Flyers

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.

Flyers-Panthers observations: Goals continue to pile up in 5-1 win

Flyers-Panthers observations: Goals continue to pile up in 5-1 win

BOX SCORE

The second period has been the knockout round lately for the Flyers and that proved to be the case again on Tuesday night.

The Flyers won their second straight game at the Wells Fargo Center as they scored four goals in the second period to crush the Florida Panthers, 5-1. They proved once again that their four-line attack is simply too much for opponents. 

Going back to last Tuesday’s game in Nashville, Dave Hakstol’s team has now scored 10 second-period goals in its last three games.

Starting for the first time in 12 days, Michal Neuvirth was a well-oiled machine and showed no signs of rust as he stopped 40 shots for his first win of the season. The Panthers scored a power-play goal with 3:50 remaining to spoil Neuvirth’s chance at a shutout. 

• Neuvirth stymied the Panthers in spectacular fashion in the early stages. He denied Derek MacKenzie, Nick Bjugstad and Aleksander Barkov in the opening 20 minutes. It’s going to be hard for Hakstol not to reward Neuvirth with another start soon.

• The Flyers dominated mostly through their transitional game. One of the biggest differences in the opening month has been the Flyers’ ability to create quality scoring chances off the rush, and they dominated in that area Tuesday night.

• Shayne Gostisbehere scored his first goal of the season on a breakout after a nice give-and-go play with Wayne Simmonds. Jordan Weal deserved some sort of assist as he drove his defender Mark Pysyk into the shooting lane, blocking Roberto Luongo’s view. Instead, it was rookie Robert Hagg who picked up his first NHL point on the secondary assist that started the breakout. 

“We’re confident,” Gostisbehere said. “We’re riding high, but we have to keep an even keel and keep going.”

• Later in the second period, the Flyers’ power play went to work. After the Panthers’ shorthanded opportunity was thwarted, Valtteri Filppula fed a wide-open Claude Giroux, who beat Luongo through an exposed five-hole. Giroux pumped his fist in celebration, displaying some confidence that was lacking for most of last season.

• The prettiest scoring play of the night was reserved for the Flyers’ fourth goal. That play started when Travis Konecny outraced the defense for a breakaway that Luongo denied. A trailing Nolan Patrick fed a pass between his legs to Dale Weise, who slipped a wrist shot past Luongo. Patrick’s second career assist was proof of the hockey sense to know where his teammates are on the ice and a credit to his unselfish play (see video).

• Simmonds capped the entertainment value on this night when he roughed up the Panthers’ newest “enforcer” Michael Haley, dropping him to the ice following a series of rights. Haley joined the Panthers in the offseason after he was second in the NHL last season with 16 fights.

Simmonds was last on the ice around midway through the third period. He was taken out for precautionary reasons with a lower-body injury. A further update will be provided in the next two days.

• Sean Couturier’s office appears to be anywhere there’s blue paint. The Flyers’ top-line center opened the scoring from the seat of his pants as he was left alone in front, made a nice move and whacked away at a loose puck that just crossed the line behind Luongo. Of Couturier’s four goals, the puck has yet to leave the ice.

First-period observations
• If you’re going to get burned on a breakaway, better make it against a fourth-line center. Florida’s MacKenzie was denied a point-blank shot in the first period as Konency did an excellent job of racing back to get his stick on the puck from behind MacKenzie without committing a penalty.

• Looking for his first goal since the season opener in San Jose, Weal had two prime opportunities in a span of 15 seconds to score on the Flyers’ first power play. Playing his off wing, Weal misfired on one chance and missed the net on the other.  

• Panthers center Owen Tippett made his NHL debut Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center. Tippett was the 10th overall selection in the 2017 NHL draft, and he’s the fifth player from the most recent draft class to play in the league this season. Unlike Patrick, selected second overall, Tippet was a non-factor.

Lines, pairings and scratches

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Dale Weise-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Michal Neuvirth
Brian Elliott

Scratched: Jori Lehtera and Travis Sanheim.

Travis Sanheim likely to sit again vs. Panthers

Travis Sanheim likely to sit again vs. Panthers

VOORHEES, N.J. — It looks as though Travis Sanheim will sit for the second straight game vs. the Panthers tonight (see Flyers-Panthers thoughts)

Now, before you get angry — and fire off a hot take about Andrew MacDonald or Brandon Manning — understand this isn’t a death sentence for Sanheim.

