NHL Draft: Flyers' biggest needs, top prospects

It was a hard season to watch for Philadelphia Flyers fans, with the final hit coming as the team traded long-time captain Claude Giroux, signifying the start of a true rebuild.

The problem for the Flyers is their prospect pool ranks among the worst in the NHL. The team brought in Cam York for 30 games this season and expedited Ronnie Attard’s advancement from the NCAA to NHL at the expense of Keith Yandle’s ironman streak. Leading scorer Travis Konecny was a healthy scratch at times in the season and beyond 2018 first-round pick Joel Farabee, no under-25 player on the Flyers made a meaningful impact this year.

Expect Philadelphia to dismantle the remainder of its veteran core in search of prospects and picks next year.

Ronnie Attard stepped in for the Flyers at the NHL level last season. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Ronnie Attard stepped in for the Flyers at the NHL level last season. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Top Prospects

Ty Foerster - If not for shoulder surgery, Foerster would be much closer to the NHL. Instead, Philadelphia’s 2020 first-rounder was returned from the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms to the OHL’s Barrie Colts. The tools are there, but his surgery, and need for general strength development, will need to be a focus this offseason.

Bobby Brink - Turned pro following his junior season with NCAA Denver, Brink immediately stepped into the Flyers roster. Brink goes to the tough areas and is a tenacious forechecker. When there is a puck battle, you can expect himto arrive.

When you realize Brink does it all with a 5-foot-9 frame, it becomes all the more impressive. He will be given every opportunity to stay in Philadelphia next season.

Ronnie Attard - Attard was known for a heavy shot and playing a game that saw him, quite literally, all over the ice. This season in the NCAA, Attard fine-tuned his decision-making of when to join the rush, and when to defend, and it made him far more effective at both ends of the ice.

His NHL debut was tarnished by the connection to Yandle’s ironman streak coming to an end, but once he acquitted himself to the NHL, Attard did not look out of place. He would likely benefit from a season in the American Hockey League, but beyond Philadelphia’s top four, the fight for the final three positions on the blue line is wide open.

One To Watch

To start the season, Emil Andrae was well down Philadelphia’s depth chart playing in ​​HockeyAllsvenskan with HV71. Had it not been for HV71s demotion, Andrae likely would have been in the SHL, but playing in Sweden’s second tier actually benefitted the undersized but sublimely skilled defender's development.

The smooth-skating blueliner amassed 44 points in 51 combined regular season and playoff games with HV71. Named the captain of Sweden’s World Junior roster before the tournament was cancelled, Andrae looks like a good bet to climb Philadelphia’s depth chart, and perhaps get a look at the NHL sooner than later.

Ready To Step In

Noah Cates had a relatively smooth transition to the NHL after his NCAA career ended with Minnesota-Duluth. The Olympian notched nine points in 16 games. Alongside Brink, he’ll compete for a spot up front.

The player, however, who will immediately be counted upon to play important minutes next season is Cam York. Spending 30 games in the NHL this season, York is no longer a rookie, but next year, he’ll be asked to play like a veteran on a rebuilding Flyers squad. The 2019 14th overall pick averaged 19:05 time on ice last season — hardly minutes of a player the organization does not trust.

Not only will he be in the NHL, but it’s likely York will be in Philadelphia’s top-four by season's end.

Top Needs At The Draft

Picking fifth overall, Philadelphia is likely to have the opportunity to take one of the draft’s top two defenders, Simon Nemac or David Jiricek. Either player would be a welcomed addition to the organization.

Similarly, the club could decide to add another scoring threat at this position like Finnish winger Joakim Kemell. Philadelphia has needs at all positions and should take the player their scouting staff believes is best available. No single need outweighs another for the Flyers, although there is a noticeable gap in elite centers in the organization beyond their current core, which will be aging by the time this rebuild turns the corner.

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