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June 27, 2023

NHL Draft: Five options for the Flyers at No. 7

From USNDP products Ryan Leonard, Oliver Moore, and Gabe Perreault to the mysterious Russian phenom Matvei Michkov, the Flyers will have a lot of options to choose from at 7th overall.

With the seventh overall pick in the NHL Draft Wednesday night down in Nashville, the Flyers aren't going to be in any particular rush. 

At only the start of what's going to be a lengthy rebuild, they aren't going to be looking at positional need with their selection nor for the player with the fastest track to the NHL. 

They just want the best guy available, and the one who's going to be the best years down the line.

"We want the best player three, four years down the road," assistant GM Brent Flahr said during the Flyers' pre-draft media availability last week. "It's not a rush as far as who's going to be playing first. There are a lot of guys that will play sooner, but who is going to become the best NHL player is our focus."

"I agree with that," general manager Danny Brière said. "It's about the development of the player. I'm not worried if it's three, four, five years down the road that they become the best they can be. I'm not worried about next year or the year after."

Because the Flyers are after tomorrow now, not today, and these are some of the prospects who just might be able to help them eventually chase it down...

Ryan Leonard, RW, USNDP

5'11", 190 lbs., Age: 18

• 2022-23 Stats: 57 GP, 51 G, 43 A, 94 PTS, +46

An aggressive winger who is a strong and physical skater with a booming shot, Leonard was a force on the U.S. National Development Program's top line – alongside fellow top draft prospects Will Smith and Gabriel Perreault – and is the style of player who would be right at home as a Flyer, which is why you'll commonly see him linked to Philadelphia at No. 7 across numerous mock drafts. 

He has a commitment to Boston College for this coming season, which will have him playing with top prospect Cutter Gauthier, and if they can both develop and start building chemistry there, then the Flyers could have their two first-line wingers of the future in the pipeline. 

Oliver Moore, C, USNDP

• 5'11", 195 lbs, Age: 18

• 2022-23 Stats: 61 GP, 31 G, 44 A, 75 PTS, +42

The speedster of the draft class. Moore doesn't have the same level of production coming out of the National Development Program as Smith, Leonard, and Perreault do because he was skating on the second line, but that actually may work in his favor since it shows the potential for him to anchor a line all himself. 

With edgework and a stride that generates unreal speed and separation, Moore excels at getting after the puck and creating all kinds of offense once he does get it. His strength and decision-making once he does have the puck though could use some work, but those are also aspects of his game that can easily be solved with time and maturation, which the Flyers will have plenty of patience for over the next few years. 

He's committed to playing college hockey at the University of Minnesota this coming season. 

MORE: Flyers trade Kevin Hayes to Blues

Dalibor Dvorský, C, AIK (SWEDEN-2)

• 6'1", 200 lbs., Age: 18

• 2022-23 Stats: 38 GP, 6 G, 8 A, 14 PTS., -19

One of the higher-end European prospects heading into the draft, Dvorský is a bigger center who doesn't bring high-end speed or elite stickhandling, but he's an overall well-rounded two-way center with incredible vision and passing that could eventually help him stand out in the NHL.

Matvei Michkov, RW, Ska St. Petersburg (KHL)

• 5'10", 172 lbs., Age: 18

• 2022-23 Stats (on loan to HK Sochi): 27 GP, 9 G, 11 A, 20 PTS, +1

He is the biggest question mark in the draft but not because of anything on the ice. Already playing in the pros over in Russia against grown men, Michkov has exhibited all the skills and traits of a pure goal-scorer to the point where some have even wondered if he's the next Russian phenom in the same vein as Alex Ovechkin. 

The concern, however, lies in when you're going to get him, and if you're ever going to get him. Few have seen Michkov play up close because Russia has been barred from international competition by the IIHF, and because of his professional contract status in the Russian KHL, the earliest he would be available to come over to North America is 2026. On top of that, the idea of drafting a Russian prospect is still a highly-sensitive matter among teams because of the country's ongoing invasion of Ukraine and skepticism over the amount of reliable information coming out of it. 

And specifically to the Flyers, though it wouldn't be the same exact situation, they've already been burnt trying to bring over a Russian prospect when goaltender Ivan Fedotov was instead detained within the country and forced to enlist in the Russian military.

Michkov will be in Nashville for the draft this week, and in their pre-draft media availability last week, Brière and Flahr did say they'll have a chance to interview him. Whether they gather enough insight from that expected talk to feel secure in taking him, however, will remain to be seen. 

"We're trying to get as much information, and we'll spend a little bit of time with him," Brière said. "We'll try to get as much information as we can and make our decision after that."

"We do a lot of background. We do talk to players on his team, we've talked to coaches," Flahr added. "So we've done a lot of our background, and we'll spend time with him and his family, and get a comfort level and then make a decision appropriately."

MORE: Five options for the Flyers at No. 22

Gabe Perreault, RW, USNDP

• 5'11", 163 lbs., Age: 18

• 2022-23 Stats: 63 GP, 53 G, 79 A, 132 PTS., +79

At this point, I guess you can say the US National Development Program is the amateur hockey equivalent of the Georgia Bulldogs. 

Perreault's skating efficiency is going to need some work at Boston College, but otherwise, he's been an exceptional playmaker on that US top line with Smith and Leonard, and those 132 points he put up in the process make that really hard to ignore. 

The consensus for a long time now has been that Smith will go somewhere in the top-5, while Leonard, Moore, and Perreault would hang around as either top-10 or top-15 selections, giving the Flyers a shot at each of the three.

And in all honesty, they'd be fully within reason to take either one. 

*Major H/T to NHL Draft Pros for the excellent YouTube film breakdowns

MORE: Flyers unveil redesigned uniforms

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