Barrett Hayton

2018 NHL draft: Prospects the Flyers could select with the 14th overall pick

2018 NHL draft: Prospects the Flyers could select with the 14th overall pick

As we inch closer to Ron Hextall’s fifth draft as Flyers general manager, we have a track record of what to expect this weekend at the 2018 NHL draft at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

The Flyers have nine selections and two first-rounders. Hextall said last week he anticipates making both of his first-round picks (Nos. 14 and 19) but left the door open for a trade. In prior drafts, Hextall operated by a best player available mentality. While he said he’ll stick to the Flyers’ list, he let it slip they would like to restock their defense and desire more right-handed D-men.

We’re going to provide prospects the Flyers could target in the first round. First up, No. 14.

Joel Farabee, LW, 6-0/161, USA U-18 (NTDP)

While Hextall said a righty D-man is on his wish list, he also acknowledged the Flyers’ need for goal scoring. Farabee, an 18-year-old New Yorker from the USNTDP, fits that description well.

Farabee scored 48 total goals in 88 combined games and produced above a point-per-game clip between the USHL and NTDP. He brings high character and a commitment to a 200-foot game.

A speedy left winger, Farabee possesses a shoot-first mentality and his skating to create space. He’s headed to Boston University in the fall, where he’ll fine-tune his game and bulk up.

Rasmus Kupari, C, 6-1/188, Kärpät (Extraliga)

Hextall lives by building down the middle — centers, defensemen and goaltenders — so Kupari could be on the Flyers’ radar come Friday night. He’s one of the best skaters in the draft and owns tremendous puck skills while still having a ton of raw talent he needs to polish overseas.

Kupari, as a 17-year-old playing in Finland’s top hockey league, recorded 14 points in 39 games with Kärpät. He also made Finland’s 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships roster.

The centerman will be staying in Finland for at least another year, so patience will be required. Could be a few years before he comes to North America but is a high-upside prospect.

Bode Wilde, D, 6-2/197, USA U-18 (NTDP)

If the Flyers stay put, keep an eye on Wilde, a smooth-skating righty defenseman with a cannon for a shot and a solid frame for an 18-year-old, using it to separate players from the puck.

Wilde scored 12 goals and 41 points in 61 games with the NTDP this season and added three goals and 16 points in 25 games with the NTDP junior team in the USHL. 

After originally committing to the University of Michigan, Wilde recently de-committed from the college, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie. Needs to get smarter with his decision-making and sharpen his play in his own zone, but there are enough encouraging signs in which that won’t be an issue.

Ty Smith, D, 5-10/176, Spokane (WHL)

A smaller defensive prospect, Smith’s skating ability picks up for what he lacks in size. The game has changed, so size doesn’t matter as much anymore. Still, Smith’s skill level is high.

The Chiefs' defenseman scored 14 goals and 73 points in 69 games in 2017-18 and captained Team Canada’s U-18 team at the 2018 IIHF U-18 World Junior Championships.

Smith’s talent level isn’t that far off from the draft’s top D prospects. Spokane head coach Dan Lambert recently said Smith reminds him like a mix of Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov.

Joseph Veleno, C, 6-1/194, Drummondville (QMJHL)

Veleno may be off the board when the Flyers are on the clock but could last until 14. The centerman was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 QMJHL draft after receiving exceptional status as a 15-year-old by the CHL, becoming just the fifth player to ever be granted that rank.

Finishing as the eighth-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, Veleno has a pro-like work ethic with a high hockey IQ. He was traded from Saint John to Drummondville midseason in 2017-18 and finished with 79 points in 64 games between the two clubs.

Under the Hextall administration, the Flyers have valued smart players with high character and a commitment to playing a 200-foot game. If Veleno is available, he fits all that criteria.

Other names to watch

Barrett Hayton, C, 6-1/190, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Hayton is a prospect the Flyers should know plenty about. A solid two-way centerman who produced just under a point-per-game clip in 2017-18 playing for the powerhouse Greyhounds.

Serron Noel, RW, 6-5/210, Oshawa (OHL)
A monster of a winger, Noel falls under the project category. The Flyers’ farm system positions them to be able to take on a project like Noel but there appear to be better fits at No. 14.

Vitali Kravtsov, RW, 6-2/184, Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)
Hextall has built a reputation as a GM who likes high risers — Travis Sanheim and Morgan Frost, for example — and Kravtsov definitely falls into that category. A very intriguing option at 14.

Grigori Denisenko, LW, 5-10/171, Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
A Russian winger with sky-high potential. Not sure if he’ll be on the Flyers’ radar at 14 — might be a little high — but his ceiling could be enticing enough for Hextall to call his name.

More on the 2018 NHL draft

How much will Flyers change? Another summer is here for Hextall

Flyers anticipate making both first-round draft picks

Flyers should know and like this D-man to 'restock'

Flyers desire righty D, but is Ryan Merkley worth the risk?

2018 NHL draft profile: Barrett Hayton, safe prospect with Flyers connection

2018 NHL draft profile: Barrett Hayton, safe prospect with Flyers connection

Over the weeks leading up to the 2018 NHL draft, we're providing prospect profiles and how they would fit with the Flyers, who have two first-round picks — Nos. 14 and 19.

The NHL draft takes place June 22-23 at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Flyers have nine picks with two in the first, fifth and seventh rounds and one in the second, fourth and sixth. They do not own a third-rounder as it went to the Detroit Red Wings for Petr Mrazek. The 14th pick conveyed from the Brayden Schenn trade. The final details were Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for Jori Lehtera, a 2017 first-round pick (Morgan Frost) and the 14th pick.

