Flyers Mock Draft 2.0: A Commitment to the Rebuild

2022 NHL Entry Draft
Hockey team participate during the second day of the 2022 NHL Draft on Friday, July 8, 2022 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)
(Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)

In the first ‘Flyers Mock Draft,’ each selection reflected a new prospect. No trades included; just a blueprint of what the 2023 NHL Entry Draft could be immediately after learning the draft lottery fate.

This time the mock will acknowledge trade rumors. The overall draft board changed slightly. After the 2023 IIHF World Championship and with the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals underway, there will be more noise regarding the Flyers and the potential off-season moves.

Here’s the Flyers Mock Draft 2.0:

1) Zach Benson; LW; WHL

Benson is an under-the-radar game-changer. Will Smith is the right pick if he’s on the draft board. If not, Benson has superstar potential, challenging more failsafe options like Dalibor Dvorsky.

In 2022-2023, Benson was an elite, all-star WHL forward with 98 points, trailing only Chase Wheatcroft and Connor Bedard. He averaged higher than a point per game in the regular season and postseason, then secured the gold medal in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

He is the best LW in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, and with the seventh overall selection, the Flyers could address a team need with the best possible talent.

Trade Opportunity

Additionally, Ivan Provorov could be a match for a team like the St. Louis Blues.

Flyers' Ivan Provorov
DETROIT, MI – JANUARY 21: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov (9) looks on during an NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings on January 21, 2023, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire)

The Blues’ defense finished worse than the Flyers in 2022-2023, allowing more goals. St. Louis can afford the contract, and they have a bevy of draft picks they can send to Philadelphia without losing their lot. It could be a trade that works for both parties.

Daniel Briere is going to be aggressive on the phones. In return for Provorov, he’ll want a few picks to replenish the capital spent by Chuck Fletcher.

PHI sends Provorov to STL for a 2023 first-round pick (25th overall via DAL), a 2024 second-round pick, and a 2025 third-round pick.

1) Tom Willander; RD; J20 Nationell

Using the trade proposal above, the Flyers obtain the 25th overall pick from the Blues via the Dallas Stars. Another area lacking depth is RD. With the best LW in class coming to Philadelphia, a top prospect defenseman could join too.

Willander teamed with the best defenseman in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, Axel Sandin Pellikka. He is a confident two-way defenseman who knows when to join the rush on offense and back off into transition on defense with an active stick and solid puck control.

In 2022-2023, Willander earned silver at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and silver at the U18 World Juniors Championship for Sweden.

Trade Opportunity

The Flyers don’t have a second-round pick, but they could acquire one through a trade, and the Columbus Blue Jackets are interested in Kevin Hayes. Securing him would couple Hayes with Johnny Gaudreau.

Flyers' Kevin Hayes
Philadelphia Flyers’ Kevin Hayes reacts after an NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Both teams experienced similar pain in 2022-2023, turning into lottery teams. Columbus will pick third, likely adding Leo Carlsson to their roster. They’ll add another forward but are already extensively deep on defense.

Hayes will attract a higher-round draft pick following an all-star season and perhaps a lucrative defensive prospect. 

PHI sends Hayes to CBJ for a 2023 second-round pick (34th overall) and Corson Ceulemans.

2) Charlie Stramel; C; NCAA

Using the trade proposal from above, the Flyers obtain a 2023 second-round pick. Instead of reaching for an LW, Briere should take the best available player while addressing system depth.

Stramel has top-six potential in the NHL. His hockey IQ and passing on offense will make him dangerous and provide longevity to his game. At 6’3″ and 217lbs, Stramel presents a net-front presence with his frame, plays a physical brand of hockey, and remains disruptive on defense in passing lanes.

In 2022-2023, Stramel tallied 12 points (5G, 7A) in 33 games with a -10 rating with the University of Wisconsin but contributed three assists in seven games during the IIHF World Juniors en route to a bronze medal with the United States.

3) Scott Ratzlaff; G; WHL 

Ratzlaff is a stellar option at goaltender. Choosing him in the third round makes Felix Sandstrom or Samuel Ersson available as a trade sweetener, if needed, to help offload another contract. He does a great job dictating the shooter, well-built in the crease.

He is a hybrid goaltender, doing his job to deflect screened shots to low-danger areas by prioritizing his positioning before relying on an acrobatic recovery save. Ratzlaff is an efficient goaltender with sound puck control, an area Carter Hart needs to improve.

