Over the weekend, the Philadelphia Flyers did some damage at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Paul Holmgren surprisingly went with a centerman with their first pick in Round 1 Friday night, but then stocked up defensively in the later rounds on Saturday morning/afternoon, picking four blue liners and a goalkeeper.
We're just going to dive right into this.
Round 1: 20th Overall pick, Flyers selected (C) Scott Laughton, Oshawa, OHL
Round 2: 45th Overall pick, Flyers selected (G) Anthony Stolarz, Corpus Christi, NAHL
Round 3: 78th Overall pick, Flyers selected (D) Shayne Gostisbehere, Union College, ECAC
Round 4: 111th Overall pick, Flyers selected (D) Fredric Larsson, Brynas Jr., Sweden
Round 4: 117th Overall pick, Flyers selected (LW) Taylor Leier, Portland, WHL
Round 5: 141st Overall pick, Flyers selected (D) Reece Willcox, Merritt, BCHL
Round 7: 201st Overall pick, Flyers selected (D) Valeri Vasiliev, Spartak, Russian Jr.
Aside from looking like a borderline serial killer, Scott has been described as "feisty", "tenacious", "intelligent" and "intense."
The 6'0", 175-pound center doesn't WOW the scouts with his speed or size, but rather with his ability to compete all over the rink, in all three zones. His fire "never dies out." He's not what scouts consider to be high-end offensive talent, so what would lead a Club's general manager to consider drafting Scott in the vanguard round?
Answer: His upside.
Laughton will need to work on his speed, puck handling and putting on more weight before dreaming of breaching the NHL roster. But mixed with his unbelievable work ethic, that will --no doubt-- be achieved at the next level. Once he adds muscle, Scott could someday become a top-six, two-way forward who will fight like a pitbull for the puck. That sort of grit is exactly what every championship hockey team needs leading by example.
Of course, his playing style has been compared to Mike Richards. Despite all the drama that probably came pouring into your psyche while reading that, being compared to Richards is an outstanding compliment. And being chosen in the first round certainly comes with its expectations.
Is Scott up for the challenge? Judging from his scouting report, he wouldn't bat an eye at taking on a fire-breathing Minotaur. So I'll place my money on "yes."
The Jackson, New Jersey native grew up his whole life rooting for the Devils, so it's hilarious to know he went 45th overall, chosen by his favorite team's division rival. But, according to Stolarz, he couldn't be more happier to wear the Orange & Black.
“They have such a great tradition in Philadelphia with the Flyers and I feel very honored to have been selected by them. It is one of the closest locations to my hometown, so hopefully one day I will be wearing the Flyers uniform and playing in the NHL, but today was a big step.”
Anthony stands at 6'5", 200-pounds. Not exactly Verne Troyer in goalie gear. He's described to be incredibly athletic for his physical stature. Prior to the 2011-12 NAHL season, not many had even heard of Stolarz. In fact, Anthony is the first North American Hockey League puck stopper to be drafted in the NHL in three years.
Last season with the Corpus Christi IceRays, Stolarz went 23 - 22 - 4 - 3 with a 2.84 GAA and .920 SV%, and banked three shutouts.
"Our guys are real high on him," added Holmgren. "Obviously he's a great big kid and he played a lot of games this year with his junior team in Texas and he's all set to go to college in [University of] Nebraska-Omaha where he'll get some good work in there too, so we're excited."
This 19yr old Florida native recorded 5-goals and 17-assists (22-total points) in just 41-games for Union College in 2011-12. All of that accomplished.....IN HIS FRESHMAN YEAR. Shayne tallied 13 of those points in his last 16-games.
An ECAC Hockey All-Rookie Team selection, Gostisbehere finished the 2011-12 season with 5 goals and 17 assists in 41 games. He matched a school record in ECAC Hockey play with four assists in a 4-4 tie against Cornell on Feb. 4, earning ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week honors for his efforts. ~ UnionAthletics.com
This past season with Union College, Gostisbehere helped his defense achieve the least goals-allowed average (1.83/game), and really hit scouts' radar in the NCAA Frozen Four.
Shayne is not a giant on the blue line. The defenseman is only 5'11", and weighs in at 160-pounds soaking wet. But he hasn't even been on this planet for two decades, which gives him tons of time to put on muscle mass while he continues his collegiate tenure dominating the ice, along with all the sorority trim on campus.
This 17yr old defenseman stands at 6'3", 175-pounds, and has recorded 1-goal and 3-assists in his firstseason with his Swedish Junior League team, the Elitserien Brynas IF.
Larsson is a Swedish player on the rise, described to have a raw talent and size for such a young defenseman. At his grand height and such low weight, Fredric's strength seems to be his biggest weakness, but that could all change as he gets older and fills out.
Being drafted in the later rounds, a player like Larsson will develop in the lower leagues as the Flyers have invested in his upside.
13-goals and 24-assists for this 18yr old left winger last season with the Portland Winter Hawks of the WHL.
He helped Portland come within one win of the WHL Championship, losing a seven-game series to the Edmonton Oil Kings. In the postseason, Leier recorded five goals and seven points in 22 games. ~ Flyers.NHL.com
Though there's not much else to report on this 5'10", 175-pound forward, the most interesting story behind the pick is the Flyers decided to choose Taylor over (RW) Tomas Hyka, who you remember got invited to the Flyers camp last preseason and left an impression on our fanbase.
Instead, Philadelphia chose Taylor Leier with the 117th overall pick while Los Angeles took Hyka at 171st. You may be asking yourself -- If the Flyers wanted a forward, why not choose Hyka who impressed us in preseason games? Well, Tomas is just as unhappy about our brass passing on his potential as we all are.
Taylor's got some living up to do.
Another young, and very large defenseman, Reece stands at 6'3", 184-pounds and is committed to playing for Cornell University in 2012-13, where he accepted a full-ride scholarship.
Willcox just finished a season in the BCHL with the Merritt Centennials where he potted 5-goals and assisted on 18 others in 52-games played.
[Reece] says the reasons NHL scouts have put him on their watch list is likely due to his size ... his vision of the ice, and his creative abilities when moving the puck. He describes himself as a two-way defenceman. ~ MerrittNews.net
A two-way defenseman at his height??? Let's hope his self-analysis bursts at the seams in the future as an NHLer.
With their last pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the Flyers went with defenseman Valeri Vasiliev, an 18yr old left-handed shot with less searchable background info than Area 51.
The Flyers website posted this --
Vasiliev is a 6'1'' defenseman who appeared in his first season with Spartak in the Russian Junior League. He posted a goal and an assist in 18 games.
Why is that worthy of getting drafted? I have no clue. But at 6'1", 203-pounds, this man-child is only going to get bigger. Being taken so late in the Draft leads me to believe the kid's got some grit and attitude. Well, he should at least.
* * * *
"We're happy with our draft. We stocked our cupboard a little bit in our opinion," said Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. "We got a goalie that we really like that is going to go to college… and we got a center man in the first round that we really like."
We'll have to see how these prospects pan out before I can cast a final grade and/or judgement on the whole Draft. We loaded ourselves with defensemen, but not as early as I thought the Flyers would. This Draft pool was the deepest it's been with blue liners in a very long time.
However, what I enjoyed the most was listening to the butthurt Pittsburgh attendance inexorably boo Paul Holmgren and the rest of our management team as they went to the podium to select Scott Laughton --
It was especially adorable how one of their fans held up a posterboard saying, "It's Always 1975 in Philadelphia" while having Championship winning photos of Richards, Carter and Gagne pasted around the lettering. Very creative.
Props, Pittsburgh. See ya in June, 2014, when Philly hosts the Entry Draft.
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