Since losing Chris Pronger to injury, the Flyers defense has been exceptionally unimpressive, and this season it was their biggest flaw. But before general manager Paul Holmgren starts lining up players for a big trade, the organization should really consider drafting a solid blueliner in this year’s draft.
The team's best option is to draft a defenseman, like Darnell Nurse or Rasmus Ristolainen, but Holmgren does have a tendency to go after top leading forwards. So what options do the Flyers have if they choose to draft a forward in the first round?
With the No.11 pick in the draft, it is unlikely that they will draft a top prospect like Nathan McKinnon or Jonathan Drouin. NHL.com’s Mike Morreale has offered up a solution in his mock draft by predicting that the Flyers will draft Hunter Shinkaruk in the first round.
According to Morreale, Shinkaruk is,“skilled, smart, deceptive and explosive with hands as quick as anyone eligible in the 2013 NHL Draft.” [To view the full mock draft CLICK HERE]
But is he is the right pick for the Flyers?
Shinkaruk looks like a solid forward and has shown his versatility with his ability to play either at center or at leftwing. For the Flyers this could be a good thing because it would allow him to adapt to whatever line Peter Laviolette wants him to play on.
The young forward has been playing with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League (WHL) for the last three seasons and has showed a huge improvement from his rookie season. He went from a 14-goal rookie season in 2010-2011 to an impressive 49-goal season in 2011-2012. In the most recent season he did not have quite as many goals, but he remained consistent by scoring 37 goals while still helping out his teammates with 49 assists.
At 18, he’s still pretty young but that makes him perfect to be built up and developed by the team. He has good hands and gives 100% every time he is on the ice. He also bounces off his linemates well and having a good center has really helped take the pressure off of him this year.
According to NHL Central Scouting’s Peter Sullivan,
“Hunter is a lot like his teammate last year, Emerson Etem. After Medicine Hat's series with Saskatoon, the local papers said the Blades' defense was taken to the hospital with whiplash after having to deal with him [Shinkaruk]. I think the kid has the most potential of any projected first-round prospect.”
[For the full Central Scouting Report CLICK HERE]
Shinkaruk possesses a skill set that the Flyers want in a forward, but the general consensus is that the Flyers need to make drafting a defenseman priority in the first round. Shinkaruk has a lot of offensive clout, but he also needs to learn how to play both ends of the ice.
However, he is still a solid pick in this year's draft, so If the Flyers don’t draft a defenseman first, Shinkaruk is one of their top offensive options.