Chuck Fletcher has made it clear, he’s in Philly to make a splash or two. But the question on everyone’s mind was, what kind of moves were going to be had at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver.
The Philadelphia faithful abid goodbye to an enforcer from the blueline. Radko Gudas was sent packing to division rival the Washington Capitals in exchange for Matt Niskanen. However, the Flyers will retain 30% of Radko’s salary for his one remaining season of his contract. For the Caps, this is a money making move. They needed to shed some cap in order to keep some of their youth. Make no mistake about it though, the Flyers do upgrade their defense as Niskanen is a right handed defenseman which Philadelphia certainly lacks. Matt Niskanen is overall a better player than Gudas, and the Stanley Cup winning defenseman brings a veteran presence on our blue line which will assist the young defense core. While Matt Niskanen generated a whopping cap hit of $5,750,000 per season, it’ll only be until the end of the 2020-2021. Either way, Travis Sanheim is no longer the only righty on the blueline in Philadelphia.
While the Flyers swap out Dmen, they did miss out on a high profile target in Jacob Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets. Instead, Trouba will be heading to New York City wearing a red, white, and blue Rangers sweater. Personally, I believe the Jets front office had a little bit too much to drink before executing this deal, because all they received was defenseman prospect Neal Pionk and the #20 overall in this 2019 draft. Funny enough, the #20 overall was originally Winnipeg’s prior to the Kevin Hayes trade they made with the Rangers previously. I’m not knocking Neal Pionk at all, but a later 1st round pick and a decent prospect for a well rounded 2-way Dman who can play both special teams? Pionk has a bit of upside, but think Shayne Gostisbehere. They’re both similar in their offensive prowess and gritty competitiveness, but they’re also similar when the puck enter their own zone(there’s a laundry list of forwards that can play the position better). I do think Chuck Fletcher missed out on Trouba, but then again the Flyers do already have a handful of Restricted Free Agents of their own.
Shortly after Trouba got his ticket to the Big Apple, the Flyer added another veteran defeseman to their roster. The San Jose Sharks part ways with Justin Braun. The right handed defenseman will only carry a $3,800,000 cap hit for the upcoming season as he will be an Unrestricted Free Agent in the summer of 2020. The Philadelphia Flyers sent this year’s #41 selection in the 2nd round, and next year’s 3rd round pick in return. Personally, I feel it’s a slight over payment, especially considering this year’s draft. But this helps Philly groom their younger defensemen. Oh, and Andrew McDonald has been bought out of his contract, and all I can say is, adios amigo!
Let’s take it from the top of the 2019 draft, the Flyers hold the #11 pick; and Philadelphia trades away #11 to the Arizona Coyotes for their #14 & #45 draft picks. I think a lot of fans were initially foaming at the mouth in anger, since Cole Caufield was the fan favorite due to the elite sniper falling as far as he had in the draft so far. But more on this later…
Rd. 1 #14 Cam York (D)
With Arizona’s #14 pick, the Philadelphia Flyers select defenseman Cam York of the U.S. National Development Program. Let’s get this out of the way, Cole Caufield was selected at #15 by the Montreal Canadiens. This leads me to believe a couple of things; the Flyers may not have expected Cole C to drop as low as he did, and hasn’t given him much of a look during the interview and combine process. The other rational thought would be that the Flyers were dead set on picking a defenseman, and already marked Cam York as their guy. The Flyers need elite scoring, that’s for sure. However, in the next year or two the Flyers should be calling upon their current prospect to put the puck in the net for them. So this selection feels like they were planning on replenishing their defensive prospect pool that has quickly diminished over the past couple of seasons. You’ll see this becomes a reoccurring theme in this year’s draft for Philadelphia.
With all of that out of the way, how about this kid York? Statistically, he’s one of the best defenseman to go through the U.S. National Team Development Program(US NTDP). In fact, he set a single season record for defenseman tallying up 65 points in 63 games, and he held his own during the recent 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation World Under 18 tournament notching 11 points with a +13 rating in 7 games played. York is a decent skater, but his real strengths lie within his stick work. He’s a great outlet passer from within his own zone, takes meaningful shots on goal, can setup his teammates with perfect tape to tape passes, and is effective without the puck in his own zone. Cam knows how to read plays before they happen, and is not easily beat on the rush. The comparison that keeps being thrown out there is Cam York may very well develop into a player like Keith Yandle. Not bad considering Yandle produces around 50 points a season, and has been doing it consistently during his 13 year career thus far.
