Heading into the 2019 NHL Draft weekend, there was a cloud of uncertainty hovering over the Philadelphia Flyers. How was Chuck Fletcher going to fare choosing the next crop of young talent? Is he going to use the picks, or trade them to get better now?
We found that answer out about an hour into Friday night.
Fletcher dealt the #11 overall pick to the Arizona Coyotes for the #14 overall pick, and a second-round selection. With Cole Caufield still on the board at 14, Fletcher took the stage and announced his pick, Cam York. Flyers twitter was furious but calmed down a bit as Fletcher made more moves.
Chuck sent a second and third round pick to the Nashville Predators for their second-round pick, the 34th overall. With that selection, Fletcher took Bobby Brink. Fans were happier than they were the night before, and each pick after that should make them even happier.
With Fletcher’s next five picks, he decided to roll the dice. No longer will the Flyers take the “safe” choice with their picks. These picks wreaked of “boom or bust” potential. Kids who dominated the leagues that they played in this year, who showed flashes of brilliance. It’s a luxury the Flyers can afford, given the already deep pool of prospects that they possess.
Third-round pick Ronald Attard was the first of these picks. As a right-handed defenseman in the USHL, Attard posted 64 points in 48 games for the Tri-City Storm and took home Defensive Player of the Year, and Player of the Year honors in that league. Scouts say that he plays a very aggressive style of hockey, chasing the puck from end to end and side to side. If he can round that part of his game out, Attard could find himself contributing to the Flyers much sooner than we think.
In the fourth round of the draft, Fletcher chose Mason Millman, another defenseman who played for the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League. This year was his first full season with Saginaw, but prior to joining the Spirit, he was named Most Outstanding First-Year Defenseman with the St. Thomas Stars of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. He was also named to the all-rookie team in the GOJHL.
Millman’s skating is his strong suit, and if he can grow into his 6ft 1in, 176lb frame, Millman could be a solid addition to a blueline that is in need of a few extra prospects at the moment.
In the sixth round of the draft, the Flyers took a pair of young studs at their respective positions. Egor Serdyuk and Roddy Ross both had great first years in the QMJHL and WHL, respectively. Serdyuk led all rookie scorers with 65 points in 63 games for the Victoriaville Tigres, while Roddy Ross joined the Seattle Thunderbirds midway through the season, and flashed some brilliant athleticism while posting a .919 save percentage and a 2.76 goals against average in 25 games.
Serdyuk’s deceptive shot is what could set him apart from other late round selections. That type of shot is hard for goalies to judge as it’s coming on the net, which produces goals. Ross’ raw, but phenomenal athleticism sets him apart from a majority of the goaltending prospects in this year’s draft. He makes the flashy saves, gets better as he’s peppered with shots, but still needs to refine his game if he wants to keep making the jump to the next level.
The last selection the Flyers made was Bryce Brodzinski, a right winger out of the great hockey state of Minnesota. Brodzinski averaged over 3 points per game with Blaine High during his senior year and was named to the USHS All-USA Hockey 1st Team, named USHS Minnesota Mr. Hockey, and USHS All-USA Player of the Year. Hockey in Minnesota is like football in Texas, so we all know those accolades carry a bit of weight when analyzing Brodzinski’s game.
All in all, the Flyers last 5 selections this year excelled in the leagues they played in. 3 of the 5 have previously been named the best player in their respective leagues. One was top rookie in his league. The other brought his team from the brink of irrelevance mid-year to a playoff team. Sound familiar?
Fletcher’s approach to this draft was due to the fact that the Flyers have an already top-notch pool of prospects. That prospect pool afforded him the luxury of being able to draft these “boom-or-bust” type projects. While the cavalry is on its way, it might soon be joined by a few of the players drafted this year. Time will tell, but this draft could very well be Chuck’s best draft as a Flyer, for now.
Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports