defensemen already, and are unlikely to select Provorov. So, the Flyers go with who I think is the clear BPA in Provorov. He’s a supreme two-way defenseman that plays in all situations with great poise, skating, and offensive instincts. He racked up 61 points in 60 games in the WHL last year (4th among defensemen), and tacked on another 13 in the playoffs.

Provorov would immediately become the Flyers’ best prospect, and would make the Flyers’ pool of defensive prospects, already the best in the NHL, even better.

Also Under Consideration:

LW Lawson Crouse: a big, physical, two-way power forward prospect that brings NHL intangibles but somewhat questionable offensive upside.

W Mikko Rantanen: brings great size but isn’t overly physical; a playmaking winger with great hands and strong vision

1st Round (29th Overall): LW Jake DeBrusk (Profile)

Playing for the Swift Current Broncos, DeBrusk exhibited a strong all-around game last season. He’s already a polished two-way player, and is willing to get his nose dirty in the corners. He’s equally adept as a passer or goal scorer, and put up 82 points in 71 games last season, second most among first time draft eligible WHLers (behind Nick Merkley).

Jake DeBrusk (Credit: Swift Current Broncos)
Jake DeBrusk (Credit: Swift Current Broncos)

He has no real weaknesses in his game, and projects to be a solid top six winger. Even if his offense doesn’t translate, his intangibles will make him a useful NHL player. He would immediately become the Flyers’ best wing prospect.

Also Under Consideration:

LW/C Anthony Beauvillier: A bit undersized (5’10”, 176) and needs to work on defensive game, but his offensive abilities are dynamic. Speedy and explosive offensive talent led QMJHL first time draft eligibles in points with 91 this season.

RW Brock Boeser: Dave Hakstol recruited him to play college hockey at North Dakota, introducing an element of familiarity. Boeser is a true sniper from the wing who gets his shot off in a flash, and is deadly accurate. Finished 3rd in the USHL in points last season (68) and led the league in goals.

2nd Round (61st overall): C Gabriel Gagne (THW Profile)

(Vincent Levesque-Rousseau, Photographe du Phœnix de Sherbrooke)
Gabriel Gagne (right) (Vincent Levesque-Rousseau, Photographe du Phœnix de Sherbrooke)

Gagne brings a tantalizing combination of size, skating, and offensive ability to the table. He already stands at 6’5″, but needs to add some weight to his frame. For a player of his size, he is a strong and powerful skater with soft hands. More of a goal scorer than a playmaker, he put up 35 goals and 24 assists for 59 points in 67 games last season.

He uses his size effectively on the forecheck and the cycle, but will not go out of his way to lay the huge hit. His game may translate better to the wing in the NHL, but regardless of his position, he will need a few years before he’s fully ready. If his development goes well, the team that takes Gagne will have a very unique and difficult-to-contain player on their hands.

Also Under Consideration:

C/LW Yakov Trenin: Trenin brings the classic skill and creativity expected of Russians, but is not afraid to go to the dirty areas to make a play. Pass-first center from the Gatineau Olympiques (sound like Claude Giroux?) who put up 18 goals and 49 assists for 67 points in 58 games last year.

D Mitch Vande Sompel: Would be a lottery pick if he was 6’2″, but stands at just 5’10”.  Great offensive instincts and skating, and uses his smarts and strong positioning to compensate for lack of size when defending in his own zone. His 63 points was 5th among defensemen in OHL last year.

3rd Round (70th Overall): G Matej Tomek (THW Profile)

Similar to Boeser, Tomek was recruited by Dave Hakstol to play for North Dakota before he departed to become the Flyers’ head coach. Hailing from Slovakia, Tomek is a classic butterfly goalie with tremendous athleticism and agility.

Matej Tomek Topeka Roadrunners
Matej Tomek (NAHL Hockey)

Ranked 5th among North American goalies in CSS’s Final Rankings, Tomek finished second in GAA (1.83) and shutouts (6), and fifth in save percentage (.928) in the NAHL last season. The NAHL has churned out quality goaltending prospects like Connor Hellebuyck, Kasimir Kaskisuo, and the Flyers’ own Anthony Stolarz in recent years. Tomek could be the next strong prospect to come from the unheralded league.

Also Under Consideration

LW AJ Greer: played in a bottom six role as a true freshman for BU, so don’t let his numbers fool you (7 points in 37 games). I’ve watched him play live 25+ times, and he has a rare combination of size and speed. Plays his best when he’s using that combination to wreak havoc in the corners, and win pucks for his line mates.

3rd Round (90th Overall): W Filip Ahl (THW Profile)

Ahl brings pro style size (6’4″, 212 lbs) and playing style to the table. He uses his body effectively to protect the puck, and wins battles along the boards and in front of the net with aplomb. He doesn’t ooze offensive skill, but can put the puck in the net when given the chance in scoring areas.

He’s a smart and sturdy player, but needs to work on his skating. He’ll never be a burner, but needs to improve his agility a bit to play in the NHL. Put up 42 points in 34 games at the U20 level last season, and will look to cement his place as a regular player in the SHL next season.

(Credit:  Daniel St. Louis Photography)
Conor Garland (Credit: Daniel St. Louis Photography)

Also Under Consideration

RW Conor Garland: Remains to be seen whether he’ll be available here (opinions vary widely on him), but could be a home run pick. After going undrafted in 2014, exploded for 129 points to lead the QMJHL. Problem is, he’s terribly undersized at 5’8″, 165 lbs. Doesn’t let his size get in his way and is willing to play physically, but is still a concern.

4th Round (98th Overall): D Thomas Schemitsch (Profile)

Recently converted from forward, Schemitsch brings impressive offensive ability from the backend. His 49 points last season show he knows when to jump into the play. On the defensive end, he uses his large 6’4″ frame and high hockey IQ to disrupt the play and defend effectively.

He could stand to use his size more, and his skating needs work, but the raw tools of size, intelligence, and offensive ability are intriguing.

4th Round (99th Overall): W Dmytro Timashov (THW Profile)

Dmytro Timashov
Quebec Remparts forward Dmytro Timashov (Jonathan Roy/Quebec Remparts)

You’ll never confuse Timashov for a Selke Trophy candidate or a power forward, but he brings undeniable skill and stickhandling to the table. A bit undersized at 5’10”, 187 lbs, Timashov dazzles with his one-on-one moves and offensive flair. He racked up 90 points (19 goals, 71 assists) last year for the Quebec Remparts, good for 11th in the league.

If Timashov can improve his play away from the puck to an adequate NHL level, a team could have a steal on their hands because of his dynamic abilities with the puck.