By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
The NHL Draft begins this Tuesday and 31 new prospects will be selected in the first round.
The Flyers hold the 23rd overall pick in the draft and this weekend, we are looking at some prospects that could be on the Flyers radar in the first round.
We continue our NHL Draft preview with a look at some wingers in the draft.
(All Players listed are in alphabetical order)
A speedy and balanced skater with a good and deceptive shot, Rodion Amirov has some strong offensive ability that could translate to numbers over the years.
He’s an agile player with the ability to weave through traffic and always a threat to create on the offensive side. He’s not the most explosive skater and needs to add size, but he’s displayed smarts in all zones and is able to read the play well.
It helps that he’s already gone pro in Russia, playing in 21 games in the KHL last season and posting two assists. His development could be further along than others given the competition he faces, and that makes him an interesting prospect.
Though he is a small player at 5’11” and 166 pounds, Luke Evangelista is a strong skater with a good first stride and strong edges. His offensive skills are what will draw attention.
He’s a strong puck-handler and has the ability to wait for plays to develop in front of him. He can use his speed to beat defenders off the run, has the capability to find teammates through traffic and places his shot well with a quick release.
Additionally, he’s a smart player in all three zones, which goes a long way in the draft. His defensive zone effort is sometimes a question and he’s not the most dynamic skater or strongest shot in the draft. This is more of a player who may creep into the late first round, but has more second-round prospects than anything. Still, it doesn’t hurt to grab a prospect who scored 23 goals and 61 points in 62 games in the OHL beyond the first round.
As a hybrid forward who can play both wing and center, Tyson Foerster possesses a lot of talents on the offensive side. He’s always a threat when the puck is on his stick, and the numbers show it. He scored 36 goals and had 80 points in 62 games with Barrie in the OHL last season.
He’s a solid skater that could afford to get stronger to boost his acceleration, but he’s agile while allows him to quickly transition and change directions. His shot isn’t the most powerful, but it’s quick and he’s willing to shoot from anywhere. He has soft hands that allow him to find teammates with touch passes and knows how to create space for himself offensively.
If there’s an area where his game lacks, it’s in his physicality and his performance on the forecheck, and he could use some work defensively. He’s not a prospect you’ll see immediately at the NHL level, but he’s got the offensive potential to get there if he can get the physicality and defense to come around.
There is a lot to like about Noel Gunler’s game. He’s got great offensive instincts. He sees the ice well, he’s willing to challenge the defense, he makes strong and accurate passes to teammates and the release on his shot is among the best in the draft.
He’s got good size and can continue to fill out over time, but he’s got so many offensive skills and smarts that it’s hard to ignore the potential. He’s a scorer that can handle the puck well and is a threat from anywhere on the ice.
His defense could use work, but it’s not a detriment to his game. He is notably not the best skater in the draft, but some work in that area could mold him into even more of a complete player.
In today’s NHL, size doesn’t matter near as much as it used to. So while teams may still shy away from making a 5’10”, 175-pound forward their top pick unless he’s a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer, these guys don’t typically go near the top of the draft. Seth Jarvis could really go anywhere in the mid-to-late first round, and if he’s there at 23, it’s going to be nearly impossible to pass up.
Jarvis is a competitive and energetic player that delivers an intensity to the game. He’s an excellent skater with explosive ability, he can gain separation in open ice and is always involved in the play.
He’s a very confident player with the puck, displaying quick hands, strong smarts and has a lot of the tools needed to be a top scorer. He could mold into that if he can further develop his shot and playmaking abilities, but when you see a guy who scored 42 goals and 98 points in 58 games with Portland in the WHL, it’s hard to ignore the potential.
There are certainly many players in the draft that come out of it as a work in progress. Jake Neighbours is one of those players. He’s made massive improvements to his skating that have helped him to at the very least become a more consistent player, but there’s still work to be done in that area.
He thinks the game quickly and has very sharp vision that can dazzle and there are not many players in this draft who are better passers. He’s got a powerful and fast shot, but he needs to improve his execution and shot selection to become an even bigger scoring threat.
Neighbours is a raw prospect, but there could be a lot of potential underneath the surface.
Jacob Perreault took steps to being one of the better offensive prospects in this draft. He’s a creative winger with great instinct for the game, anticipating the play well and displaying vision that creates space against defenders, navigate through traffic and set up teammates.
He’s not an elite skater, but he’s strong on his skates and once he gets going, he’s hard to stop. His shot is strong with a quick release and he likes to set up for the one-timer from down low when he can. He moves the puck well, keeps things moving with strong and sharp passes. He won’t dazzle you with his distribution, but he’s got the offensive makeup to be a successful player.
Aside from some improved skating, Perreault needs to be better in his own zone and show more of an effort in that part of the game. His consistency needs to get better too, as he is a threat to produce almost every night, but has games where he isn’t completely there and his performance suffers for it.
Still, with 39 goals and 70 points in 57 games with Sarnia last season, he’s a prospect that many will be willing to work with and grow in the later portion of the first round.
A smooth skater with some deception to his game, John-Jason Peterka isn’t going to be the most skilled player in the draft, but he’s one of the hardest-working prospects available. His skating is the foundation of his game and he knows how to find the right places on the ice.
He’s a tough player to play against and has a competitive edge to his game that will help him develop quicker.. He’s a good passer but not known for his playmaking, but he is a pure goal scorer who has a quick release on his shot and knows how to change the angle to fool goaltenders and scores in a variety of ways.
After joining the DEL in Germany, he scored seven goals and 11 points in 42 games last season. In his final year of under-19 play in Czech Republic, he scored 45 goals and 94 points in 48 games.
Another German prospect with a name hockey fans are sure to recognize. His father Martin was a draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers, but his uncle Robert was a long-time NHLer. Lukas Reichel has a very mature game for his age and makes him an intriguing name in the draft because he probably doesn’t have as long to go before he joins the pro ranks. He’s coming off a season in the DEL where he scored 12 goals and 24 points in 42 games, so he’s put up some numbers against pro competition already.
Reichel is a smooth skater with good top speed that keeps him moving and has some fluidity to his movement on the ice. He’s got great hands that display excellent puck-handling ability, and he has a nose for the dirty areas of the ice and is willing to engage in battle for loose pucks. He’s a smart player that knows where to be and where to go on the ice.
His shot is good and he knows how to place it well. He’s willing to go to the net or set up for a one-timer when he can, and uses his speed to create space for himself on the offensive side.
Defensively, he’s a solid player that plays positionally sound hockey and gets in the passing lanes. There’s not much to his game that needs work, but he doesn’t quite have the elite ability in any one area to make him a standout, so expect him to be on the board as the first round passes to later picks.