Players Philadelphia Flyers Should Consider Trading Up for in 2014 NHL Draft
I'm often not a huge fan of trading up in any draft. Picks are lottery tickets, and the more you have, the more likely you are to cash in. But the Philadelphia Flyers might be in good position to make a smart move up in the 2014 NHL draft and grab an elite prospect.
Sitting at No. 17 overall, they'll be forced to pick at the leftovers from the second or even third tier of prospects instead of getting a big-time difference-maker from the top picks.
With a glut of young players and some cap space needing to be freed up, general manager Ron Hextall may attempt to package any number of Brayden Schenn, Luke Schenn, Vincent Lecavalier, Scott Hartnell and Nicklas Grossmann along with the No. 17 pick and see where it gets him.
This is a pretty loaded draft at the top. But one big positive is that a few of the best players are centers, which is the last position Philadelphia needs right now. You'll notice there isn't a center included among this group, and for good reason.
Let's take a look at the four prospects I believe are worth trading up for.
Michael Dal Colle, LW, Oshawa Generals
Michael Dal Colle could be a perfect fit for the Flyers. He likely won't be a top-four pick but will likely be taken between Nos. 5 and 9.
He's got solid size (6'2", 171 lbs), skates really well and can create offense in multiple ways, evident by his 39 goals and 56 assists in 67 games in the 2013-14 season.
The 17-year-old is deceptively powerful but is also shifty and elusive with the puck. He also has good hands and a great shot that helped him score 16 power-play goals this season, a number which was tied for third most in the OHL.
Dal Colle would also be able to reunite in Philly with his Oshawa teammate and former Flyers first-round pick Scott Laughton.
Kasperi Kapanen, RW, Kalpa (SM-Liiga)
Flyers fans (and many other hockey fans) will recognize Kasperi Kapanen, the only European prospect on this list, because of his last name. He is indeed the son of former Flyer Sami Kapanen.
But for as solid of a player as his father was, Kasperi has the potential to be even better. He's a dynamic offensive talent who would provide a huge boost to Philadelphia's roster.
At a little under 6'0" tall, Kapanen is no physical specimen, but his hockey IQ and stick-handling ability make him a threat every time he's on the ice.
Playing full time for KalPa in the SM-liiga in 2013-14, Kapanen more than held his own playing against grown men. He will likely be a top-six selection, but he could actually make the roster and contribute right away.
Aaron Ekblad, D, Barrie Colts
Now let's get to the top guy. Aaron Ekblad is the ultimate prospect for the Flyers. He is an impact player, a difference-maker, an organization changer.
Ekblad has simply been a man among boys out on the ice. A few years ago, he became just the second player to ever receive "exceptional player status" and enter the CHL a year early, with New York Islander John Tavares having been the first.
After dominating in the OHL for the Barrie Colts for the past three seasons, Ekblad is now a consensus top-three prospect and a strong candidate to be taken first overall.
With his size (6'4", 216 lbs), strength, skating ability, defensive awareness and offensive skill set, Ekblad would be an unbelievable get for the Flyers.
Unfortunately, it would take quite a big package to move up and get him—but you never know.
Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Halifax Mooseheads
The Danish-born Nikolaj Ehlers has plied his trade for the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL after playing youth and junior hockey in Switzerland.
Ehlers is arguably the most explosive forward in this draft. He's a blur on the ice and is a game-changer because of his incredible pace.
His stick skills are solid, and he can put the puck in the net. Although he isn't a very big or strong player (6'0", 163 lbs), he can really get after the puck and create in the offensive zone.
He scored an outrageous 49 goals and tallied 55 assists in just 63 games in 2013-14, and the Flyers would more than welcome a scorer of that caliber. However, as with all these guys, he's a guaranteed top-10 pick and likely a top-six prospect, which would cost Philadelphia a lot.