DeNicola's Dekes: the 2013 NHL Draft

by Michael DeNicola

Monday, July 1, 2013 --

The NHL Entry Draft is a funny thing; the typical hockey fan who's watching doesn't necessarily know who the prospects are past the 1st and/or 2nd rounds. We literally have no clue what type of player they are, nor do we have the slightest handle on what their ceiling's projected to be. Yet, here we are, throwing grades on Draft results while we stroke our hairless cats from our Internet GM chairs. 

I'm no different. Really, I'm not. Prior to this 2013 NHL Draft, I did lots of reading on prospects, but only a small sample size. I got myself so psyched over a handful of these kids, and I totally fed into the "trade" hype leading into the event. 

Prior to Sunday even beginning, insiders such as TSN's Darren Dreger -- who's as legit as they come, insider-wise -- burned thousands of calories posting Tweets from his phone, touting the likelihood of the Philadelphia Flyers packaging defenseman Braydon Coburn for either Carolina's 5th Overall pick or Edmonton's 7th. 

Instead? Nothing. It turned out to be all talk. The weekend grew into Sunday, and Sunday's minutes turned into hours stacked on top of each other, until finally the draft came to a close and Flyers fans were left sort of bewildered. Expectations were not met on a variety of levels; our selections in the Draft and no roster players dealt to move up in the Draft, to name the obvious two. 

General manager, Paul Holmgren, held onto all his picks (sans 4th round) and chose four defensemen, one left-wing and a goaltender.

I know what you may be thinking; 'We went heavily defensive, which is what we needed. So, what's the problem?'

I don't necessarily "have a problem" here. I admit, my first reactions to the players we chose were a tad biased and extreme. My closest friends heard all of my 'doom & gloom', but I wanted a night to digest and research our choices before exploring my opinion here on my blog. 

To grade a team's Draft result right after it's been completed is the equivalent to a teacher handing her students their report cards on the first day of school; the children need to be given equal chance to prove themselves..... though it may be safe to assume that the douche in Fubu gear, smelling like he got pelted by a Nautica cologne water balloon, has a low ceiling. (I may have dated myself with that reference)

Nevertheless, you can't just look at these future NHLers, watch a highlight or two, then publish a 'say all, be all' opinion. That carries a sense of ignorance and impatience. Then again, it doesn't mean you cannot audit and question the prospects either; that's the whole idea of scouting and profiling in the first place.

Before we get into the players the Flyers chose on Sunday, let's take one more quick gander at the moves our organization made leading up to the weekend....

Particularly one move comes to mind; trading for and signing Mark Streit, a puck-moving defenseman who's always finishing at the top of the list among scoring NHL blueliners. 

The Flyers defense was aching for the ilk that Streit possesses. Smart decision making with the puck in our zone, an effective breakout pass that sparks a heavy offensive chance, and a stick from the blueline that's accurate with its shot on goal. 

But there's an issue with Streit, and no, it's NOT that he's overpaid. It's his age.

As much as I love the Streit addition, it's no secret that the 35-year old veteran has an expiration date sooner than later. Yes, again, the Flyers needed a talent like his on our roster, but what our Club also needs is a defensive player in our system with the same set of attributes. This player must be young, have a high ceiling, and he had to be drafted in Sunday's NHL Entry Draft. 

Right now, our two best puck-moving defensemen who are capable of quarterbacking the breakout and power-play are Mark Streit (35) and Kimmo Timonen (38). Sunday's Draft was an opportunity to stock our pipeline with one or two blueliners whose attributes potentially fill the roles that will inevitably be left open by Timonen's retirement and Streit's slated downward spiral. 

As you could probably guess by my cryptic commencement, our choices in the early rounds do not quite add up to that expectation. They [the Flyers] sort of went the opposite way....

With the 11th Overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers select....

(D) Samuel Morin, 6'6" 210-pounds, shoots: LEFT

This very young defenseman, age 17, had apparently been our organization's target choice all along. Sam is an incredibly huge skater who stands taller than any current Flyer on the roster today (including Lauridsen, and LTIR-listed Chris Pronger). 

The kid is a stay-at-home defenseman who wraps a mean streak around his defensive domination. However, there's a major problem I see here; his offensive game is virtually nonexistent and is easily the one thing that needs to be drastically refined before he could ever sniff Well Fargo's ice.

Bill Meltzer from writes, "Huge frame, and a good skater for such a big player. There's still room to improve his footwork to be more fluid, however. He currently projects as more of a strictly defensive defenseman but there are some who think more of an offensive game could come in time. He was a late riser in the projections after a very strong QMJHL playoff run and Under-18 World Championships following his return from a broken collarbone."

