Ronald Attard

A 30-goal defenseman? Flyers prospect Ronnie Attard is a 'double whammy' to watch

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Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

A 30-goal defenseman? Flyers prospect Ronnie Attard is a 'double whammy' to watch

Ronnie Attard is 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds.

He loves the physical nature of the game — playing with a mean streak, delivering hits and standing up for teammates.

"That's something that has been a staple of my game since I was a little kid, something that my dad instilled in me," Attard said in June. "If you're the hardest player to play against out on the ice, people are going to notice you."

What also gets you noticed? Thirty goals by a defenseman. That's what Attard pulled off with the USHL's Tri-City Storm in 2018-19. It turned him into a third-round selection of the Flyers this summer after Attard had been draft eligible twice and never heard his name called. He's a 20-year-old with booming potential.

"I still use that staple of being good defensively," Attard said. "Then I started incorporating my offense, which is a double whammy."

With the Storm, Attard blew up in one year. He went from 15 points and a minus-9 rating through 50 games in 2017-18 to 30 goals, 65 points and a plus-47 mark over 48 games to win 2018-19 USHL Player of the Year.

How in the world did he go from undrafted to double whammy, just like that?

You see where he was a year or two ago to where he is now, his mobility, he's gotten a lot stronger, he's gained a ton of confidence, especially on the offensive side of things. He's always been a competitive kid and a hard-nosed kid, but to see where his overall game has come, it hit you in the face when you went to watch him play.

Obviously, we're not expecting him to score 30 goals a year in the NHL, but that stat you can't hide from, either. You score 30 goals in any league in 48 games, you are doing something right.

- Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr

Strength and confidence can do wonders for a young player. Attard brewed the combination by working out at Western Michigan with former NHL head coach Andy Murray and the Broncos.

"Coach Murray called me up last summer and wanted me to be a part of their strength program and get on the ice there," Attard said. "That's been the biggest thing — being on the ice with his players, seeing what they do and they taught me a lot.

"I went back to my junior team and had a bunch of confidence."

Western Michigan will be a team to keep an eye on for Flyers fans in 2019-20. Attard is entering his freshman year for the Broncos, while fellow Flyers prospect Wade Allison will be a senior winger with something to prove.

"I know him pretty well, I've been kind of following in his footsteps," Attard said of Allison. "He played at Tri-City and then went to Western, and I did the same thing. We know a lot of mutual people and we get along really well.

"He gave me the rundown and how things are handled there. It's another top-notch organization, Andy Murray's been around the game a long time, so hoping to learn a lot from him."

Despite his big shot and 30-goal breakout season, Attard knows he's far from a finished product.

"My skating and just my consistency," Attard said of the areas in which he wants to improve. "There are some nights where I'm the best player out on the ice and there are other nights where I'm just kind of irrelevant. I want to be able to bring that every night, just knowing what it takes to get my game at that 100 percent level.

"I just want to keep getting better, develop my footwork, my consistency level, even my shot has a little work to be put into it. Once I think I can come to this level and succeed and be an impact and help these guys out, that's when I'm going to make the jump."

Attard turned heads with the jump he made last season.

How fast could he tackle college?

"He's going to a Western Michigan program with quality coaching," Flahr said. "He should be an interesting watch here over the next couple of years."

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Recapping the Flyers' 2019 NHL draft class

Recapping the Flyers' 2019 NHL draft class

The Flyers' 2019 NHL draft is in the books.

General manager Chuck Fletcher, assistant general manager Brent Flahr and the Flyers entered the draft with eight picks and finished with seven. In a trade Friday night, the Flyers gained a second-round selection. In a trade Saturday afternoon, they lost one of their two third-round spots. Then, in the seventh round, the Flyers dealt their final pick to the Canadiens in exchange for a 2020 seventh-rounder.

So how did Fletcher and Flahr do in their first draft with the Flyers? Let's recap the team's work in Vancouver, British Columbia.

