2019 NHL Draft Prospect Profiles: Defensemen

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By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

This Friday night, the 2019 NHL Draft will open and 31 new prospects will be selected in the first round of the draft.

The Flyers have the 11th overall pick in the NHL Draft, and throughout the week, we have looked at some of the top forwards in the draft starting with centers on Monday and wingers on Tuesday.

Today, we look at some of the top defensemen available in the draft.

Victor Soderstrom

Victor Soderstrom is one of the more experienced prospects in the draft class, having played 44 games in the Swedish Elite League scoring four goals and adding three assists. Playing against men in Sweden’s top league really helped showcase his hockey smarts, his ability to make great decisions with the puck and be a mature and composed player.

Teams in the draft love players who have that kind of maturity beyond their years. It usually means a player can be on the fast track to playing in the NHL. He’s not the tallest defenseman at 5’11” but he makes up for it with his smarts. He has a solid defensive awareness and can bring it on the offensive side too with a good passing ability and solid puck skills.

He certainly needs to grow more to become a better defender in front of the net against bigger forwards and he needs to mold out his offensive game more, but he has the makings of a solid two-way defenseman. He’s another guy who should be a safe pick.

“When he plays with the men he’s a little more safe,” a scout said in Recrutes Draft Guide. “You've got to be safe playing with the men as a young guy in that league, but he got lots of ice time and there were some glimpses of offence. A great skater, and really smart de- fender. You just hope there's more on the other side.”

Moritz Seider

Big, strong and a riser in the draft. That’s the story for Moritz Seider.

The German defenseman has been a player rising through the rankings since the start of his season, using a smart game, great puck skills and a solid skating ability to turn heads. He’s a strong player defending off the rush and a great backchecker. His mobility allows him to be a force in the neutral zone and make quick transitions in both directions, whether to jump into the play or get back defensively.

He’s not an offensive dynamo, but started to showcase more of his offensive skills over time as his confidence grew. His mature game and growth at a professional level over the last season leads many to believe a transition to the pros in North America may be fairly easy for him, which makes him a player that may not need a lot of time before he joins the team that drafts him.

“Seider won’t be a dynamic offensive threat but his responsible defensive play and smarts make him a sure-fire top-4 defenseman who can play 25 minutes a night,” Hockey Prospect scout Janik Beichler said in the Hockey Prospect Black Book.

Philip Broberg

Philip Broberg has been another prospect up and down in the rankings, generating a lot of buzz for teams with picks in the middle of the first round specifically. He’s also one of the top defensemen available in a draft that is loaded with forward talent.

His size is good and he’s a great skater, especially in his north-south game. His mobility is strong and it allows him to make up for some mistakes where his hockey sense is lacking.

He definitely has holes in his all-around game, but he has a solid shot, good puck carrying skills and can create opportunities. Broberg is probably more of a project than other prospects in the draft, but there’s a lot of upside and that could make it worth the wait.

“He's a big guy that can skate,”a scout said in Recrutes Draft Guide. “He’s hard to beat one-on-one, and he's got a little bit of push. He just needs to pick his spots better. He just needs time. He should be fine.”

Thomas Harley

Thomas Harley seems to fit the description of a lot of NHL defensemen in today’s game. Mobile, can move the puck well, transitions well up the ice with solid skating and good offensive instincts. He had 58 points in 66 games for Mississauga, so he’s got some offensive upside too.

Defensively, he’s got the ability, but not the consistency. His play in his own end leaves a little to be desired and he doesn’t show the compete you want to see on a nightly basis. There are nights where he’s on and gets into all of the dirty areas and wins the battles and others where he will lose races to the puck or not use his size or reach effectively.

He’s built to be a solid defenseman in the NHL, he just has to put it all together.

“He excels at skating, he is smart and has the skill to pass the puck very effectively,” Hockey Prospect scout Mark Edwards said in the Hockey Prospect Black Book. “I don't project him as a high end power-play guy, but he is a high end puck mover. I don’t rank questionable compete guys that high very often, so that speaks to how highly we think of other parts of his game.”

Cameron York

On a US NTDP team that is loaded with talent up front, York is the standout on the blue line. He had 65 points on a very offensively gifted team, but that’s not why he’s a highly-regarded prospect.

He’s got all the makings of an offensive defenseman. He can move the puck well, makes great passes on the power play, and has the ability to carry an offense from the back end. His puck movement is what is really praised. He handles pressure situations well and reads the game very well.

His defensive play needs some work, mainly in terms of effort at times, but he positions himself well and can be involved physically. He’s just an efficient defenseman with great hockey sense, solid skating ability, speed and skill.

“Based on what I’m seeing out there I think he’s one of the most underrated players in the draft,” an NHL scout said in the Hockey Prospect Black Book. “I love his game and have him ranked Top 10. He’s ahead of Kirby Dach and Dylan Cozens.”

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