Our prospect profiles will touch mostly on prospects projected to go in the 10-20 range but some may require the Flyers having to trade up to select. We’ll identify those prospects.

Barrett Hayton

Position: Center
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 190
Shoots: Left
Team: Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

Scouting report
Hayton doesn’t carry high-end potential but is a safe bet to be an effective NHL player. Though, it’s hard to get a read on exactly how strong of a prospect Hayton is because of his junior situation. The centerman plays on the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, who had a 23-game winning streak this season, and one has to wonder if his numbers were inflated as a result.

The Kitchener, Ontario, native turns 18 Saturday and put up strong totals in his draft year. He finished below a point-per-game clip but not by much. Hayton scored 21 goals and 60 points in 63 games with the Greyhounds and added 21 points in 24 playoff games. It was a big jump from his 16-year-old season in 2016-17, when he produced a respectable 27 points in 63 games.

There is plenty to like about the 6-foot-1 center’s game. He has good puck skills and knows how to use his body in puck battles and to protect the puck in the offensive zone. An intelligent player with a strong wrist shot. His skating is an area he’ll need to improve upon, though.

Fit with Flyers
With two first-round picks, the Flyers have options in this year’s draft. They could use the ammo to trade up or use one of the picks to acquire a proven commodity. Like Team USA U-18’s Joel Farabee, Hayton has been a favorite to be selected by the Flyers in mock drafts.

Hayton fits the mold of a Ron Hextall pick as he has a high hockey IQ and plays well in all three zones. The Flyers build through the middle and as a center, Hayton would fit. The Flyers operate by best player available and with two picks, they figure to draft at least one forward. If this was last year, an argument could be made for two forwards, but the Flyers could use another potential impact defenseman in their farm system. Hextall and the Flyers’ scouts should be familiar with Hayton, a teammate of 2017 first-round pick Morgan Frost in Sault Ste. Marie.

On the surface, Hayton seems like a strong possibility if he’s available at No. 14. He might not project to be a star, but he does figure to be a solid middle-sixer. That could mix well with how the Flyers’ future unfolds.

More on the 2018 NHL draft

2018 NHL draft profile: Joel Farabee

2018 NHL draft profile: Joseph Veleno

2018 NHL draft profile: Vitali Kravtsov

• History of the 14th overall pick

• History of the 19th overall pick

2018 NHL draft position preview — Centers

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Terry Wilson/OHL Images

2018 NHL draft position preview — Centers

Last week, we began our 2018 NHL draft coverage by examining the history of the Flyers’ two first-round picks, 14th overall and No. 19. Today, we begin looking at this year’s draft class.

We begin with position previews. First up, the top draft-eligible centers. While the Flyers’ two first-rounders are in the teens, general manager Ron Hextall may opt to trade up into the top 10, which is why we are including the top prospects first and then later will provide better fits for the Flyers.

Joe Veleno, 6-1/193, Drummondville (QMJHL)
Veleno finished as the eighth-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, a five-spot jump from its midterm rankings. He began the 2017-18 season with Saint John, which drafted him with the first overall pick in the 2015 QMJHL entry draft, before being traded to Drummondville. With Saint John this season, Veleno posted 31 points in 31 games. After the trade, his numbers shot up. He tallied 16 goals and 48 points in 33 games with Drummondville.

Let’s go back to the 2015 QMJHL draft. Hockey Canada granted Veleno “exceptional status,” allowing him to play in major junior hockey at 15 years old. He became the first Quebec player and just the fifth CHL player to receive this status. The others were Connor McDavid, John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad and Sean Day. Because of the “exceptional status,” some may feel inclined to lump him into the conversation with McDavid and Tavares, but Veleno is not at that level of prospect. He’s a strong skater with a high hockey IQ and plays a solid 200-foot game.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 8-12.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi, 6-2/188, Assat (Liiga)
Kotkaniemi is a 17-year-old prospect who already has a professional season under his belt. He finished with 29 points in 57 games this season, seventh most by a U-18 player in Liiga history. Finished as the sixth-ranked European skater by Central Scouting, a three-spot climb from the midterm rankings. He can play all three forward positions but projects as a center in the NHL.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 9-15

Barrett Hayton, 6-1/190, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Hayton is a teammate of Flyers prospect Morgan Frost (27th overall, 2017) and finished ranked ninth among North American skaters by Central Scouting, a three-spot drop from the midterm rankings. He doesn’t have high-end potential but has been pegged as a safe pick that he’ll be an NHLer.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 10-16

Isac Lundestrom, 6-0/185, Luleå HF (SHL)
Lundestrom checks in as the eighth-ranked European skater, a five-spot drop from midterm. He just finished his second professional season in the SHL. Had six goals and 15 points in 42 games for Luleå HF in 2017-18. His best attribute is his shot, a quick release with precision. He’s a decent skater and plays a solid two-way game. Should be taken around the end of the lottery.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 10-17

Rasmus Kupari, 6-1/183, Karpat (Liiga)
More European flavor to wrap up the top draft-eligible centers, a position that’s usually stronger than this year’s class. Kupari saw a five-spot drop from Central Scouting’s midterm rankings, finishing 11th among Europeans. He didn’t play a ton for Karpat this year, averaging 12 minutes but had 14 points in 39 games. Has a lot of raw talent but not fully developed.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 15-22