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2017 NHL draft prep: 2nd-round options for Flyers

2017 NHL draft prep: 2nd-round options for Flyers

It's easy to forget the NHL draft does not end at No. 2 for the Flyers.

In fact, they have 10 more picks after the first round and five in the first four rounds. Needless to say, this is a crucial draft for the Flyers. GM Ron Hextall already set himself up for one before landing the No. 2 pick. Now comes time to execute months of scouting.

"We have a lot of picks here and we have to hit," Hextall recently told the Flyers' website. "We can't just hit on No. 2 and then be satisfied."

Because we have an idea of whom the pick will be at No. 2, we decided to take a look at some potential targets for the Flyers in the second round.

Grant Mismash, LW, 18, 6-0/186, USNTDP
Mismash may not be around when the Flyers are on the board in the second round. The Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, native is projected to go anywhere between late first round and middle of the second. He finished as the 24th-rated North American skater by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau. The 6-foot, 186-pound winger styles his game after Corey Perry and enjoys the physical side of the game. He's a product of the USNTDP, where he scored 26 goals and 35 assists in 65 games playing for the program's U-18 team. In 26 USHL games, he tallied eight goals and 24 helpers. He was part of the U.S. gold-medal team at the 2017 U-18 world championship, a tournament in which he registered three goals and eight points.

In the fall, he'll begin his college career at the University of North Dakota, a storied program that has produced many hockey greats, including Zach Parise and Jonathan Toews. In fact, Mismash also played one season, in 2014-15, at Shattuck-St. Mary's, a private high school, in Faribault, Minnesota, where Parise also played as a teenager. After Mismash committed to UND in 2015, Shattuck coach Tom Ward told the Grand-Forks Herald that Mismash "doesn't play like an Edina (Minnesota) kid. He plays like a kid who grew up in the country, playing like a farm boy, which is a compliment."

Jesper Boqvist, C, 18, 6-0/179, Brynäs IF (SHL)
The Flyers are likely familiar with Boqvist from keeping tabs on Oskar Lindblom, their 2015 fifth-round pick who's coming overseas next season with great anticipation. Boqvist plays both center and wing with a quick first step, good puck skills and a scoring touch. After breaking onto the scene in the junior ranks in 2015-16, he scored a combined 33 points in 50 games this past season in the SHL, Division 2 and the J20 SuperElit league.

Whether it's fair or not, Boqvist will ultimately be compared to other Swedish players such as Nicklas Backstrom and Jakob Silfverberg, who both also played for Brynäs. Mats Backlin, the Brynäs J20 coach, told Swedish newspaper Dalarnas Tidningar Boqvist is "as good as those in this age. He's incredibly talented and you can compare him with them at this age." He finished as the 10th-rated European skater by Central Scouting. He's a left-handed shot who compares his play to Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov. According to Expressen, Boqvist may leave Brynäs for another SHL team if he's promised an expanded role.

Matthew Strome, LW, 18, 6-4/206 (Hamilton, OHL)
If his last name rings familiarity, it should. Strome's older brothers, Ryan and Dylan, were both top-five draft picks in the last six years. The Islanders drafted Ryan Strome fifth overall in 2011, while Arizona selected Dylan Strome with the third pick in 2015. The youngest Strome brother is not taking the same path to the NHL as his brothers, however. Matthew Strome still could squeak into the first round but projects to be a second-rounder. Whether he falls to the 43-44 range is unforeseen, but the biggest knock on him is skating.

An Ontario-based NHL scout told Sportsnet last November of Strome's skating: "Technically it's sort of painful to watch. He has a short, choppy stride." There is still plenty to like about Strome's game. He's a big, physical winger who's not afraid to head to the dirty areas to score. Strome, who finished as the 33rd-rated North American skater by Central Scouting, led Hamilton with 34 goals this season. But his skating might be a problem going forward, which may be enough for him to slip into the Flyers' range in the second round.

Scott Reedy, C, 18, 6-2/204, USNTDP
Another product of the USNTDP and Shattuck-St. Mary's, Reedy, a Prior Lake, Minnesota, native, is committed to play at the University of Minnesota in the fall. He finished as the 40th-rated North American skater by Central Scouting, a seven-slot climb from the midterm rankings. At 6-foot-2, he has good size, playmaking ability and a high compete level. His versatility is a bonus. He can play both the pivot and the wing. Future Considerations calls him a "supreme skater who is just as agile, quick and mobile as he is smart."

