After a highly disappointing season for the Philadelphia Flyers, it's now back to the drawing board—beginning with the NHL Draft. Philly will be entering its offseason with a number of unanswered questions and must now carefully draft the right players.
Seth Jones, the projected first selection in this year's draft, will most likely be drafted by the Florida Panthers with the initial pick—leaving a number of remaining and talented players on the board for Philadelphia.
The Flyers need to decide if a defenseman or a sharp-shooting winger is their main target entering the draft. Regardless, both positions must be filled before the start of next season.
Here are the best-case scenarios for the first round of the NHL Draft for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Darnell Nurse is a great option if the Philadelphia Flyers have a defensive mindset entering this draft.
The 6'4" 185-pounder from Hamilton, Ontario could bring a dynamic and versatile skill set to Philadelphia. This past season, while playing for the Soo Greyhounds, Nurse tremendously improved his offensive approach to the game.
Yet he is still considered a dominant defenseman with above-average speed and shutdown potential at the pro level. According to CBSSports' Chris Peters, Nurse is a player every team will want due to his aggressiveness and abrasiveness.
The Flyers desperately need a powerful and mobile blueliner and Darnell Nurse would fit the bill. With the potential to be a big star in the NHL, Philadelphia may not want to let him pass.
Another incredible defensive option for the Flyers would be Rasmus Ristolainen. According to the NHL's Mock Draft, the large Finnish defender could end up wearing the Orange and Black in the future.
Ristolainen is considered to be a better offensive-talented player than Nurse and possesses the rare ability to carry and shoot the puck. He could also potentially be a lethal quarterback on the power play in the NHL.
Defensively, Ristolainen is a house on the ice and at only 18-years-old, he will only grow stronger.
The young blueliner enjoys throwing his body around on the ice and punishing his opponents—a skill synonymous with the Flyers. With Kimmo Timonen likely playing his last season, next year, Ristolainen could be in line for his replacement.
Philadelphia is also in need of a scoring winger for the future and Valeri Nichushkin could be that player. The Russian-born, powerful player was recently compared to Evgani Malkin (via NHL).
Considering this is a heavy comparison, Nichushkin could potentially be a super star in the league. But the talented forward recently signed an extension with Traktor Chelyabinsk through 2014-15 (via LastWordonSports) and would not be available to NHL until after his contract is met.
Still, Nichushkin may be a worthwhile wait for the Flyers, as he is the complete package on offense.
Not to be fooled by his size, the Russian is a speedy skater, impeccable with his stick work and ferocious along the boards. Defenders have a tough time containing him, once he is on the move with or without the puck.
Nichushkin could end up a very nice investment pick for the Flyers in this draft.
The Philadelphia Flyers need another center like I need a hole in the head. That being said, if Sean Monahan falls to Philly, they may have to select him.
The current Ottawa 67's captain plays an intense two-way game on the ice and may be one of the most versatile forwards in the draft. Standing at 6'2" and 190 pounds, the Brampton, Ontario native is a big and powerful center with elite puck-handling and play-making abilities.
The Flyers currently have a very talented two-way center in Sean Couturier, but adding another hard-nosed player could only benefit Philadelphia. Especially for a team, who struggled mightily on defense.
If Philly is lucky enough to have Monahan fall in its lap, they may have to pull the trigger.