The Flyers have played all of five games this season. Sanheim has played in three, and after a bumpy NHL debut vs. the Kings, the talented rookie showed growth to round out the Flyers’ season-opening road trip (see Flyers Rookie Report)

“I think that the L.A. game was a bit of a wash, with it being my first game and it not going the way I wanted it to,” Sanheim said Tuesday after morning skate. “But I thought the other two games, you started to see some more of the way I want to play. I thought even into the Nashville game, I got better that night, as well. I think that’s what you want to see with a young guy, is getting better every night and I’ll continue to do that.”

And after watching from the press box during Saturday’s blowout win vs. the Capitals, the Flyers’ top defensive prospect will get his chances ... at some point. 

“I don’t have a number for you there,” Hakstol said of when we could see Sanheim crack the lineup. “But your players have to play. That doesn’t mean they have to play every game, but certainly they have to learn, both off the ice, on the ice, practice, game-wise and continue to grow.”

So Sanheim — who is a minus-two with zero points — has to learn the NHL game. It’s not uncommon for rookie defensemen to struggle with the speed and skill of the NHL in the early parts of their careers.

“The position is a hard position to make the adjustment to and to learn,” Hakstol said. “That being said, I think your players can be successful in making the jump and making the transition.”

If Sanheim needs any inspiration, he simply needs to look a few lockers down at Ivan Provorov. 

Provorov made the jump straight from the WHL (junior hockey) to the NHL last season, and early on, it wasn’t a particularly smooth transition. The then 19-year-old bottomed out at a minus-5 in an October loss to Chicago but blossomed into the team’s No. 1 defenseman in the second half of the season.

Sure, Sanheim has taken his lumps this season, but he hasn’t necessarily been bad. Hakstol even went as far as to say that he’s been happy with the 21-year-old’s play.

“I’ve been very happy with him," Hakstol said. “I’ve been happy with Travis’ play. We want him to keep growing. He’s going to continue to be a big part of our group. He’s got a great attitude and a great perspective in terms of being able to handle all the different situations that come his way.”

Sanheim said the coaching staff hasn’t ordered him to focus on any one aspect of his game, but after Tuesday’s optional morning skate, the rookie stayed on the ice for an extra 30 minutes with the staff and Jori Lehtera — who has been a healthy scratch for all five games this season — working on clearing the crease. 

It all comes down to the numbers. And right now, the Flyers have seven solid defensemen. 

“The other night (Saturday vs. Capitals), obviously I wanted to be in the lineup, but we've got seven good [defensemen] right now and obviously there’s going to be a guy sitting, and it just happened to be me the other night,” Sanheim said. “It was a learning experience. I think I can gain a lot from watching and seeing some of those guys, how they handle themselves in certain situations and I thought I gained a lot from it the other night."

Not convinced? Last season, rookie winger Travis Konecny and second-year D-man Shayne Gostisbehere both served multiple stints in Hakstol’s doghouse — the press box — and have seemingly turned things around to begin this season. This year, Gostisbehere is second on the team in points with eight, while, more importantly, he and Konecny are both a plus-2 on the year — good enough for a tie for third on the team. So, like it or not, maybe there is some good to sitting a young player for a few games. 

“Ultimately, as a young guy, I think there’s a lot of things you need to work on and for me, it's just working hard in practice and getting better every day,” Sanheim said. “I just want to try and establish myself as an everyday player. 

“I’ve been through this before. My first year of junior, I didn’t play right away and I was a healthy scratch for five games there, so I’ve been through the process before and I understand the situation that I’m in and ultimately, it’s up to me whether I want to play every night and I've got to show them that I’m deserving of that and obviously, it's going to maybe take some time but I’m willing to put in the work.”

Projected lines
With only 11 players skating, there was no line rushes or defensive pairings, but coming off an 8-2 win, it’s hard to imagine Hakstol making any changes to the lineup. However, it looks as though Michal Neuvirth will get the start in net. 

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Dale Weise-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Michal Neuvirth
Brian Elliott

Scratches
Forward Jori Lehtera and defenseman Travis Sanheim