Flyers

Prospect who relishes physicality could be an option for Flyers in draft

Flyers

After a long wait with the unprecedented stoppage because of the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 NHL draft has arrived.

The first round will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET, while Rounds 2-7 follow on Wednesday starting at 11:30 a.m. ET.

The Flyers hold seven picks and their first-round selection comes at No. 23 overall.

Let's take a look at a target for the Flyers with the 23rd selection:

Jake Neighbours 

Position: Left wing 

Height: 6-foot

Weight: 195 pounds 

Shoots: Left 

Team: Edmonton Oil Kings 

Scouting report

The 18-year-old Neighbours relishes the physical aspects of hockey.

“Growing up, I was bigger than some guys and once I got to where hitting was allowed, I loved throwing big ones,” he told Jim Matheson of The Edmonton Journal. “Being physical is what my dad preached for a long time. And the chirping develops as you get older. I like that too, but it depends who you’re chirping against.”

He’s shown the willingness to fight, too, and can fire a right hand. 

Of course, a player doesn’t draw consideration in the early rounds of the NHL draft just because of his physicality. Neighbours produced more than a point per game this season, posting 23 goals and 47 assists in 64 WHL contests. He’s a decent skater for his size, sets up his teammates effectively and has a nice wrist shot in his arsenal. Neighbours profiles as a player who could help both the penalty kill and power play units at the NHL level, given his ability to protect the puck and force the action offensively. However, he produced only three power play goals this season, a number you’d like to see rise as he continues to develop. 

 

"He's one of those forwards I'd put in the power forward with good skill who can make plays category," Brad Lauer, his head coach with the Oil Kings, told Dave McCarthy for NHL.com. "But he's also a big body who can play a heavy game in those tight, below the goal line, getting to the net type of games. He's got that ability to be that big man and the ability to make plays with good hands and a good hockey sense. He doesn't shy away from tough areas and that is a strong point of his game."

Another quality that stands out with Neighbours is his character, which those close to him rave about. He captained the Canada White U-17 team and generally seems to be the kind of guy you’d like in your locker room, a selfless kid and diligent worker, as The Athletic’s Scott Cruickshank detailed

Fit with Flyers 

Down the line, one could see Neighbours’ relentless, aggressive game fitting well in Alain Vigneault’s forecheck-focused system. 

Based on where he’s ranked — he's the 26th-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, while ESPN's Chris Peters puts him at No. 33 overall and TSN’s Craig Button has him at No. 43  — he could be an option for the Flyers in either the first round or the second.