The NHL Draft is rapidly approaching and there is plenty of speculation over how the Flyers should wade through uncharted waters. Picking 23rd in the first round of a draft heavily impacted by COVID-19, should the Flyers hit or stick with their pick?
If they decide to draft a player, this class is extremely forward-heavy, which benefits a team currently bringing through a lot of defensive talent. Here are five forwards who they could target in the first-round.
Jack Quinn RW
If you’re just looking for numbers alone, finding a winger who went from 12 goals to 52 in one season should be enough to grab your attention. With 89 total points in 62 games, Quinn is an out-and-out sniper from the wing who has a lethal slapshot to the table, effortlessly drilling shots from either side and able to manipulate the positioning of goalies and defenders with ease.
The Ottawa 67s were a machine last year, led by none other than Marco Rossi, a top prospect in this year’s draft who led the OHL in scoring. To say that Quinn was a benefactor of some elite play around him would be an understatement, but it shouldn’t take away from his incredible accomplishments.
What really stands out to me is that 15 of those 52 goals came on the power-play, which will be an area circled in red by the Flyers brass after a woeful postseason of squandered special teams shifts.
Quinn was a fringe 2019 NHL Draft prospect, so his body of work comes with a level of maturity that perhaps you won’t find elsewhere. His passing could use some work and he’s not the smoothest skater in the class, rendering him a fairly one-dimensional player out of the gate. It just so happens that the one dimension he falls into is one the Flyers crave.
It’s unlikely that he falls into the 20’s, but a trade up into the teens to secure a talent who could be ready to add some long-term stability to a position that could lack it in the next few years would make sense.
Rodion Amirov LW
Projection: Late teens-mid 20’s
Splitting time between different leagues is always problematic and at first glance, the 18-year-old’s 22 points in 17 games are impressive, but leave you wondering what happened? Leading the World Junior’s in scoring (6G, 3A), however, only further wet the palette.
Much more of a playmaking winger, Amirov’s puck-handling stands out when watching highlights. The awareness of players moving around him and some mesmerizing moves are all that’s needed to create danger between the blue lines, drawing defensive attention and opening up lanes for his precise passing to shine.
A ‘point-guard’ in every sense of the word, Amirov is a high-percentage distributor who would much rather see damage done from a great spot, than lick the stamp, send it, and just hope for the best. It’s that precision and playmaking ability that could really aid the Flyers.
Noel Gunler RW
Projection: Mid 20’s
13 points in 45 games is an alarming stat-line for a first-round prospect, but is that the real Noel Gunler? He ranked third in goals and tied for seventh in points in Sweden’s top junior league just one year before, with 27 goals and 19 assists in 31 games. What happened?
The good news is that the drop in production may actually help him fall into the laps of the Flyers. He’s a polarizing player and definitely a risk, but this is an elusive winger which is both a blessing and a curse.
Gunler is twitchy, a little scrappy, and slippery when gliding past defenders due to well-oiled hips. It’s not polished, but the base is there to build on. The downside is that he goes down like a sack of potatoes when hit and won’t really add much on the defensive end…which doesn’t bode well for a very aggressive Flyers team who love to hit. If you’re an Eagles fan, imagine a winger version of Nate Gerry. When he’s on, he’s on. When he’s not…it’s clear to see.
Gunler would be a high-risk pick for the Flyers, but when you look at how they’ve developed wingers such as Nicholas Aube-Kubel, and Oskar Lindblom, is it too hard to see the Flyers really putting him through bootcamp and getting the best out of him?
John-Jason Peterka LW/C
7 goals and 4 assists in 42 games won’t blow you away, but his speed will. It’s not even so much his acceleration or gearing as much as it is an unrelenting mentality where the man just does not slow down. This bleeds over into his aggression, which fits the Flyers perfectly.
Peterka has draft crush potential. He’s a hard-hitter on defense, the first man between the blue-lines on a countering move, and even when not on the puck, is trying to make something happen. As well-rounded as they come, Peterka just fits the Flyers’ philosophies perfectly.
Jacob Perreault RW/C
Projected: mid 20’s
Perreault really provided a ‘Sting’ this season, starting off his final year with 6 goals in 10 games. He’d end with 39 in 57 games played along with 31 assists, marking a 15-point improvement over his rookie season where he was named to the OHL’s first all-rookie team.
Another devout sniper, Perreault’s arsenal of shots have been widely touted as one of the most dangerous in the entire class. He can let it rip from anywhere and delivers a wide array of blows from slapshots to backhanded magic spells.
Unlike some of the more one-dimensional wingers here, Perreault is a well-rounded player who wants to get involved in all facets of the game. He’s spent time both at the wing and at center for Sarnia, meaning that he’s able to drive up the middle of the ice and perhaps better see playmaking opportunities. While his passing isn’t consistent, the vision and willingness to open shooting lanes or play his teammates behind defenders are there, echoed by his 31 assists this past season.
What Perreault brings to the Flyers specifically is acceleration. In transition, he can change direction explosively which aids greatly in helping on the defensive end and of course in counter-attacking situations.
It would all come down to how the Flyers view Perreault, but it’s easy to see him becoming a long-term option at both center and wing, depending how the depth chart shakes out in years to come.
Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire