Nolan Patrick makes it, Oskar Lindblom doesn't as Flyers have 1 more cut coming

Nolan Patrick makes it, Oskar Lindblom doesn't as Flyers have 1 more cut coming

Nolan Patrick and Robert Hagg smiled and exchanged handshakes in the Flyers' hallway Sunday after they were told they had made the team’s opening roster. Both guys described their respective meetings with management as “short and sweet.”

Patrick, the second overall pick in the 2017 NHL draft, becomes the first rookie since Sean Couturier in 2011 to make the team straight out of training camp in their draft year.

“It was pretty exciting to find that out and I’m looking forward to the first game,” Patrick said as he follows in the footsteps of his father and uncle who played in the league as well. “It was really exciting growing up. My goal is to play in the NHL, so to get that news is really exciting. I know my family is pretty excited for me.”

Patrick’s father, Steve, played 250 career games, and his uncle, James, now an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars, endured a 20-year career in the league. While Nolan Patrick has the pedigree, he likely won’t match the production of other players selected second overall. Jets winger Patrick Laine scored 36 goals and 64 points in 2016-17, his first season in Winnipeg.

“I think when I get the first one (goal), I think they’ll come," Patrick said. "It’s a tough thing for me. I always start the year slow on the goals, hopefully, I can get a bounce and get that first one out of the way. My main focus isn’t scoring. I’m just trying to hold onto pucks and make plays and be a good defensive player, so that’s what I’m focusing on.”

Patrick, who wore No. 19 with the Brandon Wheat Kings, is ready to shed the No. 64 he’s worn in the preseason. He says he has another number in mind but didn't elaborate.

Hagg’s path to the NHL wasn’t nearly as direct as Patrick’s. The Flyers' 2013 second-round pick spent three-plus seasons, 202 regular-season games, in the AHL before receiving word Sunday his hard work had finally paid off.

“Pretty happy. I was kinda nervous when I walked in there," Hagg said, "but after the meeting, I was extremely happy to make the team. I’ve just tried to simplify everything and not trying to look for the home run play. I just try to get the puck out of the D-zone as quick as I can and just making sure the puck isn't going in our nets.”   

With Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov mainstays on the left side of the ice, positioning played a major factor in how Hakstol elected to set up his defense pairings. Outside of Radko Gudas, the Flyers' left-handed heavy defensive corps doesn’t have a right-handed shot on the ride side, and that’s where Hagg’s comfortability and flexibility was a key factor in the decision-making.   

“[Hagg's] ability to play the right side or the left side in a 5-on-5 role as well as penalty kill role," Hakstol said, "that versatility is an asset.”

With Patrick and Hagg packing their bags for San Jose, general manager Ron Hextall had to be the bearer of bad news in regards to Flyers' 2014 fifth-round pick, Oskar Lindblom, who has been assigned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to begin the season.

“It’s not tough,” Hextall said on the move to send down Lindblom. “Oskar did a good job in camp, but right now, the best thing for you and the team is for you to go up there (Lehigh Valley) and play well. He was great. He took it very well. Oskar is a good player and American League time hasn’t hurt one player in the history of professional hockey.”

As it stands, the Flyers' roster is currently at 24, and management needs to make one more additional move prior to the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline when the cap-compliant rosters for all 31 teams have to be submitted to the league office.

To complicate matters, Gostisbehere left Sunday’s game with 11:30 remaining in the third period and never returned (see observations). Hextall listed Gostisbehere with an upper-body injury while also saying, “We’ll know more in the next day or two.” With that, it’s believed Gostisbehere could be evaluated further for any possible concussion symptoms.

With Gostisbehere’s availability uncertain, the Flyers likely will take eight defensemen on their opening four-game road trip to start the season, including rookies Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim, who were healthy scratches in the team’s preseason finale against the Islanders.

“They’re all going to California, probably," Hextall said. "We’ll see.”

Or the Flyers could place one of the team’s veteran forwards, likely Matt Read or Jori Lehtera, on waivers with the option of sending them to Lehigh Valley in the event they clear.