Going a combined 29-8-0 in the WHL and Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2022-2023, Ratzlaff won the WHL Championship with the Seattle Thunderbirds and a gold medal for Canada.

Trade Opportunity

Last season did not end on the ice for DeAngelo. Justin Braun provided helpful minutes before finishing his career in Philadelphia, and it might clear the avenue for Egor Zamula or Ronnie Attard to compete for a spot in the lineup on opening night. Rocky Thompson had a telling response heading into the final five games of the season, where DeAngelo was out of the lineup:

“It’s not about x’s and o’s. Quite frankly, it looks like some guys in here don’t even care. They’re just not trying. I’m not going to call anyone out individually. Your teammates know, and you know. I’ll give everybody another chance. If you’re going to do it, I’ll keep playing you. If you’re not, I’m not going to play you.”

Rocky Thompson; 4/4/2023

The New York Islanders finished 30th on the powerplay. If there is one place DeAngelo can contribute, it is on the man-advantage. To facilitate the move, the Flyers must eat some of the $5mil due in 2023-2024 to DeAngelo.

Flyers' Tony DeAngelo and Morgan Frost
Philadelphia Flyers’ Tony DeAngelo, left, celebrates his goal with Morgan Frost (48) during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

In 2024, the Islanders do not have a third-round pick; but they do have a fourth-round, which is closer to an accurate return.

PHI sends DeAngelo to NYI for a 2024 fourth-round pick.

3) Matthew Mania; RD; OHL

Mania is a composed defenseman with a playmaking upside. The Flyers should still add another RD; a potential top-four defender isn’t bad in the third round. He is a raw talent, so he’ll be a project that can be very effective if correctly developed.

He makes up for the two puck-driving defensemen swirling in trade rumors. Mania is very productive with the puck, but transition defense is his weakness, and John Tortorella will challenge him to find physical urgency, as he did with Cam York.

Standing at 6′ and 187lbs, Mania played in 67 games and tallied 38 points (10G, 28A) with a +21 rating with the Sudbury Wolves in the OHL.

4) Easton Cowan; C; OHL

Cowan is a two-way playmaker. He paces quickly on the ice, and his passing vision complements quality puck skills.

He enjoyed a deep postseason run with the London Knights, scoring 74 total points (29G, 45A) with a +12 rating in a combined 88 games, including the postseason.

4) Emil Jarventie; LW; U20 SM Sarja 

Jarventie is an undersized winger who needs to improve his skating, and Tortorella will want him to turn his game more north-south than east-west. Willing to shoot, Jarventie could become a threat once he improves his edges and puts on more size.

In 2022-2023, Jarventie spent most of his time with Ilves U20, totaling 19 points (8G, 11A) in 21 games with a -2 rating before earning a bronze medal at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup with Finland.

5) Michael Emerson; RW; USHL 

He popped at the 2023 BioSteel All-American Prospects Game, competing with and against draft-eligible skaters like Oliver Moore, Gabe Perreault, and Smith. Emerson is a crisp passer with a competitive drive, but his stock dropped following a season-ending injury in 2021-2022.

Emerson scored 64 points (30G, 34A) in 60 games with a +18 rating in 2022-2023 with the Chicago Steel.

6) Adam Cedzo; LW; Czechia U20

Cedzo is a goal-scoring winger who utilizes the one-timer often, thriving in soft areas where he can uncork his snapshot. He doesn’t project to develop off the charts, and his defensive awareness needs work.

He scored 46 points (23G, 23A) in 39 games with a +16 rating on HC Ocelari Trinec U20.

6) Luke Coughlin; LD; QMJHL

Coughlin shows promise as a two-way defenseman. He’ll likely shoot from the blue line in the offensive zone, and on defense, he plays a physical style by checking and forcing takeaways. There is room for improvement in the transition through the neutral zone.

In 37 games, Coughlin secured 19 points (5G, 14A) with a +5 rating on Rimouski Oceanic.

7) Finn Brink; LW; USHS-MN

Brink, named a 2023 “Mr. Hockey” finalist, is a commit to the University of Wisconsin. He’ll play with Stramel, another target for the Flyers from earlier in this mock.

He doesn’t drive play effectively. Once established in the offensive zone, his shooting becomes a strength. Brink is raw and a project, but all the potential is there to mold.

(Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)