Putting On The Foil with @jsaquella: Drafty In Here

Editors’ Note: Noted Philadelphia Flyers fan John Saquella is going beyond 140 characters. The man most of you probably know from social media as @jsaquella will bring you his wide-ranging opinion and commentary on the Orange and Black in his column Putting On The Foil.

By John Saquella (@jsaquella)

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Getty Images

Well, all the trade noise and rumors aside, the 2013 NHL entry draft was more snooze than sizzle. The biggest move was the Devils trading the 9th overall pick to Vancouver for goaltender Corey Schneider. Most of the other trades were simple pick swaps. One other player trade of note saw Minnesota trading Cal Clutterbuck and a pick to the New York Islanders for former 1st rounder Nino Niederreiter.

The Flyers? Despite Paul Holmgren spending a round and a half exchanging views with Craig MacTavish, the new Edmonton Oilers GM, on a potential Braydon Coburn did nothing but draft.

Holmgren and his staff made 6 selections, and those picks were generally bemoaned by the Flyers fans and some pundits. I’m not a fan of some of the decisions made, but I also don’t feel that the Flyers did a bad job overall. I think a lot of people were bummed by the lack of bold moves.

The Flyers were heavily rumored to be trading up to get a shot at players like Sean Monahan, Valeri Nichushkin or Elias Lindholm. When nothing happened on that front, the Flyers still had several very good options sitting there for them, such as Nikita Zadorov, Ryan Pulock, Hunter Shinkaruk, Curtis Lazar, Josh Morrissey and Alexander Wennberg.

So, what did the Flyers do? They selected mammoth defenseman Samuel Morin. The 6’6” 203 lb 17 year old, who plays for Rimouski of the QMJHL is a fast riser, who jumped into the top 25 among prospects (TSN had Morin at 15, NHL Central Scouting had him at 23) after returning from injury to play in the playoffs. Despite the jump in the draft ranking, Morin still was a bit of a reach.

He skates well for such a big player, and can move the puck fairly well. He’s a willing fighter and plays a tough game and will work his tail off. He grew up idolizing Chris Pronger, and the injured Flyer defenseman turned scout spoke glowingly of Morin’s toughness and work ethic.

The selection of Morin wasn’t much of a surprise, though. Craig Button had been saying for weeks that he was the Flyers’ guy. Paul Holmgren confirmed as much after the draft. “We had quite a few calls to move back…we identified three or four players and Samuel was one of them,” the GM said. “Once we knew he would be there we had no intention of moving back.”

So, while it does seem the Flyers could have moved back and still got their man, Holmgren was taking no chances. My issue is, that I don’t feel they would have missed out had they dropped to the 15-19 range, and could have added an extra pick in doing so. Of course, that might not be the case. Reports out of Montreal indicate that the Habs were trying to acquire the Flyers’ 11th pick to take Morin

The Flyers next pick, which came at 41, was Modo Jr defenseman Robert Hagg. Hagg was a projected first rounder by most draftniks, and his fall gave Holmgren and co. a pretty easy decision. Hagg is a gifted offensive defenseman, who bounced between Modo’s Jr and Senior teams and his play suffered a little, which may have driven his value down. The biggest issue, in Hagg’s assessment of his own game was his inconsistency.

Still, getting Hagg (6’2” 203) at 41 is a great value pick. The Flyers seem to expect that both Morin and Hagg could be ready to contribute in the NHL within a couple years.

Then the Flyers decided to do the most Flyer thing they could. In the third round, with a number of very solid prospects on the board, including local product Jimmy Lodge and Jordan Subban, the Flyers selected Tyrell Goulbourne, a winger from the Kelowna Rockets, that Holmgren told the local media that his scouts were calling “Z2”, as a reference to Zac Rinaldo 2. Goulborne, who was taken with the 71st pick, was rated at 171 by CSB. Goulborne is a fast skater, high energy player, who is also a pretty good-and absolutely fearless-fighter. He scored 14 goals and added 13 assists this past season, with 135 PIM in 64 games. He’s also not very big, at 5’11” and 170 lbs.

This pick was a serious let down to many fans, with Broad Street Hockey blogger Travis Hughes going as far as saying that the Flyers wasted the pick. Hard to disagree with that assessment. The first thing that popped in my head as I was compiling information on Goulbourne was that of Garrett Klotz, a heavyweight that the Flyers drafted in the 3rd round of the 2007 draft, who didn’t pan out. Goulborne may someday be a NHL player, but it was a definite reach in the third round and given the organizational depth issues, it’s hard to say that Goulbourne was a good pick.

With their last three picks, the Flyers took a couple of prep schoolers and a player from the USHL. Terrance Amorosa a 6’2” defenseman from Holderness was selected in the 5th round. Nobody had a ton of information on him, but in an interview posted on the Flyers website, Amorosa said that he considered himself a two-way defenseman, and liked to join in the rush and control the puck on the power play and was good in the transition game. Flyers.com writer Anthony SanFilippo tweeted that Amorosa will play in the USHL in 2013-14, with Sioux City.

The next pick was goalie Merrick Madsen from Proctor high school. Madsen is a big (6’4”) lanky goalie with good athleticism. He’s seen as a very raw project who will play in the USHL in 2013-14 for Des Moines, the same team that the Flyers final pick, defenseman David Drake skated for this past season.

Drake is a 6’3” 155 pound defenseman who played 12 games with Des Moines with 1 goal and a -13 rating, after 40 games with the Chicago Fury U18 team in the MWEHL, where he had 6 points.

The feeling that I take from today is best summed up by the word underwhelming. No trade fireworks and several youngsters that are definite long term projects coming out of a draft that was considered very deep will do that. Especially when the Flyers passed over quite a few prospects who seemed to be more highly regarded than the players they selected.

I try to be an optimist, but this class will require patience and nurturing to yield fruit and those are qualities one doesn’t often associate with the Philadelphia Flyers. However, if they do, Morin and Hagg could be big pieces of the Flyers blue line in the future.

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