Five Questions: Defense, goaltending and draft strategies

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Flyers Faithful is pleased to have Ed Miller from The Hockey Writers, Mark Edwards from HockeyProspect.com, Chris Shafer from Hockey’s Future, and Corey Pronman from Hockey Prospectus participate in the current iteration of Five Questions. This is the first of a five part series focusing on the upcoming draft.

The Flyers have little patience with developing young defensemen and little success at drafting high caliber goalies. Are there any players in this upcoming draft that would be a surefire bet to succeed in one of those positions? If so, is it worth it for the Flyers to move up in the draft to make such a pick?

Ed Miller: There aren’t too many goalies or defenseman in this year’s draft that I feel are ready to make an immediate impact in the NHL over the next two seasons. While there isn’t a lot of depth at the goaltender position, there’s plenty of defenseman that are first-round caliber, the only surefire of whom, to me would be Ryan Murray of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. He’s a good two-way defenseman that already has plenty of leadership and maturity, thanks to his stint in the WJC as one of the youngest members of Canada’s defense. Speaking of young, Murray was the youngest captain in Silvertips’ franchise history and that has helped earn him comparisons to Scott Niedermayer. I think he fits the Flyers’ needs perfectly. He plays solid two-way hockey and has the capability of carrying the puck into the zone – something Philadelphia will be missing once Kimmo Timonen is gone. The Flyers have to address the defense – either through free agency, or through the draft – as there is slew of young offensive talent on a team that was ranked first in the NHL in scoring last season. Moving up to acquire Murray might be an idea the Flyers should entertain but he’s sure to go in the top 10, so it will cost a lot and there will still be quite a few quality players at that position that could fall to Philadelphia at 20.

Mark Edwards: This could be considered the year of the Defenseman as far as the draft goes. As for moving up to the first round, I guess that depends on how high up. I’m not sure that many teams will want to trade back too far the first round this year. Many scouts think the draft gets much weaker after about the 23-30 range. I think if a guy like Slater Koekkoek started to slide close to their pick I’d think about moving up a few spots. It’s really tough to answer unless I know exactly what is on the board as their pick draws near. I think if some of the higher end D-men started to slide towards the late teens, a few teams might jump at trading up to grab them.

As for goalies. It’s always tough to predict when they will come off the board. I think that two could possibly be 1st rounder’s and another in the early 2nd. I would not be shocked to see one gone by the 15th pick range. Malcolm Subban and Andrei Vasilevski are our two top rated goalies (late firsts). Oscar Dansk is not far behind them. I think all are high end goalies.

Chris Shafer: One of the misconceptions about the upcoming 2012 Draft Class is that it is one of the weaker ones in recent memory. It is still a very good year to need a defenseman; even if there is a lot of confusion where the top players fall within this draft. Injuries, illnesses, slumps, and overachievers have become an epidemic this year leaving many professional “guessers,” and likely more than a few scouts, shifting names around constantly. It brings us to a point where picking the tenth or eleventh defenseman in the draft may be as good as picking the third or fourth. There are that many defensemen, and there is enough parity to go along with the confusion. If the Flyers want their defenseman, there is very little need to move up unless they are targeting one guy in particular. In the past though, the organization has been very comfortable going by BPA (Best Player Available).

Corey Pronman: I wouldn’t use the words surefire bet ever in the draft, especially since defense and goalies have much higher projection uncertainties out of the draft than forward prospects.This is a much more defense heavy draft than usual, so there will most likely be a good defense prospect available at 20 when the Flyers make their first selection. There are two very good goalie prospects as well in Andrei Vasilevki and Malcolm Subban, but I would not project them as “high caliber” NHLers.

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Ed Miller
Mark Edwards
Chris Shafer
Corey Pronman