With the NHL draft hoping to occur in about a month, it’s time to begin flashing back to the Flyers’ draft classes in the past two decades. In the latest installment of Philly Sports Network’s “where are they now” draft series, we take a look at the 2011 NHL draft.
After getting swept in the 2011 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals by the Boston Bruins, the Flyers shifted their attention to the draft. Two trades sent them out of the first round, but then back in. The trade for forward Kris Versteeg sent the Flyers original first round pick (25) to the Maple Leafs. However, as part of the Jeff Carter deal, the Flyers ended up with the eighth overall selection in the draft.
In a draft chock-full of talent, the Flyers were in a prime spot to get immediate help up front. They did just in the first round. They had six picks in total, missing out on the second and fifth round, but doubling up in the fourth.
First Round – Sean Couturier
With the eighth overall pick in 2011, the Flyers used the Columbus Blue Jackets pick to select Sean Couturier out of the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs. It didn’t take long for Couturier to make the jump to the pros, as he made his NHL debut the very next season.
Sean Couturier has blossomed to not just one of the best players on the Flyers, but one of the best two-way forwards in the entire NHL. He’s spent every game he’s played since the draft with the orange and black, sans the 2012/13 season where he donned a Phantoms jersey for 31 games. He was a Selke finalist, finishing second, in 2018. (He was robbed.) In 647 career games, Couturier has 156 goals and 246 assists, again, all with the Flyers.
If the Flyers go the way of trading Claude Giroux in the near future, like some of you yahoos have suggested, Coots could be in line to become the next Flyers captain. He’s been that good for the Flyers, and is bound to get better.
The Flyers didn’t have a second round selection in the 2011 NHL draft. They dealt their pick, along with Scottie Upshall, to the Phoenix Coyotes for Dan Carcillo. Take that as you will.
Third Round – Nick Cousins
At pick 68 in the 2011 NHL Draft, the Flyers took Nick Cousins out of the Soo Greyhounds of the OHL. Cousins averaged a point per game in the OHL during his draft year, and only improved on that mark in the two years following 2011. He partook in a handful of AHL games at the end of the years as well. After the 2012/13 season with Soo, Cousins took his talent to the pros on a permanent basis, beginning his professional career with the Adirondack Phantoms in 2013.
He spent his first professional season with the Phantoms. Come 2014/15, he played 64 AHL games, and made his NHL debut, playing 11 games with the Flyers. The very next season, Cousins virtually split his season evenly between the AHL and NHL. Come 2016/17, Cousins was a full-time Flyer. However, that didn’t last long.
Come June of 2017, Cousins was traded to the Arizona Coyotes. There he would spend two seasons from 2017-2019 before signing a one year deal with the Montreal Canadiens. During this season, Cousins was traded yet again, this time to the Vegas Golden Knights. If the season resumes, Cousins will suit up as a Golden Knight before his current contract expires and he hits free agency at years end.
Fourth Round – Colin Suellentrop & Marcel Noebels
The Flyers selected at 116 and 118 in the fourth round. With pick 116, they selected Colin Suellentrop out of the OHL. Suellentrop was playing for the Oshawa Generals, and spent the next three seasons there as well. After outgrowing juniors, Suellentrop made the jump to the University of New Brunswick. He played four seasons there from 2014 to 2018, and hasn’t played hockey since.
Two picks later, the Flyers chose Seattle Thunderbird Marcel Noebels out of the WHL. Noebels spent one more season in the WHL, splitting it with the Thunderbirds and the Portland Winterhawks, before going pro. In 2012/13, his time was split with the Adirondack Phantoms in the AHL and the Trenton Titans in the ECHL. The very next year, he was a mainstay with the Phantoms.
After finishing up the 13/14 season, Noebels jumped across the pond and wound up playing for Eisbaren Berlin of the DEL. To this day, Noebels remains in the DEL.
Sixth Round – Petr Placek
The Flyers took Petr Placek at 176 overall in the sixth round. Placek was coming from the Hotchkiss school, a prep school in the United States. After being drafted, Placek went to Harvard to play hockey. He played three seasons from 2011-2014 for the Crimson, but hasn’t played since.
Seventh Round – Derek Mathers
The last pick the Flyers had in the 2011 NHL draft was used on Peterborough Petes alumni Derek Mathers. Coming out of the OHL, he played two more seasons after being drafted, with a few AHL games at the end of those two seasons, before going pro. In 2013/14, he played 34 games with the Adirondack Phantoms. The next season, he played 40 games in the AHL and three in the ECHL with the Reading Royals.
In 2015/16, Mathers played three AHL games with the Phantoms. He spent a majority of the season in the ECHL with Reading, playing 27 games there. The next season, he joined the Allen Americans of the ECHL. That would be his swan song, as he hasn’t played hockey since the end of the 2016/17 season.
Overall, this draft wasn’t incredibly fruitful for the Flyers. There have definitely been worse drafts, but certainly better ones as well. Sean Couturier was the icing on the cake. The Flyers got a franchise cornerstone in this draft, making it impossible to deem this draft a failure.
Had Nick Cousins panned out with the Flyers, the draft would grade out even higher. The fact that two players never made their professional debuts and two more never made it to the NHL on top of that, it drags the grade down a bit.
Mandatory Credit – © Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports