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:
Wallinder is what Flahr called "a real wild card" in this draft because his stock consists of projection.
The 18-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."
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."