Rd. 2 #34 Bobby Brink (RW)
In the second round, The Flyers unfortunately missed out yet again on another elite scorer in Arthur Kaliyev. How did the Flyers sneak into the second round you ask? Philly traded away picks #45 and #65 to the Nashville Predators for selection #34. Quite a jump, but in this draft, it ‘s well worth it. The Flyers miseed out on arguably the two best pure goal scorers of the draft, but make up for it here by selecting yet another US NTDP player in Bobby Brink. Bobby B was projected to be selected mid to late in the 1st round, thankfully he fell to Philly early in the 2nd. Did I mention his full name is Bobby Orr Brink?
A deep dive into Bobby Brink’s game is simple, he’s a stick of offensive dynamite. Like Cole Caufield, Bobby Brink is on the smaller size in terms of his physique. But alike other NHL small forwards, Bobby packs a competitive edge. Considering the orange and black missed out on both Cole Caufield and Arthur Kaliyev, Bobby Brink is definitely a superb pick.
Rd. 3 #72 Ronald Attard (D)
That prospect pool of defensemen I was speaking of earlier? Here’s the next addition, with Ronald Attard. Standing at 6’4″ 205 lbs, it seems like Ron is already filling out an NHL ready frame. Philly’s assistant general manager Brent Flahr has gone on record to say Attard is a late bloomer with a big shot and high compete level. Thankfully in Ron’s recent season with the Tri-City Storm in the USHL, he preformed with a +46 rating and was awarded USHL Player of the Year. Hopefully this trend to continues upwards, seeing as he also scored 30 goals in 48 games. Just as a reminder, he’s a defenseman.
Rd. 4 #103 Mason Millman (D)
One thing is for sure by now, the Philadelphia Flyers are killin’ it in the drafted names department. From here on out, sadly my research becomes a bit vague and short due to the lack of information available. However, at 17 years old, he has been pegged as highly intelligent player. Millman has been complimented as being able to disect game footage, and garner a better understanding compared to his peers. To me, this sounds like a future mastermind on ice, who will probably convert into a wise bench boss. And if you think review game tape is meaningless in today’s NHL, tell that to Jake Allen and the Stanley Cup winning St. Louis Blues.
Rd. 6 #165 Egor Serdyuk (RW)
The Flyers pickup a Russian winger? While the QMJIHL isn’t producing as many studs as other Canadian Hockey Leagues, Egor Serdyuk looks promising in his young career. Serdyuk scored the most goals, and most points as a rookie in the Q last season, and was named to the All Rookie Team. Not bad! Alike other young forward prospects, Egor lacks many defensive tools. That is to be expected, but this may be something the young Russian improved upon in his upcoming young playing years. A lot of hockey analyst seem to attribute his low projection due to being on a lackluster Victoriaville Tigres team. Also, I have no idea anymore if it’s Egor or Yegor now, following the research I’ve conducted.
Rd. 6 #169 Roddy Ross (G)
Didn’t I say the Flyers were absolutely killing it in the name department?! Rowdy Roddy Ross comes swooping in as the only goalie selection for the Flyers in the 2019 draft. The young 18 year old posted a .919 save percentage last season in 25 games. What’s even more impressive is how he was thrown into the team in January and pretty much took over the starting goalie position because of his dominate performance while facing a ton of shots. Oh and in that month he jumped in – he won WHL’s rookie of the month. That being said, the Flyers are pretty stacked when it comes to goalie prospects, so we’ll see how this all pans out. Kirill Ustimenko, Ivan Fedotov, and Felix Sandstrom to name a few. This is of course, knowing Carter Hart is now Starter Hart, wink-wink.
Rd. 7 #196 Bryce Brodzinski (RW)
Philly ends the day by drafting another right winger in Bryce Brodzinski. Bryce dominated high school hockey in Minnesota, which to us in the Philadelphia area doesn’t sound like much.. But keep in mind, Minnesota produces a huge amount of American born pro hockey players. Think Texas football, but Minnesota hockey. Don’t believe me? Watch those classic Mighty Duck movies again. Brodzinski will be attending the University of Minnesota, which is of course a huge hockey school. So I guess what I’m saying is, this late pick has the potential to surprise in the future.