Morin is calculated to be three- or four-years out from being NHL-ready. In the meantime, he'll continue skating in juniors, hopefully improving his awareness, vision, anticipation and stretch-passing from his own zone. is not a watering hole filled with 'top tier scouting' information, but the site is referenced and quoted considerably in a lot of writers' work. The website has the following scouting report on Morin --

"A towering presence on the blue line, Morin plays plenty of minutes against the opposing team's top offensive units and is called upon to provide a steadying force in the defensive end. Physical in his own end, Morin doesn't always make the most of his big frame, although he still needs to continue to fill out.

"He makes smart plays defensively and *good first passes out of the zone. He also has a booming slapshot, but his overall offensive game still needs refinement. With a long stride, Morin is a powerful skater, but will need to continue to improve as he adds muscle to his frame." []

*His "good first pass out of the zone" is what jumped out at me. One of Philadelphia's biggest issues in the 2012-13 season (if not THE biggest issue) was our inability to effectively transition the play from our zone, over the blueline, through neutral ice, and manufacture a strong scoring chance against the opposing goal. Instead, our players struggled with gaining possession and keeping possession in our own zone. Stretching the puck up ice, tape to tape, was a rare occurrence. The Flyers hardly carried vertical momentum, which left us stuck having to depend on rebounds, dirty goals, power plays, and the other team's mishaps in their zone. 

This is why our numbers were putrid in full strength situations, ranking 25th through the 2012-13 season in 5-on-5 Goals For/Against Ratio (0.86). Our players just couldn't find the seams.

A defensive-defenseman who also encompasses a smart first pass out of his zone is a quality that Top 2 pairing blueliners have in today's NHL. 

ISS Scouting didn't even have Morin ranked among the Top 30 Prospects entering the Draft this Sunday, but the International Scouting Services did have this to say about the 6'6" monster d-man --

"He has pretty good offensive instincts, coupled with solid defensive awareness and physical play. He could be a stud if he puts it all together… a very intriguing prospect." [quote per A. SanFilippo]

So why did Philadelphia reach with their 11th Overall choice?

Flyers scout, Todd Hearty, was most impressed with how fast Morin has developed over such a short time frame. Hearty said, "From where he was a year ago to where he was at the start of the year to the middle of the season to the playoffs, he just kept getting better and better. Considering that, and the fact that he has two more years of junior hockey before a year in the AHL, we feel he has a lot more room to grow his game. He has a really high ceiling."

Chris Pronger, who tagged along with Holmgren & Co. as an influential voice in decision-making, told the Philadelphia media, "When you talk to his teammates and they say they don't like to practice against him, that tells you everything you need to know about him. That means he works hard all the time – both in games and in practice and that he has a bit of an edge about him. That's what we like about him."

NHL Director of Central Scouting, Dave Marr, has been quoted, "When you get a guy [Sam Morin] that's that big, that rangy, can make the first pass out of the zone and has a good stick to defend and he's got a little bit of a physical element ... that's a pretty nice package." []

I'm getting mixed signals. Does he, or doesn't he have promising offensive skills? Some scouts believe it's what he needs to work on most, while others like ISS believe he already has good offensive skills.... he just needs to find a way to tether them together to complete the package. 

After the choice is executed in the first-round, there really shouldn't be this many question-marks. I understand that the kid is a project, and a defensive project is what I've been hoping for. But three- or four-years in the making? I wasn't expecting this at all. When Samuel Morin is ready to dress on the NHL roster, our team could look totally different and could have a clashing set of needs. 

And if history serves as any example, since when has this Flyers regime even shown evidence that they can properly draft, groom and plug a defenseman over the projected time frame? Considering its depth, this entire Draft's outcome is completely dependent on how the Flyers use Samuel Morin through the future. 

Is this just another case of the Philadelphia Flyers trying to prove that they're smarter than everyone else? Only time will tell, and it pains me to think it's TOO MUCH time. 

With the 41st Overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers select....

(D) Robert Hagg, 6'2" 204-pounds, shoots: LEFT

Ranked 8th among the European skaters, the 18-year old Robert Hagg (pronounced Hay'Gh) was considered a steal in the 2nd round of this Draft due to his performance being better in the first half of this past season than the latter part. [Meltzer]

Hagg hails from Uppsala, Sweden, and is still under contract with MODO of the SHL (Swedish Hockey League) for another two seasons. What I like most about Robert, from a personal level, is that he leaves no room for over-inflated expectation. 

