Flyers searching for gems beyond first round

Flyers GM Ron Hextall at the Flyers Skate Zone in April.


While most of the talk has centered on which player the Flyers will get with the No. 2 overall pick  —  Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick  — they  also will have 10 other selections in the NHL draft in Chicago.

The opening round will be held Friday and the other six rounds will take place Saturday.

Unlike many so-called experts, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall believes it is a very good draft, especially for forwards. That’s a good thing for the Flyers, who have numerous up-and-coming defensemen in their system but are thin on quality forward prospects.

Assuming they don’t make any trades, The Flyers have picks 11 picks in the seven rounds.  They have two third-rounders, including one from the 2015 deal that sent Zac Rinaldo to Boston, and have three selections in the fourth round and two in the seventh.  Two of the extra picks, a fourth- and seventh-rounder, are from last season’s Mark Streit trade with Tampa Bay.

Overall, the Flyers have the following selections: Nos. 2, 44, 75, 80 (from Boston), 106, 107 (from the Islanders), 108 (from Tampa Bay), 137, 168, 196 (from Tampa Bay), and 199. They overcame huge odds in the draft lottery to jump to No. 2 in the first round but are back in their “earned” spot   — 13th  —  in subsequent rounds.

The Flyers’ second-round selection, 44th overall, figures to be a forward. The best forward ever selected at No. 44 was probably Guy Carbonneau, chosen by Montreal in 1979. He finished with 260 career goals.

Here are some highly regarded forwards who could be available at No. 44 this Saturday:

  • Jonah Gadjovich, 6-foot-2, 209-pound left winger, Owen Sound (OHL) : Known for his feisty style of play, he had 46 goals and 74 points in 60 games last season.
  • Maxime Comtois, 6-2, 200-pound left winger, Victoriaville (QMJHL): He dipped a bit in draft expert Craig Button’s ratings but has lots of offensive talent (22 goals in 64 games).
  • Marcus Davidsson, 6-foot, 191-pound center, Djurgardens (SHL): Ranked as the 12th-best European skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting, he played with an edge while competing against men in Sweden and was one of the top junior-age scorers.
  • Matthew Strome, 6-4, 206-pound left winger, Hamilton (OHL): He is the brother of NHL players Ryan and Dylan. Strome’s speed is considered a weakness, but he has the size and the scoring touch (34 goals in 66 games).
  • Jason Robertson, 6-2, 192-pound left winger, Kingston (OHL): He is projected to go late in the first round or early in the second. Robertson, who had 42 goals and 81 points in 68 games last season, would be a steal if he’s still available at No. 44.

In the third round, the Flyers will have the Nos. 75 and 80 overall picks. Some past players taken in the 75-to-80 range include forwards Mike Knuble and Alexei Zhamnov, and goalie Craig Anderson.

These players, also rated highly by scouts, could still be around when the Flyers make their third-round selections:

  • Nick Henry, 5-11, 191-pound right winger, Regina (WHL): A smooth, explosive skater, he had 35 goals and 81 points in 72 games last season.
  • Stelio Mattheos, 6-1, 192-pound center, Brandon (WHL): He was overshadowed by teammate Patrick, but he picked up the scoring slack when Patrick was injured, finishing with 26 goals in 61 games.
  • Jack Studnicka, 6-1, 171-pound center, Oshawa (OHL): He had 52 points in 64 games, and his speed and all-around play make him an intriguing prospect.
  • Zach Gallant, 6-2, 188-pound center, Peterborough (OHL): Strong in the faceoff circle, Gallant (21 goals in 60 games) made great all-around strides last season.
  • Fabian Zetterlund, 5-11, 195-pound right winger, Farjestad Junior (Sweden): He is fast and has a hard, accurate shot  —  and, so, yes, he is on the Flyers’ radar.
  • Eemeli Rasanen, 6-7, 208-pound defenseman, Kingston (OHL): A towering and mobile defenseman with a righthanded shot, the Finnish native has lots of potential.
  • MacKenzie Entwistle, 6-3, 180-pound right winger, Hamilton (OHL): His draft stock may have fallen because of a bout with mononucleosis, but the hardworking forward (12 goals in 54 games) is effective at both ends of the ice.