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Flyers Assistant GM Brent Flahr Assesses 2023 Draft Class After Camp



Connor Bjarnason
Connor Bjarnason, at Development Camp (Photo from Flyers' Twitter)

Eight of the 10 Philadelphia Flyers’ draft picks participated at Development Camp in Voorhees this week. Matvei Michkov and Egor Zavragin were not here.

Philadelphia Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr gave his assessment on what he saw after Thursday night’s scrimmage. Several of the draft picks had “minor injuries” according to Flahr and did not participate.

Generally, Flahr was positive about the draftees, which was expected. The players are teenagers, 18 years old, and basically went from their families to an NHL camp far away from home. Strangers in a strange land, essentially.

About The Players … 

First-round pick (22 overall) Oliver Bonk was impressive at camp. Fellow players said that. Coaches and management said that.

“He enjoys defending,” said Nick Schultz, assistant director of player development.

“He’s not just one-sided. He’s a big, strong kid obviously. Everyone loves that he’s a right shot.

“He’s very competitive and he loves defending and … when he has the puck, he looks like he’s got that skill level and that ability to make plays.”

Cole Knuble was drafted in the fourth round, 103rd overall. His dad, Mike, was a 16-year NHL player and that included five seasons with the Flyers.

“I thought [Cole] Knuble when he was here is as advertised, he’s real competitive kid,” Flahr said. “He’s got a little of that [Elliot] Desnoyers game — as far as dog and a bone.

“He looks like an overachiever the way he competes. He’s smart. His details are really good. He’s going to a good program [Notre Dame]. He’s got to get stronger, he knows that.

“From where he came from a year ago to now is exciting and obviously he fit in well here now. He knows probably more staff names than I do half the time. He’s been here lots before so I think there’s a comfort level just naturally for him.”

Excited About Bjarnason

Second-round pick Connor Bjarnason played in the scrimmage. He was taken 51st overall and was the top-rated North American goaltender.

“Bjarnason certainly has the size, the athleticism, the look of a goaltender and I think Dilly [goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh] … really excited to work with him going forward,” Flahr said.

“Know his goalie coach well in Brandon. He’s a guy that has so much to work with at this point. We’re excited about him at this point.”

Alex Ciernik didn’t play in the scrimmage because of a groin injury. He was drafted in the fourth round, 120th overall. He was slotted to be drafted higher, meaning the Flyers might have found a bonus that late in the draft.

“Ciernik, if you saw the skating drills between his edges and his stick-handling, just the natural ability he has,” Flahr said.

“He’s a real interesting player. Obviously he’s got some work to do in the gym, get stronger and we’ll see where he is in a couple of years.

“I talked to his agent some. We’re hoping he comes to rookie camp [in September] just for a week. He won’t miss too much time over there. We’ll see where that one goes.”

Denver Barkey didn’t play because of a sprained ankle. Flahr said Barkey was annoyed the Flyers wouldn’t let him on the ice.

About Development Camp … 

“Really happy with it [camp],” Flahr said. “First of all, the way it was operated. I think Riley [Armstrong, director of player development] and Schultzie [Nick Schultz, assistant director of player development] and his staff did a great job.

“Each day kinda had a purpose. You can see it transition from the first practice to the second. They were able to utilize it.

“We try to throw a lot at these kids. Some of the first-time guys take a little bit to get going, a little bit nervous early until they find their groove.”

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