General Manager of the Philadelphia Flyers Ron Hextall is smoking hot when it comes to drafting. He is well known for being a magician on Draft day. This past years draft had a little bit of everything, including a major trade that sent Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues. Moreover, what’s even more impressive about Hextall’s draft is that the Flyers were given a draft grade of an “A” for the second year in a row.
One position that seems to be on the up and up for the Flyers is defense. Hextall has been stockpiling young defenseman through the draft, since becoming the General Manager in May of 2014. With the likes of Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin, and Philippe Myers. The Flyers seemed primed for long-term success on the blueline. However, with the seventh selection in this past years draft. Hextall made a bold pick and selected a young defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk who committed to the University of Wisconsin before being drafted. Kalynuk is a young man from Manitoba, and he says hockey has been his blood since he was born thanks to his dad.
Kalynuk was born on April, 14, 1997, in Virden, MB, CAN. Thanks in large part to his dad, he was groomed into the sport of hockey when he was younger. Kalynuk’s dad played University hockey when he was younger, so when the Flyers called Wyatt’s name in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL Draft. It really was something special for Kalynuk and his family.
“It was super exciting. I really wasn’t watching to be honest. May be a little shock at first, I don’t know (Laughing). I was really excited. Obviously, to be picked by Philadelphia, it’s such a historical franchise it was super exciting for my family and I.”
This young transformed defenseman in Kalynuk had a great year for the Bloomington Thunder in 2015-16. He really established himself as a quality puck moving defenseman, as Kalynuk became very good in transition. For the season he recorded 3 goals, 21 assists, and was an impressive plus 6. What more could Kalynuk do to show he had the goods to succeed at a high level.
“Obviously, everyone works hard in the off-season now and days. I train 5 or 6 times a week. I work pretty hard. The rest is just resting. We have a great trainer Jim Schneider. He does a great job for us. We’re are really lucky around here. But, one of my strengths is how I work.”
At age 20, Kalynuk came into the 2016-17 season for the Thunder looking to improve from the year prior. Well, he did just that as he really showed his range by playing in any situation the coaching staff asked of him. His skating appeared to be smoother than in prior years. For the season, Kalynuk recorded 6 goals, 25 assists, and was a plus 3. Kalynuk credits his tight knit family, and his former coach for his success.
“My dad helped me when I was growing up. He was my coach from the time I started, till I was 13 or 14, till I eventually left town (Giggling). I think the biggest thing is my parents text me good luck on game day. I don’t really talk to them before the game. After the game I talk to my parents a lot every game.”
The former Thunder product continues, “The past couple of years Coach Dennis Williams was huge for me. He’s the head coach of the Everett Silvertips now.”
This young budding prospect in Kalynuk knows he’s going to make mistakes, but he wants to learn from them. Kalynuk wanted to make a good first impression, with the great hockey program of the University of Wisconsin. He has put forth a heck of a freshman season thus far. For the season, he has registered 1 goal, 10 assists, and is a plus 4. Did Kalynuk gain his confidence from the darn good player he idolizes in the NHL?
“I wanted to try and take an opportunity and run with it. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of the power play. For me letting myself know mistakes are going to happen, and just shake them off. I think so far I’ve been doing my best, and it’s been working thus far. I love watching Erik Karlsson. Possibly, the most offensive gifted defenseman…may be the best ever to play the game. I admire him, but I don’t mold my game after him.”
With Kalynuk’s early success for the Badgers, hopefully it continues to the NHL. He is dedicated, and Kalynuk bleeds the sport of hockey. This young stud could really turn into another hidden gem for the Flyers. Kalynuk leaves the fans with this unique message:
“Hopefully, I’m a player that can create both offensively and defensively. A player that comes to play every night regardless of the situation. A guy that works, comes in and plays for the Flyers one day.”
Mandatory Photo Credit: UwBadgers.com / David Stluka