Director of scouting Chris Pryor breaks down Flyers' draft possibilities at No. 18

Director of scouting Chris Pryor breaks down Flyers' draft possibilities at No. 18

Flyers director of scouting Chris Pryor was asked last week for his evaluation of players the Flyers like in the first round of the 2016 NHL draft (see draft outlook).

Below includes each prospect's club/college and final North American ranking from NHL Central Scouting, along with Pryor's take.

Auston Matthews is ranked No. 1 among European skaters even though born in the U.S. Hence, Matthew Tkachuk appears ahead of him in the Central Scouting NA rankings.

Kieffer Bellows, LW, 6-1/194, Age 18, USNTDP (USHL); Ranked 10th
“All he does is score; everywhere he’s been,” Pryor said. “He’s one of those guys who can get in the seams, find the holes and put the puck in the back of the net. It’s pretty remarkable what he’s done for the amount of goals that he’s scored.”

Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW/C, 6-3/203, turns 18 day of draft, Cape Breton (QMJHL); Ranked 1st NA
“I think he’s going to be one of those guys that once you get past those big three, he’s in that conversation,” Pryor said. "He’s a guy that’s interesting just because he can do a lot of things. He can play center, he can play wing.”

Julien Gauthier, RW, 6-4/225, Age 18, Val d'Or (QMHJL); Ranked 12th
“Right away, you like the size and the skill package,” Pryor said. “He’s a north-south type guy. When he plays with a complementary center that when he can find a lane and the guy gets him the puck, he’s a dangerous-type guy that adds size and skating and physicality to your lineup.”

Max Jones, LW, 6-2/189, Age 18, London (OHL); Ranked 14th
“Max has the same attributes [as Gauthier], he’s got some size and he skates pretty well, and he adds that element of physicality,” Pryor said. “They’re a little different players in that regard. Both have good size and both can skate. Max adds that intangible — he gets on people, he gets under people’s skin. He’s got a little bit of a different makeup from that standpoint.”

Luke Kunin, C, 6-0/196, Age 18, Wisconsin (NCAA); Ranked 11th
“You look at his season, pretty remarkable for what he’s done for a true freshman playing at the University of Wisconsin,” Pryor said. "He’s another guy who came through that U.S. program and played real well last year. … He’s a versatile guy, can play wing, can play center, competitive, makes plays.”

Matthew Tkachuk, LW, 6-1/195, Age 18, London (OHL); Ranked 2nd
“He’s an offensive-type guy and he’s very good at what he does,” Pryor said. “From the blue line in, he’s a dangerous guy. He’s a big body, takes up a lot of space down low. He can find the open seams, and he can also make plays. You look at that London team, he’s a really good complement with the two guys he played with, [Christian] Dvorak and [Mitch] Marner. That was probably the best line in junior hockey this year, and he was a big part of it.”

Riley Tufte, LW, 6-5/205, Age 18, Blaine High School (Minnesota); Ranked 17th
“The big Minnesota kid,” Pryor said. “It’s a little different projection just because some of those high school hockey games, you get some games where it’s a tough evaluation. … He had a really good year. All the comparisons right now are to [Blake] Wheeler and [Nick] Bjugstad, which are really fair if you look from a numbers standpoint. Big kid, moves extremely well ... goes to the net and knows what to do with the puck when he gets it, and he adds some size and speed to your lineup.”

Crosby's highlight-reel goal sparks Penguins' rally

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Crosby's highlight-reel goal sparks Penguins' rally

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby ignited a rally with a highlight-reel goal and became the third active player with 700 career assists in the Pittsburgh Penguins' 5-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.

Crosby's picked up his 24th goal of the season when he knocked a pass from Jake Guentzel out of the air, deflected it toward the front of his stick and smacked it by Carey Price to tie it at 3 late in the second period.

Derick Brassard put the Penguins in front to stay, beating Price early in the third period as Pittsburgh avoided dropping both games of a back-to-back against also-rans Montreal and the New York Islanders.

