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Flyers Make 6 Picks, Including No. 5 Overall Pick, At 2022 NHL Draft

The Flyers bet on the upside of forward Cutter Gauthier with pick No. 5 in the 2022 NHL Draft. The Flyers made five picks over the two-day-long draft, but Gauthier will likely define the success (or failure) of this class. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Flyers Make 6 Picks, Including No. 5 Overall, At 2022 NHL Draft

To put it mildly, the 2021-22 NHL season was not an enjoyable one for the Philadelphia Flyers. Firing the head coach. Multiple double-digit losing streaks. The trade of the longest tenured captain in team history. And the team’s worst regular-season record in fifteen years, topped off by falling one spot in the draft lottery. The season was an unmitigated disaster, which, if anything, undersells how bad things were.

The 2022 NHL Draft won’t cure all of those scars. But if it goes the Flyers way, it may be the beginning of the healing process. The Flyers “earned” a pretty nice reward for their dismal campaign — the fifth overall pick in the draft. It’s just Philadelphia’s second top-five pick since taking James van Riemsdyk No. 2 overall in 2007. And for a franchise whose own GM admitted is lacking “top-end talent,” that pick is arguably the clearest cut way for the Flyers to change that.

Of course, the draft isn’t all about the first round. Philadelphia made six picks in total in this year’s draft, the same amount they made in 2021 and one more than they made in 2020. Here are the six newest members of the Flyers organization, and what they could bring to the table in the future.

Pick 5 (Round 1, Pick 5): C/LW Cutter Gauthier

2021-22 (USDP): 34 G, 31 A in 54 GP

There were two realistic candidates for the Flyers to take with the fifth pick — Gauthier and defenseman David Jiříček, who went No. 6 overall to Columbus. But it wasn’t that hard to figure out based on Fletcher’s comments dating back to his mid-January press conference who the Flyers would take.

Jiříček is a well-rounded player who is just as attractive for his high floor as his ceiling. Gauthier, on the other hand, does come with higher risk. For starters, Gauthier spent most of the 2021-22 season playing wing for No. 3 overall pick Logan Cooley. He’s played some center before and will be playing there at Boston College, but it isn’t a guarantee he sticks down the middle. That’s in part because of the high hockey IQ required to play center, something Gauthier’s game is reportedly a bit lacking in.

But what Gauthier isn’t lacking is talent. The Flyers chose Gauthier because of “his size, strength, (and) speed,” according to the man who selected him, Chuck Fletcher. Gauthier tested incredibly well at the NHL Draft Combine, bringing a rare combination of size (6’2”, 201 lbs) and skill, with Fletcher describing him as a future “power forward,” a rare but attractive player type for any team. He pops both on and off the ice, and if Flyers fans can get over Sidney Crosby being his favorite player, he could be a fan favorite someday down the line.

The Athletic’s Corey Pronman compared Gauthier to J.T. Miller. There aren’t many players who provide the amount of physicality, versatility, and talent that Miller has. Gauthier obviously has a long way to go to reach that comparison (or exceed it). But the tools are certainly there.

Pick 69 (Round 3, Pick 4): RW Devin Kaplan

2021-22 (USDP): 13 G, 25 A in 53 GP

Gauthier won’t be far away from the Flyers second pick of the 2022 draft; he’s heading to Boston College, while Devin Kaplan will be playing at Boston University. Kaplan’s a Bridgewater, NJ native, about an hour-and-a-half from Philadelphia. Kaplan is a talented playmaker who checks in even bigger than Gauthier at 6’3”, 205 lbs. Most outlets projected Kaplan to go right around this range, although Smaht Scouting had him ranked 36th.

Pick 133 (Round 5, Pick 4): LW Alex Bump

2021-22 (USHL): 11 G, 6 A in 27 GP

Another Minnesota connection here for the Fletcher/Brent Flahr front office. Bump played in only 27 games in his draft year, but did manage 11 tallies. Earlier in 2021-22, he showed he can absolutely crush high-school competition, scoring 48 goals and 83 points in 31 games. Of course, Flyers fans can tell you that gaudy high-school production is far from a bullet proof predictor of success. Jay O’Brien’s arduous prospect journey has proven just that. Bump will be playing college hockey at the University of Vermont. He was ranked as high as No. 91 by McKeen’s Hockey, so perhaps the Flyers are getting a little bit of a steal here.

Pick 165 (Round 6, Pick 4): LD Hunter McDonald

2021-22 (USHL): 4 G, 10 A in 54 GP

McDonald is built in the more traditional model of a defenseman. He’s big (6’3”, 191 lbs) and uses his physicality well, but doesn’t score a lot. He may be reliable in his own end, but some level of offense or puck-moving is necessary to play at the highest level. After splitting his USHL season between two teams, McDonald will be playing his college hockey at Northeastern University.

Pick 197 (Round 7, Pick 4): LW Santeri Sulku

2021-22 (Jokerit U20): 13 G, 19 A in 35 GP

Philadelphia’s lone European pick of the draft put up solid numbers mostly playing in Jokerit’s U20 league in Finland. The competition isn’t as high as other leagues; there’s a reason why Sulku was still available in Round 7. However, Sulku was ranked 54th among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting and No. 146 overall by FCHockey. The numbers suggest he’s got some skill, but he will likely need a fair bit of seasoning. He’s just Philadelphia’s second Finnish draft pick since 2003, joining 2021 second rounder Samu Tuomaala.

The Flyers also made a trade on day two of the draft, shipping out three picks for Tony DeAngelo and the 7th used to make their final selection, who is listed below.

Pick 220 (Round 7, Pick 220): RW Alexis Gendron

2021-22 (QMJHL): 30 G, 16 A in 66 GP

While the Flyers focused on size for most of the draft, their final selection is an exception. Gendron checks in at just 5’10”, 174 lbs. However, he did tally 30 goals in the QMJHL, which certainly isn’t nothing for an 18-year old. In fact, it puts him a tie for 28th in the league. Size does still matter in the NHL, and there’s no guarantee Gendron’s skill-set would carry over to the pro-level. But the Flyers have focused more on shoot first players over the last two drafts, and Gendron fits that bill.

For more information on all six prospects, check out Chuck Fletcher and Brent Flahr’s post-draft press conferences below.

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*All Prospect Information via EliteProspects

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