May 29, 2017
The NHL Draft, which gets underway three weeks from Friday, and with the Flyers landing the second-overall pick, they're in position to add an impact player who should arrive at the big club before too long.
Before that can happen, however, the Stanley Cup Final needs to end. And there's a familiar face coaching the team representing the Western Conference – former Flyers coach Peter Laviolette.
Here's a look at what the local and national media has been saying about the Flyers, from Lavi to the NHL Draft:
Only recently, under general manager Ron Hextall, has there been a hint of understanding from the Flyers that it's possible to have the right coach at the wrong time. If nothing else, Hextall is giving Dave Hakstol the opportunity to grow into the job, to survive the slog of these last two seasons and reach the tunnel's light with Ivan Provorov and that precious No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft. It's the opportunity that Snider, Peter Luukko, and Paul Holmgren didn't afford Laviolette when they replaced him with a familiar old Flyer, Craig Berube. [philly.com]
I think you can certainly make an argument that, as we sit here today, Peter Laviolette may be a coach who would have had success here with Hextall’s youth movement in full swing. He may be better suited for it than Dave Hakstol; the jury is out on that. ...
But in October 2013, we didn’t know what this team would look like in May 2017. We didn’t know that Hextall would take over as GM just months later, pulling the team into several year process of building through the draft. We didn’t know that Ghost would be Ghost. Sanheim, Lindblom, Provorov, Konecny, Rubtsov and Myers weren’t even in the organization then, and the 2017 NHL draft lottery had obviously not taken place. [broadstreethockey.com]
Sherwin-Williams Top Prospect Award: Nolan Patrick, Brandon Wheat Kings
Brandon Wheat Kings captain Nolan Patrick is listed number one in NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings for the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago. The 18-year-old forward from Winnipeg, MB, wrapped up his third WHL season with 20 goals and 26 assists for 46 points limited to just 33 games played due to injury. He is the first WHL player to earn this award since Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks in 2013, and could be the first western Canadian to be chosen first overall since Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels in 2011. Finalists for the award include Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads who was listed second by NHL Central Scouting, and Gabe Vilardi of the Windsor Spitfires ranked fourth.
CCM Rookie of the Year Award: Nico Hischier, Halifax Mooseheads
2017 NHL Draft prospect Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads led all rookies in scoring with 86 points in 57 games including 38 goals and 48 assists. The 18-year-old from Naters, Switzerland, was chosen sixth overall in the 2016 CHL Import Draft and is listed second in NHL Central Scouting’s final draft rankings. He becomes the second Moosehead to win the award following current Winnipeg Jet Nikolaj Ehlers in 2014, and will challenge for the NHL’s top pick in June where he would follow 2013 first overall pick and Moosehead grad Nathan MacKinnon who currently stars with the Colorado Avalanche. Finalists for the award were Aleksi Heponiemi of the Swift Current Broncos and Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm. [chl.ca]
Along with Nolan Patrick, [Nico] Hischier is considered one of the top two prospects in next month’s draft in which the New Jersey Devils hold the top pick and the Flyers have No. 2.
“Whoever drafts Nico Hischier, you’re getting a star player,” [Halifax GM Cam] Russell said. “You’re getting a player that’s going to be a leader and he’s gonna be a star player for a long time. There will be an adjustment, obviously. He’ll be playing against men, but he’s been playing against older kids and older men his entire life. He’s always been the youngest player on every team and he’s always been the best player.” [courierpostonline.com]
"His presence on the ice, he just thinks the game, he puts himself in positions to be successful all the time," [Brandon GM Grant] Armstrong said. "He's almost above the ice in his thinking aspect. He sees the game so well, he's a student of the game, he understands and puts himself in positions of success. That hasn't changed, it's only getting better for him.
"He's a difference-maker." [csnphilly.com]
While pretty much everyone agrees that Patrick and Hischier will be the first two picks, not everyone agrees on which one will be left for the Flyers with the second pick. Here’s a look at two mocks from NHL.com that came out the last few days:
2. Philadelphia Flyers - Nico Hischier, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
Born in Switzerland, Hischier (6-1, 176) made the move to the smaller North American ice look easy this season with 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists) in 57 games. Scouts also love his poise and willingness to play hard in all three zones. [nhl.com]
2. Philadelphia Flyers - Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon (WHL)
The Flyers won't complain about having Patrick fall to them at No 2. Even if he is not the greatest skater, the 6-foot-2, 198-pound center compensates for it with his ability to handle and protect the puck. His vision makes him dangerous, as evidenced by his 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in 33 games. The Flyers also will appreciate the toughness in his game. [nhl.com]
Dougherty: I don’t believe either one would necessarily be a better fit than the other for the Flyers. This is a case where either player matches what the orange and black need: a top-six centerman. It’s safe to say with either Hischier or Patrick, they will come away from Chicago with a substantial piece they can add to their puzzle. I’ve felt they needed another lottery forward.
Hall: If I had to pick, I think the Flyers need more of a player like Hischier than Patrick. The good thing is they can't go wrong with either 18-year-old. Hischier seems to come with a higher ceiling offensively and greater potential to put up star numbers at the center position. The playmaking ability is what changes games and the teams that score are the teams that win.
Paone: Let's think about it this way: We all have a bunch of t-shirts that fit, but we all have that one t-shirt that fits just right. And when we're in a pinch and need something to wear, we always go back to that t-shirt that fits just right. And the "just right" fit here for the Flyers is Hischier. [csnphilly.com]
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin
Like the PhillyVoice Sports Facebook page.