Decisions. Decisions. It’s been this way for the past month. What’s one more day … or two.

Recapping the Flyers' 2018 NHL draft class

Recapping the Flyers' 2018 NHL draft class

While the weekend felt rather subdued to Ron Hextall (see story), the Flyers still made some history of their own at the 2018 NHL draft.

The Flyers entered with nine picks and ended up making eight — none of which were used on a Canadian player, a first in the organization's history. 

Over the two-day draft, which wrapped up Saturday, the Flyers selected five American players and three Swedish players.

Let's recap the Flyers' work in Dallas:

First round, No. 14: Joel Farabee, 6-0/164, LW

Analysis: A legitimate two-way winger with a big shot and scoring mentality.

Quotable: "He's got speed. He's got skill. He can score. He's a good player and he has size in his family, so I still think there's a chance he can grow." - Hextall

First round, No. 19: Jay O'Brien, 5-11/176, C

Analysis: Some may view it as a reach, but the Flyers love O'Brien's makeup and ability.

Quotable: "He just has the traits of a hockey player. Just his timing of passes, when to shoot, when to pass. He's a really smart hockey player. He's competitive. He's strong. He's got a little agitator in him." - Hextall

Second round, No. 50: Adam Ginning, 6-4/206, D

Analysis: A stay-at-home defenseman with toughness and size.

Quotable: "We like his size. We like his upside. He’s a big guy and he moves pretty well for a big guy. He’s got solid puck skills and he has the range we need for a solid defensive defenseman." - Hextall

Fourth round, No. 112: John St. Ivany, 6-2/198, D

Analysis: A right-handed shot blueliner the Flyers wanted.

Quotable: "Good size, moves well. Kind of one of those steady-Eddie types of guys, solid with the puck. He was a good fit for our group." - Hextall

Fifth round, No. 127: Wyatte Wylie, 6-0/190, D

Analysis: Another righty blueliner that saw his draft stock shoot up in the second half of his junior season.

Quotable: "I like to describe myself as a two-way defenseman, one that can move pucks up and likes to join the play." - Wylie

Fifth round, No. 143: Samuel Ersson, 6-2/176, G

Analysis: The Flyers were not going to chase a goalie but liked the ceiling here.

Quotable: "We think there’s some upside there that hasn’t been tapped yet. We got him a lot later. Had we needed a goalie, we would have taken him a lot earlier." - Hextall

Sixth round, No. 174: Gavin Hain, 5-11/193, C

Analysis: A teammate of Farabee with bottom-six potential.

Quotable: "The NTDP itself is a hard-grooming place to play as a player, but it’s a great spot to develop." - Hain

Seventh round, No. 205: Marcus Westfalt, 6-3/203, C/LW

Analysis: An Oskar Lindblom-type prospect? Westfalt has some traits to like.

Quotable: "I like the mix that we got — three D, four forwards, a goalie. I like the mix, I like the fits. We got some good players. We got some skill up front. We got some guys in the back that complement our group with some size, some steady guys." - Hextall

More on the 2018 NHL draft

• Flyers' draft shows big year for USA Hockey

• Hextall surprised by Flyers' quiet draft weekend

• With O'Brien, Hextall shows he's 'never' one to be safe

• With Philly ties, Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

• Samuelsson continues family's NHL tradition

5 thoughts on Flyers' 2018 NHL draft

5 thoughts on Flyers' 2018 NHL draft

Ron Hextall entered his fifth draft as Flyers general manager with nine selections and left Dallas making eight of them — a pretty typical draft weekend under the Hextall regime.

With Hextall as GM, the Flyers have averaged 8.4 draft picks and their eight selections this year are the second least with him steering the ship. He made six picks in his first draft in 2014.

As the offseason now shifts onto development camp and free agency, let’s break down the weekend that was for the Flyers at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

1. The overall draft class

Hextall emphasized during last week the need to restock the Flyers’ defensive pipeline and that right-handed defensemen were a “big fill” in the organization. On Day 2, he followed through.

