Five Questions: Sleeper picks

Juuso Riikola and KalPa

Flyers Faithful revisited a former recurring feature, Five Questions, to address some current hot and important topics, including the draft, prospects, and the future of the Flyers. For this edition of Five Questions, we asked John Saquella, Jim Butler, James Centifonti, Joshua Janet, and our very own Jared Abbott to participate. Below, you will find their answers to today’s question.

There is a lot of talk about the depth of this year’s draft class, specifically in the first round. What player or players do you see as sleeper picks that Flyers should target in later rounds?

John Saquella: I like Juuso Riikola, Finnish defenseman for KalPa Smallish, but swift skating and good puck skills. Could probably be had in the 4th round or so. Had 6 points in 20 games in the SM-Liiga, and 5 points(3 goals) for the KalPa juniors before that. Would likely need to add weight.

James Centifonti: I don’t know how much of a sleeper he is but I’m interested in Charlie Graham (goalie) of the Belleville Bulls.  Right now he’s the primary backup for Malcolm Subban  but figures to be the lead candidate to step in as their starter next year.  If not him possibly Cole Cassels (Center) Oshawa, good on draws, good speed, & solid hands.

Jim Butler: I don’t have a specific player in mind but I do think targeting some defenseman with raw talent that they can develop is never a bad idea. A defenseman that has been climbing the charts that the Flyers should target depending where they draft is Josh Morrissey out of Prince Albert. He’s a bit undersized but he plays big and has that it factor. He may sneak into the top 10 but he’s a player to keep an eye on.

Joshua Janet: Beyond the first round, my depth of knowledge among the available skaters is limited. One player that has piqued my interest who could go as high as the second round is defenseman Brenden Kichton. Originally drafted in the 5th round in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders, Kichton declined a contract offer because he believed he would go higher in this year’s draft, per Arthur Staple of Newsday.

A decision like that makes you question his character, but he has put up 240 points in three seasons in the WHL with the Spokane Chiefs. You can’t question his talent. At twenty years of age, he is closer to playing professionally than most other draft-eligible players. For an organization like the Philadelphia Flyers that needs defensive depth now, Kichton would be a wise choice if available.

Jared Abbott: Although the Flyers have traded a few future middle round draft picks in recent transactions they could find diamonds in the rough through other means. In the draft they need to be precise with their picks and hope to reap the rewards of late-bloomers. The Flyers have found talent in late rounds before, including Dennis Seidenberg, Zac Rinaldo, and recent call-up Oliver Lauridsen. However, Philadelphia has consistently seemed to lack goaltending depth in the prospect pool. They traded away Sergei Bobrovsky after stealing him off the open market as a 22-year old. This year another late-blooming goaltender entering the free agent waters who has impressed me is Niagara University tender Carsen Chubak. TSN ranks Chubak as the top rated player in the NCAA this season, with a near perfect mark. Chubak has been as close to perfect as a goalie can get with his jaw-dropping performances this season. His 1.91 goals-against-average and .939 save percentage speak for themselves and his performance in his brief NCAA tournament appearance was stellar against future NHL talent. At 5’11″ and 170 pounds Chubak isn’t a tall net-eater like Flyers’ prospect and current London Knight goalie Anthony Stolarz. However, Chubak moves like a spider and has tremendous agility going post-to-post. At 23 Chubak is slightly older than Bobrovsky was at his signing age, but goalies do tend to take the longest to develop. Even with the acquisition of Steve Mason, who is 24 years old, the Flyers need to stockpile depth at the backend and Chubak could be a sleeper. I compare his style of play to Chris Osgood. With similar stature the two goalies have similar quickness and agility smothering opponents chances. Osgood enjoyed a long career in the NHL and with good fortune Chubak will follow in his path. With Chubak’s season over the Flyers could make a smart pickup before draft day even arrives.