With the Flyers having 3 second round draft picks in 2016, scoring would be the main goal. Leading up to the 2016 draft, the Flyers went into drafts thinking defense first.
In the 3 years prior, the Flyers drafted defense with almost every selection in the first two rounds. The only exceptions, Travis Konecny and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
Therefore, with a defensive prospect pool better than some NHL defense corps at the time, GM Ron Hextall knew offense was next.
With 4 selections in the first 2 rounds of the 2016 draft, Hextall added 3 forwards to the Flyers system. The Flyers selected German Rubtsov first, 22nd overall and then Pascal Laberge, 36th overall. Carter Hart, the Flyers future goaltending star, was next with the 48th selection and with the 52nd pick, the Flyers drafted Wade Allison.
Allison, a tall physical forward, was drafted out of the USHL, by the way of Tri-City Storm. Allison had a good draft season with the Storm. He finished the year with 25 goals and 22 assists in 56 games. But, the one reason he caught the Flyers eye was his performance in the playoffs.
During the playoffs, Allison showed why he was rising up draft boards. In 11 playoff games, Allison scored 9 goals and added 7 assists.
However, his playoff performance wasn’t the only aspect he had going for him in the Flyers eyes. Going into the draft, the Flyers wanted forwards with three traits.
“We wanted speed, we wanted size, and we wanted skill,” general manager Ron Hextall said.
Wade Allison checks all three of those boxes. Standing at 6′ 2″, he has a motor like the energizer bunny and is a goal scorer.
“I’m a big powerful forward. I like to shoot the puck and take the puck to the net,” Allison said about his game, “I like to bang some bodies and score some goals.”
After being drafted, Allison choose the NCAA route instead of going to juniors. If he had went to juniors, he would have played with current Flyer Nolan Patrick and the Brandon Wheat Kings.
“I was drafted by the Brandon Wheat Kings. But, it just never felt right.” Allison said. “I got the opportunity to tour Western Michigan and immediately I knew this is where I wanted to be.This gave me the best chance to play in the NHL one day.”
Growing up in western Canada, Allison learned from a young age about grit and physicality. He learned it from his father, who was a big fan of the Broad St Bullies.
“It was the tough lifestyle. Growing up on a farm, kind of out in western Canada, it kind of was the culture, that style of hockey.” Allison said.“My dad was bit of a scrapper. Kind of liked to throw it around. And it just translated to me.”
Coming up through the ranks, Allison looked up to the greats at the time. However, he really liked the way Jeff Carter and Troy Brouvwer played.
“Growing up, I always wanted to be like Crosby or Ovechkin. But, I don’t think two talents like that will ever come around again.” Allison said. “I like the way that Jeff Carter skates and shoots the puck and how Troy Brouvwer doesn’t cheat the game. He is just a strong two-way forward that does what he needs to do.”
This season, Allison is having a break-out year. He is in the top 10 of NCAA scoring and goals scored. But he doesn’t take all the credit and can’t say enough good things about his line-mates.
“This year so far, no complaints. It is pretty easy for me when I get to play with some pretty special players out there.” Allison said. “The line-mates I got this year, definitely make some plays and I think we gel well together.”
But, Allison isn’t sitting back and passing the time. He knows there is always room for improvement. One thing he is working on is his desire to jump into the play and think offense first.
“I definitely can’t cheat the game. Obviously if you see a chance at offense, you always want it. But at the same time, you got to remember you have a responsibility in the defense zone that you have to take care of.” Allison said. “I feel sometimes like that gets away from me and its something I got to continue to work on.”
Even though Allison is still developing, he can turn pro next year. However, that is a decision he does not want to make prematurely.
“I don’t know right now. I haven’t really thought about it.” Allison said about turning pro. “I’m taking it one day at a time and we will make that decision whenever it comes. But, right now, I’m just focused on our season here.”
But, even if Allison doesn’t turn pro this year, one thing is definitely certain. When Allison comes back for rookie camp, someone needs to get him a Philly cheesesteak. He said he has never had one before.
Mandatory photo credit: M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via AP Images