Depending on who you ask, this is either the most boring or most exciting time of the year. Championship have been won, there are no more game seven showdowns left, and baseball is the only thing left to give you that sports fix. That is unless you’re like me, in which case you’re probably extremely excited for the upcoming draft. The Flyers have 10 picks in what Experts are calling one of the deepest forward drafts in recent history. How lucky for the Flyers that their number one need are forwards. After spending multiple first rounders on D-Men, it looks the the Flyers are finally going to be able to bolster their offense. Now the question is, who do we choose? If you ask Ron Hextall, he’ll say that they will be picking the best player available. Logically though, the Flyers need a strong forward with good size, who can skate and simply knows how to finish plays. It’s a gaping hole in our lineup that was made pretty obvious in this year’s playoff run. So whose name will be called when the Flyers make their pick at 18? Let’s go over some possibilities here.
Julien Gauthier (Val-d’Or, QMJHL)
Julien Gauthier is a 6’4, 230 lbs winger from Pointe-aux-Trembles, Canada. Based on pre-draft rankings, it’s incredibly likely that he will be on the board at 18, so why would the Flyers take Gauthier? For starters, he’s an absolute sniper. He posted 41 goals in 54 games for Val-d’Or this season (Where he plays with current Flyer’s prospect and fellow sniper, Nicholas Aube-Kubel) He also has size, and he knows how to use it. His gritty, downhill style of play is a perfect fit for the Flyer’s style. He’s an excellent skater who can really lead the breakout thanks to his excellent vision on the ice. The biggest knock against Gauthier, however, is his discipline. He plays very hard and can get a little too emotional out there. He’s still young, still only 18, so hopefully those problems will go away with age. At his best, he can be a Rick Nash type of player, and one the Flyers sure could use in their ranks.
Max Jones (London, OHL)
Max Jones is another prototypical power forward likely to be available as the 18th pick. The American born Jones is 6’3 and 201 lbs, meaning he has great size to play the type of position that the Flyers need. He is incredibly hard on the puck and nearly impossible to knock off the play. He plays hard on and off the puck to put himself into great scoring situations, and once in those situations he knows how to finish. He had 52 points in 63 games for the London Knights this year, and only looks to improve as he spends more time in Junior hockey. His 106 PIM is a gigantic concern, and I would classify Jones as an extremely raw prospect. He may be worth the risk however, based solely on his hockey sense his upside could prove tremendous as he matures.
Tyson Jost (Penticton, BCHL)
It will take some luck for Jost to fall to the Flyers, but if he does they will be getting one of the best point producers in this draft. At 5’11 190 lbs, he might not fit the physical profile of the other players we’ve looked out, but his skill and finesse with the puck on his stick is nothing short of remarkable. In 48 games in the BCHL this year, Jost put up a whopping 104 points, 42 of them being goals. The University of North Dakota commit (cough cough, Dave Hakstol) makes up for his lack of size with incredible speed and quickness, as well as a tenacity to get after the puck in all 3 zones. His play style is not unlike that of Flyer’s prospect Travis Konecny. Jost has top 6 forward potential, and he’s definitely a weapon the Flyers need to look to add to their arsenal.
Kieffer Bellows (U.S National U18 Team, USDP)
Bellows is my favorite prospect in this draft, and I fully expect the Flyers to pounce should he be on the board at 18. The son of a former NHLer, Bellows is a 6’0 200lbs power forward with immense skill who can dominate the game offensively. He loves to drive the net, is tough enough on the puck to get there through defenders, then has the quick hands that make him a prolific finisher. His skill set would compliment Giroux’s so well that my mouth is watering. This season for the U.S Development Team, Bellows posted 50 goals and 31 assists in 62 games. He really is the complete package when you’re looking for a player who is going to produce offense for you. Some experts even consider Bellows to be one of the most complete offensive players in this draft. He’s committed to Boston U. for the 2016-2017 season, but it won’t be long before Bellows is making his presence felt at the NHL level.