The two-way, puck-moving defenseman had this to say about his game --

"I need to play more before I go to the NHL. I need a couple more years in Sweden before I come over here. But say in two years in MODO, and after that, we'll see, maybe I can come to play in the NHL.

"I need to be more consistent. Play on the highest level every game. Because now, I can play in a high level maybe two games and after that maybe be down under the ground for a couple games. I need to be more consistent."

I can appreciate honesty, especially from a kid his age. It's refreshing, and anyone can tell you that a superstar's biggest critic is himself in this League. 

Hold on now, I am not saying Hagg is a superstar or will become one. I'm simply acknowledging the young blueliner's sense of certainty. 

Being an offensive-defenseman, consistency is probably the most important aspect of your game. When you're cycling the puck all over the rink, and your offense's transition is highly dependent on your effectiveness from your position, your 'A' game and focus must be brought to the ice on a nightly basis. 

Now that Robert Hagg's been drafted, he's got a sensational boost of confidence and drive to establish consistency in his game through the next two years. has this to say about Robert Hagg --

A very all-round two-way defenseman. Hägg is capable of playing a pure defensive role, logging big minutes on the penalty kill, as well as contributing offensively and being valuable in power play situations. Furthermore, Hägg has good size and strength, very good vision, a heavy release and is also a mobile defenseman. Some consistency issues, although Hägg usually makes smarter plays while playing in the big league, rather than in the juniors. Lots of potential.

Playing in the SHL, Hagg is competing against a higher level of talent than he would in the juniors. Because he'll be groomed overseas at a professional level, I believe he'll be NHL-ready before our 11th Overall choice, Samuel Morin. 

Will that be two-years? Three-years? Hard to say. Hagg is skating in a Euro-style game, and his readiness for an NHL role is highly dependent on how well he adjusts to the North American style of hockey.

Put it this way; I'm more hopeful for Robert Hagg than any player Holmgren chose in this Draft.

That's two defensemen with our first two picks; a circumstance which hasn't happened since 2008 when the Flyers chose Luca Sbisa (19th Overall) and Marc-Andre Bourdon (67th Overall). 

The last time the Flyers used their first- and second-round picks on back-to-back defensemen came in the 1976 Draft when they chose Mark Suzor (17th Overall) and Drew Callander (35th Overall). [Wiki]

Is that simply a coincidence, or a sign that the organization is ready to adopt a new proactive philosophy? Could they go defenseman with their third consecutive choice -- a circumstance which would be the franchise's first?

With the 72nd Overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers select....

(LW/C) Tyrell Goulbourne, 5'10" 195-pounds, shoots: LEFT

If your first reaction was, "Who in the flying shit is that?" then you're absolutely not alone. And it has NOTHING to do with whether you read deeply into the NHL's prospects or not. 

In fact, this Tyrell kid had absolutely no mid-term ranking whatsoever. By the time Sunday rolled around, Goulbourne sat at 151st on the 2013 Prospect Rankings.....

Yep, another reach. And what's worse? Holmgren decided to go with this plug over, say.... the mobile defensive prospect Jordan Subban, who was available for the picking at 72nd Overall.

Tyrell is a 19-year old agitator for the WHL Kelowna Rockets, who logged 135 penalty minutes in 64-games played this past 2012-13 season. He's played a total of 140 games at the WHL level, scoring 21-goals and tallying 42-points in that clip. 

"Goul" is compared to Flyers bruiser Zac Rinaldo, and although I've gained a newfound respect for our little ball of fire this past season, we do not necessarily need another one like him in our system. Especially when he's chosen in the 3rd round, and was projected to be picked in the later 5th, early 6th rounds.

Here's your typical bonehead move by the Flyers brass. Another "Broad Street Bullies" player. An image we cannot shake because our ownership and management refuse to ditch it. 

I would never ask our fans to forget our franchise's roots, but today's NHL is an entirely different game; a hybrid of physicality and finesse, and for whatever reason.... Ed Snider, Peter Luukko, Paul Holmgren and Bobby Clarke share a common, yet disturbed constitution; "let's just try to beat the shit outta our way to the Cup like we did in the ol' days!"

What the fuck does this Tyrell Goulbourne have to do with our strategy to win another Lord Stanley? He's a projected 4th liner, and that's if he ever even gets to the NHL level. This plug will be lucky if he doesn't spend the rest of his career rotting in the ECHL....

....but don't tell him I said that

With the 132nd Overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers select....

(D) Terrance Amorosa, 6'1" 185-pounds, shoots: LEFT

Now that Jordan Subban is off the board, chosen by Vancouver, it's time to start searching for the diamonds in the rough. 

