Brent Flahr quipped that he hopes the Flyers won’t be picking this high again in a long time.
Nonetheless, though, Flahr and his amateur scouting staff are confident about landing a really good player around the top five of the 2022 NHL draft.
“Yeah, I think we’ve gone over the players that we feel are the best five and we’ve gone over different scenarios of what we think the teams in front of us will take. There are still some unknowns, though,” Flahr said June 10 in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. “But I think we’re happy with the number of different players at the position, probably even a couple of more further. Depending on how it falls, maybe you trade back a couple of spots even or look to trade up. We’ll see how it goes.”
Following the 25-46-11 season, the Flyers are slotted at No. 5 overall in this year’s draft, which will be held July 7-8 at Bell Center in Montreal. The Flyers have six total selections. The first round kicks off at 7 pm ET Thursday, while Rounds 2-7 follow Friday starting at 11 am ET.
“I think it’s been well-documented, there’s no Connor McDavids in the draft or whatnot. But there is some depth early in the draft,” Flahr said. “There’s different positions — there’s a few centermen, there’s a couple of right-shot defensemen with skill and size, there’s a couple of scoring right wingers, there’s a power winger.
“There are some interesting players early. I think it’s going to be a really interesting first round. … It’s going to be surprising I think there could be a lot of surprises in the early going of this draft .”
Leading up to July 7-8, we’re breaking down draft targets for the Flyers at No. 5.
To kick things off:
The 18-year-old Czech Republic native is considered one of the top two defensemen in the draft along with Simon Nemec.
EliteProspects.com has him ranked as the No. 2 overall player in the entire class, behind only consensus top pick Shane Wright. On NHL Central Scouting, Jiricek is the fourth-ranked European skater.
It has excellent length and mobility to be disruptive in coverage. His shot of him is highly touted and he’s a righty to boot.
DailyFaceoff.com’s Chris Peters wrote that “Jiricek might be one of the best goal-scoring threats among defensemen in the last few years.”
Playing in Czech Extraliga, his country’s top pro league, Jiricek had five goals and six assists in 29 games this season for Plzen. After suffering a knee injury that required surgery in January, Jiricek was able to play for the Czech national team at the 2022 IIHF World Championship, finishing with a goal and an assist in five games.
An anonymous executive told The Athletic’s Corey Pronman about Jiricek: “He’s not as good, but you look at what Moritz Seider has been for Detroit, I think you are hoping this guy steps in and plays that kind of game.”
Fit with Flyers
The Flyers will draft the best player available at No. 5 and right-handed blueliners are always attractive, especially top-pair caliber ones.
For the Flyers, there could be plenty of appeal to eventually slotting Jiricek alongside Cam York or Ivan Provorov. York was the Flyers’ 2019 first-round pick and is only 21 years old. He’s a smaller, puck-moving, lefty shot — all qualities that could complement Jiricek in the future.
Fletcher likes to build from the back to the front, with offense being orchestrated from his blueliners.
Jiricek has the upside to bolster the Flyers’ hope on the back end. If he’s drafted by the Flyers, the club’s organizational picture on defense would feature guys like Travis Sanheim (26), Provorov (25), Ronnie Attard (23), Egor Zamula (22), York (21) and Jiricek (18) all 26 or younger. The Flyers are looking at Ryan Ellis (31) and Rasmus Ristolainen (27), both righty shots and under contract for the next five seasons, to be important pieces.
All of the above, if Jiricek joins the fold, has intriguing potential at a crucial position in which the Flyers have lacked for a decade-plus.
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