Who May The Flyers Draft? Lets Play the Guessing Game!
The 2023 NHL Entry Draft may not provide the elite depth of the 2015 or 2003 classes, but one thing that everyone agrees on: it provides wonderful talent at the top of the draft, and lots of it.
Chuck Fletcher says that the Flyers have identified 7-8 “really good players” after Bedard, and I think that’s a fair number. The question is, who the hell are those players? Who will the Flyers draft?
To answer that question, you’d need a crystal ball that I don’t have current access to.
But one way to approximate who that person may be is to think of the priorities for other teams, and who they may draft. Then, think of the priorities of your team, and who you need from the players that are left.
Yes, we know, “don’t draft for need, draft best player available.” While we agree, teams just don’t do that at times and for this exercise, we really want to jump deep into what each team may be thinking.
To that end, we here at the Liberty Yell played armchair GM and tried to approximate the needs of the bottom 10 teams in the standings. We assumed that there is no lottery funny business, and that where you fall is where you draft.
The participants in this exercise are @chrisstumpo of The Liberty Yell, @zackattack on Twitter, and… me, @SuitableAlias.
1. Columbus Blue Jackets
Stumpo: Bedard. Zero questions asked.
Derek: Yeah, it’s absolutely Bedard.
Zack: Bedard, for sure.
The pick at #1? A no-brainer.
#1 Overall: Connor Bedard.
2. Anaheim Ducks
Zack: Michkov to Anaheim is kind of perfect for them.
Derek: That’s who I’d draft on talent, but would Anaheim really? It’s a nice timeline, I’ll say that.
Stumpo: I think they go Fantilli. A one-two-three punch of Zegras, Fantilli and McTavish up the middle would be a beautiful blend of size, skill, and insane hockey IQ.
If I’m a Ducks fan, I’m thinking that could be my core for the next 10 years.
Derek: Yeah, I feel like they want size around Zegras and Terry. There’s plenty of dynamism in Anaheim as is, and Fantilli provides plenty of that himself, even if Michkov provides more.
Zack: I think Michkov fits their timeline, but it depends if their GM has the stones to wait it out.
Derek: Carlsson or Fantilli fits their timeline too. Maybe their play-style more than Michkov.
Stumpo: I think the Ducks would rather go with a more pro-ready guy to start to win now because of those guys listed above + Drysdale.
Derek: Dvorsky is an out of consensus option for Anaheim if they want a strong two-way center as a 1-2 punch with Zegras. He balances their top-six centers while still bringing plenty of offensive juice himself.
Zack: It’s Adam, I’m persuaded.
Derek: Yeah, Fantilli is the pick.
The pick at #2? Some flexibility exists here, but you always come back to one name.
#2 Overall: Adam Fantilli.
3. Chicago Blackhawks
Zack: They could go Michkov but I wonder. But I’d say Carlsson, probably
Stumpo: I think Chicago goes outside the box. At least from public rankings. I could see them going Dvorsky, a defenseman they really like. Feel like anything is on the table with them.
Derek: Honestly, Dvorsky makes sense. Nobody understands better than Chicago how valuable a genuine two-way center with a knack for goal scoring is. Jonathan Toews was a huge part of those Cups, and I could see Dvorsky as the next in line.
But Michkov is tempting for the same reason Patrick Kane contributed to those Cups. His talent leads to goals, and goals are what get counted to win the games.
Still, there’s other high-risk dynamic talents they can take with their 70,000 other picks in the next 2 years. Someone with the skill of Dvorsky and his defensive acumen actually doesn’t come as frequently.
Zack: It makes sense.
Stumpo: It’s a good pick. Dvorsky is going to be a very good NHL player.
#3 Overall: Dalibor Dvorsky
4. San Jose Sharks
Derek: There’s always the looming possibility of Michkov, but I feel like they go Carlsson if he’s on the board here.
Stumpo: Carlsson. Big kid who can play center and wing, with tons of skill. There’s not a lot of persuading you need to do here. He’s going to be VERY good in the NHL.
Zack: Definitely Leo.
The pick at #4? It’s obvious given the context of the way the draft fell.
#4 Overall: Leo Carlsson
5. Arizona Coyotes
Stumpo: Michkov. Nothing else would make sense given Arizona’s timeline and Michkov’s contract situation.
Zack: They go anyone else and the franchise is moved to North Dakota. He fills up arenas if he hits.
Derek: I wonder if Cooley accelerates their timeline too before Matvei’s arrival, but it seems like a trivial concern when a talent of this magnitude is available and you didn’t win the lottery. Eventually, Michkov’s talent is going to overrule the KHL contract, and I think Arizona may be the team it happens for.
The pick at #5? The man who’s been whispered about throughout the top-4: Matvei Michkov.
#5 Overall: Matvei Michkov
6. Vancouver Canucks
Zack: I see Andrew Cristall, and I’m extremely tempted.
Stumpo: Vancouver needs a right-shot defenseman so badly to go along with Quinn Hughes and I do think we could see the first defenseman off the board here. Either Sandin-Pellikka or Reinbacher.
Derek: From what I understand of the team, JT Miller is a wing long-term if he’s a hockey player long-term. Their Power-Play is lethal and should be lethal for time to come. They don’t really have scoring issues. They absolutely could use a defenseman who isn’t Quinn Hughes to get the puck to the forwards, but there are no defenseman worthy of the pick in my opinion.
Zack: Yeah, I’m thinking Smith though. But I think if theres a team who’d reach for Reinbacher/Pellikka in the top ~7 it’d be them.
Derek: Yeah, a 2C would be a nice luxury in Vancouver that allows them to slide JT Miller to the wing, where he’s been more effective this year.
More pressing? A defenseman who can win minutes whose name isn’t Quinn Hughes.
Reinbacher brings the sort of two-way effectiveness that will allow him to either perfectly complement Hughes as a partner or drive his own pair in the top-4.
The pick at #6?
#6 Overall: David Reinbacher
7. Montreal Canadiens
Derek: From what I understand of the team, they need a center they feel can slot in behind–or maybe even ahead of–Suzuki.
Zack: Who even occupies their defense core? Seems like they could use one of them too.
Derek: I’ll tell you who’s gonna occupy it: Lane Hutson. They do need more than that, but I just don’t know that this is the slot to fill that need. I don’t see the prospect who does it for me here. Maybe Montreal does. But I see Oliver Moore in this slot.
Stumpo: Yeah, they go Moore here . They have 1 center in the Top 5ish of their prospect pool (Owen Beck). They need a play-driving center who can shoot, and Moore is rising up draft boards very quickly.
Derek: Could honestly see 6 and 7 switching here.
The pick at #7? The likely fastest skater of this draft, and a riser in this draft class. Oliver Moore.
#7 Overall: Oliver Moore.
8. Philadelphia Flyers
Zack: Benson is one of the best playmakers in the draft. Despite his size, the way he hunts pucks and disrupts breakouts on the forecheck makes him a guy that Torts will want to throw out 30 minutes a night.
Derek: The Flyers have been drafting shooters running on for three years now, and if one of them doesn’t hit, they have more significant problems. They need some playmaking to get the puck to those shooters in quality areas. It’s Benson.
High-end skill meets tenacity and aggression? A can’t miss pick here for the Flyers.
Stumpo: If this is really how the draft falls, and we see a surprise pick within the Top 4 (could be Reinbacher maybe?), I have two options. It’s either Benson or Cristall. Both are elite playmakers with great hands and hockey IQ’s. Either would be fine with me, but for the sake of this blog, I’ll go with Zach Benson.
The pick at #8?
#8 Overall: Zach Benson