Reedy, who likens his game to Islanders center John Tavares, notched 22 goals and 42 points in 60 games with the USNTDP U-18 team in 2016-17, and 10 goals and 14 points in 21 USHL contests. In scoring a hat trick against Arizona State on Feb. 25, Reedy showcased the willingness to create havoc in front of the net and get to the slot for easy scoring chances. He figures to go around the middle of the second round, where the Flyers pick.

Morgan Frost, C, 18, 5-11/170, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
One common theme with Frost that comes to mind is his hockey intelligence. Central Scouting, which rated him 31st among North American skaters, describes him as a "smart and skilled center with very good offensive hockey sense — excellent vision and anticipation to quickly take advantage of opportunities." He's a playmaking center who projects to play wing in the NHL until he adds more muscle, which he could do by the time his drafting team decides he's ready. He's a creative, plus passer who could benefit from shooting the puck more.

The Sault Ste. Marie forward scored 20 goals and 62 points in 67 games during the regular season and added 11 points in 11 postseason games. He styles his game after Minnesota center Mikael Granlund. He projects to go in the second round and very well could be an option for the Flyers when they're on the clock.

Ivan Lodnia, RW, 17, 5-10/182, Erie (OHL)
Lodnia has a Flyers connection — the Flyers hired Erie coach Kris Knoblauch as an assistant last Wednesday — but would have been on this list regardless. He finished as the 36th-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. He's regarded as a highly skilled forward who bounced around the Otters' lineup this season in different roles largely because of Erie's loaded lineup. Lodnia largely was a staple on Erie's shutdown third line as the season progressed and the playoffs rolled around, which explains the dip in production.

During the regular season, Lodnia collected 57 points in 66 games with Erie. In his first 32 games, he registered 34 points but compiled just 22 in the final 34 games of the season. He had just two points in 22 playoff games but did add five in five Memorial Cup games. Lodnia's size might scare off teams, but in today's NHL there is a place for smaller players. One concern with Lodnia may be his skating. According to OHL Prospects' Brock Otten, Lodnia's "not explosive, nor does he possess high-end speed." Still, Lodnia is described by Future Considerations as "despite his size he is a very difficult player to take off the puck."

Marcus Davidsson, C, 18, 6-0/191, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
With the Flyers finally appearing to be placing an increased importance on speed and skill, Davidsson could be an intriguing option should he be available when the Orange and Black are on the clock. Davidsson's skating stride produces great speed. Central Scouting rated him the 12th-best European skater, a position he's been in both the midterm and final rankings. A two-way, playmaking pivot, Davidsson tries to emulate fellow Swede and Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog. Future Considerations says of Davidsson: "Not physical, but will step into an opponent to separate the puck as well as battle for position deep in the offensive zone." He's still a project, though, who has to develop consistency, but that should be expected from a teenager dabbling in the SHL.

This season, Davidsson skated on a line with his older brother, Jonathan Davidsson, and Lukas Vejdemo, Montreal's 2015 third-round pick, for Djurgårdens IF of the SHL. He registered just five goals and nine points with Djurgårdens — he had six goals and 10 points in nine games with Djurgårdens' junior club — but played 45 games in one of the best professional leagues in the world outside of the NHL as an 18-year-old.

Jonah Gadjovich, LW, 18, 6-2/209, Owen Sound (OHL)
The numbers are impressive: 46 goals, 28 assists, 74 points in 60 games with the Attack during the 2016-17 campaign, but are those numbers inflated from playing with projected first-round pick Nick Suzuki? That is one of the questions surrounding Gadjovich. He jumped up from the 60th-rated North American skater in Central Scouting's midterm rankings to the 39th-rated skater. From his second year in the OHL to his third, he saw a 50-point increase and produced more than a point-per-game rate.

Gadjovich is projected to go anywhere between the middle of the second round and even the third or fourth rounds. Elite Prospects describes him as "a feisty two-way winger that uses his size and speed to open up space for himself and teammates." He's a gritty, team-first player who has potential to either hit or flop. He may be a reach for where the Flyers will be drafting in the second round, though. He carries some risk.

Other names to watch

Henri Jokiharju, D, 17, 6-0/180, Portland (WHL)
Jokiharju is projected to go anywhere between late in the first round or early second. Probably isn't an option for the Flyers in the early teens of the second but if he falls, it'd be hard to pass up. He finished as the 19th-rated North American skater by Central Scouting.

Pierre-Olivier Joseph, D, 17, 6-2/161, Charlottetown (QMJHL)
A puck-moving defenseman with size who finished as the 27th-rated North American skater in Central Scouting's final rankings. He had six goals and 39 points in 62 games with Charlottetown this season. Like Jokiharju, Joseph likely will be gone before the Flyers pick.

