June 28, 2023
The Flyers will have a crucial pick to make at seventh overall on Wednesday night, and in a deep draft, another soon after at No. 22.
Once you get to the back half of the first round, reads on talent, needs, and trajectory really begin to vary. But in a rebuild where the Flyers aren't necessarily in any rush to address any specific position, all they're going to be after is good players, and Danny Brière and Brent Flahr are at least sure they're going to walk away with two of them – well, provided they stay with those picks, of course.
"But it is a deep draft, I think, and we're confident we're going to get a good player at 22," Flahr said last week during his and Brière's pre-draft media availability. "And if we add more picks, we're confident we're going to get some good players there throughout the early rounds. Again, our guys spend a lot of time trying to identify guys for late-round picks as well."
But the focus is on Round 1 first.
We went over five prospects the Flyers could consider taking at No. 7 HERE.
Now here are the names they might have in mind for No. 22...
• 6'2", 180 lbs., Age: 18
• 2022-23 Stats: 67 GP, 10 G, 30 A, 40 PTS, +17
When Keith Jones was hired as the Flyers' president of hockey operations, one of the key things he stressed for the rebuild was the construction of a high-end blueline, and if Bonk falls to them at 22, he would be a great piece to put towards that.
A two-way defenseman who has the size to win puck battles in his own end and the skating and anticipation to effectively break the puck out on offense, Bonk has the makeup to eventually become a top-pairing d-man who can regularly eat up a ton of minutes from night to night.
He isn't afraid to jump in on the rush once in a while either.
• 5'10", 175 lbs., Age: 18
• 2022-23 Stats: 54 GP, 39 G, 56 A, 95 PTS, +18
A highly-skilled and creative playmaker whose offensive production in the Western Hockey League this past season, in terms of points per game, trailed only Connor Bedard (the consensus No. 1 pick), there's a chance that Cristall could still be hanging around by the time the Flyers pick again at 22.
His skating, physicality, and compete level on defense leave something to be desired when you look at the film, which likely contributed to his stock falling over the past couple of months, but his offense prowess is undeniable and could be a boon at the NHL level if those other aspects of his game can get ironed out over time.
• 6'2", 184 lbs., Age: 18
• 2022-23 Stats: 59 GP, 24 G, 35 A, 59 PTS, +1
You can never have enough centers, and Ritchie is a strong, well-rounded two-way one who, one way or another, will find a way to create offense, even through injury.
While 59 points through 59 games for a first-round prospect in their draft year isn't wholly impressive at face value, it has to be kept in mind that Ritchie played the entire junior season with a torn labrum in his shoulder yet, on a bad Oshawa Generals team, still managed to be one of their best players.
His skill maybe isn't as flashy as others, but his mind and frame can definitely hold up well in the NHL.
• 6'2", 175 lbs., Age: 18
• 2022-23 Stats: 43 GP, 7 G, 7 A, 14 PTS, -9
A Czechia winger with size who is already playing professionally in his home country, Sale is skater equipped with great offensive instincts and puck control.
He'll need to build strength and work on his skating more, but if he can improve both over the next couple of years, he might be near impossible to free the puck away from once he's ready to come over.
• 5'11" 181 lbs., Age: 18
• 2022-23 Stats: 67 GP, 9 G, 28 A, 37 PTS, +31
A defenseman that assistant GM Brent Flahr mentioned specifically last week when talking about the draft class' WHL prospects, Molendyk is a great skater who can really get the puck moving the other way and keep it pinned down there, even if his decision-making isn't always as sharp as it needs to be.
He's projected to be a late first- to early second-round pick, and the Flyers don't have any seconds to use – at least as of Tuesday afternoon – so if they get to 22 and Molendyk's there, they might be compelled to reach a bit.
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