The Flyers used their first three picks Saturday on defensemen: Adam Ginning (50th overall), John St. Ivany (112th overall) and Wyatte Wylie (127th overall). St. Ivany and Wylie are righties.

Overall, the Flyers’ draft class from Rounds 2-7 didn’t seem to blow anyone away, but with a prospect pool as deep as the Flyers, this draft wasn’t about refilling the cupboard.

What mattered most about this draft was the two first-rounders and while Jay O’Brien is a bit of a wild card, Joel Farabee was as perfect as an option the Flyers had available at No. 14 overall.

Drafts can’t be judged until three or five years down the line, so we won’t know how this overall crop will pan out. But if one of Farabee or O’Brien hit, that’s all that matters.

Farabee, especially, fits an organizational need as a quick, shoot-first natural winger.

If all goes according to plan, this draft class should be judged on the first-round picks. It’s important to find diamonds in the rough and perhaps they have. Time will tell.

But based on the Flyers’ current timetable to compete, they need at least one of these two first-rounders to turn into an impact NHL player. My money is on Farabee being just that.

2. A quiet weekend

Part of the allure of draft weekend is the constant trade speculation leading up to Round 1 and throughout the first round. Friday was a fairly quiet night in the NHL player transaction ledger.

Saturday some saw significant player movement with Ilya Kovalchuk and signing with the Kings and the Flames trading Dougie Hamilton to Carolina for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindblom.

But none from the Flyers. The draft is when Hextall comes out of his cage and yells, “I am Ron, hear me roar.” For Hextall, the draft is where he does his best, and loudest, work.

Technically, this is the first draft the Flyers didn’t make any moves of note, but that is misleading. When Philly hosted the draft in 2014, Hextall’s first, the Flyers reportedly were hot in pursuit of trading up from No. 17 overall to the top pick to draft Aaron Ekblad.

In the end, Hextall couldn’t strike his magic. Every year since he has … since now. It was a weird feeling not seeing the Flyers subject of trade rumors this weekend.

The Flyers didn’t leave Dallas without making one trade, though. Hextall reached into his bag of tricks and traded the 190th overall to the Canadiens for a seventh-rounder in 2019.

3. The growth of USA hockey on full display

For the first time in franchise history, the Flyers did not draft a Canadian-born player. Their breakdown goes as followed: Five Americans and three Swedes.

Hextall continued to add college-bound prospects Saturday with the selections of St. Ivany and Gavin Hain (sixth round, 174th overall). St. Ivany is headed to Yale and Hain, North Dakota.

Hain is also the second player the Flyers drafted from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program and was Farabee’s teammate. That’s of note because they haven’t drafted a player from the USNTDP since James van Riemsdyk (No. 2 overall) in 2007. 

If the Flyers drafting no Canadians means anything, it should be viewed as the growth of USA Hockey. It was a pretty good year for the NTDP, which had 12 players drafted.

4. Too early to compare

Of the Flyers’ Day 2 picks, Marcus Westfalt may be the most intriguing.

Westfalt was the Flyers’ final selection, taken with the 205th pick. He’s a big winger described as a two-way player. His skill level doesn’t appear to be high-end, but he has potential.

It’s easy to make comparisons to Oskar Lindblom, who fell to the fifth in 2014, but it’s far too early to make that connection. Lindblom’s issue was his skating — it needed major work.

After years of working on it, Lindblom elevated his skating up a few notches. He’s by no means a great skater now, but he improved enough to make the jump to the NHL.

At the very least, Westfalt can be chalked up as an intriguing prospect to watch overseas.

5. The name game

It wouldn't be a hockey draft without an ode to great hockey names.

The Flyers got a gem of their own: Wyatte Wylie in the fifth round.

I feel like the Coyotes should have drafted him. Wylie the Coyote.

I’ll see myself out.

More on the 2018 NHL draft

• If Morin doesn't pan out, is this pick the replacement?  

• With O'Brien, Hextall shows he's 'never' one to be safe

• With Philly ties, Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

• 4 thoughts from Day 1 of 2018 NHL draft

• Samuelsson continues family's NHL tradition