Michael DiPietro, G, 18, 6-0/200, Windsor (OHL)
The Flyers are high on Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom, so goaltender is probably not something they'll look for in the second round, but if they do, DiPietro is an option. Finished as the fourth-rated North American goalie by Central Scouting.

Stelio Mattheos, C, 17, 6-1/192, Brandon (WHL)
Mattheos fell from the 23rd-rated North American skater by Central Scouting in the midterm rankings to the 38th-rated skater in the final rankings. He models his game after Jeff Carter. Scored 26 goals and 61 points in 69 games this season with Brandon.

Alexander Chmelevski, C, 18, 6-0/190, Ottawa (OHL)
Finished as the 43rd-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. Had 43 points in 58 games with Ottawa this season. Should be available when the Flyers pick but likely goes later in the second round or even the third.

Alex Formenton, LW, 17, 6-2/165, London (OHL)
Formenton finished as the 29th-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. Has good size and is a plus skater but still needs to add muscle to his frame. Had 34 points in 65 games in his first season with London, his second year in the OHL.

Like it or not, boring is working for Flyers

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USA Today Images

Like it or not, boring is working for Flyers

We are deep into the season of giving and the Flyers just keep giving fans exactly what they want: wins.

OK, sorry for that seasonal yet corny intro, but the fact remains the Flyers are on a tear right now, and it continued this past week with three more sound wins to push their winning streak past a handful to six games.

This week got off to the right skate with a come-from-behind 4-2 victory Tuesday over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. The good vibes kept coming Thursday with a grind-it-out 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. And the week ended on the highest of notes Saturday night with a 2-1 OT win at home over the Dallas Stars.

Well, well, well … they’re back, aren’t they?

And before the Flyers push for seven straight Monday night against the Los Angeles Kings, let’s look back at the successful week that was, shall we?

• The Flyers' three wins this week were good, solid wins over the Leafs, Sabres, and Stars. When you’re still trying to claw out of the hole a 10-game losing streak put you in, all wins are good, solid wins right now. But these three Flyers wins this past week weren’t of the most exciting variety. Let’s be blunt, all three wins were mostly boring.

Tuesday’s triumph over the Leafs was sleepy until Travis Konecny’s tying seeing-eye shot in the third and then Claude Giroux’s fantastic through-the-legs pass that led to Sean Couturier’s wicked wrister of a winner. Thursday’s win over Buffalo was a snoozer for the better part of 50 minutes. And Saturday’s victory over Dallas, while chippy, didn’t have much action to it outside of Shayne Gostisbehere’s heroics.

But the Flyers aren’t caring about being exciting and neither should you right now because it’s working for them. Jake Voracek’s quote after the Buffalo game says it all.

“I thought this was a boring game,” Voracek said. “Honestly, I don’t think we played good today, but we got the win, which is really important. You’re not going to play great every night. We played well when we needed to, but we can play a lot better, which is positive.”

Yes, they can play better. But two points are two points right now, no matter how boring. Simply put, boring is working.

• So why the sudden turnaround for the Flyers? There’s a multitude of reasons — timely scoring, better defensive efforts and Brian Elliott playing like a rock in net, just to name a few.

But one major reason: discipline. In the three games this past week, the Flyers took three penalties total, on in each game. Dating back to Dec. 4 when this six-game win streak began in Calgary, the Flyers have faced just nine power plays against. Compare that to the 22 power plays the Flyers have had in the same span.

That’s a gigantic boost for a team that, as of Sunday morning, is still 29th in the league with a 76.7 percent success rate on the PK.

How do you cure something that ails you? Don’t put yourself in the situation.

• When Gostisbehere is at his very best, he can just dominate a game with his elusiveness, booming shot and dynamic offensive ability. And that’s just what we saw Saturday night against the Stars as Gostisbehere was a dangerous entity all over the ice and controlled the game when the puck was on his stick.

He brought the Wells Fargo Center to life with his second-period power-play goal that saw him dive a lift a rebound past Dallas goalie Ben Bishop. And then he unglued the place with his game-winner in OT on the 4-on-3 man advantage.

“Ghost” is such a key piece for the Flyers as so much of the offense tends to be filtered through him when he’s on the ice, and especially so on the power play. We saw what happened when he wasn’t playing up to his abilities during the 10-game skid. But the Gostisbehere we saw against the Stars is just what the doctor ordered for the Flyers. And it shows just why.

• Good for Travis Sanheim getting the monkey off his back and potting the first goal of his NHL career during Thursday’s victory over Buffalo.     

