As we draw closer to the NHL trade deadline, people interested in prospects tend to slowly switch their train of thought to the upcoming entry draft. Although there is still plenty of to be played, it’s never to early to start thinking about the Flyers future draft strategy and who they might target. This week’s “Flyers Prospects Mailbag” follows that theme.
Let’s get the party started!
Let's say you're drafting for the Flyers this June. What are your areas of focus and why?
— Brandon Marshall (@BartlettBrando) February 11, 2019
Great question, Brandon! To be honest, my ideal draft strategy focusses very little on need. For me, it’s all about selecting the best player available. Reaching to grab a prospect because they address an area of weakness can backfire. I’d much rather just draft the most highly regarded prospect still on the board. That being said, an area the Flyers can improve their prospect pool is at the wings. Luckily there are plenty of talented prospects that can fill that hole nicely.
With Ustimenko and Sandstrom coming to North America for next season what will our goaltending look like on all three teams? Philly, Lehigh and Reading.
— Shayne Moon (@smoon_shayne) February 11, 2019
Thank you for the great question Shayne. Ever since Chuck Fletcher announced his desire to bring Felix Sandstrom and Kirill Ustimenko to North America next season, I can’t stop projecting what the organization’s goalie situation is going to look like.
Let’s start with the NHL. Carter Hart will obviously be the Flyers starting netminder, receiving a majority of the team’s starts. Fletcher is going to give Anthony Stolarz every opportunity to prove he deserves to be Hart’s back up next year. If Fletcher is not satisfied with Stolarz’s performance, he will look to the free agent market to bring in an older goalie to be the team’s back up goalie.
As for the AHL, one has to believe that Both Sandstrom and Ustimenko will be with the Phantoms. I can’t see Fletcher bringing them to North America and sticking one of them in the ECHL. If it proves necessary down the line, of course, one of them could eventually spend some time with the Royals. However, I’d be shocked if either of them start the season there.
With the two goalie slots filled in both the NHL and AHL, there is a question as to where Alex Lyon will end up. He’s played decently in Lehigh Valley this season but I don’t think he fits into the organization’s plan. Unfortunately, he’s on the books for one more season. He has to play somewhere. The most likely scenario is he will serve as a third netminder for the Phantoms that can come up and play a game or two for the Flyers if need be.
Who they should target in this draft
— Michael Clark (@Clarkyteacher) February 11, 2019
As the season moves along, this answer is certainly subject to change. It all depends on the position the Flyers are expected to draft. Right now, it appears as though Philadelphia will pick somewhere between 10 and 15. Some notable names that could be available at this juncture of the draft are Ryan Suzuki, Cam York, and Alex Turcotte. One player I’d keep an eye on to see if he falls down to the Flyers is Trevor Zegras. There seem to be mixed feelings on Zegras’s ceilings that could cause hesitation from teams drafting in the top ten. From what I’ve seen, he’s got all the tools necessary to be an elite center in the National Hockey League. If he somehow ends up in Philadelphia’s lap, they need to capitalize and scoop him up.
Thank you so much to all of the people who provided questions for Flyers Prospects Mailbag! If you missed out this week, keep an eye on Twitter for my next request for your prospect questions.