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.

Why have Penguins dominated Flyers recently?

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Why have Penguins dominated Flyers recently?

The keys to the Keystone State Rivalry are now in the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have been in the driver’s seat recently in their feud with the Flyers.

The Penguins are on the verge of a season sweep for the first time since taking all eight meetings during the Flyers' disastrous season of 2006-07.

It’s a complete turnaround from the Flyers eight-game winning streak from November of 2013 to April of 2015. PPG Paints Arena, formerly known as Consol Energy Center, could also be commonly referred to as Wells Fargo Center West.

However, in the Dave Hakstol era, which has also coincided with the Mike Sullivan era in Pittsburgh, the ice has been tilted towards Lake Erie. The Flyers are just 3-7-1 against the Penguins over the past three years.

Over time, that vitriolic and acrimonious attitude seems to be missing from a once-bitter feud and the Flyers seemed to thrive off that animosity.

“There’s not as many fights as we used to and not as many hits,” said captain Claude Giroux. “If you don’t take care of the puck and you don’t play smart out there, it’s going to cost your team.”

Since the third period of their first game in November, there have been costly mistakes and very little push back from the Flyers. They’ve been outscored 14-4 in their last seven periods and a brief overtime against the Penguins.

“It’s a matter of us going out and being ourselves for a full 60 minutes,” Dave Hakstol said when asked what needs to change heading into Sunday’s game. “We haven’t done that against Pittsburgh and you’ve got to credit them for that. They can push teams off balance.”

And clearly the Penguins have presented a matchup problem for the Flyers, regardless of which team has owned last change. Sidney Crosby has thrived this season with a +6 rating against the Flyers.

With Sean Couturier serving as Evgeni Malkin’s shadow dating back to his rookie season in 2011-12, Giroux had been tasked with matching up with Crosby’s line. Now with Couturier and Giroux paired together, the task of containing Crosby has shifted elsewhere, whether it’s been Valtteri Filppula, Scott Laughton or Nolan Patrick.

The Flyers' 19-year-old rookie center has quickly discovered what works and what doesn’t against arguably the NHL’s best all-around player.

“You have to be a little more defensive-minded when (Crosby) is out there, and even Malkin too,” said Patrick. “Crosby’s not really a guy you can go after and knock the puck off. You just got to try and contain them and have a good stick on him.”

“I don’t think we’ve given them our best effort so far this year,” said defenseman Andrew MacDonald. “We were a little timid last time. We were trying to feel out the game and see what kind of game it was going to be, rather than dictate the play.”

The Flyers haven’t exhibited their best effort against any team recently, and no need to prove a point against the Penguins this late in the season.

The Flyers simply need points and the Penguins just happen to be the next team on the schedule.

Devils' Hall wastes no time in overtime

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Devils' Hall wastes no time in overtime

PITTSBURGH -- Taylor Hall beat Matt Murray on a breakaway 27 seconds into overtime to lift the New Jersey Devils to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.

Hall was all alone when Nico Hischier found him with a long lead pass. Hall then slipped the puck between Murray's legs for his 33rd goal of the season as New Jersey picked up two vital points in the race for one of the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference.

Hall added two assists for New Jersey. Hischier finished with a goal and an assist, and Blake Coleman and Will Butcher also scored for the Devils. Keith Kincaid made 40 stops for the Devils, who finished a season-high six-game road trip 4-2.

Sidney Crosby scored his 25th of the season for Pittsburgh. Brian Dumolin and Phil Kessel scored in the third period as the Penguins erased a two-goal deficit. Murray finished with 30 saves as the Penguins lost for just the second time in their last 17 home games.

New Jersey's drive to end a six-year playoff drought has stalled since the All-Star break. A lopsided loss in San Jose dropped the Devils to just 13-12 since Jan. 30 and skated onto the ice at PPG Paints Arena with a tenuous grasp on the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference (see full recap).

Bruins win on Pastrnak’s last-second goal
DALLAS -- David Pastrnak broke a tie with 12 seconds left and the Boston Bruins scored three straight goals in the third period to rally past the fading Dallas Stars 3-2 on Friday night.

A scramble followed a faceoff in the Dallas end, and Brad Marchand passed to Pastrnak in front. While falling down, he put the puck past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen.

Tuukka Rask made a season-high 40 saves for the Bruins. Marchand scored Boston's first goal and also assisted on a short-handed goal by Tim Schaller that tied it midway through the third period.

The second-place Bruins won for the first time in three games (1-0-2) to move within four points of Atlantic Division leader Tampa Bay. Boston has already clinched a playoff berth.

The Stars are winless in their last seven games (0-5-2). They remained four points behind Colorado for the second Western Conference wild card (see full recap).

Berglund, Blues push win streak to 4
ST. LOUIS -- Patrik Berglund scored twice and the surging St. Louis Blues beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 on Friday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Vladimir Tarasenko and Dmitrij Jaskin also scored for St. Louis. Jake Allen made 19 saves in his eighth straight start as the Blues won for the sixth time in seven games.

Sam Gagner scored for Vancouver, which has lost eight of nine. Anders Nilsson stopped 21 shots.

The Blues swept the season series and have won their last five games against the Canucks.

Tarasenko extended the lead to 3-1 just 14 seconds into the third period, slipping Jaden Schwartz's pass between Nilsson's legs. Tarasenko missed the previous two games with an upper-body injury.

Jaskin's sixth goal of the season with 2:29 left sealed it for St. Louis (see full recap).