Flyers Prospect Tanner Laczynski wins Gold as a Freshman, is the Hobey Baker next?

Leading up to the 2011 NHL draft, the Flyers were a team that could never pick the right guy. The Flyers have struggled picking in the early rounds of the NHL draft. but have turned it around in recent years with the drafting of some great defense prospects.

With history of poor success in the early rounds of the NHL draft, the Flyers have had to find late round gems. In recent time, the Flyers have drafted extremely well in the later rounds of the draft.

2012 NHL Draft, the Flyers drafted Taylor Leier in the 4th round. Leier shocked everybody this year by making the team out of training camp.

2014 NHL Draft, the Flyers drafted Oskar Lindblom in the 5th round. Lindblom was a star in the Swedish Elite League and has now found his stride with the Phantoms after a shaky transition from the European game.

2015 NHL Draft, the Flyers drafted Mikhail Vorobyov in the 4th round and Cooper Marody in the 5th round. Vorobyov broke out in the 2016 World Junior tournament for Russia. Marody exploded in his freshman season at Michigan and has continued to rise up the college rankings.

2016 NHL Draft, the Flyers drafted Connor Bunnaman in the 4th round. Bunnaman broke out last year as a goal scoring power forward for Kitchener. But he wasn’t the only 2016 late round selection with potential.

With the 169 selection in the 2016 NHL draft, the Flyers drafted Tanner Laczynski.  aczynski was taken out of the USHL, by the way of Lincoln Stars.

In his draft year, Laczynski was a star for the Chicago Steel. He had 13 goals and 27 assists in 33 games before he was traded to the Lincoln Stars. With Lincoln, Laczynski continued his impressive draft year scoring with 11 goals and 12 assists in 19 games. In total, Laczynski has 24 goals and 39 assists in his draft season.

“I’m a power forward, kind of more of a two-way forward.” Laczynski said. “Biggest part of my game is puck protection. Being heavy on pucks and not losing many battles. Just really having a strong stick.”

Following the draft, Laczynski chose the NCAA route instead of juniors. It was a decision that may have been pre-made for him already.

“I did have a chance for juniors, but my decision was kind of already set that I was going to go the NCAA route.” Laczynski said. “I am happy with my decision and have no regrets. It just wasn’t the right path for me and I chose college.”

In his freshman season, Laczynski broke out in a big way. He earned himself a spot on the World Junior team for the USA. This is a great accomplishment for the former 6th round pick.

“You kind of just have to stand out and put your footmark down.” Laczynski said about making the world juniors team. “During the start of my freshman season, I had a good stretch of play and was playing some of my best hockey going into the Christmas break.  Playing on that team and winning the gold is something special that I will never forget.”

Growing up, Laczynski styled his game after many greats. But, the one he really liked to envision himself as was Jagr.

“I really liked Jagr and loved watching him play. Just how he played the game and obviously he is a legend and one of the best all-time.” Laczynski said. “I watched his stick detail and how he was on the puck. Like using his body on how to shield the puck. Just the things that he did and his skillset.”

Laczynski’s has made huge strides since joining Ohio State. All starting with the great stretch of play that led to his World Junior selection and a great freshman season. And these strides haven’t gone unnoticed from his GM Ron Hextall.

“He was really happy with how I progressed and didn’t really know alot about me before I was drafted.” Laczynski said about Flyers GM Ron Hextall. “He also said stick to it and get better and told me to keep up the consistency. Obviously you will have some off nights, but you have to adapt.  Whether its be more physical or just better defensively.”

This season is no different as Laczynski. He is currently in 2nd in the NCAA scoring race with 34 points, 11 goals and 23 assists.  With his great play, Laczynski is nominated for the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA best player this season.

“The difference from last year is my consistency especially through my practices. Just putting in the extra work to be more prepared.” Laczynski said. “I knew coming into this season if we had a chance at winning, I knew I would be a big part of it. Whether it was off the ice or on, just helping out the captains and things like that.”

But, Laczynski does know his game isn’t perfect and there is room for improvement. He is working on becoming more consistent over his whole game.

“Whether its shorter shifts or just my stamina, I might stay out too long on one shift and my next shift might be a little tighter than the one before, so I need to work on that.” Laczynski said. “The details of the game, maybe not trying the extra move and just keeping it simple and getting the puck deep. That will help me get to the next level.”

However, even with his success at Ohio State, Laczynski does not want to rush anything.  He knows his time will come one day and he is just taking it one day at a time.

“I’m too worried about next year right now.  I’m just playing here in the now trying for a national championship.” Laczynski said. “When the season is over and the time comes, I will see where I am at and they are at and will make a decision after that.”

 

Mandatory Photo Credit: Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire/AP Images

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