During the first period, Sanheim took a feed from Dale Weise and deposited home a one-timer from the circle to knot the game at 1-1. Sure, he got a little help from Buffalo goalie Robin Lehner, who lounged wildly at the shot. But still, Sanheim made no mistake as he went top shelf with it. And he got the puck and the Ric Flair robe after the game to boot.

It’s just a slight taste of what the 21-year-old offensive-minded blueliner can do. In three junior seasons with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL, Sanheim scored 35 goals. He potted 10 in 76 games with the Phantoms last season.

He can score, and as he gets more and more comfortable at the NHL level, don’t be surprised to see him light the lamp more often.

• Here’s your obvious observation of the week: What a difference two weeks makes.

When the Flyers were shut out by the Bruins 15 days ago, morale was as low as it had been in a long time. Nothing was going right. No breaks went their way. No bounces even came close. The list of misfortunes could go on and on and on. On the morning of Dec. 3, the Flyers had just 22 points, fifth-fewest in the league. They were nine points behind the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Here we are two weeks and change (and six wins in a row) later and the Flyers have 35 points and are just four points behind the New York Islanders for the final wild-card spot in the East.

Hope you guys like roller coasters.

Coming up this week: Monday vs. Los Angeles (7 p.m. on NBCSP), Wednesday vs. Detroit (8 p.m. on NBCSN), Friday at. Buffalo (7 p.m. on NBCSP), Saturday at Columbus (7 p.m. on NBCSP).

Flyers' Muhammad Ali-type mentality behind season-high winning streak

Flyers' Muhammad Ali-type mentality behind season-high winning streak

BOX SCORE

The Flyers developed a Muhammad Ali-type mentality Saturday night.

It was hockey’s version of the rope-a-dope, where the Flyers took the Dallas Stars' best punches early on before going the distance, eventually wearing down an opponent that was playing their third game in four nights.

The end result was a 2-1 Flyers victory, extending their season-high winning streak to six games (see observations).

In fact, the Stars attempted to set the tone on the opening shift when Stars captain Jamie Benn tried to rattle the cage of Claude Giroux. They tangled on their way back to the bench with Benn extending his glove underneath Giroux’s chin.

“We knew they were going to have a good push at the start of the game,” Brian Elliott, who has started all six games of the winning streak, said. "We knew they wouldn't be able to keep it up playing a back-to-back. I thought our guys did a really good job of sticking to that game plan and staying patiently persistent."

The Flyers also knew the Stars would come out of the gates flying after a disappointing 5-2 loss at New Jersey the night before.

“We’ve been on the other side of it,” Giroux said. “Playing a back-to-back, it’s not easy, especially when you’re traveling and we really wanted to take advantage of that. Other teams took advantage of us before.”

The Flyers started to turn up the heat in the opening minutes of the second period when they controlled play with extended shifts in the Stars' end of the ice, coupled with a pair of breakaway opportunities from Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek.

“That (second) period was the one for me where we pushed the game in our direction,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “It was during the second period we were able to use everybody. Everybody was going and that allowed us to raise the pace of play a little bit.”

The Flyers were also propelled by their power play that finished the game 2 for 6 and a whopping 12 shots on net. After scoring on a rebound that deflected off the backboards, Shayne Gostisbehere landed the knockout blow with 1:10 remaining in overtime when "Ghost" blasted an overtime slapper during the 4-on-3 man advantage.

“A lot of that power play was going rover," Gostisbehere, who scored his fifth career overtime winner, said, "but you could tell we were feeding off each other, finding lanes and we were just relentless and a goal at the end just showed we weren't giving up there."

Stars coach and former Flyers bench boss Ken Hitchcock was attempting, for the second time, to become the third coach in NHL history to win 800 career games. Much of the reason he didn’t achieve the milestone was the careless penalties of forward Alexander Radulov, which led to both of the Flyers' power-play goals.

“It’s not team discipline, it’s individual,” Hitchcock said. “It’s disappointing to fight like we fought and battle. Come off, playing hard like this off a back-to-back, it’s really disappointing to take those two penalties at the end of the game.”

The Flyers also snapped a seven-game losing streak in contests that extended after regulation. The Flyers had dropped five of those in overtime and another two in the shootout.

“I thought we had a really positive attitude,” Elliott said. “I think everyone thought we would go out there for overtime and win. I didn’t think anybody had any doubts or anything. That’s all you can ask for going into those situations.” 

“I liked the way we approached overtime,” Hakstol said. “I didn’t think we pressed or pushed anything. We weren’t taking any long shifts, no high risk plays. I thought guys just went out and did their job and did it the right way.”

Right now, it’s a Flyers team that may not be floating like a butterfly, but they can certainly sting like a bee.