Flyers 'very happy' with Draft

The Flyers are happy with how the 2012 draft went, according to GM Paul Holmgren. (Matt Slocum/AP file photo)

PITTSBURGH -- After a surprising pick in the latter stages of the first round on Friday night, the Flyers got back at it for the fast-moving second day of the Entry Draft with Rounds 2-7.

"Some of the guys that we liked, we knew they were going to go higher and we didn't think we'd have a shot to get those guys," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said, wrapping up the weekend. "But we had some guys targeted in certain rounds and it fell the right way the (scouts) wanted to go. I'm happy with the way it went, we are happy with our draft. We stocked our cupboard a little bit."

According to the Flyers' brass, nearly every player they seemed to target in certain rounds was still available by the time they picked. For some teams, that would be a scary proposition, perhaps a sign that you may value players differently than the rest. The Flyers remained confident in their selections, believing they left the Steel City with a healthy selection of new prospects to build around.

“I thought, going into the draft, we had a lot of guys identified in certain areas that we had an opportunity to get,” Flyers director of hockey operations Chris Pryor said. “If we had to look from the first pick to the last pick, we had guys in each area that we got that we’re extremely happy with.”

Here’s a glimpse into their picks:

Anthony Stolarz

Pick: 45th overall
Position: Goaltender
Age: 18 (1/20/1994)
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 200 lbs.
Birthplace: Edison, NJ
Residence: Jackson, NJ
Former team: Corpus Christi (NAHL)
Next team: Nebraska-Omaha (NCAA)
High School: St. John Vianney
Skinny: The Flyers love their big goaltenders, after acquiring 6-foot-7 goalie Niko Hovinen last year from Finland. Stolarz, though, has local ties. And he had the best wingspan of any player at the Scouting Combine (81 inches) while fin.  The Flyers have seen Stolarz plenty of times, starting in 2010 when he participated in the Liberty Bell Games for local prospects at the team’s practice facility in Voorhees. Stolarz then moved on to the New Jersey Hitmen (EJHL) and eventually Corpus Christi (Tex.), where he posted a .920 save percentage on a bad Rays team that allowed an average of 32 shots per game. Stolarz finished the Central Scouting rankings in the 4th spot among North American-trained goaltenders, up from 20th in the mid-term rankings.
The quote: “The Flyers interviewed me at the Combine. I knew one of their scouts, John Riley, from growing up in the Atlantic District program. I think the Combine really helped me. I just tried my hardest and did my best in the interviews. I’m not in any rush, I want to develop in college and we’ll see. I’m just happy to be excited to be drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers.”

Shayne Gostisbehere
Pick: 78th overall
Position: Defense
Age: 19 (3/20/1993)
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 160
Birthplace: Margate, FL
College: Union College
Skinny: Gostisbehere’s nickname is “Ghost.” As a freshman at Union College this past season, Gostisbehere posted the second-most points of any freshman defenseman at the NCAA level while helping the Flying Dutchmen make the Frozen Four for the first time in school history. Gostisbehere was ranked as the 148th-best North American-trained skater. He hails from Margate, Fla., just outside of the Sunrise town that is home to the Florida Panthers. Gostisbehere had season tickets to the Panthers as a kid. Gostisbehere collected an impressive 22 points in 41 games as a freshman. He played on the same defensive unit as Greg Coburn, the younger brother of Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn. He is Union's first draft pick since 2004 and will be the only player in school history to return to school as a draft pick.
The quote: "I literally jumped off my couch. I was surprised when I saw my name. I jumped off the couch because it's a team that has such great history and so much going for it. They're always a good team. I couldn't be more proud, I can't even describe it. I talked to them a little bit before the draft, I felt confident with them. I definitely more of an offensive defenseman, but I'm not slouch on defense, too. I can play defense. I could have asked for a better freshman season. It was an amazing season, I couldn't have asked for a better season and everyone who helped me gain experience in my first year of college hockey and learning the game more."

Fredric Larsson
Pick: 111th overall
Position: Defense
Age: 17 (7/4/1994)
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 172
Birthplace: Karlstad, Sweden
Team: Brynas Junior
Skinny: Not surprisingly, there are many players from Sweden with a name similar to “Fredric Larsson,” but little about this new Flyers prospect shows up in internet searches. Larsson is still young, yet to celebrate his 18th birthday. He collected 4 points in 14 games in the “Super Elite” series of Under-20 prospects in Sweden this year. He has decent size at 6-foot-3, so it will be interesting to see what the Flyers know about this player who did not finish among the final 120 best European-trained skaters in the Central Scouting rankings.

Taylor Leier
Pick: 117th overall
Position: Left Wing
Age: 18 (2/15/1994)
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 178
Birthplace: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Team: Portland (WHL)
On Twitter: @Leier22
Skinny: Leier put together a strong rookie season in the Western Hockey League, collecting 37 points (13 goals and 24 assists) in 72 games with the Winterhawks. Leier finished 10th in team scoring for Portland, but third among the team’s 17-year-olds. He finished ranked 131st among North American skaters. Leier had two scraps with Portland, according to Leier did not make the Draft in Pittsburgh because he was competing in the World Ball Hockey Championships with Team Canada.  

Reece Willcox

Pick: 141st overall
Position: Defense
Age: 18 (3/20/1994)
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 185
Birthplace: Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
Team: Merritt (BCHL)
Committed: Cornell University
Skinny: Willcox dropped a bit in the Draft, falling to 141st overall after being ranked 114th in the Central Scouting final rankings. He is known as a finesse defenseman. Finished ranked 46th among college hockey draft prospects. He’ll enroll in Cornell in the fall as a freshman.

Valeri Vasiliev
: 201st overall
Position: Defense
Age: 18 (5/31/1994)
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 203
Birthplace: Moskva, Russia
Team: Spartak Moscow
Skinny: Vasiliev is a gamble for the Flyers, who decided to take the 17th ranked European skater who fell drastically in the draft after a serious shoulder injury limited him to just 17 games last season. Vasiliev does not appear to have any relation to 1972 Summit Series star Valeri Vasiliev, though the names are spelled the same. The elder Vasiliev, who died in 2009 at the age of 62, won an Olympic gold medal as a rugged defenseman and watched one slip away to the United States in 1980 in Lake Placid. The younger Vasiliev, coincidence or not, apparently models his game in the same way. This defenseman, though he lacks speed, loves to throw big hits. rated him as the 8th best Russian-trained player available in the draft. Vasiliev could turn out to be a great value pick in the 7th round.

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers