Flyers prospect watch: Bonk and Barkley shine in the OHL

Flyers' GM Daniel Briere, Laperrière
FILE – Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team newly appointed Special Assistant to the General Manager, Daniel Briere, arrives for a news conference in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. The Flyers have named long-time television analyst Keith Jones team president of hockey operations and have removed the interim tag from general manager Danny Briere’s title. Jones was a surprise choice Thursday, May 11, 2023, after he spent the last 23 years as an analyst for Flyers telecasts on NBC Sports Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

It would have been completely understandable if Flyers fans checked out in mid-to-late April as the hockey club nosedived from a postseason position to being out of the 2024 NHL playoff tournament entirely. However, there have been some excellent hockey games over the last two months… and not just in the National Hockey League. 

With the NHL Draft looming around the corner, let’s take a look at a pair of prospects Philadelphia selected recently at the NHL’s entry draft. Forward Denver Barkey and defenseman Oliver Bonk skated together this season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Could they be joined by yet another highly-regarded London prospect following the NHL Draft in Las Vegas next week?

Barkey & Bonk Lead Knights to Brink of Memorial Cup

In total transparency, this is the first year I’ve ever legitimately tuned into the Memorial Cup tournament. I had no idea what I had been missing!  While the overall skill level is not of the NHL caliber that I am used to, the creativity of these young players was outstanding. It was a good glimpse at what NHL teams are working with when drafting these young hockey stars.

Unfortunately for the London Knights, Barkey and friends fell one win short of lifting the 104th Memorial Cup with a heartbreaking finish. London trailed the contest late when Oliver Bonk’s defensive partner and draft-eligible defenseman Sam Dickenson tied the score at 3. The host team of the tournament, Saginaw Spirit, scored with just 22 seconds remaining to rip the Cup away in the final moments. 

2023 Flyers’ First Round Pick – Bonk… Oliver Bonk 

Oliver Bonk was selected by Philadelphia in last year’s first round at #22 overall. In the regular season, Oliver Bonk contributed 67 points in 60 games for the London Knights as they claimed the OHL Championship in 2023-24. Bonk was not a liability of the ice for London with a +28 plus/minus rating across the season. 

In the 2023-24 postseason, Bonk was almost a point-per-game player with 16 points in 18 games. He scored 7 goals alongside 16 assists. Oliver continued his fantastic season into the Memorial Cup with one goal and five assists for a total of six points in four Memorial Cup games. 

Oliver Bonk agreed to his entry-level contract with the Flyers shortly after being drafted last August. 

2023 Flyers’ Third Round Pick – Here We Go, Denver (Barkey)

Denver Barkey had to wait another day to hear his name drafted in the National Hockey League as a day 2 draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers. Barkey was chosen at #95 overall in the third round following a 59-point year in his second season in London. Barkey’s offensive game blossomed beautifully in his draft+1 year almost doubling his point total up to 102 points. 

He showcased incredible playmaking skills during the postseason games for the Knights this year. The 19-year-old winger contributed 21 helpers and six scores for 27 points over his 18 contests. 

In March, Denver Barkey signed his three-year entry-level contract with Philadelphia. 

Could Flyers Management Be Eyeing Draft-Eligible Dickinson?

Daniel Briere and his management team should likely have more information than almost anyone in the league on London Knights defenseman Sam Dickinson if they talk to his teammates Barkey & Bonk. However, sitting at #12 overall in next week’s draft is not ideal for Philly if they hope to select the 6-foot-3 left-handed blueliner. The defenseman is a consensus top-10 pick. 

The Toronto-born Dickinson scored 70 points in the Knights’ 68 games. In the postseason against some of the top talent the Canadian Juniors leagues have to offer, Dickinson performed exceptionally with a +11 plus/minus rating. He scored 4 goals while contributing 9 helps in the 18 postseason contests.

If somehow the London defenseman slips a few spots down the draft board, the Flyers could have an interesting choice. As the Flyers learned last season with Matvei Michkov, anything can happen at the NHL Draft. 

AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File