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June 28, 2023

Mock draft roundup: Who will the Flyers take at 7, 22?

Gathering expert opinions ahead of a crucial draft for the Flyers.

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Danny Briere.jpeg Nick Tricome/PhillyVoice

Danny Brière addresses a crowd at the Wells Fargo Center as the Flyers' full-time general manager for the first time on Friday, May, 12, 2023.

The NHL Draft is finally here, and provided Danny Brière doesn't have any other moves up his sleeve, two crucial first-round picks will await the Flyers at No. 7 and No. 22 overall. 

In one of the deepest draft classes in recent memory – headlined by generational prospect Connor Bedard – the Flyers will have plenty of talented options available to them with those two selections, which will be pivotal in charting the course for the lengthy rebuild ahead. 

We already gathered five names of interest each for seventh and 22nd

But let's venture outside to gather other writers' and analysts' opinions to see what the consensus on the Flyers might be...

Adam Kimelman, Mike G. Morreale

Kimmelman and Morreale are in agreement that USNDP product Ryan Leonard will go to the Flyers at No. 7:

Kimelman -- Ryan Leonard, RW, USA U-18 (NTDP): Leonard's play got better as the season went on, and he was outstanding at the World U-18s, scoring eight goals in seven games, including the overtime winner in the gold-medal game. But more than the skill, Leonard (6-foot, 190) plays a feisty game, reminiscent of Matthew Tkachuk of the Florida Panthers. The Flyers are a bit deep at right wing, with Travis Konecny and Joel Farabee at the NHL level and prospects Bobby Brink and Tyson Foerster all right-handed shots. But Philadelphia amateur scouting director Brent Flahr said recently if the best player available is a right wing, then they'll take another right wing.

Morreale -- Ryan Leonard: He's a prototypical Flyer with high-end compete, grittiness, a big shot and the willingness to be the player that stirs the pot when his team needs a spark. Leonard also provided leadership as a member of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team, with 94 points (51 goals, 43 assists) in 57 games. []

But split on what to do with No. 22:

Kimelman -- Otto Stenberg, C, Frolunda Jr. (SWE-JR): After taking a high-end wing at No. 7, the best pick here for the rebuilding Flyers is a smart, skilled center who has been a leader of almost every team he's played on. After selecting center Cutter Gauthier with the No. 5 pick of the 2022 NHL Draft, adding Stenberg would set them up nicely through the middle as they return to Stanley Cup Playoff contention.

Morreale -- Oliver Bonk: Bonk is a two-way defenseman with high hockey IQ and a threat on the rush. The right-handed shot is capable of transitioning the puck quickly while using his size to shut down plays and move opposing forwards down low. After selecting Leonard earlier, the Flyers would be wise to choose a top-tier defenseman with a well-rounded game. []

Quick take: Leonard would be an excellent pickup for any team selecting 5-10, but his game definitely aligns with Cutter Gauthier's and carries all the traits in a forward that the Flyers have traditionally valued. I'm of the thought that the Flyers do need to walk away with a high-ceiling defenseman out of this draft, but the class is so deep in centers and wingers that it wouldn't be bad at all to pile on upfront – after all, the Flyers are going to need high-end centers too if they want to get this rebuild right.

Kevin Weekes

Weekes' mock draft is an inversion of what's mostly been predicted of the Flyers heading in. He has them going defense first with No. 7, taking Austrain blueliner David Reinbacher:

He's mobile, is a very good skater, can close gaps and can skate well when he has the puck. He also relishes those one-on-one matchups. A lot of people have said to me that if you like Moritz Seider, this guy gives you a lot of the Seider flavor. He brings a lot of similar intangibles to the table in addition to skill. That's a big compliment. That's why I think if you are Philly, now that you have moved on from Provorov, Reinbacher gives you a chance to get that No. 1 or No. 2 defenseman right back. []
Then going after Czechia winger Eduard Sale with No. 22:

Another talented, heady player. I just think there is so much there to work with. For the Flyers, I feel that, since they are doing another rebuild, it'll afford him the time to develop without having to do so with the pressure of being ready today. []
Quick take: One of the things Keith Jones wanted prioritized as the president of hockey ops was a strong defense, and if you can find anyone like Detroit's Moritz Seider – Reinbacher in this scenario – then absolutely go for it. The Flyers' defense is going to look entirely different in a few years, hopefully for the better, and Reinbacher could be it's leading man. 

