On June 26th and 27th, 2020, the NHL Entry Draft is scheduled to take place. During this current climate of the sports world, those dates are subject to change. What doesn’t change is the preparation that different franchises put into making a prospect board for their war room. Recently, the NFL had to find a new method to conduct their draft, going virtual. This upcoming NHL Entry Draft, if they follow in the same footsteps, has the opportunity to help change how teams prepare.
This week, the NHL released a shortlist of the top NHL prospects heading into this 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Since the suspension of league play, the Philadelphia Flyers have signed a few players to NHL entry-level contracts. Those players consist of defenseman Wyatt Wylie, center Tanner Laczynski, and right-winger Wade Allison. An ideal concept would be to replenish the Flyers system where players have been signed to entry-level contracts. In distinguishing team need, from most to least, the right-wing would be a central focus, followed by the center, then defense.
The NHL Expansion
To preface this 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers prospect targets could be altered. First comes the decisions to be made about which free agents will be re-signed to the Flyers. Any move in the offseason can influence which players Philadelphia will protect in the expansion draft. Every team has to expose a defenseman that is under contract for 2021-2022 and played at least seventy games in the last two seasons or forty games in 2020-2021. Two forwards that meet those conditions need to be exposed along with one goaltender who is under contract for 2021-2022.
I figure that seven forwards, three defensemen, and Carter Hart will be protected. Upfront, this offsets plans for certain players in the Philadelphia Flyers system. The left-wing is still the lowest on the team need list from my assessment. If the Flyers don’t want to lose a step due to the NHL expansion draft, the 2021 NHL Entry Draft is very important.
Upcoming, the Philadelphia Flyers have the 25th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. With that pick, there are five players between the top ten North American skaters and the International skaters’ list who may be available. Of those top five prospects I have highlighted, two play right-wing, two are defensemen, and one is a center.
D Helge Grans
Grans has a size that is comparable to Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg, and Justin Braun. He’s the sixth overall ranked International skater and absolutely a player that should be taken in the first round. What keeps the Philadelphia Flyers away from selecting this 17-year-old is the youth of the defense currently on the Flyers. This isn’t as high of a draft priority.
RW Jack Quinn
Quinn has a size comparable to Nicolas Aube-Kubel. This is the player, if available, the Philadelphia Flyers should key in on. Speaking of Aube-Kubel, he and Chris Stewart are right-wingers that the Flyers need to make a decision on. With Wade Allison receiving an entry-level contract, that allows me to think Stewart is the odd man out. Quinn is the seventh overall ranked North American skater.
RW John-Jason Peterka
Peterka is the right-wing to focus on if Jack Quinn is off the board. They are about the same size, but Peterka shoots left-handed. I rank the right-wing position at the highest priority, which is why I believe Quinn should be selected first. Peterka may be available in the second round, which is a great value.
D Topi Niemela
Niemela has a size comparable to Mark Friedman. He wouldn’t be a bad second-round pick either. If the Philadelphia Flyers do choose Jack Quinn in the first round, it takes care of the need at the right-wing. In the second round, the Flyers should draft a center. Niemela is an offensive defenseman but gets swallowed up in the forecheck.
C Roni Hirvonen
Hirvonen has a size comparable to Travis Konecny. If Jack Quinn isn’t available by the time the Philadelphia Flyers make their selection in the first round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the smarter selection would be Hirvonen. My hunch is that John-Jason Peterka will be available in the second round, so there isn’t a reason to reach for that selection too early. Hirvonen is not a bad consolation pick if the Flyers don’t jump for Quinn.
Photo Courtesy – NHL