Flyers Will Need Defenseman Ronnie Attard Down the Road
First in a series of occasional minor-league Flyers updates by Russ Cohen, prospects expert for SirusXM NHL radio. Today: Ronnie Attard.
Ronnie Attard was an over-age player going into his draft year. I had him pegged as a first-round talent and said he would be a good fit for the Philadelphia Flyers. He has size, skill, and physicality. Speed was always going to be a slight issue, and his play in his own end had to improve.
Got noticed at Western Michigan
When he played at Western Michigan, the big shot became his calling card. He scored 27 goals in 94 games. That’s a reasonable rate in a shot-blocking league where the goaltending is good. The Attard you see today has a faster release and he can score at the NHL level, especially on the power play.
This path is right for Attard
Every player has his own path. Attard, 23, a third-round selection in the 2019 draft, is close to being an everyday NHL defenseman. Some can take until 25. Not every player is ready at 18-21, especially on the blueline. Teams who are patient reap the rewards, but a lot of times the next place that player ends up is the place they peak.
His AHL progression
His season has started well for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the AHL. The 6-foot-3, 208-pounder has four points in seven games. We have to remember, Attard has only played 27 professional hockey games in his young career. He can keep up with the pace in the AHL. He can occasionally get past the defense at times to get to the net. You won’t see that at the NHL because his speed there is average.
Stickwork is the secret
Attard is figuring out how to use his reach, which results in doing a good job stripping the puck away, even if he gets beat to the puck. He isn’t going to win many of those foot races, but Attard has now figured out how to do that, and he’s being very disruptive with his stick. Even the best offensive players can struggle if a defensive unit has disruptive sticks.
Give him 25-50 AHL games
If the Philadelphia Flyers are smart, they will see how Attard is doing after 25 games. If he’s ready, have him play the right side on the third pairing, next to either placeholder Nick Seeler or Justin Braun, who could move to the left side.
If Attard needs a bit more time, then wait another 25 games. It’s possible he can play in December or January.