As for Sale, he wouldn't be a bad pick, but he wouldn't be what I'd personally be after. He has size and great offensive instincts and puck control, but he's not all that fast, and for an organization that hasn't ever really been that, I'd be trying to go for strong-skating forwards who can really burn you. 

The Athletic

Scott Wheeler

Wheeler acknowledged that Leonard is a likely scenario, as well as the chance of taking a defenseman, but in the end, he has the Flyers taking the leap on Russian phenom Matvei Michkov:

I could see the Flyers taking Leonard here. He’d certainly fit the classical identity of the organization and add another scoring threat after they targeted one in Cutter Gauthier last year (he and Gauthier are about to be teammates at Boston College and then the world juniors, and played with the U18s at the same time for a time at the NTDP, too). I could see them taking one of the top defencemen here after Keith Jones’ talk of building through the blue line (Reinbacher if he’s there, and consideration to a guy like Willander if he’s not). But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come back to Michkov. I think the Provorov move, and the chatter around Carter Hart and some of the other things they’re considering right now, are strong indicators that Danny Briere is serious about this process. And what do they need more than a potential top-of-the-league, game-breaking point producer? [The Athletic, $]
Then going for Saskatoon defenseman Tanner Molendyk at 22:

If it’s Michkov at No. 7, I’d expect the Flyers to take a centre or a defenceman here, with preference towards a blueliner and strong consideration given to Bonk if he’s still around. If it’s a centre, Ritchie feels like the most likely, though there are a lot of names (Heidt, Brindley, Stenberg, Stramel, Edstrom, Nelson, etc. have all played it to varying degrees). Push comes to shove, though, if they take a forward with their first pick, I’d expect them to strongly consider Molendyk and Morin here. Molendyk’s skating wins out. Sounds like he impressed folks at the combine, too. [The Athletic, $]
Quick take: It's the day of and I'm still not sure what to entirely make of Michkov. I do believe he has all the makings of a high-scoring superstar, which could be an absolute game-changer for the Flyers a few years from now, but I still have a hard time getting comfortable with the status of his availability out of Russia. He can't come over to North America until 2026, and that's if he ever does. Everything out of Russia is just extremely murky right now, and the Flyers already know all about that from last summer with Ivan Fedotov. He's maybe the biggest risk in the entire draft, but if he falls to the Flyers and they manage to build the rest of the team up in time for him to make a presumed jump over by then... oh man.


Jason Bukala

A more power-minded Owen Sound winger goes to the Flyers at 7 here:

The Flyers are rebuilding. Here, they get a power style goal scorer who will establish a culture with their young group of prospects on the horizon. Could be a future NHL captain. [Sportsnet]
Then Sale again at 22:

Sale has great skill. He makes plays off the rush and from the flank on both his forehand and backhand. He has excellent puck touch overall. He gained valuable experience this year playing internationally for Czechia at the Hlinka/Gretzky, WJC, and U18 Worlds. [Sportsnet]

Quick take: Barlow is good but his stock fell more toward the middle of the first round as the draft drew closer. I don't think he's an option the Flyers are really considering that high up. 


Craig Button

Button's final board before the draft has the Flyers taking the relatively safer bet with Leonard at 7 then taking perhaps a bit of a reach with QMJHL winger Ethan Gauthier at No. 22. 

Quick take: Again, no qualms about taking Leonard. He'd be a great pick. Gauthier is interesting though – and no, he's not Cutter's brother. He put up 69 points for Sherbrooke last season and really developed as a playmaker, but is projected to a very late first- getting into second-round pick. So the question here is would there be something there that would compel the Flyers to reach? Well, other than a current lack of seconds?

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