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Flyers Make Six Picks On Day Two Of 2021 NHL Entry Draft

After trading their 1st round pick to Buffalo, the Flyers took Samu Tuomaala with their first of six picks in the 2021 NHL Draft at 46th overall. (Finnish Ice Hockey Association)

While the NHL Draft is usually a highlight for non-playoff teams, it was fair to wonder how much of a priority it would be for the Flyers in 2021. With general manager Chuck Fletcher promising action, the Flyers draft capital, including their first round pick (technically the 14th selection, but realistically it was 13th because Arizona, slated to pick 11th, forfeited their pick due to violating draft combine procedures in 2019) was up for grabs. While the Flyers have dealt four picks in the last three days, only one of them was in this year’s draft — their aforementioned 1st rounder, sent to Buffalo in the polarizing Rasmus Ristolainen trade. It’s the first time since 2010 the Flyers haven’t made a first round selection. For reference, that pick was traded to Anaheim as part of the Chris Pronger deal. Time flies, huh?

The Flyers did keep each of their other six picks for day two of the draft on Friday; their own second, third, fourth, sixth, and seventh, plus a fifth (originally belonging to Vegas) acquired from Washington in the Michael Raffl trade. The Flyers haul features a center, winger, goalie, and three defensemen. There is a Finn, a Belarusian, a Swiss, a Canadian, and two Americans in this year’s class. As always, each prospect brings their own strengths and weaknesses to the table. Let’s take a look at what each of the Flyers six picks in the 2021 NHL Draft has to offer.

Pick 46 (Round 2, Pick 14): RW Samu Tuomaala

2020-21 (U20 SM-sarja): 15 G, 16 A in 31 GP

The Flyers have long lacked a game-breaking speedster in their prospect ranks, often risking taking players like Oskar Lindblom (who worked out) and Matthew Strome (who hasn’t) who weren’t fleet of foot. Tuomaala is both a burner and a goal-scorer, two traits Flyers fans tend to value above all else. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman ranked Tuomaala as the fourth best player available on day two of the draft, and assistant GM Brent Flahr said they thought Tuomaala might go as early as the 20s.

Part of that discrepancy has to do with the crazy, pandemic world making scouting a bigger crapshoot than normal. But Tuomaala has the makings of a very good pick. Perhaps the possibility of getting someone like him, who the Flyers clearly valued highly, made Fletcher comfortable with dealing the Flyers’ first-rounder. He’s the first Finn drafted by the Flyers since defenseman Joonas Lehtivuori in 2006.

Pick 78 (Round 3, Pick 14): G Aleksei Kolosov

2020-21 (KHL): .911 SV%, 2.69 GAA in 9 GP

There was concern that if the Flyers kept their 1st rounder and used it on one of the two marquee goaltenders in this year’s draft (Sebastian Cossa and Jesper Wallstedt), it would be the second coming of the Eagles taking Jalen Hurts and potentially ruin Carter Hart like they did with Carson Wentz. But that isn’t a concern this late in the draft.

Kolosov is an overager at 19 years old who was completely passed over in the 2020 Draft. Those are pretty good numbers to put up in arguably the second best league in the world; although for reference, Nashville’s Yaroslav Askarov (picked in the 1st round last year) put up a .951 SV% and 1.21 GAA in the same amount of games. But the fact that he’s in the KHL at such a young age is rare and encouraging. The Flyers already have some intriguing goalie prospects in their pipeline; most notably 2018 3rd rounder Samuel Ersson.

Pick 110 (Round 4, Pick 14): LD Brian Zanetti

2020-21 (U20-Elit): 9 G, 20 A in 41 GP

The Swiss born defenseman is set to head to North America in 2021-22 to play for the OHL’s Peterborough Petes. He also represented Switzerland at the under 18 World Junior Championships this past year. “He’s a tall, lanky kid who needs time to get stronger,” Flahr said. “(He’s) mobile, can defend, move the puck, so he’s a real interesting kid. He’s got some rawness to him, but against the top competition in the world at the end, stood out on his team there (seemingly referring to his play at the U-18 Worlds).”

Pick 158 (Round 5, Pick 30): LD Ty Murchison

2020-21 (U.S. Development Program): 7 G, 8 A in 48 GP

The California product actually knows Flyers defenseman Cam York, Philadelphia’s 1st round pick in 2019. “Good size, very good mobility, plays an aggressive style,” Flahr said. “He’s gonna have to learn to tone things down as far as picking his spots, when to be aggressive. But a kid that comes to play, plays hard.” For anyone who believes the Flyers aren’t tough enough, Murchison sounds like a player who could help with that in the future. For now, he’ll be playing college hockey at Arizona State.

Pick 174 (Round 6, Pick 14): RD Ethan Samson

2020-21 (WHL): 1 G, 11 A in 22 GP

As the Ristolainen trade proved, right-handed defenseman are always a valuable commodity in today’s NHL. It’s also an area where the Flyers are a bit lacking, with 2019 3rd rounder Ronnie Attard and Wyatte Wylie (elite name, decent prospect) the only two players of note as this position. Samson obviously doesn’t turn this position into a strength all by himself; he’s a 6th round pick for a reason. It’s a small sample size, but a just over a half-point-per-game rate isn’t too shabby for a WHL defenseman in their draft year. And it represents a significant jump from 2019-20, when he scored 7 points in 62 games. Flahr noted his size and mobility as strengths. Flyers scout Mark Grieg, whose son Ridley was drafted in the 1st round by Ottawa last year, was the scout who advocated for Samson here. Additionally, his junior head coach is former Flyer Jason Smith.

By the way, the Flyers made ANOTHER trade today! Check it out here.

Pick 206 (Round 7, Pick 14): C Owen McLaughlin

2020-21 (18 U AAA): 16 G, 38 A in 33 GP

McLaughlin’s numbers certainly jump off the page, though that’s largely because he was playing in an easier league than the Flyers’ other draft picks. McLaughlin is a local product from Spring City, PA and set to play for Penn State in college. His brother Jack played 22 games for the Henderson Silver Knights, Vegas’ AHL affiliate, this year. Scout Tom Mitten found McLaughlin, who sounds like a project as Flahr said he will need “to put on some weight (and) get stronger.” Based off the numbers, it seems like McLaughlin’s greatest strength is his playmaking. It’ll be hard to judge him fully until he gets some games in against tougher competition, which Penn State will provide.

All quotes from Flahr are via his post draft press-conference, which you can watch here.

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*All Statistics via Elite Prospects

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