A sneak peek at potential Flyers first-round picks in next month's NHL draft

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Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, shown in the IIHF world junior hockey championships game, is expected to be drafted No. 1 overall next month. Dahlin could become the second Swedish-born player to be taken first after the Quebec Nordiques chose Mats Sundin with the No. 1 pick in 1989.

The Flyers’ already-loaded farm system is about to get deeper.

They will have nine picks, including the 14th and 19th selections in the first round, when the draft is held June 22-23 in Dallas.

“After the top nine, very little separates the next 10 to 15 players in the draft,” said Ryan Wagman, director of prospect scouting at McKeen’s Hockey.

Wagman said the draft’s strength is with its defensemen and wingers. The draft doesn’t have an abundance of high-quality centers after the first round, and it has a shallow pool of promising goaltenders.

The Flyers’ 14th overall pick was acquired from St. Louis in the Brayden Schenn trade last year. They also acquired Jori Lehtera, who was a salary dump, and a first-round pick last June who turned out to be speedy center Morgan Frost.

Frost, chosen 27th overall last year, tore up the Ontario Hockey League (42 goals, 112 points, a plus-70 rating in 67 games) this season and is considered two years away from being a Flyers mainstay.

The Flyers should also get a blue-chip prospect with the No. 14 overall selection.

General manager Ron Hextall has said he will consider moving up in the draft with a trade. But because the first round is so deep, Hextall will have to be overwhelmed by a deal to move up and trade his 14th and/or 19th overall selections.

Since 2003, the Flyers have excelled in the three times they have had a pair of first-round picks.

They took Jeff Carter (No. 11 overall) and Mike Richards (24) in 2003, Ivan Provorov (7) and Travis Konecny (24) in 2015, and Nolan Patrick (2) and Frost (27) last year.

The strength of this year’s draft could benefit the Flyers. Some draft experts – like TSN’s Craig Button, the former Calgary general manager – believe that seven defensemen could be picked before the Flyers make their selection at 14.

The Flyers have a deep group of young defensemen and are expected to choose a forward with their first pick.

The top defensemen in the draft are Rasmus Dahlin, regarded as a generational talent who undoubtedly will be picked No. 1 overall by Buffalo, Evan Bouchard, Quinn Hughes, Noah Dobson, Adam Boqvist, Ty Smith, and Bode Wilde.

Assuming the Flyers don’t trade up, right winger/center Andrei Svechnikov, right winger Filip Zadina, left winger Brady Tkachuk and center/right winger Oliver Wahlstrom are expected to be off the board when they make their first pick.

Here are the players who figure to interest the Flyers if they are still available at 14:

Center Barrett Hayton (6-foot-1, 191): He gets overshadowed by his Sault Ste. Marie teammate Frost, but Hayton (21 goals, 60 points in 63 games) is a great prospect in his own right. A very good skater with a high hockey IQ, if Hayton drops to 14, he will probably be the Flyers’ pick.

Left winger Joel Farabee (5-11½, 164): A productive player in the USHL (15 goals, 40 points in 26 games), Wagman compares Farabee to the Minnesota Wild’s Mikael Granlund (21 goals, 67 points this season), a strong two-way winger with lots of speed. He calls him a “really good defensive player who could put up 45 to 60 points a year. And you can play him with superstars, too.”

Right winger Serron Noel (6-5, 200): A power forward who had 28 goals in 62 OHL games this season, Noel is similar to Alex Tuch at the same stage of his career, according to Wagman. Tuch, selected 18th overall by Minnesota in 2014, had 15 goals for Vegas this season.

Center Jesperi Kotkaniemi (6-1½, 188): He needs to improve his skating, but he has good puck skills and is a smart player. He had an impressive rookie season in Finland, collecting 10 goals and 29 points in 57 games.

Center Joe Veleno (6-1, 195): He keeps rising in the rankings – he’s been as high as No. 5 and as low as No. 15 – and it would be a major surprise if he was still around at 14. If Veleno (79 points in 64 QMJHL games) and Hayton are somehow still available, the Flyers would have a difficult choice.

Center Rasmus Kupari (6-1, 183): An excellent skater playing against men in Finland (six goals in 39 games), he creates lots of offense with his speed and skill. He plays impressive defense and is regarded as a top-six player down the road.

Center Isac Lundestrom (6-1, 185): A smart player who is strong on the puck, he is also a very good penalty killer. This season, he had six goals, 15 points, and a plus-7 rating in 42 games in the Swedish Hockey League.

Breakaways

Mattias Samuelsson, a 6-3½, 217-pound defenseman, could be selected late in the first round or in the second round. He is the son of former Flyer Kjell Samuelsson, who is now a player-development coach with the team. … Button projects the Flyers taking Farabee with the 14th overall pick. Some other draft experts think he will be off the board by the time they pick. McKeen’s, which projects that 13 defensemen will be selected in the first round, has Farabee going 12th.