Originally written April 30, 2013 on Buzz On Broad:
It really isn't that clear who the best selection will be. There are a number of quality players who should be available when the Flyers are on the clock. After reading three mock drafts on NHL.com (they assumed Philadelphia would pick 8th), it seems that Adam Kimmelman, Mike Morreale, and Steven Hoffner all have made their picks based on the team's obvious need: a physical defenseman. Although this is a very glaring need, I believe that the Flyers should make their pick based on the "best player available" philosophy. These are the players who I believe could fall in the 9-13 range who could make a difference after a season or two of development, if not immediately: Rasmus Ristolainen: D, TPS Turku, SM-liiga Ristolainen is a big two-way defenseman who plays with a physical edge. At 6'3" and 207 lbs, he is very similar in stature to the top-ranked North American skater, Seth Jones. Ristolainen's 2012-2013 stats are not very impressive. In 52 games played, Ristolainen tallied 3 goals and 12 assists, along with 32 PIMs and a -7 rating. Statistics do not tell the whole story for defenseman, so I would advise to not look too far into them, especially since D men are a whole different breed in terms of development. The Flyers need defense, but drafting a defenseman may not be the way to go. Dustin Leed (@D_LEED)  pointed out a few weeks ago that the last time the Flyers drafted a defenseman who played more than three seasons in orange was Chris Therien, who was drafted 23 years ago in 1990. Trends can change, but this is a strong indicator as to how impatient this organization is with developing thier young defensive prospects. Max Domi: C/LW, London Knights, OHL Yes, in case you haven't heard, Max is the son of the former Toronto Maple Leafs enforcer (and well-known subject of Wells Fargo Center lore), Tie Domi. In 64 games played for London in the OHL's regular season, Domi registered 39 goals and 48 assists in only 64 games. Even more impressive are his current playoff numbers: 14 GP, 10 G, 15 A. That equates to a whopping 1.79 points per game. Max plays with the same grittiness that his father played with, but aside from this, the apple fell far from the tree. This kid has incredible skill. That, combined with his on-ice attitude and work ethic, should lead to a solid NHL career. In addition, Domi is exactly the kind of player I would expect Paul Holmgren to drool over. A few other noteworthy names who could surface include Ryan Pulock (D, Brandon, WHL), and Darnell Nurse (D, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL). If he isn't drafted in the top five, Nurse is not expected to drop much farther than that. Pulock is a realistic option, especially if Ristolainen is off the board by #11. Look for any, and probably even more, of these names to be linked to the Flyers when rumors start swirling as June 30th approaches.
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