Flyers

A 'gamer' with impressive vision at center would make sense for Flyers

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.

“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 have some guys targeted we feel we would be very happy with in the top couple of rounds.

"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.”

 

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

Mavrik Bourque

Position: Center

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 178

Shoots: Right

Team: Shawinigan Cataractes

Scouting report

A deft and cerebral facilitator, Bourque is a big-time passer with step-ahead vision.

The 18-year-old scored 1.45 points per game, ninth most in the QMJHL, with 29 goals and 42 assists through 49 contests.

Alexis Lafreniere, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, led the league with 35 power play assists. Bourque finished tied for fifth with 21.

How well does he see the ice? Check out this feed during a February game in which Bourque erupted for seven points (two goals, five assists).

Bourque isn't the strongest or fastest but everything else is really good, particularly the way he exploits gaps and understands angles.

"He’s a guy that’s everything to that team, he plays probably too much for a player his age," Flahr said. "Every game I’ve seen him, he’s on the ice pretty much half of the game. Third game in three days, he doesn’t have a lot left in the tank, but a real character kid. He’s undersized a little bit but he can skate, he can play both ends of the rink, he likes to score, he likes all facets of the game and you can tell he’s a gamer. Intriguing guy and a guy that won’t have to wait too long on draft day."

Fit with Flyers

It's uncertain if Bourque will be available for the Flyers at No. 23. NHL Central Scouting put him as the 22nd-ranked North American skater, but EliteProspects.com has Bourque pegged as the 17th-best player in the draft and TSN's Craig Button slotted him at No. 20.

The Flyers could be aiming for the best center available to replenish a bit at an important position. They've taken three centers over the past two drafts — one in the sixth round and another in the seventh.

Bourque will undoubtedly have the Flyers' attention if he's in the ballpark of their first-round selection.