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Predicting the Top 5 Players on the Philadelphia Flyers' Draft Board

Michael PizzutilloCorrespondent IIIOctober 19, 2016

Predicting the Top 5 Players on the Philadelphia Flyers' Draft Board

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    The Philadelphia Flyers—for now—hold the 11th pick in the 2013 NHL draft and will be searching to fill some large holes on their roster.

    According to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi, Chris Pryor, the Flyers' director of operations, believes this is a very deep draft and the team should be able to obtain a high-quality player. And Philadelphia could use some talent, especially at defense or a high-scoring winger.

    With the draft almost two months away, the Flyers now need to pinpoint certain players, who will benefit the team in a short period of time. 

    Leaving out the obvious selections that will be swiped by pick 11, here is a prediction of the top-five players on the Philadelphia Flyers' draft board.

5. Ryan Pulock, D

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    With the Flyers holding the 11th selection in the NHL draft, defender Ryan Pulock may very well be available for the taking.

    Pulock, the standout WHL player, is a highly-skilled blueliner with a blistering slapshot—measured at 101 MPH, during a skills competition this season. He is dynamic on the power play and possesses a quarterback-style command on special teams.

    The Flyers could use the versatile, two-way defenseman, who is also an above-average skater. He is aggressive with the puck and hard to impede, once moving. Defensively, Pulock has a good hockey IQ and is rarely beaten on the one-on-one. 

    Turning just 19 years old this October, Pulock can still use some upper-body strength but has no problem throwing around his 211-pound frame on the ice or along the boards. If the Flyers can nab him at the 11th pick, he could be the "steal of the draft."

4. Nikita Zadorov, D

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    Nikita Zadorov, the Russian-born defender, is a physical specimen on the ice. Standing at 6'5" and 228 pounds, the massive blueliner makes his presence known in the rink.

    Philadelphia could absolutely use a shut-down defenseman, and Zadorov could do just that. Known for his impeccable defensive play, he constantly wears down his opposition. Also, a gifted skater, Zadorov is rarely beat on the one-on-one, while covering much of the ice.

    Offensively, the 18-year-old has improved dramatically from his prior seasons. He owns a heavy shot, along with crisp-passing skills. His speed may be his largest asset, considering his size and strength, allowing him to help on the rush.

    Zadorov would fulfill a much-needed defensive gap on the Flyers' roster with the ability to contribute in the scoring. If Philadelphia decides to concentrate on a pure defender, then Zadorov is their man at the 11th pick. 

3. Hunter Shinkaruk, LW

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    The Flyers could also use a potential-scoring winger and Hunter Shinkaruk may be one of the best available in the draft. 

    The Calgary-born player had a dominating season in the WHL, tallying 37 goals and 49 assists in 64 total games for the Medicine Hat Tigers. His lightning-fast wrister, is complemented by his accuracy when shooting the puck.

    Shinkaruk also has the rare ability to find open areas on the ice, allowing him to unload a one-timer or quick rebound—much like Claude Giroux or Danny Briere.  He is a shifty skate, who could use some tweaking to his technique, but usually very reliable on the rush.

    Defensively, Shinkaruk is decent but could use refinement on coverage skills and some bulking up for the pro level. But offensively, this young player has the potential to be a star in the NHL.

    According to NHL's Mike G Morreale's mock draft, he predicts the Flyers will be taking the highly-skilled forward in this year's draft.

2. Rasmus Ristolainen, D

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    If the Rasmus Ristolainen were to fall to No. 11, the Flyers would be hard-pressed not to select the Finnish defender. 

    And according to NHL's Adam Kimelman's mock draft, Philly is exactly where the talented blueliner would end up. And the Flyers could most likely benefit from his services in the near future.

    Known to be a talented offensive-defender, Ristolainen is an impressive stick-handler and with the ability to protect the puck—something the Flyers blue line failed to do this past season. He also carries a strong point shot combined with a precise-passing ability—both needed for a quarterback on special teams play.

    Standing at 6'2" and 189 pounds, the young defenseman enjoys throwing his body around up and down the ice. Being only 18 years old, Ristolainen could use some bulking up for the pro level, but has already established a dominating presence at his current size.

    The Flyers desperately need a two-way blueliner and Ristolainen is one of the best options in the draft.

1. Darnell Nurse, D

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    It only seems fitting that Darnell Nurse would end up in Philadelphia. The nephew (by marriage) to long-time Eagles' quarterback Donovan McNabb has already been linked to the Philly area.

    Regarding Nurse's talents, he could be exactly what the Flyers are currently lacking. He is an elite skater with the ability to strike fear into his opponents. Nurse is extremely difficult to beat and has the ability to win many battles along the boards. 

    He blocks shots, sacrifices his body and has been labeled a prospective shutdown blueliner. Nurse may have been born to become a Broad Street Bully, who could also contribute offensively for the team.

    The 18-year-old, who stands at 6'5" and 192 pounds, has flourished offensively this past season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL. Nurse combined for 12 goals and 29 assists in 68 games with the team. 

    And still maturing, Nurse could use some additional bulking-up to ensure physical dominance on the ice. Yet, he has the potential to be star in the NHL.

    According to NHL's Steve Hoffner's mock draft, he believes Nurse will fall right into Philly's lap by the 11th pick. 

    Go Flyers.

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