June 26, 2016
Odds are -- if you're anything less than a hardcore hockey fan -- you know very little about the crop of the players selected by general manager Ron Hextall and the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2016 NHL Draft.
The Flyers took 10 players in all, including first-round pick German Rubstov, who turns 18 on Monday. On the second day of the draft, after the trade back from No. 18 to 22 in the first round put the Flyers in better position for the later rounds, Hextall and Co. drafted another nine players -- six more forwards, two defensemen and a goalie in the second round.
Here's a look at the brief bios on each that the Flyers sent out following the draft:
Recorded 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 points in 28 games for the Russian U-18 National Team in 2015-16… was ranked fifth among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting… recorded a goal and three assists for four points in five games at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup… also posted two goals and four assists for six points at the World Junior A Challenge.
Recorded 68 points (23g, 45a) in 56 games in 2015-16, leading Victoriaville in assists and points… added five points (3g-2a) in five playoff games… posted three points (2g-1a) in Team Orr’s 3-2 victory over Team Cherry at the 2016 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Vancouver, earning First Star of the Game honors… represented Canada at the 2016 Under-18 World Championship, recording four points (2g, 2a) in seven games… in 2014-15, posted 10 points (4g, 6a) in 27 games for Gatineau before being acquired by the Tigers, where he posted 21 points (6g-15a) in the remaining 31 contests… won a Midget AAA league championship with the Chateauguay Grenadiers in 2013-14… skated with Canada Black at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, recording four assists in five games.
Was the first goaltender taken in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft... appeared in 63 of his team’s 72 games, posting a 35-23-4 record to go with a 2.14 GAA and .918 save percentage and six shutouts… finished second among all WHL goalies in GAA and shutouts… named Canadian Hockey League Goaltender of the Year, beating out New Jersey prospect Mackenzie Blackwood of the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts and Chase Marchand of the Memorial Cup finalist Rouyn-Noranda Huskies… helped backstop Canada to a gold medal at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, posting a 1.50 goals-against average en route to winning both of his starts… posted the top goals-against average in the WHL as a rookie in 2014-15 (2.29)… was an eighth-round selection (158th overall) by Everett in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft… won MVP and Top Goaltender honors while playing for the Sherwood Park Squires in the Alberta Minor Midget AAA Hockey League in 2013-14.
Recorded 25 goals and 22 assists for 47 points in 56 games for the Tri-City Storm of the USHL… went on to post nine goals and 16 points in 11 playoff games to help Tri-City win the USHL’s Clark Cup… his 47 points and 25 goals ranked second on the team in the regular season, while his nine goals led all players in the playoffs and his 16 points were second among all players… was named Clark Cup MVP after posting five goals and nine points in three Clark Cup Final games… will attend Western Michigan University beginning in 2016-17.
Finished fifth on the Hitmen in scoring with 20 goals and 25 assists for 45 points in 67 games… added one assist in five playoff games… led Calgary with a plus-21 rating and tied for the team lead with four shorthanded goals… played alongside Flyers prospects Travis Sanheim and Radel Fazleev.
Recorded 16 goals and 22 assists for 38 points in 68 regular season games with Kitchener… posted a plus-minus rating of +18, which ranked fifth overall on the team… all stat categories were an improvement from his rookie season, when he posted 15 points (10g, 5a) and was +2 in 67 games… added four points (2g, 2a) in nine playoff games… was a member of Team White at Hockey Canada’s Under-17 Development Camp.
Recorded 25 points (7g-18a) in 39 games for Vaxjo’s second-division team, while also appearing in two games for the organization’s SHL team.
Averaged over a point per game in 2015-16, which he split between Lincoln and Chicago… recorded a total of 63 points (24g-39a) in 52 games… scored 11 goals and added 12 assists in 19 games for Lincoln, while also contributing a goal and two assists in four postseason games… appeared in the 2014 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game… will attend Ohio State University beginning in 2016-17.
Posted 17 goals and 30 points in 62 regular season games for Sarnia, where he played with Flyers prospect Travis Konecny… posted two goals in seven playoff games… his 30 regular season points were more than his first two seasons in the OHL combined (19 pts)… was the 17th overall pick in the 2014 OHL Draft.
