5 players the Flyers should target with the 7th overall pick

It’s been a long journey getting to today, draft day, in the NHL.

Starting on April 23, I began profiling draft prospects throughout the college and junior ranks. Overall, 26 players were profiled – not including the obvious top two picks tonight – which essentially equates to the first round.

The Flyers are picking seventh overall, which gives them a very good chance to grab a future impact player.

Based on the profiles, as well as the way the draft order looks to shake out, here are the five players the Flyers should focus on and are most likely to select.

  1. Mitch Marner – This is quite possibly my favorite prospect in the draft. Marner is everything you could possibly want in a forward, and if he's still on the board at seven, there's no way he's not the best player available. His skill is excellent and if you just watch a couple minutes of footage, you'll get excited about this kid. The problem is that he's a Top-5 talent that the Flyers are hoping falls to seven. I slightly disagree with Ron Hextall's point about picks 3-7 being on the same level. I think Marner fits right in with Dylan Strome just over the border separated the special talent of the Top 2 and the next wave coming to round out the Top 10. There's a very good chance Marner won't be the best player on the board until the fifth pick, so it's not that far off, but I also can't see the Hurricanes or Devils passing on him at five or six, unless their needs or scouting reports indicate differently. It would take a lot of luck, but it would be a huge fortune to the Flyers to snatch up Marner.
  2. Ivan Provorov – Here's a more realistic option at seven that's still worth the same excitement as Marner. So much of the focus in this draft is on Noah Hanifin – who will likely go third overall. I think Provorov could end up being the best defenseman to come out of the draft. And he's almost NHL ready now. I call this a realistic option because after Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Hanifin, Strome and Marner, I don't see the Devils playing for defense here. That would easily make Provorov the best player available at seven for the Flyers and he'd be a perfect partner for Travis Sanheim.
  3. Pavel Zacha – This appears to be Hextall’s guy. There are better players the Flyers could take for many reasons. Zacha is a center. I think the Flyers should grab a winger. Zacha requires growth as a player in both skill and maturity. I think the Flyers should take a player who already has that maturity and just needs to hone the skills. But this isn’t about what I think, and many believe Zacha is going to be a good fit for the Flyers. Additionally, Zacha won’t be off the board any sooner than seventh overall, so this would fit right into the Flyers wheelhouse. Personally, I don't think this should be the Flyers primary target, but the signs are pointing toward major interest. He'll definitely help the Flyers, but I think there are better options than Zacha at seven. 
  4. Mikko Rantanen – While a lot of the buzz has been about Zacha being the Flyers real target, more of the indications recently would say Rantanen is a prime target for the Flyers. The Flyers met with Rantanen for a second time the night before the draft, which definitely holds some weight. I still believe Provorov would be the best player if on the board at seven, but it might be a coin flip between Zacha and Rantanen if Provorov is gone, which wouldn't make Rantanen a surprising pick at all.
  5. Lawson Crouse – There are a lot of people that don’t seem high on Crouse, but I would definitely take a flyer. I think a lot of the knock on him is that Flyers fans want him to be ready instantly to fall into the NHL lineup. With a year or so in the minors, Crouse could be ready to make the jump to the NHL for good and be a very productive player. The Flyers need a solid winger with potential and Crouse wouldn’t require a lot of work or be considered a project. That said, he's probably not going to be the best player available at seven, not competing with the likes of Provorov, Rantanen and Zacha. I honestly think Crouse could be available just outside the Top 10. But the Flyers would be better safe than sorry by slightly reaching instead of leaving it to chance.
  6. Honorable Mention: Timo Meier – Just short of making my Top 5, Meier is another of my favorites, and a team already in good shape in the playoff picture is likely going to get him. In most years, this would be an easy Top 10 talent, probably right around seven. But this year, there is so much in front of him, Meier kind of got lost in the weeds. But he's going to be a good player, and you have to wonder if any team in the Top 10, including the Flyers, values him more than expected.

Bottom line: Three big names have been linked to the Flyers during the build up to the draft. It's pretty evident the Flyers value Provorov, Rantanen and Zacha, and Lawson Crouse is in there too.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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