More Sports:

June 24, 2015

Mock Draft Roundup: Experts weigh in on Flyers' top pick

According to most, the two players projected to go one-two in the NHL Draft are in a league of their own.

Centers Connor McDavid (Erie/OHL) and Jack Eichel (Boston College), respectively, are consensus picks at the top of the first round. After that, things get considerably less clear, especially for the Flyers, who have two picks on Friday night (Nos. 7 and 29).

The local media is pretty much locked in on two-way defenseman Ivan Provorov of the WHL, and according to Frank Seravalli of The Daily News* TSN Canada, there's a good reason for that; he seems to be the guy the Flyers are locked in on as well.

Provorov is considered by some to be the best defenseman available in this week's NHL draft - even ahead of Boston College's Noah Hanifin, who garnered most of the early attention.

And despite a glut of high-level blue liners in the pipeline, Provorov is the player believed to be the consensus No. 1 on the Flyers' draft chart behind obvious choices Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.

One scout says if Provorov is still available when the Flyers select at No. 7, that he "unequivocally" will be heading to Philadelphia. Of course, this is just the speculation of the season, because nothing in this draft is unequivocal after McDavid and Eichel. But it just adds to the intrigue of the process.  []
*Seravalli wrote the story while still at The Daily News, where it appeared in print and online, but he has since moved on to TSN.

A native of Yaroslavl, Russia, Provorov, 18, was the youngest player to represent Russia at the World Junior Championships. During this past season with the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings, the 6-foot, 201-pound blueliner led all rookie* defensemen with 61 points (15 goals, 46 assists) in 60 games and added another 13 postseason points (19 games).

*His 61 points ranked fourth in the league among all defensemen, not just rookies.

Whether or not he winds up being the Flyers pick, it's not hard to see why they like him so much:

And here's a look at what Provorov can offer offensively:

So with the NHL Draft starting tomorrow night, we've put together a mock draft roundup including four local writers and 10 national outlets. And while the local consensus seems to be Provorov, the national guys are much more split.

•    •    •   LOCAL WRITERS   •    •    •

Dave Isaac, Courier Post

Ivan Provorov (D, Brandon/WHL)

Although Provorov is said to be the most NHL-ready defenseman, the Flyers will be patient and not take him with hopes of being on the 2015-16 roster. The Russian is projected to be a top-pair blueliner, something the Flyers have long been searching for. [More...]

Tim Riday, CSN Philly

Ivan Provorov (D, Brandon/WHL)

Provorov would fall under the category of “best player available” in this scenario and would be an excellent pick for GM Ron Hextall. The young Russian would join the likes of Travis Sanheim, Sam Morin, Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg to give the Flyers arguably the most coveted crop of young defensemen in the league. He’s strong and savvy with the puck and could be exactly the impact blueliner new head coach Dave Hakstol is looking for. [More...]

Travis Hughes, Broad Street Hockey

Ivan Provorov (D, Brandon/WHL)

Despite the lack of organizational need at this position, we simply can't pass up the best remaining available player on the board here. Provorov will join an elite group of defensive prospects here. Between him, Travis Sanheim, Shayne Gostisbehere, Samuel Morin and Robert Hagg, the Flyers are well on their way to compiling what could be a dominant home-grown blue line -- and that applies even if some of those other names wind up not working out. [More...]

Tom Dougherty, CSN Philly

Mikko Rantanen (RW, TPS Turku/Finland)

The Flyers are high on Rantanen, and they land a much-needed winger. Rantanen can play either left or right wing, which will be a plus for a team lacking wings. He’s a big-bodied power forward with playmaking skills. He’ll be a solid choice for GM Ron Hextall. [More...]

•    •    •   NATIONAL WRITERS   •    •    •

Craig Button,

Ivan Provorov (D, Brandon/WHL)

1/5 = Poor; 2/5 = Adequate; 3/5 = Good; 4/5 = Very Good; 5/5 = Excellent
Ivan understands the game extremely well and is able to use his considerable talents to contribute in any area and every situation. Calm, poised and competitive he is in command when he’s on the ice. The best defenceman in this draft and I see him as a number one who will anchor a blue line. [More...]

Adam Kimelman,

Pavel Zacha (C, Sarnia/OHL)

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Czech center adjusted well in his first North American season. A dynamic offensive talent who knows how to use his size and strength to his advantage. He would also fill an organizational need for a second-line center. [More...]

Mike G. Morreale,

Mikko Rantanen (RW, TPS Turku/Finland)

Was considered by many observers to be the best player for Finland at the 2015 World Junior Championship, where he had a team-high four goals. The 6-3, 211-pound left-shot forward averaged more than 16 minutes of ice time per game with TPS and is effective on the power play. He has a good combination of hockey sense, hands and an explosive shot. [More...]

Corey Pronman, ESPN In$ider

Travis Konecny (C, Ottawa/OHL)

Konecny may not cause me to race up to the podium to make the pick because of his so-so production this season, but I'd be doing a light jog. He's a dynamic skater and puck handler, who is tough, plays his rear off, and is very smart. He has nearly every ability you want, other than size. [More...]

Jeff Marek,

Ivan Provorov (D, Brandon/WHL)

A truly gifted player who does it all for the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Flyers' blueline will be set for the next 10 years with Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin and Shayne Gostisbehere. [More...]

Sam Cosentino,

Pavel Zacha (C, Sarnia/OHL)

In typical Flyers fashion, Zacha is big, skilled and difficult to play against. [More...]

Gare Joyce,

Mikko Rantanen (RW, TPS Turku/Finland)

A prototypical power forward. Comparisons to Joel Armia are not operative. Rantanen has a better motor. [More...]

Zach Hopkins, The Hockey Writers

Lawson Crouse (LW, Kingston/OHL)

Crouse is a power left winger who possesses impressive fore-checking abilities as well as a unique offensive skill set for a big man. He could be a fit on a line with center Sean Couturier who would surely benefit greatly from the open ice Crouse would create. With the proper development, he could be Philadelphia’s next Eric Lindros. [More...]

Joe Pantorno, Bleacher Report

Lawson Crouse (LW, Kingston/OHL)

Crouse could be the best winger coming out of this draft, which means he might not drop this far to the Flyers, whom he is a perfect fit for. If he's not available, Philly must go after a defenseman. [More...]

Timothy Rapp, Bleacher Report

Lawson Crouse (LW, Kingston/OHL)

The Flyers have some nice pieces in place, especially at forward, but their issues on defense and the revolving door at goalie (this probably isn't a great year for the team to go after a young goalie early in the draft) continue to plague the team. [More...]

•    •    •   THE FINAL TALLY   •    •    •

Ivan Provorov5/14
Mikko Rantanen
Lawson Crouse3/14
Pavel Zacha
Travis Konecny