Has played in the Djurgårdens organization since 2012… spent the entire season with its second-division team in 2015-16, posting 10 goals and 38 points in 45 games… his 38 points ranked third on the team and was second-most among all defensemen in the SuperElit… recorded three goals and three assists in seven playoff games… has a brother, Daniel, who was a fourth-round pick of the NY Rangers in 2015.
But that doesn't really tell you much about how these guys will fit in the Flyers organization, and whether or not they were the right picks for the team. Here's a look at what the local and national media is saying about the Flyers draft:
I liked the Flyers' first few picks, and even though I'm generally against the idea of taking goalies high, Carter Hart is a good candidate if you were going to take a netminder in the second round. Wade Allison was a little high for me, but he was a riser this season so I can see the argument. The rest of their Day 2 picks were guys I'm fine with, but not guys I loved. David Bernhardt could be a sleeper though, and some Swedes with whom I spoke recently were pumping his tires. [MORE]
Rubtsov is a two-way center that has a balanced skill set that includes being useful on the penalty kill and competing in tough areas. For better or worse he does have a two-year KHL contract, so it will be a little while before the Flyers will get to add him to their organization.
The Flyers also had three second-round picks which they used on Pascal Laberge (36th), Carter Hart (48th), and Wade Allison (52nd). Laberge and Allison are both forwards and naturally both projects given that they slipped to the second round. Hart is a goaltender and a pretty promising one at that as he claimed the 2016 CHL Goaltender of the Year honors. [MORE]
Philadelphia's selections on day two of the draft took on the same characteristics that described their pick of German Rubtsov in round one. The Flyers weren't flashy, but focused on adding players with a combination of size and two-way hockey sense. The result was a draft class that may not possess the scoring upside that some fans hoped it might, but one with a relatively high floor.
Hextall added two first round talents in Rubtsov and Laberge, the best goaltender in the draft class, and a high-upside power forward prospect with his earliest picks. His mid-rounders leaned more towards bigger forwards (Twarynski and Bunnaman) who may top out as bottom-sixers but bring size and forechecking ability to the table. The late-round selections showed a keen understanding of value, particular in the choices of two intriguing young Swedish defensemen. [MORE]
Hextall also landed two other players, right winger Pascal Laberge and goalie Carter Hart, who lots of scouts figured would be selected in the first round. Both dropped to the second round, and Laberge was drafted Saturday with the pick Hextall acquired the previous night from Winnipeg.
In essence, Hextall got two potential top-six forwards (Rubtsov and Laberge) by moving down four spots in the first round and surrendering a third-round pick.
Which is why the "#InHexyWeTrust" hashtag is still going strong in the Twitterers. [MORE]
Suddenly, trading down looks even better. The Flyers barely lost any overall value in terms of the player that they selected at #22 versus the "best player available" at no. 18, and picked up an early second round pick for their troubles. If Hextall can turn that 36th overall pick into a skill player like Vitali Abramov (who they interviewed at the scouting combine), then fans will get the exciting scorer that they craved in round one in addition to the valuable Rubtsov.
The only real argument against the Flyers' moves on Friday night are of a stylistic variety. Philadelphia needed a sniper in the system, and given the opportunity to nab one of the best out there, they passed. That's a fair opinion to have. But remember that the draft is an inexact science on the individual player level. While fans fell in love with the skillsets of players like Bellows and Gauthier in the lead-up to the draft, it's important to note that neither are sure things to reach their best-case scenario ceilings. [MORE]
"It's amazing," said Laberge, a forward who played for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Victoriaville Tigres last season. "You play hockey since you're a young kid and your dream is to get drafted to the NHL one day. To live that with all my family here it's, it's an amazing feeling."
Later, while standing outside the Flyers' suite at the First Niagara Center in downtown Buffalo, Laberge's father, Luc, struggled to put into words the emotion of being able to turn and hug his son as his name was called, a moment he did not know if he would survive to see.
Last summer, shortly after Pascal Laberge's stepmother was diagnosed with cancer that would take her life in September, Luc gathered the family and told them that he too had been diagnosed with cancer, in this case prostate cancer. Pascal Laberge's mother also suffers from multiple sclerosis. [MORE]
Hextall: “That’s our sleeper. He’s a guy we talked about through our meetings. His name kept popping up as a late guy. An undervalued and underrated guy. He’s our sleeper.” [MORE]