The entire picture for the 2020 NHL draft remains cloudy with the ongoing suspension of the 2019-20 regular season because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Where will the Flyers be picking? When and how will the draft be held? Those questions are currently unanswered.
The Flyers hold seven total selections and, as of right now, are slotted with the 26th overall pick.
“I think it’s a decent draft — I don’t know if it’s top end," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said April 25 in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "The top 10, 12 guys look like pretty high end. There’s a bit of a drop-off, but there’s some depth to the draft for a couple of rounds. We don’t know totally where we’re picking, but we have an idea. We have some guys targeted we feel we would be very happy with in the top couple of rounds and then we still have some work to do to clean up the mid-to-later-round picks.
"Obviously you’d want the big, scoring, playmaking center, anybody does. We’re in a position where we’ll likely be taking the best player available.
"Realistically the players you draft now are two or three years down the road, best-case scenario. Some cases you get surprised. But by then, your team needs are different. We’ll do the best we can, we have an idea of where our holes are going forward and places where we certainly want to add depth to, whether it’s center or scoring winger or defense, we’ll see what happens. We’ll prepare, we weigh guys against each other, the pros and cons and we’ll do the best we can there.”
This month and into June, we'll continue to break down options for the Flyers at No. 26.
Wallinder is what Flahr called "a real wild card" in this draft because his stock consists of projection.
The 17-year-old Swede is a smooth-skating blueliner with a fluid and long stride. He is dexterous with the puck on his stick and loves transitioning it up ice thanks to his skill set.
With Wallinder's build and style, there's some Egor Zamula to him. Zamula, one of the Flyers' top defensemen in their system, is also 6-foot-4, a lefty shot and slick skater that covers ground.
In 37 games for MODO's junior club during 2019-20, Wallinder scored 24 points (five goals, 19 assists).
European amateur scout Joakim Grundberg is a MODO product, having scouted for it as well, before joining the Flyers' staff. He also shares the same hometown of Wallinder.
"So we know him very well, on and off the ice," Flahr said.
Production-wise, Wallinder opened eyes with four points through four games in the Junior Club World Championship, but was quiet at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and Five Nations tournament. He's noticeable, though, even when he's not scoring. From a projection standpoint, he'll need time to develop into a dependable pro.
He’s a really intriguing guy," Flahr said. "You see him at the Hlinka tournament in the summer and you see this big, tall, lanky kid that can skate, but very, very raw.
He came into the November tournament and really took a jump and forced everybody to notice him, he was up ice and looking a little more confident. The February tournament, it wasn’t as productive but just to see the physical tools this kid has, he’s got the size, the range, the mobility — he’s got a good skill set, he’s just going to need a little time to find his identity. But he’s one of those kids who gets up ice, it’s just so easy for him to recover. He’s going to have to figure things out.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go real high or because of his rawness, he might slide a little bit, especially without an April tournament. Certainly a guy that is on everybody’s radar and a player with tremendous upside if he figures it out.
6'4 defenceman with these feet/hands and the willingness to use them creates some fun little GIFs pic.twitter.com/PF3wuepC9r— 51Leafs (@51Leafs) April 4, 2020
Here's an outstanding play by the Swedes at the #5Nations against Finland's U18 team.— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) February 7, 2020
William Wallinder (#2020NHLDraft) sends a beautiful stretch pass up the ice to Theodor Niederbach (2020) who makes a beautiful move for the goal! pic.twitter.com/9rtQJ8qwKA
Fit with Flyers
The Flyers are well-stocked at defensemen but won't shy away from drafting the best player available to load up even more on the back end.
Wallinder could go anywhere from the mid-to-late first round or maybe even slip into the early second.
The Flyers like big, mobile, puck-moving defensemen that accentuate head coach Alain Vigneault's system.
Wallinder might be there for them and you can never have enough depth.
"Checks every category necessary to be a No. 1 defenseman in the NHL," TSN's Craig Button wrote last month. "Contributes significantly in all areas of the game."
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