Guentzel had a goal and two assists. His 21st goal of the season came off an assist from Crosby, the 700th of Crosby's career. Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist also scored for the Penguins, who drew within two points of idle first-place Washington in the Metropolitan Division. Casey DeSmith finished with 27 saves.

Jonathan Drouin, Nikita Scherbak and Jacob de la Rose scored for the Canadiens, who have dropped nine of their last 10 games. Carey Price made 34 stops in his first start in a month due to a concussion (see full recap).

Schwartz, Blues top Bruins in OT
ST. LOUIS — Jaden Schwartz scored his second goal of the game 30 seconds into overtime to give the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

Schwartz skated up the middle and fired a shot past Anton Khudobin. The Blues won for the fifth time in six games to move within a point of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

Jake Allen made 21 saves to improve to 24-21-2.

Ryan Donato scored for Boston. The Bruins clinched a playoff spot and moved within four points of Tampa Bay for the Eastern lead.

Schwartz tied it midway through the third period with a wrist shot from the top of the circle.

Donato scored his second goal in his second NHL game. He had a goal and two assists in a 5-4 loss to Columbus on Monday night.

Donato, still a student at Harvard University, returned to Massachusetts on Tuesday to attend class before flying back to St. Louis to rejoin the Bruins. His father, Ted, played 528 games in two stints with the Bruins (1992-99, 2003-04) (see full recap).

Rookie sets record in Coyotes’ victory
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Clayton Keller had two assists to set the Arizona Coyotes' franchise record for most points by a rookie in a 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night in a matchup of the NHL's two worst teams.

Rookie Dylan Strome scored in his first game after being called up from the minors. Derek Stepan had a goal and assist, and Richard Panik and Max Domi, with an empty-netter, also scored. Antti Raanta stopped 29 shots to improve to 12-4-4 in his past 20 starts.

Keller, Arizona's 2016 first-round draft pick, extended his points streak to six games, in which he has two goals and five assists. He has 55 points, one more than Peter Mueller had in setting the rookie team record in 2007-08. And Keller has 35 assists, one more than teammate Max Domi had in his rookie season two years ago.

Arizona improved to 13-5-2 in its past 20, and earned its 61st point in leaving Vancouver alone at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

Jordan Nolan scored for Buffalo, which dropped to 23-38-12 to remain in last place in the overall standings (see full recap).

Breaking down why Flyers traded Cooper Marody

Michigan Athletics

Breaking down why Flyers traded Cooper Marody

The Flyers on Wednesday traded NCAA prospect Cooper Marody’s rights to the Edmonton Oilers for a 2019 third-round draft pick that originally belonged to the New Jersey Devils.

Marody enjoyed a breakout junior season at Michigan University in 2017-18. The 21-year-old led the Wolverines with 32 assists, 46 points and 1.24 points per game.

His 32 assists were tied for third-most in the nation, while his 46 points were tied for ninth most. He made the Big Ten All-Tournament team and was the Big Ten scoring champion.

Let’s make sense of why the Flyers moved Marody and why it’s a good return.

One, he was a 2015 sixth-round draft pick with little NHL upside. Essentially, this boils down to a sixth-round pick netting you a third-rounder, which has a higher probability of hitting.

Two, the Flyers’ pipeline is loaded with forwards, and the book on Marody doesn’t project him to be a top-six forward. Think of him as a solid AHL player with bottom-six NHL potential.

Three, the contract limit. The Flyers are currently at 47 contracts, three under the limit. Sure, four players are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this summer with four more hitting restricted free agency. They could easily fit Marody under the contract limit but it goes back to No. 2.

Another potential factor is the 2019 third-rounder the Flyers owe the Red Wings if they make the playoffs since Petr Mrazek has won five games already with the team. They now have a third-rounder in that draft.

Any way we slice it, the Flyers turned a sixth-rounder into a third-rounder. If Marody proves the Flyers wrong, so be it. If not, it's no big deal. The chances of winning this trade are higher than losing it.