After breaking down four prospects from the first and second rounds, here are four more for the Philadelphia Flyers in the third.
I’ve gushed over Mason McTavish in the first round for a great reason, but Chuck Fletcher could select one more forward to compliment McTavish in the second. While McTavish uses his size to stabilize the puck, Ayrton Martino makes up in speed. Developing together, they could create two-way chemistry with each other. Alain Vigneault is all for that.
Another option, and possibly the best available of the targets I discussed in the second round, is Anton Olsson. Consider all the things said about Martino, but as a defenseman. Olsson is a strong skater with a complimentary two-way game. He can break open a skating lane for McTavish in transition. In the current Flyers climate, Olsson makes sense as Fletcher strives to curate quality defensive prospects.
Ultimately, Fletcher and Vigneault want to draft a class that complements each other throughout. Thus far, two rounds are a success based on prediction. Here are four third-round targets Philadelphia should note:
Standing in at 6’1″ and 198lbs from SKA St. Petersburg, Kirill Kirsanov is one of the best defensive defensemen in the upcoming 2021 draft class.
He might provide an assist here and there, but his defensive roots are his dominant feature. In six playoff games with SKA St. Petersburg, he tallied an assist but finished with a minus-one rating. Kirsanov played 29 games in the KHL, the most of any Russian prospect. He’s a steal in the third round if he is still on the board because he doesn’t require massive seasoning in the AHL.
Kirsanov doesn’t panic. He’s like a duck on water, calm, but his legs are churning. Defensively, his positioning and awareness make him a highly regarded prospect. All of this begs one question. If he’s so profound, why would he be available in the third round?
The 2021 draft class is chock full of great defensemen. With two more years to play in Russia, he likely won’t come to the United States next season to play in the AHL. Chuck Fletcher should not let that discourage him from selecting Kirsanov if he’s on the board in the third round.
Standing in at 6′ and 190lbs from the United States National Team Development Program, Ty Gallagher flew under the radar because of the talent ahead of him in 2020-2021. That’s perfect for Chuck Fletcher, who should consider the right-handed defenseman.
Gallagher is a disciplined defenseman. Discipline is what Ian Laperriere and Fletcher will look for when drafting a player for development. Consistency is attainable because his game is mechanically sound. His trajectory within the Philadelphia Flyers system is that of an offensive defenseman.
Following the 2020-2021 regular season, Fletcher remarked on the duplication of roles on defense regarding the team makeup. He could bypass Gallagher because of his offensive defenseman tendency. Usually, a player like Gallagher disappears midway through the second round.
If an acquisition takes place for a right-handed defenseman this offseason, Gallagher will likely fall into the hands of a different franchise.
Standing in at 6’4″ and 181lbs from TPS U20 in Finland, Kalle Vaisanen provides size missed within the Philadelphia Flyers forward lineup.
Let’s envision something very quickly. The Flyers veteran core is aging while producing. When Alain Vigneault is ready, Vaisanen’s size would be a welcome addition to the left-wing. He could choose to spread the size mismatch out through his lineup or feature Vaisanen on a line centered by Kevin Hayes.
Vaisanen could fit as a bottom-six power forward who will provide a physical forecheck and bite into many puck battles. A rarity, forwards who provide defensive traits aren’t as patient with the puck in the offensive zone. He waits for the open shot, optimizing his percentage of shots through to the goal.
His biggest indictment is his speed, but his size and footwork make up for it. Becoming faster should be his goal before receiving the draft day call in the third round.
Standing in at 5’10” and 174lbs from the Everett Silvertips, Olen Zellweger could be off the boards as early as late second-round. Here’s why he’ll be around for the Philadelphia Flyers in the third:
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot to sink your teeth into from 2020-2021. Zellweger played eleven games with the Silvertips due to a late WHL season start. He notched thirteen points in those games, however.
Zellweger excells in the neutral zone. His two-way mindset makes him a real threat in the offensive zone. In the WHL, he could outrace opponents to a loose puck. Of the three defensemen mentioned as third-round targets, Zellweger presents the highest upside along the blue line.
Again, Chuck Fletcher must consider what he wants the defensive makeup to look like within the Flyers system; it could be the difference between selecting Zellweger, Ty Gallagher, or Kirill Kirsanov.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre