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With High Draft Pick, Experts Say Flyers Will Select …



Brent Flahr and Chuck Fletcher, Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers draft guru and assistant general manager Brent Flahr (left) and GM Chuck Fletcher need to land an impact player in the first round. Photo: Zack Hill.

The NHL draft is nine nights away, and defenseman David Jiricek is favored to be the Philadelphia Flyers’ top pick, based on the consolidated predictions of some of the most respected experts.

The Flyers have the No. 5 overall selection in the first round July 7.

My pick would be dynamic center Matt Savoie, who would give the Flyers creativity, speed, and talent. His size (5-9, 175) and defense are mild concerns, and an NHL source said the Flyers won’t take Savoie at No. 5. They are enamored by his ability, but unless there is a last-minute change of thinking, they will only choose him if they trade the pick and move down in the draft.

In the projections of 10 draft expects, four have the Flyers choosing Jiricek.

Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant GM Brent Flahr — the man who runs the team’s draft board — will meet with the media Thursday afternoon. They will discuss the Philadelphia Flyers’ draft possibilities in general terms.

You can bet on draft picks and the 2023 Stanley Cup at several PA sports betting sites.

Here are the players some experts project the Flyers taking at No. 5:

The envelope, please…

McKeen’s Hockey: : David Jiricek, D: He’s an explosive skater who has good size (6-3, 190) and a booming shot. Oh, and he’s righthanded.

TSN/Bob McKenzie: Cutter Gauthier, C/LW: He has the shot, the size (6-2, 200), and the talent to reach the NHL after a year at Boston College. (McKenzie updated his rankings Monday afternoon. He originally had Philly taking LW Juraj Slafkovsky, a 6-4, 218-pounder who may be closer to being NHL-ready than any player in the draft. He is a big-time scorer and a prototypical power forward. McKenzie now ranks him No. 1 overall.)

Elite Prospects: Frank Nazar, C/RW: A 5-10, 174-pound Michigan recruit, he is a very good skater and has a knack for being around the puck and scoring goals.

FC Hockey: Matt Savoie, C/RW: The 5-9, 175-pounder is ranked No. 3 by NHL Central Scouting among North American players. He supplies speed, creativity, great hands, and uncanny playmaking skills.

TSN/Craig Button: Simon Nemec, D: The consensus best defenseman in the draft, the 6-0, 192-pound Nemec is righthanded, is a terrific two-way player, and is built for today’s game. He’s great with the puck and extremely mobile.

SportsNet: Jiricek, D: See above.

Dobber Prospects: Nemec, D: See above. Kimelman: Jiricek, D: See above. Morreale: Jiricek, D: See above.

The Puck Authority: Joakim Kemell, RW: He is regarded as one of the most dynamic skaters in this draft class. Kemell, who turned 18 two months ago, is big-time scorer and is still growing into his body. He won the squat-jump and no-arms jump competition at the Combine

My take

Me? I’m leaning toward the Flyers taking  Gauthier, who has a great shot, plays solid defense, and is an outstanding skater — and is someone who excelled at the NHL Combine. But I want to hear what Flahr and Fletcher say Thursday before making my final decision.

Center Shane Wright is the consensus top overall pick, a selection owned by Montreal. Slafkovsky is expected to go to New Jersey at No. 2, though the Devils are dangling the selection in trade talks. Would dealing Ivan Provorov for that pick get it done? It would clear the Flyers of $6.75 million in cap space and give them a sniper.

More than likely, the Philadelphia Flyers will keep the pick. They have had only seven top-five selections in franchise history.

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