Terrance comes to the Flyers franchise unranked, from the Holderness School, a prep school in New Hampshire. Broad Street Hockey reports that he was once committed to the University of New Hampshire, but will instead skate in the USHL next season. [BSH]

There's about as much scouting information available on Amorosa as there are testimonies on the Chupacabra. The 5th round is not an early round, but there are still ranked prospects to choose from. There's no bigger question-mark from this Draft than Terrance. 

Bill Meltzer managed to find a highlight video of the 19-year old blueliner, which I was unable to find an embedded code for. Instead, please CLICK HERE to watch the video from 

With the 162nd Overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers select....

(G) Merrick Madsen, 6'4" 177-pounds, catches: LEFT

Prior to the Montreal Canadiens making a very surprising decision choosing #1 goalie prospect, Zachary Fucale, in the 2nd round, there were many who speculated that Holmgren was going to try to move up to snag Fucale. 

With the departure of Bryzgalov, Mason stands as our starting netminder unless something changes through the offseason. Anthony Stolarz is our best graded goalie in the pipeline, and moving forward it'd behoove the Flyers organization to begin stocking the blue paint. 

Madsen turns 18-years old in August, and is said to have great athleticism to go along with his towering frame. He was ranked 26th out of all North American goalies, which bests his mid-term rank at 34th.

There's not much information on Merrick either, only he's a large goaltender with great work ethic, and has a knack for identifying his weaknesses and working on them. []

Madsen will tend net for the Des Moines Buccaneers in the USHL this 2013-14 season. 

With the 192nd Overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers select....

(D) David Drake, 6'4" 155-pounds, shoots: LEFT

Yea, standing at 6'4", this defenseman weighs in at 155-pounds, maybe 160 soaking wet. Basically he's built like Christian Bale from The Machinist.

Through the 2012-13 season, Drake split time between the Chicago Fury U18 of the MWEHL and the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL. In 12-games with the Buccos, Drake scored one goal, which turned out to be his only tally with the USHL club. His plus/minus rating was a -12 on a team that ended its season with a .422 winning percentage..... so, don't look too deeply into the overrated minus statistic. 

There you have it, the Philadelphia Flyers results from (arguably) the deepest draft since 2003. 

Once again, it's incredibly difficult to give the results a grade. But from what I've read it went like this; 

RD 1: Reach

RD 2: Great/Steal

RD 3: Senseless/Fuckin' Dumb

RD 4: no pick

RD 5: Reach

RD 6: Hopeful

RD 7: Needs a burger

I had my chips on defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen who I firmly believe was Top 5 talent in this Draft, but wound up dropping to Buffalo at 8th Overall. Maybe Holmgren tried to trade up to snatch that 6'4" mountain of Finnish awesomeness, but I'm sure he'd tell you different; "Morin was our choice all along."

A few more variables factored into my disappointment for this Draft; for one, New Jersey acquired former-Canuck goaltender, Cory Schneider, for the Devils' 9th Overall pick. It was unquestionably the biggest bomb dropped on the Draft, releasing and sending every hockey fan's jaw to the floor. 

With future HHOF'er Marty Brodeur about to call it a career, the Devils now have his replacement, and an outstanding one at that. 

The New York Islanders acquired Cal Clutterbuck from the Minnesota Wild through trade, which makes the Isles a ton grittier. My outlook on this transaction is a biased one -- Clutterbuck is my favorite non-Flyer. I am partial to the hard-hitting, gritty checkers, and Cal is by far one of the best in the trade. It will absolutely suck to watch my Flyers face this guy six times a season, on a Divisional rival who's already on the upswing. 

Two rivals making moves, getting better. And all Holmgren did was sit around with his thumb up his ass, or denying Steve Tambellini left and right over a possible Coburn trade. 

This Philadelphia franchise must cut MORE salary from its payroll, and I thought this Draft was a perfect opportunity to simultaneously dump big cap hits, acquire more high picks, open some cap room, and stock the farms with safe, promising prospects. 

And don't tell me our 11th + Coburn couldn't score us the 7th Overall or 5th Overall pick. Vancouver sold Schneider for the 9th (Bo Horvat). 

Instead, our fanbase watched as management played another game of We're Smarter Than You Are. 

Maybe they're right. Maybe these picks will pan out down the line and the war room look like geniuses. Then again, maybe they won't. Maybe this will just be another notch in the belt of old habits. 

Check out The Pack on Facebook!

You can follow Michael DeNicola on Twitter: @MikeyD_OandBP

Contact The Pack here...

2013 Flyers Draft.jpg