The Flyers enter the 2020 offseason with more answers than questions. After a solid regular season, it is expected the Flyers will return relatively the same roster as last season. With an excellent mix of youth and veterans, the Flyers enter the 2020 draft with a lot of flexibility. Let’s take a look at who the Flyers may target with the 23rd pick in the draft.
Forward, Defense, or Goalie?
Thanks to the Flyers’ excellent prospect depth, they will have the luxury of throwing aside the temptation of picking for positional need. The Flyers’ have an excellent mix of prospects at all positions. They chose defenseman Cam York with their first pick last season, and Morgan Frost, my top-rated Flyers’ prospect, should be NHL-ready next season. At goalie, Carter Hart is only 22-years old, and the Flyers’ have a bit of depth with the likes of Samuel Ersson, Kiril Ustimenko, and Ivan Fedotov on their way up.
Due to their overall depth, the Flyers’ are likely to choose the best player available on their board regardless of position. The 2020 draft is fairly light on blue-line depth, so this player is most likely a forward. Let’s take a look at who the Flyers could target specifically.
C Ridley Greig
I had the Flyers selecting Greig in my most recent mock draft. Greig is the son of the Flyers’ WHL scout Mark Greig. There is an obvious organizational tie from the team to this player, but regardless, Greig is an excellent target for the Flyers. He has excellent offensive instincts and averaged nearly a point-per-game in the WHL this past season. He assumed a number one center position and ran with it. While small in stature, Greig is excellent at forechecking and plays with a high level of tenacity and pace. The consensus from most scouts is that Greig could turn into a second-line center if all goes well developmentally. He will need some development time, and the Flyers’ have some time to wait thanks to their stocked prospect cupboard.
C Brendan Brisson
A perpetual climber on draft boards this season, Brisson checks some boxes for the type of player Chuck Fletcher has targeted in the past. Brisson, the son of well-known NHL agent Pat Brisson, played last season for Chicago in the USHL. Offensively, Brisson had an excellent season, posting 59 points in 45 games as the Steel’s number one center. Like Greig, Brisson is considered a long-term project, but a project worth waiting on. He plays a well-rounded game and does everything well. He is an excellent skater who projects as more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer. Brisson has excellent hockey sense and anticipates the play well offensively and defensively. In terms of fit, Brisson could be a future second-line center at the NHL level as well. He will also play for Michigan this season with fellow Flyers’ prospect Cam York. I could see the Flyers’ targeting him at 23 as well.
W Sam Colangelo
Brisson’s teammate, winger Sam Colangelo, is a potential first-round target for the Flyers’ also. While I personally think Colangelo is more a second-round target for most teams, there is a very real possibility he makes a jump into the first round. Like Brisson, Colangelo had a break-out year in the USHL, posting 58 points in 44 games. Colangelo projects as a modern-day power forward. At 6’2 205, he also still has room to grow in size and strength. While both are key attributes to Colangelo’s game and success, he is also offensively creative and has a heavy shot. His skating needs some work, but overall, Colangelo is an intriguing prospect with a unique skill-set. Colangelo is committed to Northeastern University next season. He projects as a potential second-line scoring winger and will need quite a bit of development time before being NHL-ready.
W Lukas Reichel
There is a good chance Reichel will already be off the board already at 23, but 23 isn’t out of the question for the German winger to go either. Reichel has some NHL bloodlines (he is the nephew of long-time NHLer Robert) and played in Germany’s top league as a 17-year-old. His 12 goals were an excellent feat, considering how much younger Reichel is from his fellow teammates. Reichel is a highly intelligent offensive player. He has a knack for scoring goals but is also a decent playmaker. Reichel’s overall package is intriguing, though he also needs some developmental time. His biggest knock is his lack of defensive awareness of time, but that will likely come with maturity and age. Some draft analysts think Reichel could go as early as 15 in this draft, but he may be a very late first-round as well. He could be a target for the Flyers at 23.
W J.J. Peterka
Reichel’s fellow German counterpart, winger J.J. Peterka, is also a potential draft target. Peterka has been on the NHL radar for a while, but his emergence as a first-round candidate was solidified through his solid World Junior showcase. With 4 goals as an underaged player, Peterka showed a knack for scoring goals and also displayed excellent speed and offensive instincts. While he struggled at times to put up points in Germany’s top league, Peterka showed flashes of brilliance that has him expected to go late in the first round. Both Peterka and Reichel are intriguing options for the Flyers as well because they can be signed and sent to the Flyers’ AHL affiliate immediately if they so choose this season. Peterka projects as a second-line scoring winger, but like the majority of prospects listed here, will need some developmental time.
C Jacob Perreault
Following a trend of NHL bloodlines, another potential Flyers’ target is OHL center Jacob Perreault, the son of former NHL face-off ace Yanic. Perreault may have the highest offensive ceiling of this group, and like Reichel and Peterka, Perreault may well be gone before 23. However, he is expected to be available in the latter half of the first-round. so there is a real possibility he could be available. Perreault is an offensive-minded, goal-scoring center that can also play wing. Perreault scored 39 goals last season, and 30 the season before to put him near the top of his peers in this draft class. He has elite speed and an uncanny ability to pressure defenders using his speed and vision. He has a deceptive shot and projects as a top-six forward at the NHL level, though he is a few seasons away from being NHL-ready.
C Hendrix Lapierre
if there is a player Flyers’ fans can hope may drop in their laps, it’s Hendrix Lapierre, though that likelihood is dropping almost daily. Heading into the 2019-2020 season, Lapierre was in consideration as a top ten prospect. However, after a series of injuries and a handful of inconsistent games, Lapierre’s status dropped somewhat. There were concerns surrounding concussion issues as well. However, it appears many of those concerns have been put to rest, and Lapierre has had an excellent start to the preseason in the QMJHL, showing once again why so many scouts were high on him heading into the 2020 draft. He may well be gone the 23rd pick, but enough teams may have some concerns and he could be available. Lapierre is a unique blend of defensive awareness of overall skill. He is offensively and defensively dominant and can play in all situations. If he is around at 23, the Flyers could have another Sean Couturier type-player on their hands. He likely will need another year or two of development, but if all goes according to plan, he looks like a potential number one, two-way center at the NHL level.
C Mavriq Bourque
Another center from the QMJHL, Bourque came into this year with some question marks surrounding his offense. There was no questioning his defensive instincts, but some wondered what his offensive ceiling could be. With 71 points in 41 games, Bourque showed he possesses the ability to produce offensively and even drive play at times. He has an excellent shot and can create offense from anywhere. There are some questions surrounding his top speed and size, but overall, he looks like a potential second-line center at the NHL level. Bourque is expected to be available between picks 20-31, so he is a potential target for the Flyers as well.
There are a handful of other directions the Flyers may go with their first-round pick. If the Flyers brass decides to go blue-liner, I could see them target one of two Swedish blue-liners in William Wallinder and Helge Grans. The Flyers could also surprise at forward and target USNTDP center Thomas Bordeleau, though I think he a better option for them in the second round potentially. Though neither player fits Chuck Fletcher’s normal draft strategy, OHLers Tyson Foerster and Jan Mysak are also options.
Overall, the Flyers have some solid options at pick 23. While it may be a while or one of these players to be impact NHLers, the ceiling of some of these players could make them household names in three to five years. The future continues to look bright for the Flyers as we enter the offseason.