DALLAS – The Flyers got defensive in the second day of the NHL draft at the American Airlines Center.
They took three defensemen out of their six selections Saturday, headed by Adam Ginning, a physical 6-foot-3, 196-pound Swede who was chosen in the second round and has drawn comparisons to the Flyers’ Robert Hagg.
“We like his size; we like his upside,” general manager Ron Hextall said. “He moves pretty well for a big guy, and he’s got solid puck skills and has the range you need for a solid defenseman.”
Overall, Hextall was pleased with the draft, though he would have been happier if he had landed one of the marquee right-handed defensemen like Noah Dobson.
The Flyers took three centers, three defensemen, a left winger, and a goalie.
“There’s a couple things we would have liked to have gotten, but that’s the way the draft goes,” Hextall said. “You can’t get them all. I like the mix that we got. … We got some good players. We got some skill up front. We got some guys on the back end who will kind of complement our group.”
Ginning, 18, regarded as a stay-at-home defender, played against men in the Swedish Hockey League this season, collecting a goal and an assist in 28 games and compiling a minus-7 rating.
A left-handed shooter, Ginning (pronounced YIN-ning) was taken 50th overall — 10 spots past the spot he was ranked by the Hockey News. He was ranked third by Central Scouting among European defensemen, behind Rasmus Dahlin (drafted No. 1 by Buffalo) and Adam Boqvist (drafted No. 8 by Chicago).
Ginning was paired with Boqvist on the Swedish national under-18 team and they played against opponents’ top lines.
“He’s more of an offensive guy and I’m more more defensive, so we worked pretty good together,” Ginning said.
Ginning said he needs to work on improving his puck skills and “be a little bit quicker on my feet. We’ll work on that.”
When Day 2 of the draft started, there were still some highly touted prospects available such as big right winger Serron Noel, whom highly respected draft analyst Craig Button thought the Flyers would take with the 15th overall pick in the first round, centers Ryan McLeod and Jacob Olofsson, defensemen Bode Wilde and Mattias Samuelsson, and right winger Akil Thomas.
Of that group, only Thomas and Olofsson were still on the board when the Flyers took Ginning.
Samuelsson, a Voorhees native, was the first player selected in the second round, taken by Buffalo with the 32nd overall pick. His father, Kjell, a former Flyer, is now a player-development coach with Philadelphia.
The younger Samuelsson said it was a “little upsetting” that he wasn’t taken in Friday’s first round, but that his dad helped him get through it.
“He’s always there and always knows what to say,” he said.
The Flyers did not have a third-round selection. In the fourth round, they took John St. Ivany, a 6-3, 198-pound righthanded-shooting defenseman who played in the USHL last season with Sioux Falls, collecting 36 points and recording a plus-2 rating in 54 games. Hextall called him a “steady Eddie” type of player with a big shot and a good puck carrier.
The Flyers later selected defenseman Wyatte Wylie (6-1, 192) in the fifth round, goalie Samuel Ersson (6-2, 176) in the sixth round, center Gavin Hain (5-11, 194) in the seventh round, and center Marcus Westfalt (6-3, 203) in the eighth round.
Ersson had a strong season (2.53 GAA, .920 save percentage) on a Sweden junior team.
“We like his size; we like his athleticism,” Hextall said. “We think there’s some upside there that hasn’t been tapped yet. We got him a lot later (than Hextall thought he would be drafted). If we needed a goalie, we would have taken him earlier.”
Hextall, who has selected six goalies in the last four drafts, said he wasn’t “chasing” a goaltender.
“It was the opposite,” he said. “But if a guy falls to a certain point, then we’re going to take him.”
The Flyers traded their first seventh-round pick (190th overall) to Montreal for the Canadiens’ seventh-rounder in 2019. … Canada had the most players drafted (71), followed by the United States with 55 and Sweden with 28. … Left winger Jermaine Loewen, taken by Dallas in the seventh round, became the first Jamaican-born player drafted. … Defensemen were in demand as 70 were selected, followed by centers (63), right wingers (30), goaltenders (29) and left wingers (25). … The draft total of 14 defensemen were taken in the first round, a record for that portion of the draft. … Noel went to Florida with the third pick in the second round (34th overall). … All eight Flyers draft picks are expected to be at their development camp, which starts Wednesday with the Trial on the Isle in Stone Harbor. On-ice sessions start Thursday in Voorhees.