Grading the Flyers draft

#20 – Scott Laughton, Center
The Flyers are good at finding value when picking late in the first round, but this time they looked for something different than what made them successful in the past. In past drafts, they’ve picked forwards with plenty of offensive skill that ended up being undervalued due to their small stature (Giroux, Richards, Downie). On Friday night, they reached slightly for someone short on offensive skill. Laughton has the potential to be a gritty, shutdown center, but I feel this type of player is usually found in the second round.
Grade – B

#45 – Anthony Stolarz, Goaltender
They reached with this pick as he was not expected to go until the mid-to-late rounds. I feel the best draft strategy is to load up on forwards and defenders early and take the goalies in the later rounds. That said, he is an intriguing goalie with fantastic size. They have plenty of time to let him develop properly.
Grade – C

#78 – Shayne Gostisbehere, Defense
A fairly big reach as he was ranked #146 by Central Scouting, but if you are going to reach, you better reach for skill. This is exactly what they did here. Gostisbehere is a highly skilled puck-moving defenseman that is currently hampered by his size. His freshman year point production with Union was similar to the highly touted Justin Schultz when he was a freshman. At 160 lbs., Gostisbehere is too light for the NHL, but if he fills out he could be a solid prospect. It’s a bonus that he chose the NCAA as a developmental route as he will have plenty of time to focus on adding muscle to his slight frame. A true boom or bust pick which I like to see.
Grade – B

#111 – Frederic Larsson, Defense
I’m starting to sound repetitive, but this was another huge reach. He was unranked by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau. He spent most of the season playing at the J-18 (under 18) while most draft eligible prospects out of Sweden are at least playing at the J-20 level. He apparently was noticed by scouts due to his performance in the J-20 playoffs according to Kyle Woodlief of Red Line Report, but he only played 2 games in the J-20 playoffs so I don’t think that has much meaning.
Grade – D

117 – Taylor Leier, Left Wing
A small grinder from the Western Hockey League. He hasn’t displayed a ton of offense, but produced at a similar clip to Washington Capitals first rounder, Tom Wilson. I’d rather them take the gritty forward with questionable offense here.
Grade – C

141 – Reece Wilcox, Defense
Reece is a big, two-way defender that is known for his intelligence both on and off the ice. He will be a true freshman playing in the NCAA this upcoming season which is impressive for someone coming from the BCHL. He moved up from 114 on Central Scouting’s midterm rankings to 90 in their Final rankings. He will have the next four years to develop in the NCAA before the Flyers have to worry about signing him.
Grade – C+

201 – Valeri, Vasiliev
We finish with the draft with our first value pick. Central Scouting had Vasiliev ranked 15th amongst European skaters, but he slid due to injuries and the Russian transfer issue. Vasiliev already has NHL size at 18, but will need time to learn his craft at higher levels. Vasiliev is a physical defenseman that projects to be more of a defensive defenseman.
Grade – C+

Overall, I came away feeling somewhat disappointed with this draft. They reached with most picks while finding little value. The most disappointing aspect is that it felt like they focused mostly on grit and came away with little skill. Four of their six skaters selected are known for their gritty, physical play (Laughton, Larsson, Leier, Vasiliev), but have questionable skills. This is not what made them successful in the past with their picks. Gostisbehere is the only player selected with an above average skill set. While Vasiliev is a value pick, I’m not a fan of drafting defenseman that show little offense at the lower levels. It’s usually a sign they lack the puck-handling skills to succeed at the highest level.
Final Grade – C