First round, No. 14: Cam York, 5-11/172, D

Analysis: York is a threat whenever the puck is on his stick, which is often given his skill set. He set a USNTDP single-season record with 65 points in 63 games.

Quotable: "He's put up big numbers offensively. He's a talented guy and projects to be a very good defenseman for a long time." - Flahr

Second round, No. 34: Bobby Brink, 5-8/165, RW

Analysis: Not the fastest or biggest, but can flat-out score. Considered a first-round talent by many draft experts, Brink was the 2018-19 USHL Forward of the Year. 

Quotable: "He's extremely smart, highly skilled, very competitive. He picked apart the USHL league, which is hard to score in; coming right out of high school and dominated." - Flahr

Third round, No. 72: Ronald Attard, 6-4/205, D

Analysis: Took a crazy jump in 2018-19, earning USHL Player of the Year. Attard scored 30 goals — yes, as a defenseman — after totaling just 15 points in 2017-18.

Quotable: "It stands out no matter what level you're at when you're a defenseman. You score 30 goals, that's certainly an asset. We don't even necessarily project him as an offensive defenseman. He's a big body, he's physical, he has a mean streak." - Flahr

Fourth round, No. 103: Mason Millman, 6-1/175, D

Analysis: Smart, only 17 years old and was a plus-22 in his first OHL season.

Quotable: "Millman in the fourth, a defenseman two of our Ontario guys felt strongly about, that he has upside." - Flahr

Sixth round, No. 165: Egor Serdyuk, 5-11/165, RW

Analysis: Led all QMJHL rookies with 65 points (25 goals, 40 assists) in 63 games.

Quotable: "He has a good skill set, he has a nose for the net, he can score and his skating is fine. He needs to get stronger, he's going to have to learn to play away from the puck, but you can't teach his offensive tools." - Flahr

Sixth round, No. 169: Roddy Ross, 6-2/180, G

Analysis: Amateur scout Mark Greig and goaltender development coach Brady Robinson pushed hard for Ross, who was the 17th goalie taken in the draft.

Quotable: "He's a guy that came on the scene late. He's a big kid, he's got to grow into his body. He played very well down the stretch on an average team where he faced a lot of shots. He battled and Brady thinks he has pretty good fundamentals." - Flahr

Seventh round, No. 196: Bryce Brodzinski, 6-0/197, RW

Analysis: A high schooler with rich hockey bloodlines headed to the University of Minnesota.

Quotable: "When my brothers told me that they were better than me at something, I would work super hard at it when they weren’t looking." - Brodzinski, via David La Vaque of the Star Tribune

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2019 NHL draft: Flyers take Ronald Attard with 72nd overall pick

2019 NHL draft: Flyers take Ronald Attard with 72nd overall pick

The Flyers snared another defenseman and another USHL product with their third pick in the 2019 NHL draft.

In the third round with the 72nd overall selection, the Flyers drafted Ronald Attard from the Tri-City Storm. The White Lake, Michigan, native had a big year offensively in the USHL, scoring 30 goals and 64 points over 48 regular-season games to earn USHL Player of the Year.

Attard, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound righty shot, was a plus-47. The 20-year-old improved drastically from his previous season in which he scored 15 points and was a minus-9 through 50 regular-season games.

"There are late bloomers, that's what happens in junior hockey and the USHL," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said Saturday via a conference call (see Flyers' draft recap). "He's a big body, he's a highly competitive kid, he's got an edge. He has a big shot. This year, it all came together for him. Sometimes the bigger bodies take some time — he found his confidence level, found his groove on a good team and had a tremendous year."

"The one thing about Ronnie is that he probably has the best swagger of any kid I've coached at the junior level," Tri-City head coach Anthony Noreen said to Tom Robinson for USAHockey.com.

Attard is headed to Western Michigan, joining Flyers prospect Wade Allison.

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