Since the 2017 NHL Draft has concluded, the Philadelphia Flyers have been rocking and rolling. Yesterday, they made qualifying offers to seven Restricted Free Agents that are key pieces of their future. Some are currently at the NHL level, and some are still down on the farm.
The historic 2017 NHL Draft will never get old for Flyers fans. Well at least for this off-season. Hextall made some bold moves to bolster the Flyers roster. Afterwards the draft had the stamp of, “What you gonna do,” when Hextall talks to you. The Flyers literally had every fan glued to their televisions in the first round of the draft. Without further delay, its time to break down the Flyers picks 4-6.
Kirill Ustimenko, G, (80th Overall)
Ustimenko was born on January 1, 1999, in Gomel, Belarus. He didn’t start playing hockey until his family and him moved to Russia. From there he found his passion and his love for the sport of hockey. Ustimenko eventually found himself playing for the MHK Dynamo St. Petersburg team in the MHL in 2016-17.
The young standout goaltender proved to be a solid netminder for the Dynamo squad. He recorded a 1.74 GAA, and a .938 save percentage in 27 games played in 2016-17. He quickly opened some eyes while playing for Team Russia at the World Junior Championships soon after the Dynamo season ended. For Team Russia he posted a .50 GAA, and a .984 save percentage in 2 games played.
This stellar young goaltender is very athletic. He sees the puck very well, and he gobbles rebounds well limiting his opponents second chances. The Flyers used the draft pick they received from the Boston Bruins after trading Zac Rinaldo to them. Hextall did his homework and it can pay off big time on this selection in the future.
Matthew Strome, LW, (106th Overall)
Strome was born on January 6, 1999, in Mississauga, ON, CAN. He started to learn the game of hockey on a pond. His passion for the game found himself playing for the Hamilton Bulldogs in the 2015-16 season. For the season he registered 16 goals, and 22 assists for a total of 38 points in 61 games played. We were fortunate enough to speak with Strome prior to the draft on he trains in the off-season.
“I just focus on getting better. I go the gym to get bigger, stronger, and faster. This year I will work on getting bigger. I need to get bigger, so I could play the game for a long period of time. I work out, I’m a hard worker. Whether, it would be focusing on my hands by throwing a ball, or whether that would be getting better by skating on a pond.”
The young 18 year old prospect worked very hard in the off-season. Strome put a lot of time and effort at the gym to properly prepare for the following season. He enjoyed a career year for the Bulldogs in 2016-17. For the season he tallied 34 goals, and 28 assists for 62 points in 66 games played. Strome became the next big thing for the Bulldogs, and he generating a lot of buzz on his impending status for the upcoming NHL Draft.
If you saw Strome play for the Bulldogs in 2016-17, one would have noticed instantly that his hockey IQ vastly improved from the prior year. He is a big skilled winger that plays a complete and consistent game. His hands are smooth, and his skating was even a little better.
The Flyers are starving for natural goal scoring left wingers, and Strome may be the answer to their prayers. He’s a gifted young prospect that has what it takes to be a Flyer. Just listen to this message taken from an interview we conducted with Strome prior to the draft, “I take nothing for granted. I’m simple I just love steak (Laughing).” I will do everything possible to show everyone that they have selected a coveted player. I’m a hardworker, and I’m going to do the best I can.”
Maksim Sushko, RW, (107th Overall)
Sushko was born on February 10, 1999, in Brest, Belarus. He was selected 29th overall by the Attack in 2016. Sushko stands at 6’0,” and weighs 185 pounds.
For the 2016-17 season for the Attack, Sushko registered 17 goals, and 15 assists for a total of 32 points in 54 games played. He showed his flashy skill-set, and his hands are a thing of beauty.
The young 18 year old standout, Sushko never gives up on a play. His pursuit of the puck is relentless. He is a speedy two-way forward that has good size. Sushko won’t overpower defenders physically, but his work ethic makes him successful on the forecheck.
The Flyers selected him with the 107th pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. He was ranked as the 72nd best North American Skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting. The Flyers will be patient with Sushko, but this selection can pay huge dividends in the future.
This young Flyers team is being built for long-term success from the ground up. Hextall appeared to do his homework on this portion of the Flyers draft. Will all these prospects work out maybe not, but some will. One thing is certain the future is bright in Flyer land. Stay with us for the final draft article tomorrow on picks 7-9.
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Mandatory Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images