Breaking Down Philadelphia Flyers' Biggest Needs in 2014 Draft
The 2014 NHL Draft is taking place in Philadelphia in about a month and a half, and the Philadelphia Flyers currently own the 17th overall pick in the first round.
They also have second-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-round selections, and a conditional second or third rounder from the Andrej Meszaros trade. New general manager Ron Hextall will be looking to begin building the roster in his mold with this first draft.
Let's take a look at the three biggest needs that Hextall and the Flyers must address with their selections in this upcoming draft.
More Speed on Defense
Why is Nicklas Grossmann the picture for this slide? Because he is a big part of why this is a need for the Flyers. Their defensive corps is slow as molasses, and it really hurts them.
The Flyers drafted Samuel Morin last year in the first round, and while it's nice to have a big, strong, high-upside prospect like him, it did not do anything to help with speed on the blue line. Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg have more speed, but the Flyers' defensive corps will need major replenishing.
There's no way Kimmo Timonen plays beyond next season if he comes back, Mark Streit is old, and guys like Grossmann, Luke Schenn and Braydon Coburn could all easily be moved in the next year or two.
The NHL is becoming faster and faster, and Hextall needs to realize that building his defense with younger players who skate well is the way to go.
Anthony DeAngelo, a South Jersey native playing for Sarnia of the OHL, is an undersized but very speedy D-man who could fit in the first round. Julius Honka of Swift Current (WHL) is another fast puck-moving defenseman who is rated highly.
A Goal-Scoring Winger
The Flyers have a wealth of different talents at forward, led by playmakers like Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, gritty power forward Wayne Simmonds, and standout two-way center Sean Couturier.
But what Philadelphia really lacks is that elite winger whose value comes from their ability to score goals without getting in the way in other aspects (like Scott Hartnell).
A scorer who could eventually develop to play alongside Giroux and Voracek in a few years would be an ideal first-round selection for the Flyers at No. 17.
New York native Sonny Milano would be one possibility. The Boston College commit has great hands and a deft scoring touch from the left wing spot, which is his preferred position, according to NHL.com.
Depth at Forward
Arguably the weakest point of Philadelphia's prospect pool right now is their forward group, and specifically the lack of offensive talent in the system.
They have a couple young forwards in the NHL, but their only real NHL-ready impact prospect is Scott Laughton. Guys like Nick Cousins and Tye McGinn are fine, but the Flyers really need to get some skill up at the top of that group.
This is a really top-heavy draft in regards to forwards, and there are a bunch of names in the mix. Nikolay Goldobin, Jake Virtanen, Alex Tuch, Robby Fabbri and Kevin Fiala all would be ideal fits at No. 17 overall. Keep them on your radar in the coming month, and hopefully Hextall will as well.