Depending on the draft strategy, Chuck Fletcher has limited resources due to COVID regarding scouting. Inaccurate assessments and draft flaws could be more prevalent. A near mid-round draft pick isn’t a tight spot to be in, especially when good players will go undetected at a higher pace.
Will Chuck Fletcher already have his decision made, or will he listen to his scouts? Notably, the entire fanbase points to the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, where Ron Hextall selected Nolan Patrick above Cale Makar. How apropos? Patrick may feature in a package with the 2021 first-round pick in a trade for a top-pair defenseman.
Similar to a draft ago, the Philadelphia Flyers will likely select a forward in the first round. A right-handed center could be the correct decision. Morgan Frost can contribute, but like Patrick, his health raises an eyebrow after missing the rest of 2020-2021 with a dislocated left shoulder. At right-wing, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Patrick make up the bottom six. If Fletcher doesn’t use this pick as trade bait with a player for a top-pair defenseman, adding depth to center and right-wing makes the most sense.
Here are four players Philadelphia could have their eye on during the first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft:
He is the exception to the C/RW propaganda. Sasha Pastujov is a late first-round left-wing based on skater ranking.
Selecting a left-wing isn’t the main priority. After next season, Claude Giroux’s contract will expire, but he’ll probably remain a Philadelphia Flyer. In this draft, Pastujov is a good selection, but not one that fits team needs.
James van Riemsdyk, another veteran left-wing, is under contract longer than Giroux. He makes a case for protection after 2020-2021. The current crop of Flyers left wings aren’t going anywhere next season.
Pastujov is a playmaking left-wing with a solid two-way game. His puck handling and passing receive compliments, creating scoring chances for his teammates. Selecting him in the first round doesn’t make him a bad pick by any means; it just doesn’t make him the right one.
Of these four players mentioned, Mason McTavish is the best on the board. He’s a borderline top ten selection in this draft class. If he’s available when the Flyers are on the clock, Chuck Fletcher must consider the pick.
Three centers become free agents at the end of 2021-2022. That includes Sean Couturier, who Philadelphia will extend. Tanner Laczynski and Jackson Cates entered the fold this season, battling for the fourth-line role. Those two remain as cusp AHL/NHL players, with Morgan Frost occupying the 4C position.
McTavish could be a selection that stabilizes the Flyers’ center depth. He was a scorer for EHC Olten, continuing his points streak in the Swiss League playoffs.
Creating space is a vital part of his game on offense. Not only can McTavish open shooting lanes for his teammates, but he has a booming shot too. McTavish could establish quite the relationship with Tyson Foerster, Joel Farabee, or Wade Allison. Fletcher must be aware in case other teams miss early in the first round.
Cole Sillinger is another forward who can do it all. Similar to Mason McTavish, Sillinger is a left-handed shot. The difference between the two is McTavish is more physical, winning puck battles along the boards and providing a crease presence, whereas Sillinger is offensively inclined.
Alain Vigneault will want the player who possesses the better two-hundred-foot game. On draft day, that is McTavish. Sillinger can develop into what Vigneault needs, however. Comparing the size of Sillinger to McTavish, they aren’t far off. He is a worthy mid-round pick who should be available when the Philadelphia Flyers are on the clock.
His father, Mike Sillinger, used to be an alternate captain for the New York Islanders a little more than a decade ago.
Through 31 games with the Sioux Falls Stampede, Sillinger had 46pts (24G, 22A) and a plus-five rating. His offensive mindfulness offers a balance of goal scoring and playmaking throughout his time in the WHL and USHL.
Now, here is a right-wing prospect who could alleviate team needs. There is no guarantee Nolan Patrick is a Philadelphia Flyer in 2021-2022. If he looks for a new beginning, a right-wing may be the correct first-round pick. Without Patrick, Nicolas Aube-Kubel occupies the third line, presenting a depth issue.
Simon Robertsson does what the Flyers wish Patrick did in 2020-2021 while offering a higher production upside than Aube-Kubel. Eventually, Robertsson could be an upgrade from either of those players. If Patrick doesn’t sign an extension with Philadelphia, Robertsson’s style could compliment Aube-Kubel’s energy.
An intelligent forechecking game and a quick, strong shot offer real help to a depleted part of the lineup. Those are two traits required to upgrade special teams as well. He could be a steal late in the first-round for the Philadelphia Flyers.
hoto by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire